“This isn’t a Ghost Story, it’s a Love Story…”
One thing we love about Doctor Who is its versatility, its ability to renew and revitalise, its ability to become modern and old at the same time and its ability to take us anywhere and everywhere. This week we got a fine example of how versatile the show is, how free it is to roam in every genre. Hide mixed as many genres as deep and meaningful messages it brought, moving from Horror to Sci-Fi to Soap Opera. Neil Cross has certainly given us a captivating story which flows quickly from set piece to set piece, planet to planet, time to time.
The story is essentially a ghost story, well, for the first fifteen minutes it is. The Doctor and Clara drive in a quintessentially creepy mansion-house where a Professor and his ‘assistant’ are trying to find the ghost of the house, the witch of the well. Sometimes these forty-five minuet stories can del rushed, moving far too quickly from point to point, yet Hide, even with all its intricacies, moves with a measured pace, leaving the much-needed room to breath in, the silence before the storm – the key to every things scary. And that’s a key, Hide is genuinely scary. Doctor Who sometimes falls short in the fear department when its trying overly hard to e frightening, the subtly ways in which Cross approaches fear in this story work very well.
The story turns to a mix of Sci-Fi, with the Doctor and Clara going off to see the birth and death of the universe, and Soap Opera,with the love story between Professor Palmer and Emma Grayling. The scenes of the Doctor in the future and past are really well realised and fit in perfectly with the rest of the story, ticking the ‘wonderment’ box for this week. The developing story between Palmer Grayling is touching, the real life-ness to their love a key to the believability of their relationship.
Very quickly though the story returns to its Horror roots with the Doctor traveling into the pocket universe to rescue Hila Tukurian from the clutches of the apparently evil and malicious Crooked Man. The scenes in the forest are wonderfully shot and lit creating the perfect eerie atmosphere. The mention of the Metebelis III crystal and the actual appearance of it on-screen was an appropriate nod to the past, something done extremely well so far this series, but is ruined slightly by Matt Smith’s mispronunciation – something he’s going to cop a lot of slack for in the future.
The resolution to the story is satisfying, discovering that Tukurian was actually Grayling and Palmers great-great-great granddaughter was maybe a step too far, yet everything is redeemed by the grand reveal that the Crooked Man was in fact not trying to kill but get to his mate who was in he house, the Doctor reuniting them in the conclusions.
One of the reasons this episode has such a claustrophobic feels is because of the limited cast and characters. Really there’s only the two incidental characters, Emma Grayling and Professor Palmer played by the wonderful Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott – both well-known and renowned british actors who have made their names in television. Interestingly we now know that Jessica Raine has been cast as Verity Lambert in Mark Gatiss’ Docu-Drama An Adventure in Space and Time to be broadcast later this year – and from this performance you can see why. Raine in Grayling encompasses all of the things we should expect from her portrayal of Lambert, strong yet delicate and caring. In Hide Raine was a highlight, really pulling her weight.
Dougray Scott’s character of the Professor was equally well-played and intriguing. What we are presented with here is really two people who we can compare the Doctor and Clara two – and we are directed to do this in the intercut scenes of the characters talking, Clara and Grayling in one scene and the Doctor and Palmer in the other. Here, Clara is presented to be similar in ways to Grayling, in touch with her senses and in the same way that Grayling fancies Palmer, there’s a hint that Clara is going the same direction with the Doctor, her chin joke from Asylum of the Daleks making a reappearance. The Doctor on the other hand is compared to the battle wounded, Palmer explaining he wants to find ghosts to feel okay again about the things he saw in the war, about the people he may have killed. Here we are asked to think, does the Doctor travel the universe to try and explain his past, his perhaps dreadful past? It certainly raises some questions, unfortunately it’s left open.
Clara and the Doctor get really interesting development in this story. The two seem to be really on song as the new TARDIS team, and considering this was the first episode filmed out of the series its great that the two hit it off right from the go. Matt Smith is again superb, he encapsulates every past incarnation yet has firmly identified his own portrayals characteristics. Real highlights were his ‘scared’ scenes in the forest, it’s fascinating to see the Doctor getting angry, it’s even more engrossing and revealing to see him afraid, truly afraid.
Jenna Louise Coleman’s performance in this story seems a little more playful, a little lighter and bouncier, more like those of Asylum of the Daleks or The Snowmen which was nice to revisit. Of particular highlight was the early scene where there Doctor and Clara are sitting on the bench playing with the toggle switch, for what was a very dark and horror style episode, there was quite a lot of humour between these two characters, like they’re enjoying their travels together.
But there’s still the edge that Clara is a little apprehensive, scared of what might happen. The slightly comedic moment when the Doctor is ‘giving her a face’ has undertone of Clara’s reluctance to explore, the fact that she has to ask the Doctor to dare her to go with him shows, just like in Cold War, that Clara is still adjusting to life with the Doctor. There’s also her wonderful exchange with Palmer about ‘going to bank and saying I want to buy that big creepy house’ (I’m paraphrasing), there’s an innocent to what she says, there’s an inkling that she does;t quite understand people, which has come to a front in a story about secrets, about hiding, about being able to read others.
Yet Clara seems to have psychic abilities, the episode is very clear about that. The question is, where might that lead…
Hide also gives us some further and building hints towards Clara’s true identity. Grayling warns Clara that the Doctor ‘has a sliver of Ice in his heart’ which is strangely out-of-place, and it seems to disturb Clara because for the rest of the episode she seems apprehensive and almost suspicious of the Doctor. There’s also her hilarious relationship with the TARDIS, something we haven’t seen from a companion before. It’s intriguing that the TARDIS chooses from its data bank an image of Clara for her to speak to in their exchange, meaning that either it was being really ‘cow-y’ or Clara has seen herself before… Any any case there’s another question raised from this scene… How did Clara fly the TARDIS? Was it her controlling it? Was it on a pre-set course? Was the TARDIS controlling itself?
With two quality episodes in a row, the series is really heading in the right direction. Last year we got 5 stellar stories, and so far in 2013 no episode is yet to disappoint. If Moffat keeps this up, we may be in for the ride of our lives in the coming weeks and months. As we approach Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS I feels sure that we shall get some more Cara titbits, especially if she has another encounter with the TARDIS interface.
QUANTUM LOCKED RATING: 8.5/10
Next Time: Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS