Who Review: Hide
by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)
Ignorance is Carlisle, especially when you’d rather not be hunting ghosts, but Clara is game if you dare her. The Doctor and Clara head to 1974 to do some ghost busting in “Hide,” the newest episode of Doctor Who. They arrive at Caliburn House. As a nerdly aside, the word “Caliburn” is derived from the Welsh “Caledfwlch,” and later became “Excalibur.” Does this suggest some Arthurian themes throughout the episode? Or maybe it gives us some insight into the nature of Clara/Oswin. “Hide” certainly has some of the classical characteristics of an Arthurian-style quest. There’s a monster, a fairy forest, the knight (the Doctor, of course), and an Object of the quest. The goal, or end, of this particular quest is knowledge, as it most always is, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
There is an old house sitting in the middle of a eerie moor-aren’t all moors eerie, by the way? Why else are people always warning you to stay clear of the moors? You could be attacked by a werewolf, or encounter the Witch of the Well as is the case with Caliburn House. Professor Alec Palmer and his companion/assistant, Emma Grayling, are in Caliburn House attempting to contact the ghost that has resided there long before the house was ever built. This Witch of the Well, or Caliburn Ghast, as she has been dubbed, goes back a long, long time.
So, the professor, a former officer in the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare specializing in espionage, sabotage, and reconnaissance, and Emma, the psychic empath, are in the middle of attempting to make contact when the Doctor and Clara show up. Of course when the Doctor shows up, he takes charge. “Hide” put me in mind of the earlier Smith episodes where he tends to talk, and act, long before he considers the consequences, and the companion is there to bring him back down to earth, while still going along for the ride.
Amid the search for the ghost, we begin to see some nice back and forth between the Doctor and Clara. It feels much more natural, as if they’re settling into their own routine. The bit where the Doctor says, “I’m giving you a face. Can you see me?” and then nods in the direction he wants her to go was brilliant. That’s the 11th Doctor I’ve grown to love. Clara seems much less keen to go ghost hunting at first, but goes when he dares her to. Going to the heart of the house, the Doctor discovers a cold spot, and through various runnings around in the dark with nothing but a candlestick, hearing ghastly screams, examining photographs, and jumping back and forth in time, discovers that the ghost is actually a time traveller locked in a pocket dimension. The pocket dimension is the fairy forest if we’re continuing the Arthurian template. But it’s not the discovery of the nature of the ghost that is particularly illumining at this point.
The Doctor’s conversation with the professor about why a former espionage agent is out here hunting ghosts is quite revealing. The professor answers, “Because I’ve killed, and I caused to have killed. I sent young men and women to their deaths, and here I am, still alive.” All the while he is answering the question, he is developing a photograph of the Doctor. It’s like “The Beast Below” where Amy Pond is telling him about how the star whale is the Doctor: very old, very kind, and the very last of his kind. Here the professor’s answer gives us insight into the Doctor’s fascination with humanity. As the Doctor will state later, “you’re the only mystery worth solving.”
Meanwhile, Clara and Emma are talking, and as Emma is an empath, she warns Clara that there is an icy streak in the Doctor’s heart. We know this, of course. We’ve always known there is a deep darkness there. But this feeds Clara’s uncertainty, and gives credence to her mistrust of the Doctor. I’m sure it will come up again in the future. It seems there’s mistrust all the way around with the new companion. The TARDIS, who’s a bit like a cat, doesn’t really like her just yet, but when the Doctor gets in trouble, trapped in the pocket dimension, the TARDIS with Clara in tow risks self-destruction to pull him out again.
After pulling the mysterious time traveller out of the pocket dimension, we find out that she’s, in fact, related to the professor and Emma. She’s their many-times great granddaughter. It is at this point, as the TARDIS is cozying up to Clara, that the true goal of the quest is revealed: knowledge. The reason the Doctor has gone to 1974 is Emma Grayling, the little ending twist notwithstanding. He has come to ask her about Clara, what manner of girl she is. He’s still searching for why she is what she is.
The Arthurian motifs, at least the old ones, are all over this episode, which makes sense. How could a Welsh show about a Time Lord not have carryovers to the old Welsh tales of Arthur? That’s where they originated, after all. Besides, the quest for the Grail is the quest for liberation, for peace, for knowledge, and, ultimately, for salvation.
“You are the only mystery worth solving.”
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars