Every now and then Doctor Who does a proper scary episode, sure to make any child cower in fear from behind the sofa, terrified of the monsters in front of them. This was that kind of episode. After that slight dip in quality last week with Cold War, the show is back on a roll as “Hide” gives us the Doctor Who version of a ghost story, and it’s quite good.
In my review for The Rings of Akhaten, I talked about how the episode had many elements reminiscent of the Ninth Doctor’s run. Likewise, this episode had a few elements reminiscent of the Tenth Doctor, starting with the ‘Ghostbusters’ gag in the beginning, as well as the return of the space suit last seen in The Waters of Mars. Also, the ‘Help Me’ sprawled across the wall was very Blink-esque.
There are also a few references to the Classic Era with a quick mention of the Eye of Harmony and also Metebellis III, a planet the Third Doctor traveled to. Susan, the Ice Warriors, and now this–if there’s anyone out there who still thinks that Doctor Who doesn’t care for its rich history, then you’re watching the wrong show. Having these varied references in each episode is lovely, it almost feels like it’s building up to something else on its own (most likely not though).
Speaking of building up, the story arc is touched upon again in this episode after its absence last week. The whole thing again feels like the ‘Bad Wolf’ arc or even the Series 4 arc, where little hints are given at what’s to come, but not enough to take over the main story of the episode.
This time Clara once again mentions the weird feeling she has that the TARDIS doesn’t like her, and it’s made more clear now that it doesn’t. Why? Considering the mention of paradoxes in this story, I bet Clara has some paradoxical nature about her and her ‘ghosts’ that makes the TARDIS uncomfortable. I think it’s safe to say we’ll find out a lot more in next week’s TARDIS-centric episode, and will eventually tie into the overall question of who Clara is.
That’s the question that drove the Doctor to Caliburn House in the first place, as he came to ask the powerful psychic that is Emma Grayling who or what Clara could possibly be. Unfortunately, she has no answers or advice for him. For Clara though, she advises her not to trust the Doctor, because “there’s a sliver of ice in his heart.”
But let’s go back to who Emma is in the first place, who with Professor Alec Palmer lives in this haunted house. At the beginning of the story, we see them trying to find the ghost and help her, because Emma feels her loneliness through her psychic powers. These two guest stars bring a lot to the episode as their characterization is brilliant. Their love story is weaved into the overall story just right without being too overbearing or too insignificant.
I was very impressed by the actors portraying them, and they might be two of my favorite guest stars in recent Doctor Who history. I was extremely happy then to find out that Jessica Raine, the actress portraying Emma, is also going to be playing Verity Lambert in the Doctor Who docudrama film later this year, An Adventure in Space and Time.
The ghost in itself was pretty darn scary compared to recent episodes too, and I loved it. Specifically, the scene where it screams ‘Help Me’ and tries to reach out to Emma from the pocket universe was very well done, and the quick shot of the ghost through the window from the lightning strike actually gave me a quick little fright.
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