“Experience makes liars of us all.”
First of all, a comment on the title of this episode. I can’t believe the producers let Neil Cross use this title. Hide sounds like a third-rate horror movie. (Incidentally, there’s a horror movie being advertised at the moment called Evil Dead, which doesn’t sound like a title at all.) In fact, it sounds suspiciously like a failed attempt to equal the scariness of Blink, which is a) a title unusual enough to sound interesting, and b) actually makes sense in the context of the episode. Whereas Hide is just banal.
Happily, the episode is not banal, no, not at all. In fact, it’s one of the scarier episodes of Doctor Who, featuring not one but two scary alien-monster-enigmas. The Doctor and Clara appear (for reasons that become clear later in the episode) during a suitably scary storm, at Caliburn House, which comes equipped with its own ghost, as well as Jenny from Call the Midwife masquerading as an “empathic” (which I’m not sure is even a thing in the Doctor Who universe) and another guy taking pictures of the ghost.
When I said Hide was scary, I meant keep-the-lights-on, jump-at-sudden-noises scary. The ghost, for once, isn’t the kind that looks basically like an unaccountably transparent person: it’s the kind that looks like a white blur of light in photos, as if someone has just moved out of frame. Except it has eyes where no eyes should be. No proper shape, but eyes. Transparent people I can deal with. Ugly monsters I can deal with. But things I can’t pin down properly just freak me out. I am very easily scared.
As if that weren’t scary enough, there’s a bogeyman-boggart-type monster floating round this house as well, which you never actually see until the end, except for silhouettes and brief glimpses of something slimy in the shadows…eurgh.
Generally, this was a pleasingly enigmatic episode, although with the usual gaping plot holes. This week: make up a rule that means the Doctor must go flying into danger without the TARDIS, and then IGNORE IT. There is someone trapped in a “pocket universe” (again, not sure that’s actually a thing), and, apparently, the TARDIS can’t go in because the entropy would drain her power. (Because that sounds convincing to anyone who’s ever read anything about quantum.) But then, amazingly, Clara flies the TARDIS in to rescue the Doctor,, and flies out again, completely unaffected by entropy.You can’t just ignore the rules without explaining why, carefully, and preferably with the aid of diagrams.
Compared to Cold War, though, this was a masterpiece, with a nicely sentimental touch that didn’t, mercifully, involve Saving the Universe with the Power of Love Alone. And scary, too. I may be reading late into the night, not wanting to turn the light out…