If you can believe it, this is where the episode takes a strange turn. For some reason we hear the tolling of the Cloister Bell, the TARDIS’ infamous distress beacon. Realizing that the Doctor was left behind Clara desperately runs back to the TARDIS, but it won’t let her in. She demands entry by calling the TARDIS a grumpy old cow, and this somehow triggers a holographic image of Clara. The TARDIS Visual Voice Interface, as it turns out, chose an image Clara would best respond to. So the TARDIS interacts with Clara, who pleads to be let in, as well as for the TARDIS to save the Doctor. The TARDIS lets her in and flies off on its own to save the Doctor. This is an exceedingly strange occurrence as nothing like it has ever been seen before. A companion talked to the TARDIS and the TARDIS flew off on its own to save the Doctor. Ok then… The only time we’ve seen something similar is when the TARDIS takes it upon itself to save Donna. I’m not sure how I feel about this whole thing, if only because I’m certain it has to do with Clara’s mystery and we still don’t really know anything yet. I am confident this will all make sense when her mystery is finally revealed. I hope…
Doctor Who: Hide Reviewed
I have always enjoyed when Doctor Who merges with other genres besides science fiction. I think the show is uniquely capable of doing so successfully. One genre explored on several occasions is that of the ghost story, more specifically the haunted house. Stories like The Horror at Fang Rock, Ghost Light, and The Unquiet Dead, are prime examples of a semi-traditional haunted house story given the unique Doctor Who treatment. Richly textured with plenty of dark atmosphere, frantic emotion, and tense drama, Doctor Who ghost stories are always a pleasant change of pace. Hide might be the best.
It begins in 1974 with a paranormal investigation team, consisting of Professor Alec Palmer, and his assistant Emma Grayling, investigating Caliburn House. They get a bit more than they bargained for when a ghost brushes by Emma. Right then there’s a knock at the door. Who is it? The Doctor and Clara of course, with a Ghostbusters reference to boot!
The Doctor apparently knows the investigators, even gushing as a fan. He pretends he and Clara are on a health and safety inspection, but it’s pretty clear to the viewer that they must have come for an as of yet undisclosed reason. Right away the Doctor takes over the investigation with a swoosh of his sonic screwdriver and some fancy ghosthunter-esque words.
It turns out the investigation team is at Caliburn House in search of the Witch of the Well, a famous ghost going back several hundred years. The Doctor is shown dozens of pictures taken of the ghost, who appears to look exactly the same in every single picture. The thing is quite creepy looking, and with dark emotions being relayed by the team’s empathic psychic, Emma, the mood is well set along side an exceptionally creepy score.
Early on you get the sense that the Doctor and Clara’s relationship has grown stronger, presumably in adventures fans haven’t seen. There’s a plucky sort of chemistry between them, painted beautifully by continually well-written banter.
As the two of them tip-toe through the dark with only a candelabra to light their way we see that something is following them. They begin to experience some hallmark haunted house creepiness—creaking, cold spots, and a sense of being watched—when they reach the music room, the heart of the house. Things escalate quickly and the Professor’s equipment goes haywire, mirroring the Doctor and Clara’s firsthand experience of the phenomena. The tension is too much and the Doctor and Clara run back to basecamp with the others, but this is where it all goes crazy as a sort of portal opens and something from beyond makes contact. Also, in typical haunted house cinematic fashion “HELP ME” appears on one of the walls.
Something chilling happens when Emma tells Clara not to trust the Doctor during a conversation they were having. She tells Clara that he “has a cold sliver in his heart”. What the heck does that mean? This is quickly left to ring in your mind as suddenly Clara and the Doctor are running to the TARDIS. But before they get there Clara pauses to tell the Doctor she doesn’t like the way she feels like the TARDIS is looking at her, and that the TARDIS doesn’t like her. It won’t even let her in as the Doctor enters but the doors close behind him. It isn’t until Clara knocks and the Doctor lets her in that she enters the TARDIS. I am really enjoying this aspect of Clara’s mystery. What does this all mean? Is Clara some sort of paradox as her splintered existence implies? I just want to know!
