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Recap

Doctor Who Recap: “Hide”


This week’s Doctor Who tries to fool you into thinking it’s a ghost story, with all the spooks and predictable gender roles such a story would demand. But it does get back to speculating on Clara’s true nature and throws in a lot of things that could be seen as evidence of her connection to Rose. Don’t believe me? Well, read my post.

It’s 1974: Alec Palmer and Emma Grayling are setting up all sorts of spooky equipment in spooky Caliburn house on a spooky night. They are ghost hunters, trying to contact the spirit of the house, with Emma serving as the communicator. One close encounter later and a lot of fiddly instruments going fiddly later, there is an ominous knock on the door. You should know who this is by now, surely?

The Doctor and Clara have just popped by for a look-see, so welcome to another episode that doesn’t give us any hints as to whether Clara is officially traveling with the Doctor yet or just on day trips. A quick check of other seasons with a new companion shows that we’re usually waiting until midseason to get any kind of return to present Earth to get a sense of a new companion’s extended cast, but still, I’m impatient to see more of Clara’s adopted family. Maybe it will give her character something unique among companions, other than that she is a “mystery” for the Doctor. Which would be great, because unwittingly being a “mystery” is not actually a personality trait.

So, Professor Alec Palmer, ghost hunter, former spy and very repressed about it. Emma Graling, the professor’s companion/assistant (or equipment, as the Doctor so insensitively puts it), an empathic psychic. Palmer owns the house because he wanted to help the legendary ghost that lives within, using Emma’s abilities to communicate with it and Palmer’s instruments to objectively record their work. The ghost is the Caliburn Ghast, the Witch of the Well, whose presence is accompanied by a dreadful knocking. She’s been calling out to Emma since they arrived, and yes, they’ve looked for a well and found none. Palmer is adamant that he “will not have this stolen out from under me,” and yes, he does say “me” and not “us,” excluding Emma, without whom he would be unable to work. The Doctor tells them the ministry sent them in and Palmer relents, and honestly with the connections the Doctor has this could actually be true. At this point the episode is unwilling to tip its hat in either direction.

After that exposition, the Doctor and Clara go wandering to have their own ghost sighting, towards the music room, the heart of the house. As an audience we’re even less certain than Palmer and Emma why the Doctor is here. To Clara, he maintains that it is his love of knowledge that drives him, but we all know Rule #1. Back at the ghost hunters’ base, they have a discussion about Palmer’s recently-revealed-by-the-Doctor secret past in espionage (he told Emma he’d been a POW), and then the episode ramps up the sexual tension between them, which is a strange transition from talking about how a woman’s friend and professional superior has been lying to her, but okay. Palmer is not getting a lot of sympathy from me. I guess I’ll never make a good empath.

Clara and the Doctor reach the music room and their heebie jeebie meters start acting up. I mean that metaphorically, by the way, they don’t have actual heebie jeebie meters. This is Doctor Who, and I feel like that’s an important thing to point out. The Doctor finds a cold spot, draws a chalk outline around it, and then they move on. Then things get very ghosty! The ghost hunting instruments go nuts, the chalk outline starts smoking, very, very big deal knocking happens, the entire house gets colder, the windows frost up, and Clara’s candles go out. Emma: “She’s coming.”

The Doctor and Clara freeze to talk about how they are unnerved, and she tells him he can stop holding her hand. But, surprise, for once he’s not! They bolt like teenagers back to the ghost hunting base, where a strange, round reflective object has appeared and is spinning so fast that cracks begin to spiderweb across it from the middle. Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Emma sees a woman in the woods, reaching out for her, crying for help. The spinning thing disappears dramatically and “HELP ME” gets written on the wall in smoke and fades.

Cut to Clara and Emma making tea, recovering their nerves, and talking about relationships; while the Doctor and Palmer do ghost hunting work and talk about Palmer’s work. Yes. This is really the level of stereotypical gender role supporting that this episode gets up to.

Donna is not impressed.

Emma is not sure that Palmer is really interested in her, since when you can sense the emotions of others like they were your own, it is easy to confuse your own affection for someone else’s. Clara tells her his love is obvious, “sticks out like a big chin.” This raised my eyebrow, because all this episode has shown us so far is a severely repressed intellectual and a younger woman without whom his work would be impossible. I’m not saying that there couldn’t be love under there, I’m just saying that if you can’t tell the difference between repression and indifference, then Palmer’s a person who needs to work out his own drama before getting anybody else tangled up in it. If this had just been chalked up to “Emma is a psychic and can sense, objectively, that he cares for her even though he doesn’t show it” I’d be completely on board, but she just admitted that she can’t. This episode’s writer, Neil Cross, has said that having to communicate the history of a “complex relationship” between Palmer and Emma was “quite tough.” Personally, I don’t think he managed it. Palmer is too repressed to show any sign of affection towards Emma, just hesitancy to connect with her, and when he does become protective of her, it contradicts other, just as firm actions and statements he makes earlier in the episode, which keeps his protective impulses from seeming supportive.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Clara asks what Emma’s professional psychic opinion says about the Doctor, and she says “Don’t trust the Doctor. There’s a sliver of ice in his heart.” Remember this.

