Synopsis 9×03: Chaos reigns as the dead rise in the year 2119. An underwater mining colony has uncovered a mysterious alien ship, and its presence has caused their dead friends to walk once more. It’s up to Clara and Twelve to figure out why in the first half of the two-part adventure

Rating: ★★★1/2

Ghosts are not real… or are they?

When the Doctor is around, almost anything is possible. The world of the supernatural, however, is generally falls prey to a certain Time Lord’s keen scientific mind. From werewolves to phantasmal terrors, the Doctor has proved time and time again that there is always someone pulling the strings.

The events of “Under the Lake,” however, appear to have the voyager at a loss. Now, as the episode heads into it’s second half, is seems Twelve has succumbed to whatever paranormal activity the year 2119 has to offer.

Penned by Toby Whithouse, episode 3 opens in the murky waters of a Scottish lake. Once a thriving Army research base, the small town was wiped off the map when a broken damn turned dry land into the country’s next loch. The army is back, however, and this time they are working with a private contractor to extract oil from under the former settlement.

Meet Pritchard, Moran, Lunn, Cass, Bennett, and O’Donnell, the Doctor’s partners for his next adventure.

Unfortunately for the scientists, years of currents and erosion uncovered something other than black gold. A space ship emerged from the depths, and being the inquisitive folk they are, the team brought it in for inspection. As the capitalist minded Richard Pritchard attempts to determine if the ship now belongs to his company, Vector Petroleum, the base’s commanding officer spots four symbols carved into the hull.

And that’s when everything goes to hell.

Ghosts are the order of the day on the Drum [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
Ghosts are the order of the day on the Drum [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
Moran is quickly flambéed when the ships engines mysterious engage, and his corpse is left behind when his team flees for safety. The base initiates fire protocols just as the survivors quickly realize Moran’s spirit is still with them. With gaunt eyes and an inaudible message, the soldier’s ghost confronts the living. He isn’t the only apparition haunting the Drum, however – another alien spirit stands alongside him. Soon, everyone with a pulse is running for their lives.

Cue the Doctor.

Clara is itching for some danger, and Twelve is more than happy to oblige. (Not without a little caution, though. Clara is morphing into the Doctor, and the Time Lord is just a little skeptical of what that means.) The TARDIS kicks up a fuss upon arrival, and everyone knows that’s a sure sign of trouble.

It’s not long before the travelers encounter the two ghosties, and once the eerie duo escorts them to the mysterious ship, it’s time for battle. As soon as the Doc reads the four symbols on the hull, Moran and the alien have axe and spear gun primed and ready to go. Luckily for Twelve and Clara, the crew waves them into the station’s only safe haven – a Faraday cage designed to protect the scientists should their nuclear reactor go critical.

The Doctor identifies as himself, for once, and those familiar with UNIT immediately look to him with awe (O’Donnell’s a big fan. She practically asks for an autograph). Now it’s time for the obligatory exposition scene. Here’s what Team Drum knows so far:

  1. The ghosts only come out during the stations artificial night. No one knows why.
  2. They are unable to enter the Faraday cage.

After a brief recon mission, the Doctor discovers the following:

  1. The ship is missing both the stasis pod for its captain and one very expensive power cell (Pritchet’s ears prick up and visions of dollar signs (pound signs?) dance through his head).
  2. The ghosts – if that’s truly what they are – can only wield metal weapons.

The Doctor and Clara discover something is missing from the alien ship [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
The Doctor and Clara discover something is missing from the alien ship [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
Soon enough, everyone will learn that the baddies can also manipulate the stations tech, quickly changing day to night for their own murderous gain. Poor Prtichet finds this out too late, his water-logged body quickly upping the ghost count to three.

In a highly amusing sequence, Twelve even has to comfort the crew using a series of cue cards. His empathy skills are slightly lacking… virtually nonexistent, really.

The Doctor, however, does know how to devise a cunning plan. Instead of abandoning the base, Twelve plays upon the scientists’ undying curiosity. Using Clara, Lunn, and Bennett as bait, Twelve traps the apparitions in the Faraday cage. Lunn nearly loses his life, but for reasons unbeknownst to the Doc, Pritchet stops short of killing his coworker.

Using Cass’ lip reading talents, the Doctor capitalizes on the deaf woman’s skills to determine what their paranormal pals have been mouthing – “The Dark. The Sword. The Forsaken. The Temple.”

In a clever bit of deduction, the crew realizes these are not only coordinates, but they are the definition of the symbols on the ship. Burned into the viewers’ minds like a song you can’t forget, the dead turn into unwitting transmitters, sending the signal through space. The coordinates, of course, mean space (The Dark), Earth (pointed to by the sword of the constellation Orion), the flooded town (The Forsaken), and the Army chapel (The Temple).

The Doctor explains the ghosts' mysterious clues [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
The Doctor explains the ghosts’ mysterious clues [BBC WORLDWIDE LIMITED]
One scuba excursion later and Twelve has the stasis pod back upon the ship. Sadly, no one can open it. Even worse, the ghosts’ computer tampering has caused the reactor to overheat, which means the base will soon flood. Separated by the rising water, Twelve jumps in the TARDIS with Bennett and O’Donnell, leaving Cass, Clara, and Lunn behind. The Time Lord’s ship refuses to travel within the base thanks to its dislike of the paranormal/paradoxes/anything that confuses the laws of space and time.

The plan: head back in time to when the ship landed.

The twist: Clara and Co. soon see a new ghost floating outside the Drum. A signal that something has changed in the past, this ghost is none other than the Doctor…

The mystery will resume in episode 4, “Before the Flood.”

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