The next thing you see is the Doctor standing on a nascent planet Earth taking pictures, and then again at different points in time. It is obvious that he’s looking for evidence to support a theory that the Witch in the Well is somehow locked in a particular point in time. While Clara is watching on a monitor as the Doctor mulls about outside the TARDIS she begins to cry. It is because she realizes they just raveled to, as well as watched the entire life cycle of the Earth. She asks The Doctor how he could be OK with seeing all of that, how it doesn’t affect him. She finally comprehends the ramifications of his existence, that from the Doctor’s perspective she is both not yet born, as well as dead. It’s a visibly jarring moment for Clara, and it is sold exceptionally well by Jenna. Clara makes the parallel that she, and really everyone, are just ghosts to the Doctor. She asks him if that’s what everyone is to him. Obviously flustered by this turn the Doctor blurts out that she is more, that she is the only mystery worth solving. It is first time in their traveling together that he acknowledges there is something going on, that he is keeping something from her. It is a profound moment indeed. All of a sudden things got awkward.
Moving on…There’s something quintessentially “Who” about dismantling superstition by giving it a scientific explanation. The Doctor is never fooled into believing that whatever everyone else thinks is a ghost actually is. I think the Doctor even takes special pleasure in encountering “ghosts” because it gives him a chance to wow his companions by providing a rational explanation to people’s superstitious fears. This is exactly what happens in Hide. The Doctor reveals that the ghost is actually Hila Tukurian, a pioneering time traveler caught in a pocket universe. Even after the ghost is demystified, the episode remains frightening as the Doctor finds out that Hila is actually being chased by something horrible.
Several references to Classic Who are made in this episode including an umbrella stand, a blue crystal from Metebelis III, and the Eye of Harmony. For this alone Hide is an all-around Whogasm! The Doctor uses the two items not meant for holding umbrellas to make contact with Hila in the pocket universe, and even opens a doorway…for the Doctor to jump through with reckless abandon! When he’s all the way through he finds himself altogether somewhere else; a shimmering dream dimension of shifting land and dark menacing forests.
The Doctor’s fear in this place is obvious as he frantically searches for Hila, but luckily he quickly finds her and tells her to run. It’s a clever play on the now ubiquitous “Doctor stumbling across someone and telling them to run” motif. So the Doctor is trying to find his way back to the portal by following Emma’s voice. When he does find it he selflessly sends Hila back first so he can attempt to seal whatever it was that was chasing them behind, but in the process he gets trapped with the thing; some sort of grotesque nightmare monster.
Anyway, as the Doctor is being attacked by the nightmare monster the TARDIS swings by and the Doctor literally grabs a ride on the outside, which then materializes back to the Professor, Emma, and Hila. The next morning the Doctor speaks with Emma before they all part ways. He reveals that he came to this time and place specifically to speak with her in hopes she could shed light on who, or what Clara is. He doesn’t learn what he’d like to however, and he, just like all of us, is still left in the dark.
I’m tempted to criticize all this strangeness as a contrived shell of an episode, but I quite liked Hide. Still, there was something undeniably strange, almost alien about it. But from the thing with Clara and the TARDIS, to the Doctor riding on the TARDIS’ exterior, to the totally random reveal that Hila is the many-times great-granddaughter of the Alec and Emma, to the end where you find out that the monster chasing Hila is actually two monsters in love who were separated across time and space, it’s all just a bit too ridiculous. Like I said, I like the episode. It had all the elements I’ve always loved about Doctor Who ghost stories, but I don’t actually think anything happened, or more precisely, so much happened that nothing actually happened. It just seemed to get away from itself while still being quite a decent episode. It was fun, I just honestly have no idea what I saw.
Anyways, maybe well find the point of this week’s episode next week, hiding in Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. Get it?image source: [doctorwhotv]