Season 7, Episode 10: Hide
– Posted by Sage
To be perfectly honest, the convoluted plotting of Series 6 left me exhausted and more than a little frustrated with Doctor Who. I was missing the standalone episodes that pluck the Doctor and friends out of their own serial dramas and get them busy having a good old fashioned adventure. Happily, the good lord Moffat has heard my cries, and Series 7 has been rich in “Monster of the Week” fun. I was SO looking forward to watching and recapping “Hide,” which seemed to have all the hallmarks of a spooky Doctor Who classic. A huge, fuck-off Victorian manor? Check. Attractive ghost hunters in tasteful 70s fashions? Check. A scary thunderstorm? You got it. It’s ghost time.
The Doctor and Clara show up on the door step of Downton Shabby to meet aforementioned good-looking explorers Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine, who is also starring as Verity Lambert in the dramatization of Who‘s origin story) and Major Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott – Drew Barrymore’s prince – you’re welcome). And then the Doctor does that thing where he meets someone he admires and shamelessly fangirls him. Alec is a seeker of knowledge – a man who bought a huge, fuck-off Victorian manor just so he could investigate its haunting – just the Doctor’s type.
But it’s not all man-crushes and toggle switches. Alec is haunted, not by the Caliban Ghast, but by the ghosts of his past. He has killed and “has caused to have killed” and he really doesn’t know how else to live his life but to keep on reaching out for the next mystery. Sound like anyone we know?
Like the Doctor, Alec is not alone. The lovely Emma serves his project as an empathic psychic – he catalogs the appearances of the ghast, while Emma interprets her emotions. But she also gives him a reason to hold on. The Major is not exactly forthcoming with his feelings about her though, until the moment of crisis arrives. (SOUND LIKE ANYONE WE KNOW?) “You brought me back from the dead,” he tells her.
And here is where I launch into my frantic analysis of the Rose Tyler parallels and allusions in this episode. I know that I am biased, and maybe I’m seeing things that I want to see, but writer Neil Cross (Luther showrunner, “The Rings of Akhaten”) has packed so many references into this episode that I can’t be making them ALL up:
- The “ghost”, really time traveler Hilla Tacorien, is stuck in a pocket universe, not a parallel one. But the term is bandied about quite a bit, with Clara trying to understand the difference between the two. Don’t tell me there isn’t a pang in his hearts when someone says those words.
- The original ghostbusters.
- The Doctor takes Clara to the end of the earth to prove his theory about Hilla’s whereabouts (whenabouts?). At the VERY SAME MOMENT, Nine and Rose are holding hands and watching the planet’s death from Platform One. Stop taking your dates to watch the world end, Doctor. It makes us feel very insignificant.
- When they say goodbye, Alec asks the Doctor what he and Emma should do now. The Doctor tells them to “hold hands.” “Keep doing that, and don’t let go.” I juuuuust…
- In fact, the entire relationship between Alec and Emma is very Rose and Doctor-esque. I wrote in one of my playlist posts about Rose’s deep empathy for the Doctor. More than any other modern companion, she seemed to feel what he was feeling. (“Girl in the Fireplace” is the ultimate proof of that.) And Emma is an empath – very literally able to do that. That skill serves Alec personally more than professionally. He needed someone to bring him back, someone who would only consider his past mistakes in terms of how they still affect him. This is so Rose and Nine that it hurts.
- The moment where everyone in the Doctor/Rose fandom fell apart: “It’s the oldest story in the universe, this one or any other. Boy and girl fall in love, get separated by events, war, politics, accidents in time. Since they’ve been yearning for each other, across time and space across dimensions! It’s not a ghost story, it’s a love story!”
Now that I have that out of my system, let’s get back to the companion at hand. Just because this was a MoTW ep, it doesn’t mean that the Clara mystery was ignored. Quite the contrary. The whole reason that the Doctor came to meet Alec and Emma in 1974 was to learn more about the impossible girl. Emma is sure that Clara is completely normal. But Emma is an empath, not a Time Lord. She doesn’t have the depth of knowledge to explain entities from other worlds or times. She could only feel what Hilla felt, not identify her origin. So: the only way she could explain Clara would be if Clara HERSELF knew what she was. Am I rambling? I feel like I’m rambling.
Besides Emma’s analysis, the other Clara clues in “Hide” were the pops of bright red that are always near her (this time, the umbrella and her signature bag) and the fact that the TARDIS still rejects her. The TARDIS was giving me serious Tinkerbell vibes this episode, especially when she used Clara’s own image for the visual interface. Is she jealous, or does her dislike have to do with the anomaly of Clara? As others have pointed out, the TARDIS also doesn’t like Jack – another impossibility. The Doctor brushes the friction off when she mentions it, but I think he’s weighing it along with the rest of the clues to Clara.