Book Review: “Men Like That: A Southern Queer History” by John Howard

Howard, John. Men Like That: A Southern Queer History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Men Like That was one of the earliest history books to deal with queer history in the American South. As such, it’s one of Men Like That coverthe first books I read for my historiography project on, you guessed it, queer history in the American South. A historiography essay summarizes and analyzes the body of historical publication on a given topic, so I’ve got a big stack of books on this, and I can only hope the rest are this interesting! This is a long review, sorry-not-sorry, because I’ve tried to include significant historical information as well as my qualitative judgments of the book itself.

Men Like That focuses on Mississippi, 1945-1985. It occasionally spills over into other southern states, and I feel the title is accurate, but it’s about one southern queer history in particular. It essentially functions as a summary of queer history in that time, because southern/rural queerness had been pretty much ignored in favor of the big, more-easily-studied coastal cities. Further, Howard’s argument is “men like that” in Mississippi didn’t fit into the traditional urban narrative. They didn’t “come out” in the same way, they didn’t generally find liberation by migrating to the cities, and they largely didn’t partake in identity politics at all during this time period. However, that doesn’t mean they were exactly “closeted” or even “oppressed” in the way we might think. They were actually incredibly active, just not in the same way as queer men in the cities. They had their own networks and systems and ways of being, and it’s those activities Howard will describe.

The book is separated into two parts. The first uses oral histories to narrate a loose history, an impression of the time period as a whole for queer men. He frankly discusses the limits of this type of history, the types of narratives received when a historian asks for queer interviewees — you miss out on the huge pool of men who “liked that,” but weren’t “like that.” Still, even though it’s limited, it’s useful. The second part of the book, larger in size, deals with more traditional historical methods. It’s more chronological, and covers such history-ish things as laws, activist organizing, public backlash, the civil rights movement, and fictional representations (not in that order).

I was pleased by Howard’s treatment of race and religion throughout the book. He rightly notes that the book would be devastatingly incomplete without discussing race and the intersection of race with sexuality, and he follows through on discussing that in pretty much every section, although he was limited in some areas by lack of available sources. Fun and significant fact — according to Howard (although not in his words), things were relatively chill for queer men in Mississippi in the 50s, but racism was huge. After the civil rights movement got started there was backlash, and queer folks got caught up in it, in large part because the anti-civil rights people tried to accuse civil rights leaders of crazy pervy stuff in general to discredit them. Also just because the dominant classes were doubling down on their definitions of propriety in general, but ALSO because queers and queer activism were legitimately linked to the Civil Rights Movement proper. The 60s and 70s were the hardest time for queer folks, not the 50s.

Howard isn’t as explicit about his attention to religion, but he does pay attention, and goes into some detail particularly in the “Politics and Belief” chapter. Religion, specifically Christianity, was vitally important to the vast majority of queer men in Mississippi. The state also has the distinction of being the birthplace of the Metropolitan Community Church, a queer-friendly denomination that’s now a worldwide presence.

Satin Chaps by Carl CorleyFor my own purposes, the “Representations” chapter was the best. I’m a huge proponent of using fiction and pop culture to illuminate perceptions of the past, that was my undergrad project, so I was all over this part. It includes music, movies, and news, but particularly books, and more particularly gay pulp novels. Even MORE particularly, the gay pulp novels and artwork of Carl Corley. Corley was one of the only gay pulp writers to use his own name, and while the books are racially problematic, they really reflect the moralistic attitudes of the time and the real-life gay culture in Mississippi mid-century. I now have elaborately detailed fantasies of making my thesis project all about Mr. Corley, because the sources are so great and it could be the best exhibit EVER, but it’s a long shot. I’ll keep you posted if this progresses beyond the idea stage.

But enough about me. Men Like That isn’t a perfect book. The main issue is too much editorializing, without clearly linking his interpretation to his evidence. Interpretation, in a historian’s parlance simply meaning “chitchat and conclusions based on evidence,” is the whole point of history writing. I just prefer to have very explicit linkages between the discussion and the evidence being discussed, because it minimizes confusion. However, this is a very common thing in history books, and it didn’t hamper my enjoyment. The work is copiously endnoted, and being a nerd working on a project, I spent a lot of quality time with those endnotes. So, I can confidently say if you want more information about any of his topics, you can easily figure out his sources and continue on your own. Another minor criticism is that he quotes Novid Parsi in glowing terms on several occasions, without mentioning that they were partners at the time. He mentions it in the acknowledgements, but not when actually using Parsi’s work.

