It’s difficult to believe that Hide was written by the same hand as The Rings of Akhaten. I have to say I loved almost everything about it. The spookiness, the misunderstandings, Dougray Scott, the TARDIS being ‘a cow’, how everything (except the psychic crown thing) looked stunning. Shall I stop gushing and go back to the beginning?
(Spoilers, obviously, from here on in)
So with Haunted House effects turned up to 11, we meet our ghost hunters, Major Alec Palmer (the brilliant Dougray Scott) and ’empathic psychic’ Emma Grayling (the also very talented Jessica Raines) and they, in turn, meet the Doctor and Clara. (I’m skating past that terrible Ghostbusters line as fast as possible by the way.)
I love the Doctor’s genuine joy at meeting a man almost as brilliant as he is and the joke about whether Emma is a companion or an assistant – drawing the parallels and teasing long-time Who fans at the same time.
Full marks are given to scripts that give you meaningful (yet undecipherable at the time) clues: the ghost has been here longer than Caliburn House, she is always in exactly the same position, and she’s real (but then, it was unlikely she was ever going to be a ghost). (In the same way that points are deducted for conquering alien sun monsters with leaves of sentimental value.)
I am totally with the Doctor in regard to his discomfort with ignorance, though I’m not sure what Carlisle has done to be regarded as the antonym of bliss.
Am I the only one who thinks that the references to the Doctor’s bloody past are leading somewhere? Last week, the Captain noted the scent of soldier on the Doctor, this week the Major tells Emma that ‘seeing a thing or two’ will turn a man into a liar. And then there’s the conversation in the dark room. Alec answering the Doctor’s question about why a war hero is in a lonely old house hunting a ghost clearly speaks to a truth the Doctor knows well: “Because I killed and I caused to have killed. I sent young men and women to their deaths, but here I am still alive. And it does tend to haunt you living after so much of the … other thing.” Major Palmer would thank the people he sent to die to win the war, the question has to be what would the Doctor say? The Tenth Doctor would probably say “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” I’m not sure that that is Eleven’s style.
Perhaps all this is leading to our Time Lord being put on trial for war crimes? Perhaps Clara is the baited hook designed to snare him? It would explain why she is too good to be true.
Anyway, back in Caliburn House the dial for spookiness has been nudged further round with a chalk circle that was pretty eerie even before it started steaming and an angry banging horribly reminiscent of Midnight…
And the Doctor has had an idea – so he’s digging out that old orange spacesuit (Clara: “The colour’s a bit boisterous.” The Doctor: “I think it brings out my eyes.”) and flying the Tardis to the beginning and end of the world with camera to prove his theory – the ghost is a woman experiencing time much more slowly than we are, trapped in a pocket universe and being drawn home by Emma’s empathic psychic powers.
Doctor Who is at its best when it can conjure a genuine feeling of peril and a worry over the cost of someone’s bravery. From Emma’s fears to the Doctor’s distinctly subdued “Geronimo”, we’re already on edge long before the fabulously atmospheric forest island floating in space comes into view. It’s not often we see the Doctor frightened either – defiant in the face of danger or thrilled by the chase – but not often scared. It’s a great way to make us scared too. Oh, and throw in the Tardis chiming the cloister bell and the feelings of dread are pretty overwhelming. (I loved that when the sonic couldn’t lock the door in the echo house, the Doctor used his bow tie, by the by.)
It pleases me that the Doctor was both right and wrong about what ‘Big Boy’ wanted from him, and that Doctor Who continues to remind its young viewers now and then that just because something looks monstrous it doesn’t mean it’s a villain (and, in this case, can’t be in a loving relationship). The Doctor is of course right to conclude that Hide is in fact a love story, not a ghost story, and it was all so brilliantly done that I don’t even mind.
Before I go, can I share some ongoing questions about Clara? Is it significant that she invited the Doctor to dare her to go looking for the ghost? Is there more to her conversation with the Doctor about people being no more than ghosts? Does his answer (“You’re the only mystery worth solving.”) apply to all humans or just her? Also, the Doctor is quick to dismiss Alec’s concerns about the paradoxes caused by time travel (“they resolve themselves, by and large.”). Twice. One wonders if that glibness will come back to bite him. Either way, it looks like the Doctor is asking questions next week – whether he (or we) get any answers is another matter entirely of course!
See you for a trip to the heart of the Tardis next week…
Posted by Jo the Hat