It’s raining in England at a spooky castle mansion. Ghost hunters Major Alec Palmer (played by Dougray Scott) and Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine) are ready to make contact. The machines are calibrated, the psychic is ready, and they call for the spirt to come forth. Something is running, right into the psychic and suddenly, a knock at the door. Who you gonna call?
In the Doctor Who universe, a ghost is never a ghost. The first time we deal with the “undead” in the 2005 revamp of Doctor Who is in “The Unquiet Dead” when Charles Dickens, Gwenyth (Torchwood‘s Gwen Cooper’s ancestor), The Doctor, and Rose team up to help the ghosts at the funeral home that turn out to be aliens trying to take over the bodies of dead humanity as gas vapors. As The Doctor tries to tackle the myth of the Wraith of the Lady, he starts at the beginning of time and goes straight through the end taking pictures. Staying in one place, on the grounds of Caliburn, he has a snapshot of the lifetime of the ghost, which, though from beginning and end of time to us, is only three minutes to her. Because the ghost is not a ghost, but instead is Hila Tacorian, a time traveler who crash landed out of time in a pocket universe. Doesn’t that kind of remind you of the first time we met Clara/Oswin Oswald, when the Alaska crash landed on the Dalek prison planet?
This is the first time we’re hearing of Pocket Universes. It is a weird concept and the fact that it can drain the power from the TARDIS if it sits too long (mere seconds) is troubling. In this, it is much worse than parallel or alternate universes, where we lost Rose. (A little speculation on my part: Is it possible that Clara has more of a connection with pocket universes than we’d guess? It may have something to do with why the TARDIS doesn’t seem to like her. Another bit of speculation: Will pocket universes be a way we see Rose and 10 again?) With the help of some fancy jewels, a jacket attached to cords, and a psychic, The Doctor endeavors to bring back Hila and save her from whatever she’s running from, a shadowy, grotesque, contorted figure hiding in the trees. In the course of bringing her back, Emma’s psychic powers do not hold up and the Doctor is left alone in fear, running from the figure.
When Hila is brought back to the regular universe, The Doctor is nowhere in sight, and Clara heads to the TARDIS, which is locked against her. The TARDIS sets up the TARDIS Voice Visual Interface (remember this from “Let’s Kill Hitler”?) to look like Clara. The TARDIS is clearly in good form because she lets us see she thinks Clara thinks too much of herself. The Tardis also reminds Clara that being in the pocket universe could drain her power, effectively trapping them there forever. The TARDIS eventually let’s Clara in, probably because the psychic’s connection wouldn’t require her to land. We also see that, continually, what Clara wants, Clara gets, even with the TARDIS.
In the end, we find that Hila is the great, great, so many greats granddaughter of Emma and Alec and their blood connection is what called her to her when Emma was in the Caliburn House. The Doctor reveals he’s brought Clara to Emma so that Emma can try to figure out who or what Clara is. “She’s a perfectly ordinary girl,” says Emma. “Very pretty, very clever, more scared than she let’s on.” The Doctor’s not buying it, but there’s nothing he can do about it. This episode “isn’t a ghost story. It’s a love story,” says The Doctor. The monster that we see hiding in the trees is not searching for his next meal. He’s searching for his mate. Thanks to The Doctor, they find each other again.
“Not everything ends. Not love. Not always,” says The Doctor. That line was a little too deliberate to not mean something later. This episode, called “Hide,” was about all the things we hide. We hide our love, we hide our fear, we hide how normal we are, we hide our true intentions, even as we try to love the ones from whom we hide these things. The creature hid when The Doctor went to the pocket universe. The creature spent his time chasing Hila, even though it also would hide from her, not because it wanted to frighten her – or later The Doctor – but because it wanted to be reunited with its mate. The episode wants us to see that we don’t have to be psychic to see some of the things we hide. Emma wants Alec to see her as more than his assistant. She can’t hide her feelings from him, but despite being able to see and feel everything about everyone else, when she most needs to use her gift, it seems to hide the one answer she most wants to know. As they move deeper into the ghost story, as the stakes appear to grow more dangerous, her love is a truth from which she can no longer hide and from which she refuses to let Alec hide as well. Emma warns Clara about the “sliver of ice” the Doctor hides in his heart, the things that keeps The Doctor from fully trusting and accepting Clara. Yet as The Doctor hides his true intentions from Clara, she has hidden nothing from him.
I still find I like Clara, even though I think she is the least dynamic she’s ever been in this episode. She is still forever plucky and confident. We even got our circle and Clara combo, when The Doctor draws the place where the cold presence is felt the most strongly. Maybe it’s the “well” that the “Ghost of Caliburn’s” other name, “The Witch of the Well” is in reference to. The Doctor was in great form in Hide as well, the first time since the premiere that I was transfixed by The Doctor on the screen. From his awkward air kisses to “ignorance is Carlyle”, he has become The Doctor again.