Sensing there’s something more to this than just ghosts, the Doctor and Clara take a trip in the TARDIS. Clara brings up how the TARDIS has been a total jerk to her all season, including right now, when it shuts the door in her face. Clara asks for an umbrella stand to put their wet umbrella in. The Doctor says he lost it, is too distracted to find it, and then scolds Clara for dripping water inside the TARDIS, blaming her for the TARDIS’ dislike of her. They visit four different time periods of the location of Caliburn house, from the dawn of Earth to its death, during which the Doctor scolds Clara about touching the console, moving, and breathing in ways that the TARDIS doesn’t like.

Only then, after Clara realizes she’s watching the Doctor wander around and take pictures of the Death of Earth, does he ask her “what’s wrong,” as if he hasn’t just been an enormous ass. Naturally, their conversation is only sort of about how he’s being a dick. “To you I haven’t been born yet,” Clara says, “and to you I’ve been dead a hundred million years. To you, I’m a ghost.” Alright, I thought, now this is some meaty stuff. “We’re all ghosts to you. We must be nothing. What can we possibly be?”

The Doctor’s answer: “You are the only mystery worth solving.” Doctor. Clara is not your Manic Pixie Dream Human who’s going to help you get over the Ponds. You need to actually tell her, specifically, why you’ve invited her to travel with you. Her first encounter with you was all about how you know her from somewhere but she doesn’t know you. The fact the show wants us to believe Clara is super smart and capable, but that it hasn’t had her grill you about why you think you know her and why you spied all over her childhood is becoming problematic.

The TARDIS makes it back to 1974, and we get our first glimpse of something creepy and crawly and nobbly lurking in the house. The Doctor reveals the results of his photographs. Turns out they’re not dealing with a ghost: the Witch in the Well is a pioneering human time traveler named Hilla Turkurian who crash landed in a pocket universe attached to our own. The pocket has been collapsing for eons of our time, but only minutes of its time. The Doctor explains all of this with illustrative balloons, which is genuinely the best. During those few minutes Hilla has been running from… the creepy crawly Crooked Man that’s lurking in Caliburn house!

The Doctor explains that Emma has to save Hilla.

As the Doctor assembles a mad, Doctor-ish contraption involving blue crystals, Palmer, having easily assimilated the idea of time travel and having dragged Emma out here to the house to investigate threatening ghosts for him using her abilities, is just now trying to dissuade Emma from doing something dangerous with her empathic powers. Instead of Emma being insulted that he has only started to feel this way as soon as her abilities are being used for something that isn’t about him (we could also read this as Palmer abandoning the rescue of the Witch of the Well as soon as she is no longer a passive lost damsel but an adventurous woman who can be blamed for her own predicament), the romantic tension gets ramped up. Remember guys, the way to show you love a lady is by only telling her she should be more careful when she’s about to do things that weren’t your idea. Emma, however, is ready to work for the Doctor (did you remember the thing I told you to remember?), despite the fact that she thinks he should not be trusted.

Then the Doctor explains that the machine he’s put together will amplify Emma’s power to allow her to make a link between our universe and the pocket one, like “a pooper-scooper.” After this explanation Palmer still feels the need to ask asks “what exactly is this arrangement,” but I was reeeeally hoping he’d say “what exactly is a pooper-scooper.” Oh well.

As the Doctor straps on a harness connecting cable, connected to a winch, Emma asks him if this will hurt and his answer clearly terrifies her but is played for laughs. When Emma begins to call the connection into being, the reflective round thing appears again, shatters, and disappears in a flash of white. This is the well of the Witch of the Well: a wormhole. The white light emits a great wind, like all proper dimensional portals should, and the Doctor rappels down into the pocket universe and leaves the harness in order to look for Hilla. He’s on a small patch of forest, suspended and surrounded in, well, lets call it cosmic foam, or raw chaos, or some other such appropriate scifi fabrication. He and Hilla manage to connect, but they’re both being chased by the Crooked Man. The Doctor has some trouble finding the harness again, and so with great effort and showing considerable discomfort, Emma manages to manifest a house in another universe to guide them. Still, by this time the Crooked Man is gaining fast, and the Doctor is busy barring the door when Hilla gets drawn back up into our universe.

As Emma screams aloud in pain, the rift closes with Hilla on the good side, and the Doctor trapped. The manifested house disappears, and he is left alone in the forest with the Crooked Man. Clara insists that Emma must reopen the rift so they can rescue the Doctor. Palmer tells her Emma can’t possibly, while cradling an obviously spent Emma, so Clara yells at him again and runs for the TARDIS. As soon as she leaves, Palmer begins trying to peptalk Emma into opening the wormhole again. Forget what I said before guys, only encouraging your lady to do things when it was your idea or other people browbeat you into it does not work. ”You gave me a reason to be, Emma,” he tells her. That’s nice. It’s also the kind of statement that can be really manipulative when said by somebody who should have worked out their issues before being with someone.

Martha can’t fucking believe this guy. And she knows a thing or two about being in love with guys who really need to deal with their problems before inflicting themselves on other people. Emma puts her blue crystal helmet back on, and she, Hilla, and Palmer link hands in a circle.

Meanwhile, Clara reaches the TARDIS, which naturally won’t let her in. A hologram Clara materializes behind her, and explains that it is the TARDIS Voice Visual Interface, or TARDISVVI, I suppose. It says it’s chosen the only form in its database that is someone Clara esteems.

Clara and the TARDIS snipe at each other as Clara tries to convince it to vworp over into the pocket universe, a very dangerous place for a TARDIS, because draining vortex core dampers blah blah wobbly blah, and eventually the TARDIS opens its doors and they go spinning off into the wild dimensional yonder. At the same time, everybody in the house manages to open the rift.

Meanwhile, the Doctor gets in his contractual talking-frankly-to-the-monster monologue with the Crooked Man, and drops the episode’s name. He dares the Crooked Man to attack him, so it does, and the TARDIS shows up just in time to clobber the heck out of it, lets the Doctor hop on its side, and they all zip back through the rift just before, with a final series of horrible screams, Emma loses control and it closes. Everybody thanks their lucky stars, with high fives even, as she sobs in pain. I really would have liked a shot of her, like, recovering enough to smile and join in the rejoicing, but we don’t get it, we just focus on the Doctor happy and victorious.

Everybody is preparing to go their separate ways, and the Doctor wants a word alone with Emma, and she turns the tables on him by being the person to finally ask him, no, for reals, why did you show up at this mansion to hunt this ghost. The truth is the Doctor was here for Emma, a powerful empath. What he really wants is her opinion on Clara. Emma says he’s traveling with “a perfectly ordinary girl,” which you’d think she’d feel a little uneasy about, since, as mentioned earlier in the episode, she thinks the Doctor is untrustworthy and has an unfeeling core to him.

Just before he and Clara jet off, the Doctor reveals that Palmer and Emma are Hilla’s ancestors, so they have to get together now, or paradox. “But time can be changed!” The Doctor explains that some points are fixed, because in this episode it is convenient for some points to be fixed, unlike last week. Then all of the sudden the Doctor has one of his Doctor epiphanies and realizes the twist ending of the episode: there isn’t one Crooked Man. There’s a Crooked Couple! Because “every lonely monster needs a companion.” He asks a “tiny favor” of Emma, to put herself through more unimaginable pain so that they can rescue the monster who tried to kill him and reunite the guy with his companion. End episode.

The gender representations in this episode really bugged me, in case you couldn’t tell, and Emma and Palmer’s relationship was only part of it. The parallel of a smart, assertive, man who keeps secrets from his subordinate-despite-being-completely-capable female counterpart was mirrored in nearly all of the character pairs. Why did all the lonely monsters in the episode have to be male, and all the companions female? What if Palmer had been the technician hired by infamous psychic Emma Grayling to help gather objective proof of something that her abilities, not respected by the scientific community, had always told her were true? His repressed feelings could have been painted as part of an awe and respect for her as his boss and a leader in the field, his concern as genuine worry without the fact that his reputation rides on her abilities to throw doubt on the motivation of his actions.

I don’t think Moffat’s Who has a good grasp on gender roles or any sensitivity to gender stereotype, not because Steven Moffat himself is sexist, but because I think he has very little idea how to write women, which are two different things. I also don’t really enjoy “ranting” about it, but it can’t really be avoided with Hide. The central theme of this episode’s cast of characters, “lonely monsters” and their companions, would have been way, way less problematic if, oh, any of those pairs had consisted of something other than a man and a subordinate woman. Despite the majority of those women being either just as capable, or, in the case of Emma, worlds more powerful than the man she is described as the “companion” of. The alien in the forest, the “lonely monster” is aggressive, a hunter, an attacker; while its companion does nothing more sinister than hold someone’s hand. Additionally, companionship is reciprocal, you know. Yet Palmer isn’t named as Emma’s companion any more than the Doctor is named as Clara’s.

To sum up what we’ve possibly learned this episode about Clara, we still don’t know if she is traveling with the Doctor full time, but we at least know he’s working on her mystery (although the fact that Clara herself didn’t stop to wonder why they’d come to this specific time and place is annoying, and should have been addressed). There’s a lot of speculation out there that Clara is going to somehow connect to Rose, and, well, we sure just got an entire episode about being trapped in a parallel universe, didn’t we. Clara and the TARDIS gets a little callback, though now I wonder why the Doctor isn’t examining the TARDIS’ dislike of her a bit closer because, seriously, the TARDIS has never not liked a companion this much before. Maybe she knows something you don’t, Doctor. For the brief moments with the Doctor and Clara in the TARDIS this episode, it almost seemed like he was deliberately ignoring how difficult his ship is being to his new companion. Perhaps we’ll get some resolution on this issue in next week’s episode: “Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.”

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  • Anonymous

    The most salient part of the episode for me was that every time they mentioned Metebelis 3, my dad yelled “It’s Mete-BEE-lis! Not Me-TA-belis!” Long time Doctor Who fan, that one.

