It took repeated watchings for me to appreciate this episode. I was turned off by the idea of another ghost-who-isn’t-really-a-ghost. I came around, however.
A good friend of mine, who actually introduced me to Doctor Who in the first place*, called me up to make sure I get this recap right. “Selena,” he said. “Don’t fuck this up.” I will do my best not to, for all Whokind.
The beginning of “Hide” is all classic ghost story, all the time. We’ve got fog, we’ve got moors, we’ve got a creepy old manor, and we’ve got star-crossed lovers. It’s set in 1973, and the set decoration, especially the electronics, made me gleeful.
Our guests this week, the dapper Dr. Alec Palmer (played by Dougray Scott) and the empathic Emma Grayling (played by Jessica Raine), are ghosthunters. They’ve been contacted by a trapped spirit, and have dozens of photos of her in the exact same position over centuries. The Doctor and Clara appear, as they do, and the Doctor sets to figuring things out. He takes Clara on a whirlwind trip through time from the spot they’re standing on’s first moment until its last. Clara finds this understandably upsetting. Before their trip, there is a moment where Clara tells the Doctor the TARDIS doesn’t like her. The Doctor replies that the TARDIS is like a cat, it just takes time to build trust. I rather like this TARDIS-is-cat metaphor. Later, we also learn she’s a delightful smartass.
The Doctor discovers that the Witch of the Well is actually a time-travelling badass from the future, who’s trapped in a pocket universe. He took photos of her, centuries apart, on his time jaunt with Clara, which show her running and screaming. While timey-wimey remnants of her have been haunting this particular spot on the moors for billions of years, to the time traveler, it’s only been three minutes since she crashed. Also, she’s screaming and running because she’s being chased by an uncomely alien who is very, very scary.
The Doctor, of course, knows what to do to bring back time-travelling badass Hila Tarcorian. He adds a special blue stone which increases Emma’s power to her headpiece. When Emma asks if it will hurt, he first tells her no, then says it probably will, then adds that it might be horrific, and he’s curious to see how it goes. It’s a quick moment, but it illustrates that our kindly, raggedy doctor is becoming rather cold. Like Emma points out to Clara, “there is a sliver of ice in his heart.” We’ve been shown and told several times what happens when the Doctor travels alone, it’s interesting, and perhaps a clue to the real identity of Clara that he’s becoming so cold while with a companion. Ostensibly, one he doesn’t trust and considers more a mystery than a partner, but still.
It does hurt, but Emma is able to keep the portal open long enough for Hila to be pulled through. She collapses before the Doctor is able to make it back, however, and she traps him in the pocket universe with the pissed off, very, very scary alien. Clara demands she hop right back on the horse and bring the Doctor back, but it takes Dr. Palmer to ultimately convince her. Clara, meanwhile, thinks up an alternative plan and runs to the TARDIS, who won’t let her in. Instead, she projects a voice interface hologram to explain why the TARDIS is putting her foot down about travelling to a pocket universe. Cleverly, the TARDIS picks a hologram of Clara herself, claiming that’s who she’d hold in the highest esteem. *Snort.* Sassy TARDIS is fun. The TARDIS eventually relents, and she and Clara fly into the pocket universe, scoop the Doctor up, and fly back to the manor through the wormhole Emma creates.
Back at the manor, the Doctor confronts Emma, who appears to not be his biggest fan. I have to imagine the Doctor is a little intimidated by her as well, he’s a man who needs his secrets. She correctly assumes he’s come to see her, and not to rescue ghosts, and she’s right. He wants her to tell him about Clara, who she really is, but Emma gets annoyed, telling him she’s a perfectly ordinary girl while implying he’s a giant jerk for even asking. I like Emma. I hope we see her again. Later, he tosses out some major spoilers for Emma and Dr. Palmer, when he tells them Hila is their several times great granddaughter. Their blood connection is what allowed Hila to find Emma, because awwwwww.
As the Doctor and Clara are about to take Hila somewhere she can’t create a paradox (even though, as the Doctor says, paradoxes have a way of “working themselves out”), he has an epiphany. The very, very scary alien isn’t angry and murdery because he’s a predator, he’s angry and murdery because his lady companion is in Emma and Dr. Palmer’s universe, and he’s trapped in the pocket universe. The Doctor travels there one more time, to give Very Scary a ride back to his lovah. Again, awwww.
All in all, this was a fun, fast-moving episode. There were several great moments of dialogue, the story wasn’t overly obvious, and the mystery was nicely paced. I think it’s one I’ll enjoy re-watching in future Who marathons.
*In this order: “Blink,” “The Eleventh Hour,” “Silence in the Library.”