The Devil Below
I have always enjoyed putting the Doctor in space (come to think of it, I enjoy watching him wherever he flies), but this story pushes the limits of greatness. I've complained many a time about why Matt Jones has never written another Doctor Who story, and I've finally come to the conclusion that he has realised...he cannot top his first creation, which is this masterpiece of a thriller. And that is why I believe (sometimes) that Doctor Who can top most television shows. An this episode is one of the reasons why it will never ever be...how to put this?...crap.
My first impressions for this episode were intriguing to say the least. The trailer was interesting, the title was endearing. It was almost like waiting for the final second of school to pass before the summer holidays. An then it finally arrived...
Bang! We are hit by brilliant set design and realistic scenery. The main characters' reactions are similar to ours. They are interested and tempted to go further, which is exactly what we want them to do. Writing on the wall, the sound of ominous drilling and oh...aliens! A brilliantly strong start and with a climatic end. Jones couldn't have written it any better. And so it continues, the aliens appear hostile, however, there is a twist, and the humour projected is a perfect cushion for us comfortably lie upon as we prepare for the next developments.
During this period of time, I was briefly wondering about what could be outside. As we are escorted through the yellow-coloured conduits, we are finally greeted by a larger group of humans. They're look as the Doctor and Rose enter sells the episode. They are dumbfounded, almost overwhelmed by the sight. And so the story develops. We are given brief moments of fright as the whole base shakes and shrieks in agony as a part of its construction collapses away. We are given the chance to take a glimpse of what's outside. Just like the Doctor, we are amazed.
Now, I must praise the special effects, because they are unbelievably good. A colourful array of dust clouds and star systems being swallowed by an almighty beast, could it be a sign of what is to come? Hmm? I think it's very likely. And so we are given the facts. Succingtly written by Matt Jones, we are quickly introduced to the crew...and given a short background about their circumstances on the planet. And then it gets spooky!
Toby the archeologist walking quite innocently to his office, when we hear quite an eerie voice growl his name. Very well performed, and extremely chilling, with Murray Gold's masterpiece of music notes to back the tension. It is a perfect moment and why Doctor Who is one of the best.
It becomes calmer now, as we are taken back to the control room, but it just gets bad. Slowly, we are given clues to a more serious problem. The Doctor's TARDIS has gone. A could-be climax and definitely a hard-hitting one. And so, they are trapped, the Doctor and Rose, left with the odd Ood and their fellow humans.
The intervals now are quite jolly as we delve deeper into the facts of the base and what is inside. The cafeteria with black slop as food, and the top of the drilling construction where the Ood are happily working. But inbetween, there are some sticato moments of pure horror. An Ood with misleading words, doors going faulty, the image of a horrid creature in the control room and Tobias Zed under a watchful eye. Gabriel Wolffe steals the episode with his underlining voice. It resembles Morgan Freeman's god-like voice, which is basically the point. And then silence, as we witness Toby Zed transforming into something...ancient.
Cut to a romantic scene, where Rose and the Doctor have come to terms with living in their new home. They consider their options for a new life on another planet, free of travel...and then there's the question of their relationship. A beautiful moment with Russell T. Davies written all over it. But it is halted with a contrasted note of malice, and everything begins to melt away as we realise that hopes of survival in this dreadful place is running thin. "He is awake." In the Ood habitation we witness Basic 5 go up to Basic 30 (equal to a scream) and it makes us think about what those poor souls are feeling inside their heads. "He is awake" "And you will worship him", a line which sends chilling feelings of horror down my back.
And then the innocent Scooti, hoping to find Toby, but instead a monstrous being. Her final scene is magic, with Gold's melodic tunes giving forth a tearful send-off. You can almost smell the blood as we realise that she will die. Fast movements and whizzing camera shots, give us freaky music and more panic as another section is torn apart. Scooti isn't saved, but hang on...Toby is. This leaves many questions for Doctor Who to answer, but continuing for the story, we find the tears unravel as the team suddenly realise that Scooti has found her fate. Flying above the base, her hand is outstretched, poignant in its truest sense, almost as if she was waving goodbye.
As the climax dissipates, we realise that the drilling has stopped. The scenes are slick inter-locking with each other, making it easy to watch instead of an unsteady mix of different scenes jumbled hastily together. We are given a less tearful scene as we realise what the drilling was for. For them to investigate the source of the gravity beam welding the planet away from the black hole. A brilliant idea setting the entire double episode in place. The Doctor standing in a spacesuit, makes us feel safer, because he hasn't lost his confidence. And so it begins, the descent into the depths of Krop Tor. It is a moment full of suspense because we are all, including the characters awaiting what might appear.
They arrive! (I apologise for my enthusiasm) Inside a ecclesiastically styled cavern with giant statues and the essence of a light in the distance. The scene is incredible, and something that should be remebered forever. This rather impressive scene is interrupted cleverly by Danny, who amongst a state of panic is explaining that fact that the Ood are becoming restless and are disobeying his orders. We witness this as the Ood rise in unison and begin to climb the stairs. His description seems silly at first, but as the security guard is killed in cold blood, we realise the danger unfolding.
Now it gets good! Toby Zed has become infected once again, possessing the rest of the Ood with the power of the beast, who seems to be naming every bad word it can. Back in the cavern, a rumbling has started, the roof is crumbling above them and the circle of stone is opening. More flashing scenes, Ood under the possession of the Beast, striding towards the innocent humans and the Doctor and Ida experiencing a terrible jostle as something awakens from the pit. Something far more powerful than we could ever imagine. It's a magnificent moment of pure ecstasy and I cannot and will not get enough of it.
Overall, there is nothing else to say, except the fact that it was excellent. The only criticism I possess is simply...I want more!
It was pure magic and I hope you enjoyed it too. I know the mark may not seem that much, but it is very tough for an episode to sweeten my taste buds.
78/100 (75-80 Very Good)