11:23 pm EDT, October 3, 2015

‘Doctor Who’ season 9, episode 3 recap: Ghostly terror

Doctor Who season 9 episode 3 just aired and it was a wild ride under the sea with a scary, new ghostly foe.

Without a doubt, this was one of the scariest Doctor Who episodes we have had in ages.

Fathoms below

Oh where are Sebastian and Ariel when you need them? The opening was super spooky with almost a “Waters of Mars” feel. What could be creepier than an underwater base near a now submerged Scottish town. The town was submerged due to a burst dam that is now the site of an oil expedition.

Because people can’t leave well enough alone, there’s a recently discovered alien craft that’s brought on board. Predictably, it suddenly goes haywire killing a crew member. The base staff is now in jeopardy from an unknown foe that turns and converts their colleagues into ghosts. Three days later Clara and the Doctor show up because the Tardis took them to the base. The Doctor has no idea why. Clara and the Doctor encounter these “ghosts,” and we are all behind the sofa screaming, “RUN!!!!”

Thingamabobs we’ve got plenty

The Doctor and Clara, after initially thinking the ghosts were harmless, soon realize they were wrong and they take us up on that “RUN!!!!” suggestion. Fortunately, the Doctor and Clara find the station survivors. Interesting factoids include the following: the survivors are supposedly safe in a chamber impervious to radio waves, the ghosts come out during the artificial night and are repelled by artificial day, there is a missing power cell/suspended animation chamber on the unknown craft, a deaf women in charge of the crew has the most common sense, and the Tardis translation is on the fritz.

The ghosts want to be part of your world

The Doctor decides, although he initially discounted it, that the foes are ghosts. Up until now, death is the one thing that unified every creature in the universe, and now it’s gone. As usual, the Doctor is fascinated by the horrifying. Bottom line, there are two important questions: Who are the ghosts, and what do they want?

Wouldn’t you rather play with Scuttle?

The Tardis reacts to the inherent “wrongness” of the ghosts, and because of this, the Doctor is content to lock Clara in the Tardis, thinking she’s loving this adventure too much. It’s the first time we’ve seen a fatherly concern on his part for Clara with no sarcasm, or lack of social cues. Clara appreciates the Doctor’s concern, but she’s all in, and the Doctor respects her decision.

I want to be where the people are

The ghosts kill the owner of the mine, and now he is a ghost too. There are now three ghosts who are all learning the ins and outs of running the base. The crew decides to abandon base, and they call control only to learn a rescue sub is on its way having already been requested. Doctor uses his U.N.I.T. override ID, and countermands the orders. None of the actual humans ordered the sub, so the ghosts must have done it. For now, the Doctor has thwarted the plans of the ghosts.

The Doctor, Clara, and the crew drive the ghosts toward the radio chamber where the ghosts are imprisoned, and the Doctor interrogates them. Via lip reading the ghosts are determined to be saying, “The dark. The sword. The forsaken. The temple.” in never ending succession. The Doctor then figures out it’s a sort of code that lines up Orion’s belt with where they currently are on earth. Each ghost is a new beacon pointing at the location. Specifically, the last coordinate of “the temple” is a church in the flooded town site. The beacon could be a rendezvous, a distress call, a rally point, or something else at this location. Now, they all have to decide if they escape, or if they check out what the ghosts want.

Poor unfortunate souls

So the Doctor and his new found friends get Gadget-Gadget…er…the remote sub, and discover the missing suspended animation chamber from the space craft. It is deadlock sealed, so the Doctor can’t break in. Anyone or anything could be inside. They all reexamine the alien ship, and realize the message inside is a kind of instruction to the pilot. The message is like a magnetic impulse that embeds the words, “The dark. The sword. The forsaken. The temple.” in people’s brains like a song on repeat. So whoever sees these coordinates just repeats them as the person in the suspended animation chamber slumbers while drawing more people in. Again, the question is “Why?”

Suddenly the base starts to flood. Only half of the survivors get to the Tardis and supposed safety on time. Clara hasn’t made it on board. The Doctor promises her and the others who she is with that he will go back in time, figure out what is going on, and return for them. Unfortunately, we soon find a ghostly Doctor haunting Clara and those left behind. We are left with a cliffhanger until next week.

Unanswered questions

Why did the ghosts not attack Clara and the Doctor at first? Is it the same reason they did not attack the one member of the crew they cornered? What have the radio waves, and artificial daylight have to do with anything? Other than, yay diversity, is there a reason we have a deaf crew member?

How thrilling did you find the ‘Doctor Who’ cliffhanger?

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