Review: DOCTOR WHO S7E10, HIDE (Or, The Doctor And Clara Go Ghost Hunting)
"Hide" certainly has similarities with the other episode of Doctor Who written by Neil Cross, "The Rings of Akhaten," in that they both manage to sell the emotion of the story without constructing a coherent narrative throughout. When it begins, it seems that "Hide" is going to be a ghost story, but it reveals itself to be more interested in other things as it develops.
Haunted houses always make for great places to set episodes of this show, with one of the most notable being "Blink," where the Weeping Angels are masterfully introduced. This episode probably isn't destined to be as memorable, but it is an effective installment in which we get to learn much about the Doctor and Clara as they travel to 1974 to search for a ghost in a spooky old manor house.
It, of course, turns out that what they're looking for isn't a ghost at all but a lost time traveller. The science that gets them to this conclusion is both rushed and gibberish, so it's best not to pay too much attention to it. Also, with this realisation, the episode shifts from being a ghost story to being a jumble of other things as it blends crazy science with love stories and surprisingly poignant confrontations, especially the one between both the Doctor and Clara.
Some of this works, some of it doesn't. The episode benefits from focusing on two excellent guest stars in Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott. The dynamic between their characters neatly reflects the one that Clara and the Doctor share, with some slight differences. Raine plays Emma Grayling, a psychic working with Professor Alec Palmer (Scott) as they try to discover more about the "ghost" that is living in his home. Both characters are clearly in love but haven't told each other, it's convincingly played and builds to a successfully resonant conclusion.
For the most part, this appears to be a fairly low-budget affair with the action focused on the house and the characters within it. Then, the Doctor takes a trip through the location's entire history to see if he can discover anything about its past, which is a decision that almost seems pointless until it is completely justified by Clara's reaction. When Clara sees how little going to the beginning and end of time affects him, she is visibly unsettled. She is understandably unsure of how the Doctor must consider every human, so she tells him "we're all ghosts to you," a statement to which he has no satisfactory answer, merely responding that humans are "the only mystery worth solving."
I think this exchange gets to the heart of the troubling relationship that these two have. Clara is still a puzzle to the Doctor, and the episode's ending makes it clear that he's so intent on solving her that he's yet to really trust her or tell her the truth. The Tardis also doesn't trust her, for reasons much less clear that are sure to be investigated in next week's episode. For her part, Clara is proving a strong companion, but while she has courage, she is also afraid in ways the Doctor isn't acknowledging. I'll be interested to see if the show is prepared to explore the potentially dark consequences of building this dynamic with lies. This episode suggests that it may be capable of doing so while delivering reliable entertainment that works well if you don't think about the intricacies of the story too much.
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