    So they kept mentioning the Planet of the Spiders, was the Crooked Man meant to be a spider? Hitching a ride on humans vs. hitching a ride on the Doctor? The logic is golden.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    I am pretty tired of capable women falling for useless men for no damn reason. It turned me off to Martha for the whole season. I did enjoy Palmer’s rugged-intellectual Indiana Jones vibe, but it’s hardly a worthy basis for love. And what’s with the 30 – 900 year age gap? It’s getting a bit repetitive.
    Beyond that, I enjoyed the heck out of this episode. Doctory humor, spookiness, nods to the classics, and a monster that turns out to be something other than monstrous are all things that I love.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Evan-Hershman/738208284 Evan Hershman

    I agree completely with your assessment, but why is it automatically Steven Moffat’s fault when he didn’t write the episode? I mean, I know he’s in charge and likely gave it the okay, but the issues the show has had recently with gender representation are bigger than just Moffat.

  • http://twitter.com/sephirothii Daniel E. Jacobs

    there is one thing I think that may have been missed and you may want to see it again but I think she actually knew his cover story… when The Doctor and Clara were off on their own and they were talking about him really being from the ministry or not, it seemed she did know his cover story and his real life at least that is how I view that… your other points about gender roles are spot on however.

  • Anonymous

    I was hedging my argument for the inevitable “CURSE YOU MOFFAT”s in the comments.

  • Niki Davis

    Why do people who are “offended” by established gender stereotypes always think it would be just fine and dandy to reverse those roles, a perfect 180, and everything would be right with the world? If you’re offended by one person having more power than another in a role, shouldn’t you be offended by ANYONE having more power than another? Why is it against everything that is good and pure to have a subordinate woman and perfectly universe-righting to have a subordinate man? It’s like those people who buy HUMMERS and put those fake dangling testicles on the rear trailer hitch. Overcompensation for a fear of inadequacy. There’s nothing about being a helper or companion that means you are LESS THAN the “hero”. Sometimes the strongest people in the world are behind the curtain, pulling the strings, and because they are so strong, they don’t NEED the spotlight to feel they’re worth.

  • http://twitter.com/odorunara The Lobster Dance

    I couldn’t have said this better myself. I miss Rose and Martha and Donna. I like the idea of Clara’s “mystery” but she doesn’t seem to have much of a personality. Also, I’m really tired of the “Doctor interacts with companions when they are kids” theme. Once was good and interesting, but it’s getting old.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I hadn’t thought about the problematic gender roles in this episode, but you’re entirely right.

    I guess I didn’t notice because I was too busy being extremely happy that:
    (a) The episode made logical sense and the ending was satisfying (including the explanation for why the Doctor was there, and once again showing that he doesn’t judge creatures humans would call monsters.)
    (b) Clara had more to do than wave a magic leaf or just tag along. And look! She’s carrying her satchel still! Hooray!
    (c) Clara’s starting to question just who it is she’s travelling with and has seen a glimpse into his callous nature far earlier than any other companion in recent history. Most of the time that happens after his companions have already come to trust and love him (both platonically and romantically.)
    (d) The tense, moody atmosphere and the Doctor being genuinely /scared/ in a way that didn’t involve the universe imploding.
    (e) The TARDIS bein’ sassy.

    The good points aside, the points exploring the episode’s issues with gender roles are entirely valid. The thread of a woman standing by her man even when he has monstrous traits is hugely problematic, even if it is thematically coherent.

    BBC, please get some ladies to write Who, or at least some more male writers who can handle subtle female characterization.

    We need more ladies who are written as people rather than a female trope. Paraphrasing Jane Espenson in a video you recently posted: you shouldn’t write women, you should write people who happen to have breasts.

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    Because it’s exactly as you said: there’s nothing wrong with someone being in a subordinate, helper role. The problematic part is when it’s always the woman. It makes it seem like ladies can’t be the heroes, that they should always be the nurturing, supportive ones. The truth is, men and women can be both heroes and helpers, and it’s problematic when men are always portrayed one way and women another, because that’s reductive for both genders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelley.barnard.5 Shelley Barnard

    The blue crystal from Metebelis 3 was the only part of the episode that I truly loved, to be honest. And we didn’t even get to see the Doctor going there!

  • Anonymous

    Except that, as I mentioned “companion” is only a word that describes the less powerful/knowledgeable characters of Doctor Who, and never the Doctor. Because “assistant” is still considered a subordinate position, regardless of the actual value of the job that person performs. Because the Doctor literally describes Emma as “equipment” while introducing her.

    The reason why swapping the genders there would have been an improvement, and interesting, is because across a broad spectrum of media and storytelling genres we associate femininity with being less powerful, and masculinity with being more powerful, and it’s been that way for a very, very long time. There is nothing inherently wrong with depicting a relationship with an unequal power balance, as “Hide” does, but the fact is that the vast majority of those relationships as depicted in media are between powerful men and less powerful women. It is not hypocritical to reverse this trope because in a perfect world we would see both in roughly equal measure. And it would be interesting to see that reversal because it is something that is presented to us very rarely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Evan-Hershman/738208284 Evan Hershman

    Fair enough.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    The Doctor is “useless”?
    Also, where do you go to find dates that aren’t younger than you when you’re more than a thousand?