Still, it’s a good book and an important one. It’s accessible to amateurs and historians alike, and it performed a crucial service to the profession by focusing on this underanalyzed region and collecting all this information for future use.

I won’t be able to spend as much time going through the rest of my sources for this project — I shouldn’t have spent so much time on this one — but I’ll try to add more reviews if y’all are interested. The final product, edited for the web, will appear here in December or January, and I’ll also post a source list along with it. Happy reading!

Doctor Who Review: The Zygon Inversion

Peter Capaldi acted his heart out in this episode. I’m happy to say “The Zygon Inversion” pulled it all together for me, and even though I wasn’t crazy about the first part, having seen the whole story I can say I really love this episode.

Firstly, it was fun to see the Doctor and Osgood as partners. I’m glad both of them had that opportunity, and they worked well together. Also, it was interesting to see Clara trapped inside a mind again… It calls up the Dalek thing from the first episode, and the facehugger thing from Christmas, but both those things harken back to Clara-as-Dalek-Oswin, which was notably the one time I really, really loved her. So, every time there’s a reference I get really excited, but I don’t know if anything will ever come of it. It didn’t here, but the Bonnie/Clara scene is really good! I’ve always tried to be clear that my beef is with Clara-as-character, specifically with the writers and how they continually fail to make her coherent or meaningful. Jenna Coleman, on the other hand, is pretty much a genius, and I enjoyed seeing her acting opposite herself.

The Zygon Inversion Bonnie

The next memorable bit as an agonizing scene with the Zygon whom Bonnie had forcibly outed. That was the scene where I knew this arc would be okay after all… It drew the line between fanatics and everyone else. Even more importantly, it showed that Zygon’s pain, and made us empathize with him. It gets better, though. First the episode distinguishes between the minority group and its fanatics, but then it brings the fanatics back into the fold of “us” and talks about, yes, truth and consequences. About war and revolutions and personal responsibility, personal trauma. Peter Capaldi was absolutely magnificent in the climax. And the twist, while not the “[insert name] is actually a Zygon” type thing I expected, was totally obvious and brilliantly so.

At first I thought it was a smidge condescending, the Doctor telling the marginalized group how to feel, but because the episode brought it back to fanaticism, it makes sense. More than “sense” — the Doctor takes Bonnie’s role to show her what he means, instead of making her take his and agree with him. And I kinda sniffled a little bit, because Peter Capaldi is the Doctor. He gets it. That’s the line that sums up everything I love and have always loved about the Doctor: “Of course I understand.”

The Zygon Inversion Doctor

Loved this episode, and despite a few weak first parts among these two-parters, so far this season has been very strong. I was dreading it a little bit, but now I’m sad it’s going to end.

Doctor Who Review: The Zygon Invasion

The original “Terror of the Zygons” is one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes ever, so I was hoping to love this one, but honestly I was just a bit bored. That’s a statement about me, though — all things being equal, I generally prefer episodes set on alien planets. Modern-day Earth episodes don’t interest me as much. They certainly do make Earth episodes I like, but they just didn’t happen to do it this time, and that’s fine. Preference doesn’t equal quality. That said, there were some things I appreciated and other things I didn’t.

The Zygon Invasion promo

I liked the opening with the two Osgoods — it effectively mimics the characters’ brief experience of not knowing whether they themselves were humans or Zygons. The audience doesn’t know which Osgood is which, and that’s what allows us to understand the similarities between humans and Zygons, with no “good guys and bad guys.” Also, the presence of the Zygons makes it almost seem like they planned Osgood’s death and revival all along… but either way, I don’t see any reason to complain. Not only because I like Osgood — I like her, I don’t necessarily adore her — but because revivals of this style are typical for this and many other franchises, and I have other things to worry about.

I must also say that I appreciate how Osgood has evolved as a character beyond a fangirl, someone who’s taken that love for the Doctor and used it as inspiration. (Another example of the Doctor’s positive influence. Ahem.) As a member of Amnesty International, I appreciate the depiction of Osgood’s bravery — peace-focused, a different kind of courage than a warrior or a soldier would have. Her willingness to invest her identity in being both the Other and the Us and to calmly not answer all the questions and doubts leveled at her. Some of the dialogue was clunky, another blogger called it “Moffsplaining,” but I at least like the character development. Also, I liked the preponderance of female characters, presented without gender comment. (But the last time I said that it turned out I’d totally missed how the episode was all about abortion, so take that with a grain of salt.)

