Review: DOCTOR WHO S7E10, HIDE (Or, The Doctor And Clara Go Ghost Hunting)

Simon Cocks, Contributing Writer
"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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  • Jason Wolven

    Did I miss something between the Snowmen episode and Bells of Saint John? Looked like we went from being introduced to Clara then some thing happened we never were told fully and somehow Clara went missing Doctor finds out about the bells of Saint John is ringing and he finds clara who acts like she never met him at all? I think that ruined the character development of Clara. We are left with so many questions on what happened that we never get the two interacting with one another a lot. Clara becomes so guarded because she has no clue why this guy calls her an "Impossible girl". We think we know there has to be something more to Clara that we don't know yet either. Though we think we have seen her in other episode maybe but we are not sure.. I am in the USA so please do not say anything that will be a spoiler since I not seen the "Name of the Doctor" episode yet.

  • ParraD

    Well done for not being so Cbbc's this series, So far. Please don't go all wibbly wobbly now. Oh and Clara your, Wow, evan your imperfections, dream gal

  • benu

    I had a great deal of fun with this episode, but more importantly was emotionally engaged because of Scott and Raine's roles that, as you say, made for an interesting parallel and play off of The Doctor and Clara's relationship. The story as a whole worked for me, actually, really, really well. Lack of cohesive intricacies and discrepancies are to be expected in a zany universe like this one and in many ways there was some faint echo of the old series here... something... perhaps it was just the main time period? Anyway, more on that if it the thought develops. As this was a love story, well... I'd go out on a limb and say this was my favorite episode since the holiday special with Coleman's second appearance... and before that the season opener with the Daleks.

  • ParraD

    oh and Clara your, Wow, evan your imperfections, dream gal

  • ParraD

    Well done for not being so Cbbc's this series, so far. please don't go all wibbly wobbly now

  • I'm with you. I like how Clara is shaping up.

  • I also agree that Clara is turning out to be a great companion. However, I’m worried, as I said above, about the foundations of her dynamic with the Doctor. I guess I’m not so cool with him concealing his motivations this much…

    As for the lack of cohesion, it is something that occurs quite frequently in Doctor Who although I’d argue that the better episodes are the ones that are able to hold it together and tell a complex narrative in a simple way.

  • benu

    And this was, arguably, a simple narrative told in a complex way that only packed so much of a punch. Steven Moffat and the gang also have a way of doing that at times too, I think.

    One thing I will say is that an upshoot of the Doctor concealing his motivations is just those little flashes from Smith; those sparks of something more troubled. Sure, he's curious in that boyish way, but this is, now more rather than less, concerning him gravely. It is perhaps even scaring him because it is so unknown... unknown to a man who loves to know everything.

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