  • http://twitter.com/EmberDione Kim Pittman

    Okay, 95% of the time, I totally agree with the writers here, but this time… It just feels like you came into the episode carrying baggage and drug it through all of the episode, and refused to view it through anything but your own lens.

    A few points of interest:

    - He didn’t tell Emma he was a spy because, IT WAS CLASSIFIED. The only reason why he did in the episode was because the Doctor talked about it in front of her.

    - I got the impression he had specifically hired her to help him study the ghost. She was there because she was being paid, not because she cared about the research. (Hence it being “me” not “us”, it was his money, his obsession.)

    - Both of them were making mooney “aren’t you so lovely” eyes from the very beginning.

    - I got the impression he (Palmer) viewed himself as broken. Hence the standoffishness with Emma. It kind of points to the line with “I was dead until you came along.” Not to mention, he was paying her to help him, so any overtures of affection would have been inappropriate.

    - The studies that Palmer and Emma were doing were not dangerous (at least not to their knowledge). Yes, Emma was amplifying the signal, but she wasn’t in danger. He objects the moment she is in danger and he can’t protect her. It has NOTHING to do with the time traveller or her sex. He also checked with her at the beginning to see if she was ready to start their work that evening, showing a bit of concern that she wasn’t going to be upset or too stressed by their work.

    - He could have also done his work without her, just not as effectively. He is never dismissive of her abilities or her as a person. If anything, I saw him as slightly awed and reverent most of the episode of Emma.

    - Palmer tries to talk Emma into doing the thing again, not because he is manipulative or wants to hurt her, but rather because now the Doctor is stranded on the other side. This is a completely human response. We don’t care when it’s someone we have never met, but when the guy we have spent all night hanging out with just got sucked into a pocket dimension and it’s sort of our fault, maybe we should try everything to help him get back.

    - The whole “recovering our nerves” scene discussion makes it sound like you are adding a bunch of stuff that wasn’t there. Imagine that, something freaky as hell happens. The Doctor thinks it’s awesome and looks into what’s going on. The sane people are like, wth, I could use a drink. Likely, Clara said “Hey, how about a drink, we could all use it.” That’s what people do, especially when they are people like Clara and used to taking care of others. Everyone handles stress and that differently. Was it groundbreaking? No, but it was logical and chances are that’s how it would happen.

    It’s also worth noting, it’s 1974. Gender roles EXIST and during this time would have been in full force.

    You also object to Moffat’s writing of female characters… and yet most of the major female characters in the show are written/created by him and nearly all of them are strong, capable women who save the Doctor’s butt over and over and over again. I find it pretty odd you would even bring up Martha, who’s entire purpose seemed to just moon over the Doctor and whine about how he doesn’t like her.

    Also, when he says to Clara “You are the only mystery worth solving.” I am fairly positive he mean “all of us” ie Humanity. As Clara had just said, “We’re all ghosts to you.” and several other statements with we/us, meaning people as a whole.

  • Kate Reynolds

    Honestly, it didn’t really bug me, mostly because I was so caught up in the whole conversation with Clara “We’re all just ghosts to you” which was FANTASTIC. And then squeeing over the blue crystal from Metebelis Three and the reference to the Eye of Harmony, both MAJOR old Who call backs.

  • Kate Reynolds

    When the 7 part 2 trailer showed the Doctor saying to Clara “You are the only mystery worth solving” I was annoyed. When we got the context that he is saying this about humanity, I loved it.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    To Martha, who just wanted a shag, the Doctor was useless.
    And to your other point, a) why is the Doctor seeking dates among humans, and b) even giving the Doctor a pass, what’s these other people’s excuse?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    The Martha thing: ah, okay, I see that.
    a) Harkness had an any-port-in-a-storm philosophy that was much wilder than anything the Doctor subscribes to. Superficially, humans and Time Lords are nearly identical and he’s got no Time Lords to Time Love, anyway, plus he’s been around humans so damn much you could argue that he’s gone native to some extent.
    b.) I locked onto the 900 year thingy and missed the 30. Totally agree, nm.

  • Jennifer Howard

    And less old, but going back to the Tennant specials, wasn’t that the space suit from the Waters of Mars?

  • Anonymous

    Yes! I’m getting worried that we’re not getting enough Clara personality to care when the answer to her mystery is revealed. I feel like I should have SOME kind of emotional attachment to her when that happens. With what we have so far, she feels like a rehashed Amy. I would have loved for a more Donna-esque companion this go round.

  • http://twitter.com/MisfitsTamara Tamara Brooks

    I saw Palmer & Emma as hanging a lantern on the nature of the Doctor & his companion (aka Assistant as it is the 70s – the Doctor even said something about it when making the introductions): the standoffish, broken man who’s seen far more horror than he’ll ever admit exploring the unknown with a capable woman who doesn’t know the extant of her abilities or realize her power yet. The decade in which the adventure took place dictated the dynamic more than anything. This is not to say the depictions of the modern companions are not problematic (RTD’s ladies were so very obviously there to serve certain thematic purposes and lacked dimensionality with the exception of Donna) but I was concentrated on discovering hidden meanings and looking at the Whovian nods and parallels. I’m saving my ire for Rose’s return. lol

  • http://ravenlunatick.wordpress.com/ ravenlunatick

    I don’t see why it’s so hard to write women. Just write a man and then switch the pronouns. Simple.

  • Dave

    I quite liked this episode, though I agree that the gender dynamics were a little hinky.

    However, I was very disappointed that once Hilla got rescued, she had nothing to do. She’s the time traveling equivalent of Amelia Earhart! She should get to do something awesome!

    Personally, I think it would have made much more sense to have her help Clara fly the TARDIS, rather than give it hitherto unknown autopilot capabilities. The most we’ve seen it do is appear/disappear when there’s danger (usually triggered by, like, the sonic screwdriver); Rose had to *mind-meld* with it to get it to save the Doctor. Granted, this might be a plot point with the TARDIS’s dislike of Clara and all, but if you’ve got a time traveler hanging around doing nothing, that seems like an obvious place to put her.

  • Kate Reynolds

    I believe so, but wasn’t it also the same space suit from the series 2 episodes Impossible planet and satan pit?

  • Elwood Grobnik

    Planet of the Spiders, the episode where he acquired the blue crystal, aired in 1974 – the crystal is a shout out. Possibly the 11th Doctor went and stole it from himself while his younger self was busy regenerating from 3 to 4, which may be happening elsewhere in England simultaneously with this episode. I imagined that was the case while watching this, anyway.

  • Canisa

    I guess the guy who spends a lot of time travelling through space decided at some point it might be useful to take a space suit with him, maybe?

  • http://twitter.com/ThunderBeetle Abby

    Assuming anyone reads this…Here’s a little easter egg from the episode!
    So, we know Clara has her 3 candles and they go out.
    For one shot after the candles go out, 1 of the candles goes missing.
    In the next shot, the 3rd candle returns.

  • Anonymous

    My biggest issue is when Emma screams and collapses, sobbing, no one pays the slightest attention to her. I was literally shouting at the tv. I guess that fits in with the Doctor’s “sliver of ice” and how Clara (according to the TARDIS) is so self-interested. But it really upset me. She put herself through great pain to help them even though she didn’t know them or owe them anything, and they just treated her, as the Doctor said, like equipment. Good dog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diana-OmegaSama-Davidsson/100000695823547 Diana OmegaSama Davidsson

    I can honestly say I would be more interested in having Hilla as the companion than Clara. Clara has only been… well… there. There is no personality to her other than the usual Moffat banter that we had with Amy as well. She feels like a cardboard cut-out of a companion so far… Hilla had a more interesting story in one episode than Clara has had for the past few episodes. I hope that they really get her personality down soon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doutor.atroz Matheus Gomes

    I think he meant Clara, but he said the mystery was humanity not to freak her out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/doutor.atroz Matheus Gomes

    Well, River Song always looked to me as the hero in her episodes… Except when she kills the Doctor.

  • http://twitter.com/Adibug87 Adi Saunders

    I did love the “We’re all ghosts to you” part. It was the closest anyone’s come on calling this manic older-than-the-universe-and-I-will-act-like-a-child Doctor out on his shit. But the biggest shock for me this episode was realising that Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) was Prince Henry in Ever After.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.adkins.77 Brian Adkins

    I know,right? That was horrible.

  • http://twitter.com/odorunara The Lobster Dance

    I didn’t like Rose at first, but she went through SO much development, and became such a wonderful character. DW has had such great arcs and such different personalities for the companions for Nine and Ten, and I agree–I can’t get attached to Clara because she’s just “spunky” and that’s it. I didn’t really like Amy and Rory that much (but it’s okay if you did!), but they both had fairly distinct personalities.

    I do like that she’s starting not to trust the Doctor, as Robin S said, and that the episode was okay overall, but it seems we’re just focusing on the situations/adventures instead of developing her character into something more than “spunky” and “good with kids.” (Which is really only in RoA, but carried over from 1895 Clara?)

  • Anonymous

    It was originally the spacesuit from The Impossible planet, and RE-used
    in Waters of Mars.
    The BBC – We Have One Prop.

  • Anonymous

    He got the crystal in The Green Death, but Metebelis III was first mentioned in Carnival of Monsters. It’s the first attempt at arc-narrative, really.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarakenobi Incredibly Awesome

    but how can humans be so much more fascinating than other aliens, I mean really.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarakenobi Incredibly Awesome

    I just waited the entire episode to see when Jenny would put her little red hat on and go deliver a baby O_O

  • Travis Fischer

    Other aliens don’t have bow-ties and fezes.

  • Anonymous

    Is as though gender roles have been slowly going downhill for Moffats Who. I really didn’t think Amy was that bad at the beginning and I used to LOVE River… and while I REALLY like Clara, I’m not a fan of how the Doctor is treating her. Slow decline. But yeah, a decline. I think its the same dudes over and over and they are loosing touch with the fact that HEY! Its not a boys club. Which I am POSITIVE Moffat thinks it is. I’ve heard him refer to it as a “Boys own adventure” more than once. Which made me throw up a little in my mouth. I just be over here. Praying for female writers on Doctor Who.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    Well he still had it at the end of The Satan Pit, so I guess he just stashed it away for when he needed it. Or the BBC just didn’t have another space suit lying around.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    I tend to let the Doctor’s age slide because at some point with very big age gaps I think it ceases to matter and that point is way before the 950 year mark. The age gap between Emma and Palmer did bother me, and I’m glad you pointed it out because I wondered if I was over-reacting. These latest series have had such a problem with female characters that I almost go into each episode already flinching, and then wonder if I’m just seeing it because I expect it. I kind of ignored the gender problems in this episode because I enjoyed it so much. I think it’s the strongest episode they’ve had in a while, and I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy it if I’d spent the whole time thinking about the ways in which the writer didn’t respect me as a human being.

  • http://melancholywise.tumblr.com/ Sophie

    Gender roles aside, I really enjoyed this episode. I feel like this is the first time they’ve done a ghost story on Who and really succeeded, and it’s because they went for the more complex explanation than ‘it was aliens all long’,

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I find myself wishing they’d stuck with obnoxiously smart, fast-talking Oswin-personality, which is something I was initially dreading. If you are completely indifferent to a main character and feel more for the supporting ones? There’s something wrong with the way you’re writing that character.

  • Anonymous

    I read in one forum that there is another person that the TARDIS has locked out, and that was Captain Jack Harkness. So, there’s a question of some connection with that as well…

  • http://twitter.com/Proi_RS Robin S

    I find it a bit weird that the TARDIS is suddenly unlocked at all, and it’s up to the TARDIS itself who gets in. Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of giving companions keys, if the big blue box itself could pick who it let in?

  • Anonymous

    I can’t (and have no desire to) argue with most of the comments on this episode, but I always thought the Doctor’s rather poor treatment of Clara was a feature, not a bug. The 11th Doctor has been reminding me of the later period of Sylvester McCoy a lot. This episode actually reminded me of Ghostlight in some ways, except I knew what the hell was going on in this episode.

    But I’ve been seeing Matt Smith’s Doctor as being a lot like Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. He lies, he manipulates, and he holds a lot of information back for his own reasons.

  • Kate Reynolds

    Even then she is the hero! She didn’t kill him , just to make sure he knew first how much he was loved, not only by her but by so many across the universe. Killing him was not her fault (that was the suit, programmed that she couldn’t override). Postponing it long enough so that she could tell him that? That is pretty darn heroic.

  • Kate Reynolds

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one. I agree he sees Clara as a mystery to solve, but she isn’t the ONLY mystery. I see that as applicable to all of humanity. He did the same thing with Amy–he took her along to solve the mystery of the universe streaming through the crack in her bedroom.

  • Kate Reynolds

    And why can’t a woman be both capable and fall for someone, useless or no? It happens all the time in real life. You’re falling into the exact same problem–you are seeing Martha only in context of her crush on the Doctor, when she showed multiple times in the whole season that she was plenty capable anyway.

    It is also possible to both be friends with someone and have a crush on them. Martha didn’t “just want a shag”. She had a crush on the Doctor, yes, but she also wanted adventure and to see the universe and to prove herself.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    dunno, but it’s a recurring theme of the show, always has been. The Doctor is hung up on humanity.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarakenobi Incredibly Awesome

    I know! but it just seems so glaringly unlikely that other worlds don’t have empathy and courage etc.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    It bothers me because so often women get dragged around by their hearts as if they were incapable of making intelligent relationship choices. The sighing female thing gets old fast. Where’s the guy crushing on the woman who never notices? That happens too – happened to me – and yet it’s always women portrayed as the ones who helplessly pine. Rory waited two thousand years without a single ‘poor me.’

    I have a lot of problems with Martha; I think the character had great potential and Russell just kept shoving her back in the whiny box. The latest crop of writers is no better.

  • Kate Reynolds

    And I don’t see Martha saying “poor me” either, yeah she has expressions on her face that are pretty transparent, but at the same time those are also times when the Doctor is saying something or doing particularly insensitive. Also Rory is a false parallel.
    I’d say Mickey was pretty much hopelessly pining for Rose though.

  • http://elisabethflaum.wordpress.com/ Elwyne

    Maybe I’m misremembering, but to me it seemed like every. single. episode.

    You’re right that Rory isn’t a good parallel, but in truth neither is Mickey. He HAD a relationship with Rose. She changed, and he was understandably upset, confused, jealous. He got appropriately angry with her, and down on himself in a way anyone who’s been dumped or left hanging can relate to. And then he got over it, became his own man.

    Martha (and Chan Tho, and Emma) never had a relationship to begin with, no basis for expectation. She had no reason to be upset, confused, or jealous; he had never been any other way with her. He was no more insensitive or unkind to her than he was to anyone else. I would have more patience for her if he had really led her on; but if I remember the conversation properly, he told her right from the beginning he wasn’t interested. She not only didn’t believe him, but turned around and outright lied, telling him she wasn’t interested either. This irritates me.