The Zygon Invasion Osgood

Speaking of politics, I do appreciate that they’re using the modern-Earth episode as a way to talk about modern Earth themes. I like it when the setting isn’t just scenery, so to speak. I felt the political stuff was moderately subtle, by which I mean the themes aren’t hidden but the episode isn’t super-obvious propaganda either. And I like that it held together, with the political ethics layered over shapeshifter problems. I like that the Zygons can be read as several different real-world groups. The fact that they’re shapeshifters means they function as an invisible minority, taking on the faces and mannerisms and lives of the soldiers’ actual real family members. Once the soldiers see that, they can’t shoot them, for better or worse, while others persist in calling them “things” and don’t engage emotionally — again, for better or worse. It’s the perfect way to do invisible minorities in a sci-fi setting and to portray “them” as “them” but also “us.”

Of course, it maaay be slightly problematic that as the invisible minority who want to become visible, the method they’ve chosen is to hide in plain sight and then KILL EVERYBODY. And by “maaay,” I mean THIS IS PROBLEMATIC. It’s just like in “The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People,” when they spent TWO WHOLE EPISODES talking about how the Flesh were people who had rights and were just like us, and then the Flesh TURNED INTO ENORMOUS SLAVERING CAMEL-MONSTERS AND TRIED TO KILL EVERYBODY. Way to make invisible minorities seem less threatening. In reality we are the oppressed and it’s the oppressors who want to make us seem horrific.

The Almost People  monster

Finally, I did love the Clara twist! Apparently it was obvious to some viewers, maybe I just wasn’t paying much attention, but I was soooo sitting there thinking how obvious it was that the other woman was a Zygon. I noticed Clara was acting a little flip, given the situation, but I didn’t think anything of it. The twist very much enlivened the episode for me, and I get the distinct impression there will be more surprises in the second half, so we’ll see where all this goes.

Doctor Who Review: The Woman Who Lived

(“The Woman Who Lived” is indeed last week’s episode, I’m just behind. Yesterday’s episode will be reviewed in the next day or two.)


“The Woman Who Lived” is blessedly quieter than “The Girl Who Died.” For much of the episode it’s just two characters talking, but the whole thing is still a bit funny, with snappy dialogue and even a standup comedy bit. The focus, though, is on the characters, and that’s the way I like it.

I love Ashildr/Lady Me as a counterpoint to the Doctor. She’s small and innocent-looking, yet effortlessly nefarious, while the Doctor seems more threatening to those around him but if he actually considers anything shifty, his angst over it will probably take up an entire episode. I like the idea that her memory is just “normal-sized” and she physically can’t remember all the parts of her long life. It makes sense that she’s desensitized herself — I think that’s a perfectly reasonable reaction, although the Doctor seems to think it’s unexpected. It’s certainly troubling for those who cross her path, but reasonable. I also like that she’s become ambiguous and indeed troubling, but not crazy and not scene-chewingly evil. I knew she was veiling the extent of her villainy, but it’s a more realistic development of the idea. She could’ve been another boring version of the crazy Master/Missy, but she’s not. She’s something new.

the woman who lived

Thoughts on the middle:

  • Ashildr’s gendercrossing is understated — perhaps too understated, given the preponderance of “disguised as a boy” stories, but still. It’s interesting, and it could develop nicely, and no one says anything wildly offensive, so it’s a step up from previous stories.
  • The exchanges of Ashildr asking to travel with the Doctor are well done. Her desperation and the Doctor’s reluctance are well matched and nuanced. Clara’s unexplained absence adds tension.
  • Beauty-and-the-Beast Alien drops a little silliness, but okay. It’s really just the costume design, as a thematic element it works nicely. Ashildr’s whole plot reminds me of something the Master would do, in a good way — he was always trying to work with alien invaders and then getting double-crossed.


The big annoyance is yet again, we have the supporting characters blaming the Doctor for everyone else’s villainy and everyone else’s pain. It is actually moving in this context, and Maisie Williams invests it with a distinct air of “trying to find someone to blame,” but it’s less meaningful because it happens ALL THE DAMN TIME. I appreciate the Doctor’s position, though. His grief, yet refusal to take her villainy as his fault. Then Ashildr’s change of heart is a bit sudden, but again, Williams did a nice job portraying a woman trying to stifle her own conscience the whole way through, so I can believe it. I also liked her line in the denouement, “The last thing we need is each other.” For once, the insightful comment is really true. They’re too well-matched, and too much inversions of each other. She couldn’t travel with him largely because she’s already too much her own person, and it’s not enough like him. (Finally an INTERESTING thematic comment about Doctor/Clara? Or am I just wishing it is?) But still, Ashildr and the Doctor can be friends… And as she says, “It’s your friends you have to watch out for.”

The first half of the two-parter doesn’t relate to the second at all except for those seconds of making Ashildr immortal, so there’s no salvaging “The Girl Who Died” in my esteem. However, for once, they’ve successfully established a brand-new character who’s interesting, unique, and a valuable addition to Doctor Who. I hope we see her juuust often enough.

Spooky Scavenger Hunt!

Doctor Who is coming, I just haven’t actually posted it yet, largely because I’m being a big ol’ failosaurus this week. (Spoiler alert: I liked it.) For the moment, some quick pictures for Nerd in the Brain’s Spooky Scavenger Hunt. It’s part of the Go Play program, which is sort of like summer reading except instead of reading you do activities and go out places. It’s been super fun and a good reason for me to go do things in my new town, and I’ll be very sad when it’s over. I think you have until November 1 to sign up, though.

On to the scavenger hunt! We had to find and photograph ten specific things – literal or creative, they just couldn’t be internet or book pictures. Sooo hopefully my amateur drawings will suffice in two cases, since I didn’t find them online or in books…

1) a skeleton with a top hat


I just realized it’s a skull, not a skeleton. Close enough? I put a hat on one of the lights in my living room.

2. a ghost



3. decomposition


Just trust me on this one.

4. a black bird


I SAW plenty of real-life black birds, but always while driving!

5. a rat wearing at least one item of clothing

Chain grocery stores, you have UTTERLY FAILED ME. No rats in clothes, and no rats I could clothe myself. No rats at ALL. I found a rat dress-up game online (because of course that exists), but in case that’s still an online picture, I also drew a rat in a cape.

Rat in clothes


6. a tombstone


On a coworker’s desk. 

7. a dinosaur skeleton


At the local arts center.

8. a masked man or woman


I’m Frankensteeeein(‘s monster)!

9. a sugar skull


At Target.

10. a jack o lantern face carved into cheese


He looks less evil in person, I swear.

Thanks for the Halloween fun, and hope the drawings count!

And don’t forget, while we’re talking Halloween, Eclectic Alli is having a Halloween party!

Ms. Marvel #19 Review

Hannah G:

Just realized I never reblogged my Ms. Marvel post! Here you go. :)

Originally posted on Sourcerer:

Ms. Marvel 19 cover

I hate to say it, but I remain disappointed in the entire “Last Days of Ms. Marvel” arc. I sincerely hope that others found Ms. Marvel #19 moving and meaningful, but I just thought it was trite. I saw nothing surprising in this issue.

Last month‘s big reveal was that Kamala’s mother already knew about her secret identity. She’s very supportive. Yay.

Ms. Marvel 19

On the one hand, it’s nice. Secret identities are generally implausible with close relatives anyway, and I’m glad they’re not going the “You’re grounded for the rest of your life” route, but still. This is such a typical scene, and it’s followed immediately by an even MORE obvious interaction with Zoe. She’s the popular blonde girl usually seen making racist remarks in Kamala’s direction, but she apologizes and explains she only did those things because she’s jealous of how much everyone likes Kamala. Understandable, maybe, but haven’t…

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Doctor Who Review: The Girl Who Died

“The Girl Who Died” was all right. Not awful, but a little disappointing after the last four. For starters, it’s all very strange and more than a little silly. It’s corny jokes interspersed with heart-rending infant poetry as translated by the Doctor, with a heavy helping of odd characterization for him and Clara.

Doctor Who The Girl Who Died

There’s no paradox or philosophical question driving this episode. Instead, its a rehash of SO MANY other Doctor Who arcs. Should the Doctor save this town or not? Can the Doctor interfere with time or not? Even if one were to call this a “classic” setup instead of a derivative one, the answers to the questions are still exactly the same as they always are. I’m bored with this, stop showing me the same speeches over and over! Really there was a lot of speechifying in this episode, most of it pulled from other episodes. While I’m a big fan of talky episodes, these speeches really didn’t hang together into an affecting narrative, and I blame that on the lack of a central theme.

