Well, here we are at the mid point of the second half of the Doctor Who season, and already we have some pluses and minuses for this part of the season. And they all centered around this episode.
While many people (the BBC in particular) have been pushing “Hide” as a scary episode, it really wasn’t that scary; not in light of the truly terrifying episodes in Who history (and that includes “Blink” and “Midnight”, which also happen to be two of the greatest episodes in Nu-Who history ). Instead, it was a fun little spook fest with some interesting sci-fi twists and turns thrown in for good measure amongst a standard haunted house story.
Credit for why this episode worked so well would have to go to writer Neil Cross. It is easy to see why the Who producers were impressed with this script; unlike his previous script for “The Rings of Akahten,” this episode is relatively tight and keeps the action moving at a clip, even in spite of a few clunker lines (the reference of The Doctor having a “sliver of ice in his heart” was a bit too on the nose, as well as “Every lonely monster needs a companion”). It also helped that the performances were pretty strong as well. Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine as were perfect as Professor Alex Palmer and empath Emma Grayling with neither of them being able to say how they felt about each other to the other’s face, leaving Clara and The Doctor to have to play de facto matchmakers. In fact, romance was in the air, even from the episode’s big bad (and its paramour trapped in a pocket dimension).
If there was one fault in the episode, it felt that The Doctor and Clara were off slightly. The repartee was still there but it didn’t feel as lived in as it should have by this point in the season. I don’t know if The Doctor is trying to close himself off to Clara till he can figure her out (which ties into the real reason why The Doctor came to see Emma Graying in the first place), but it didn’t have the usual sharp banter that we have come to expect from Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman in these roles.
Another complaint that I’ve had with this episode (and the last one for that matter) is that it feels like they are trying to build a grand mystery with Clara but have not given us any context for how to ponder said mystery. In other words, it feels like show runner Stephen Moffatt and his writers are not playing fair with the mystery of Clara. The last mystery that they had similar to this was Amy’s “pregnancy,” which had enough clues that you could go back and string them together to figure out what was going on. Here we have been given “significant” clues (the 101 Places To See book with certain ages missing, the leaf, the fact that Clara’s mother died the day that Rose Tyler met The Doctor, etc.) but no way to put them together. While I do not want everything spelled out to me, it does feel that there is no concrete end game to the Clara mystery.
That said, there was one lovely moment that we haven’t seen from a companion in a long while; when they see just how it feels to rapidly travel in time. In investigating The Woman In The Well, The Doctor and Clara take the Tardis from the beginning to the end of the planet in a short span, which forces Clara to realize the scope of what The Doctor can do. It was a beautiful moment.
And to close, I do have one question. Why doesn’t the Tardis like Clara? That’s twice it wouldn’t let her in (and she had to beg the second time). Also, when the Tardis’s Voice/Visual Interface represents itself with an image of a person Clara esteems, why did it choose an image of Clara?
NEXT TIME: Speaking of the Tardis, it’s time to get intimate with it. Really. Intimate.