    I have to add, though, on the plus side… Without Martha’s moping, we would never have had that brilliant ‘friend of musical theater’ line from Daleks in Manhattan. I laughed for days over that one. :)

  • http://twitter.com/likeasummerain Summer Naugle

    I feel like the TARDIS generally allows the Doctor to handle who’s let
    in or not, she’s got better things to do. But she retains full veto
    power if there’s someone she doesn’t like. And it makes sense she’d
    relent and allow Clara in here, no one wants the Doctor back more than the
    TARDIS. She just had to give her a hard time first.

  • http://twitter.com/likeasummerain Summer Naugle

    It’s not that we’re the only species with empathy and courage, it’s pretty obvious from the other species we meet that that’s just not true. I think a lot of it is that we look Time Lord and have so much in common with them, but also have so many differences. Think about it, if humans ever found another alien species that looked like us and was very similar to us we would definitely get attached to them.

  • http://www.mommymisadventures.com/ Michelle Mista

    There’s dog people and they’re cat people. Some like one over the other and that’s fine. I figure the Doctor’s penchant for humanity is much the same.

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.viscardi.9 Veronica Viscardi

    Maybe the gender roles between Palmer and Emma were meant to represent the 1970 ‘s culture?

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.viscardi.9 Veronica Viscardi

    I don’t feel this would be an appropriate approach. Women are not “penis-less” men, after all. We are different ; it doesn’t mean one is superior or inferior to the other, but certainly we are different. Wheter might be for biological, social or cultural reason, I don”t think it would do women any good to have heroines that are, really, men in disguise. I think it is possible to write action heroines that are stil “feminine” in the broadest meaning of the term.

  • http://ravenlunatick.wordpress.com/ ravenlunatick

    I think the problem is people are used to seeing differences where they don’t exist. Sure we have different plumbing, but we are all human beings first. The differences are mostly culturally constructed. I don’t think it works out to men in disguise, just human beings revealed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/winterbutterfly Stephanie Eversole Vandenburg

    It’s Levi-O-sa, not Levio-SA. ;D

  • http://www.facebook.com/winterbutterfly Stephanie Eversole Vandenburg

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who isn’t into Clara. I’m trying so hard to like her, but honestly, you lot are right – she hasn’t been given a whole lot of personality so far. I feel like Oswin had much more.

    And from the very beginning of the episode, I sensed a romantic inclination between Palmer and Emma. It was subtle, but it was there. I didn’t have any trouble believing in it. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/veronica.viscardi.9 Veronica Viscardi

    It may be that the difference are culturally constructed, but point is we are different. And I don’t mean in a : boys like to play with cars, girls with dollies, kind of way. Sure, we are all human beings and plenty of girls prefer playing with cars, but still we are still women. I am an un-feminine woman, in a way : I pracyice bow, I read and write sci-fi, and I don’t care that much for clothes; still, I recognize when a fantasy or sci-fi heroine is written like a guy in disguise. You can’t just switch the pronouns; it’s lazy writing, at the best.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerry.rudasill Jerry Rudasill

    The only thing I have to say about the gender roles in this episode is, “1974″. Much different than today.

  • http://twitter.com/Tonks07 Mandy

    YES! I agree with all of your comment. I was/am way more into her as Oswin and as her Victorian persona than I am plain ole human Clara. As charming as the actress is I just can’t get into regular Clara. She is fast paced and curious and…spunky? Like, I really need to know more about her maybe? I just haven’t seen a reason to love her yet. When characters like Amy or Donna really just were unique and sucked me in as interesting charcters from their first eqisode I feel like Clara/Oswin started out awesome but now is just meh.

    I actually really like the article’s description of her as the Doctor’s Manic Pixie Dream Human who’s going to help the Doctor get over the Ponds. I mean that is a bad trope but I feel like it’s kinda what is going on.

  • http://twitter.com/Tonks07 Mandy

    I def agree about Coleman and Gillen. I really feel like the actresses (& actors at times) are really working hard to hold up scenes with weaker dialogue or weak plots. The awesome acting/ability of the actors to shine through and charm me and really make me care about their characters is getting me through the not so great bits of writing.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarakenobi Incredibly Awesome

    basically it’s just a Plot Point – his love of humans makes him more relatable to the audience.

  • http://twitter.com/Sarakenobi Incredibly Awesome

    not that I don’t agree – :)

  • Anonymous

    The Doctor being so interested in humans because they look like Time Lords is my head canon.

  • Anonymous

    I felt that way about Amy Pond.

  • Kevin Burnard

    And doesn’t this episode score any points for having an awesome pioneer time traveling character who is willing to risk HERself for the good of science and humanity? Doesn’t that count for anything?

  • Tora

    Gender IS socially constructed so why should that not matter in regards to gender differences? It’s not innate, it’s LEARNED. Even then, women are more different from each other than the average woman is from the average man. PEOPLE are different.

    And if an author wrote a man as a fully-rounded unique individual and not a stereotype (as there are male stereotypes too), then switching gender would require little more than switching pronouns. So I agree wholeheartedly with Ravenlunatick.