The characterization, as I mentioned, is also odd. The Doctor as drill sergeant? Really? Yeah, it was funny, but the Doctor would not do that. I’m not talking about “my preferred characterization,” the Doctor WOULD NOT DO THAT. The Twelfth in particular goes ON AND ON about his dislike of the military and unwillingness to be a commander. Even though he’s softened somewhat since then, it just doesn’t make sense. I’m also disappointed that Twelve’s choice of face wasn’t actually a plot point, just some random “reminder” that apparently hasn’t been important until now. However, I should note that Peter Capaldi is in fine form, delivering a performance with real weight and sadness.

Clara, for her part, is cast back into a totally subordinate and supportive “wifely” role, encouraging the Doctor, knowing him better than he knows himself, becoming an object for him to worry about protecting, and generally not doing anything in the episode. Not only is that annoying on its own, I just wish to high heaven that they’d write Clara as a person who’s the SAME from one episode to the next, but she’s just an inconsistent dramatic device.

Doctor Who The Girl Who Died Maisie Williams

And to top it all off, they BROKE THE SHADES! For very little reason that I can see. Poo.

It sounds like I disliked the episode more than I actually did. It was fine, I’m just not seeing much that’s new, and it’s missing the coherence of the last few. I’m interested to see the second half next week though, because it’s a clever “cliffhanger” to tie up this episode and then revisit the Viking girl Ashildr (the much-awaited Maisie Williams) in a totally different setting next week. It could well be that this whole episode was setup and something awesome awaits!

Sunday Post on Saturday – Update

I promise I’ll have posts that aren’t just about Doctor Who at some point… It just seems I’ve generally got time for one post a week and since I always review Who, that tends to be the one post.

As a general update, school is going very well but keeping me busy just trying to get familiar with each week’s readings for each class, let alone actually READING all that material. I think at this point of the semester I’m done with a lot of the incidental projects and I’ve got (a little) more time to spend on the bigger papers. One of them is an analysis of coal towns in Alabama, generally focusing on the architecture and town layouts. The other is a historiography paper — a summary and commentary on the history already written about a topic. That’s my favorite class, and my project is on what’s been written about queer southern history. So, I’m sure both those will appear on the blog at some point, although I expect fewer people will be interested in the architecture bit.

I’m also picking away at some fiction writing. Whenever I get around to another non-Who post, in a week or two, it’ll probably be about new methods of keeping track when I’m only writing a few times a month.

As usual, I’m terribly sorry I haven’t had time to read blogs. I’m at least a month behind, maybe two. If nothing else, I’ll catch up a little at Thanksgiving. >.<

Doctor Who Review: Before the Flood

“Before the Flood” was a pleasure to watch and a solid follow-up to “Under the Lake.” There are a few problems, but from the first moments I felt like I could really relax and just be a Doctor Who fan, because this is good stuff.

I love the “Listen”-style monologue opening — I loved it in “Listen” and I still love it here — and the rocked-up intro was fun! The monologue sets the perfect stage for the episode’s theme, the Bootstrap Paradox. If you go back in time, discover Beethoven doesn’t exist, and publish all his music yourself to preserve the timeline… Where did the music come from? Beethoven didn’t write it, but neither did you. The paradox usage is great, allowing the “future” and the “past” to interact. Anything like that takes some suspension of disbelief, but if you’ve got a whole show about time travel I wanna see that stuff. It’s just a good usage of the show’s premise, and I’m a huge proponent of really delivering on its setting. That’s what makes a show (or book, movie, etc.) so truly itself, memorable and unique.

Doctor Who Before the Flood Beethoven

The characters are quite good. Clara’s statement, “You’ve given me something else to be,” it really works for her. I can see her as someone who didn’t know who she was and was trying to be who she was “supposed” to be, but couldn’t be. That’s why she was bizarrely fixated on her “normal” life and going home to it every night, despite seeming entirely unsatisfied by that life. The statement itself reminds me of the way Rose appreciated the Doctor, and that’s the part of her I always understood. I still can’t stand Clara — I’m not a Rose fan, come to that — but maybe I’ll just pretend from here on out that this is her for-realsies characterization (even though I fully expect it to change again).

Cass is still totally badass, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that she makes it to the end! There is a weird moment of “deafness as superpower” with the Daredevil-style sonar bit, and why couldn’t she have just GLANCED OVER HER SHOULDER instead of this protracted sequence, but she lives and she’s awesome and she’s not discounted as a love interest, so I’m calling it good.

