Doctor Who: Series 7
Aired: April 20, 2013
Writer: Neil Cross
Director: Jamie Payne
“We’re all ghosts to you.”
“Hide” is the second episode this season written by Neil Cross the creator/writer of Luther. (Well technically, it’s the first episode written by Cross – Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner enjoyed “Hide” so much that they asked Cross to write a second episode for them, which ended up being the already-aired “The Rings of Akhaten.”) “Hide” ended up being a very enjoyable standalone episode with a variety of interesting themes and ideas that I felt worked a lot better as a whole that “Akhaten” did.
It did a good job establishing itself as a standard ghost story, with Professor Alec Palmer and his assistant Emma Grayling investigating the “Witch of the Well” inside Palmer’s home, the Caliburn mansion. But as the episode unfolded, it ended up having a pretty intriguing scientific explanation for the strange happenings in the house. And, in the biggest swerve of all, as The Doctor said at the end of the episode, “This isn’t a ghost story, it’s a love story.”
Having Palmer and Grayling end up together at the end of the episode was something that was telegraphed from the opening scene. But I liked that even the episode’s villain (officially billed as “The Crooked Man”) turned out to be a harmless man in love himself. It was a fun, cooky little twist that gave The Doctor an excuse to quote Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love,” which I greatly enjoyed.
I also really loved Clara’s revelation that everyone is a ghost to The Doctor. Having him be unphased and her be torn apart inside after witnessing the entire life cycle of the Earth was a really cool twist on the idea of a “ghost story.” Traveling around in time for all of eternity means that everyone is always alive and always dead to The Doctor.
But beyond that, there were also a few possible bits of foreshadowing sprinkled into the episode as well. We find out that the real reason The Doctor shows up at the Caliburn mansion is to have Clara vetted by Emma, who doesn’t sense anything out of the ordinary. On the flip side, Emma senses a darkness inside The Doctor and ends up warning Clara about the sliver of ice in his heart.
Even more intriguing though was Clara’s battle with the TARDIS. This was actually hinted at in the last episode Cross wrote. On Akhaten, when Clara first encountered the Queen of Years, she tried to hide her inside the TARDIS, but Clara found the doors were locked. She said then that she didn’t think the TARDIS liked her. This week we see that play out even more at the two have a hilarious “rivalry” that involves the TARDIS using her own image and voice to talk to her and Clara inadvertently leaving a wet umbrella on the floor. Since this idea has only cropped up in Cross’ episodes so far, I wonder if this is just a theme he wanted to explore, if it was something Moffat asked him to put in this week’s episode to help foreshadow next week’s “Journey to the Center of the TARDIS” or if this will actually end up having something to do with Clara’s mysterious other lives.
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I thought it did a good job creating a spooky ambiance and then toying with people’s expectations by ultimately making it a love story. And I thought there were a lot of great comedic moments and fun character moments sprinkled throughout to keep me solidly entertained.
Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff
Let’s talk about pocket universes, shall we …
In science, the concept of a pocket universe was first proposed by Alan Guth as an extension of the inflationary theory. Essentially, the idea goes that in the beginning of time, the universe expanded rapidly. As it expanded, Guth and others believe that it produced other pocket universes that expanded at faster and slower rates than the one we are currently living in.
I turned to HoboTrashcan’s resident expert Chris Kirkman to help me wrap my brain around what all this means for Doctor Who. This is what Kirkman had to say about pocket universes: “Traditionally, pocket universes are usually referred to as microverses – parallel realities with inherently different properties from our own. Typically, a pocket universe is one where the inhabitants diverge significantly from our own depending on a specific arrow of time – in other words, an historic event that creates a self-contained loop.”
But Kirkman went on to point out something rather interesting: “The TARDIS is actually an example of a pocket universe – an anomaly of space-time created to prevent a stable platform to prevent damage from travel within the universe itself.”
That’s right, the TARDIS itself is actually a pocket universe, though it is a much more stable one than the collapsing universe Hila and the Crooked Man were trapped in. But essentially, the reason the TARDIS is bigger on the inside and the reason it can travel through space and time is because it is its own self-contained pocket universe, which is an interesting concept to think about. That also means that the TARDIS going inside the pocket universe to rescue The Doctor is actually an oddly Inception-esque moment, since it is a pocket universe inside a pocket universe.
And while the concept of a pocket universe can be a strange one to try to wrap your brain around, it’s actually something we see quite a bit in stories without realizing that is what we are seeing (since the writers don’t actually call them pocket universes). Narnia, The Land of the Lost, the Black Lodge in Twin Peaks, the island from Lost and the Phantom Zone in Superman are all examples of pocket universes.
And another thing …
- It was nice to see the psychic paper get broken out again this week. We haven’t seen it in a while.
- If whiskey is the “11th most disgusting thing” to Clara, what makes her top 10?
- There were a lot of nods to previous episodes this week. The blue crystal The Doctor used in the contraption he strapped to Emma was one similar to the one from Metebelis III taken by the third Doctor in “The Green Death” (though he supposedly returned that crystal in “Planet of the Spiders”). The orange spacesuit The Doctor wore (and Clara hated) has been seen in several other episodes, including “The Impossible Planet,” “The Satan Pit” and “The Waters of Mars.” And the TARDIS’ emergency holographic interface was first seen in “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.