But seriously though. You have this awesome character in Cass, but you LITERALLY kill the feisty fangirl LITERALLY FOR BEING SO FEISTY AND FANGIRLY. She’s punished for insisting on participating. This, after the previously-mentioned killing of two black characters in two episode openers IN A ROW. I don’t know if I should blame Moffat personally or not in this case, but whoever’s responsible for this shit, GET YOURSELF TOGETHER.

Doctor Who Before the Flood O'Donnell

Back on the positive side, I enjoyed this more subtle treatment of the Doctor’s responsibilities. For years, supporting characters have lambasted him for not saving people properly, for not “caring.” They treat him as if he’s “responsible” for the whole of time and space, but he’s not an official. He’s a private individual. If he does have responsibilities, they’re issued by the Time Lords, not the humans, and we can expect them to lie with the timestream. So, does responsibility issue from power, like Spiderman says? Or is what he does the equivalent of a gift to those he saves, not a right on their part to be saved? There’s a class dynamic here as well as an individual one. None of that is addressed in the episode, all we really get are a few downplayed accusations, but I prefer that to the one-sided whining we usually see. There’s nuance here in how and when the Doctor chooses to act.

“Before the Flood” didn’t have the same gripping quality of the first half or the horror-story timing, and the ending is confusingly rushed, but it’s a satisfying conclusion with strong script ideas and minimal distractions. I like these two-parters immensely, and I’m enjoying the trend of basing each around a philosophical question or paradox, an idea with a name. It might get old if they did that season after season, but after last year, we were desperately in need of cohesion and coherence. Clearly stating the theme may be a blunt way of providing that coherence, but it’s a welcome one.

And I still love the shades!

Doctor Who Review: Under the Lake

Ohhhhmygod, y’all! That was much more intense than I expected! A streamlined plot AND an awesome deaf character AND an underwater setting AND a genuinely gripping cliffhanger all in one go?? I was pretty into “The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar,” as you know, but “Under the Lake” left more excited for next week than either of those.

Doctor Who Under the Lake promo pic

I’m just so, so happy that there’s a real plot here, not just bells and whistles. No bizarre left turn, just thickening. It’s a classic Who set-up, getting a bunch of characters into a confined space and then adding a sci-fi monster, but it’s a classic because it can really work if all those elements are done properly.

The characters are engaging and differentiated — Cass, the leader of the team, is a smart and resourceful and awesome chick. She’s also deaf, with a personal sign-language interpreter, but while she does use her ability to lip-read for the plot, her real plot-significance is that she can figure out the answers to the story’s questions. She’s great. I did wonder why this future couldn’t provide some kind of assistive technology instead of an entire interpreter, which I’d think would be more expensive for the company, BUT I loved that they were close but not treated as a unit, and I loved that he was cool and brave in his own right. The other characters don’t get as much screen time, but the highest compliment I can give is that no one is “the annoying one” and I still remember all their faces and care what happens to each of them.

Doctor Who Under the Lake Cass

The other two elements of the set-up also work splendidly. I love an underwater setting and they had several good shots. The sci-fi monster(s), too, were just interesting. It’s a ghost — it’s making more ghosts — it’s trying to tell us something — it’s not trying to tell US anything… I loved the way the script teased the questions out one at a time, drawing the viewer into the plot, trying to predict the answers. There are still questions to answer in the next episode, and OH GOD the cliffhanger. YES we all know the Doctor isn’t going to die, but I MUST KNOW HOW THIS IS RESOLVED and I must know it NOW.

The negatives for this episode really relate to the series as a whole. For the second time this season, the only black character died before the intro. Seriously, twice in a row, people. Then, it seems Clara’s back in gung-ho “Let’s have an adventure!” mode. I really wish they’d make up their minds what kind of character she is. And while the Doctor’s prompt cards were funny, his characterization regarding interpersonal skills is inconsistent. The jokes happen, but rarely enough that I forget “insensitivity” is meant to be part of his character.

Doctor Who Under the Lake cards

Still, I’m very impressed by this episode’s success with a new villain. Sometimes they just seem made-up, like Colony Sarff, but this one actually commits to one concept and doesn’t answer its questions too soon. I can’t wait for next week’s conclusion, slightly changing the set-up but, I trust, delivering the promised resolution. And these two-part episodes were an awesome, awesome choice for the season!