Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Only Mystery Worth Solving - Review of "Hide"

Spoilers for "Hide" underneath the only video I could conceivably have put here -

Didn't take many notes for this one.  Not because I don't have thoughts for it, but because I was so enthralled by the story that I didn't want to stop and scribble things down.  This entire story works so well together that I can't really take it piece by piece and talk about it in details.

This starts out as a typical ghost story - but this is Doctor Who and we can't stick with your typical anything in any genre.  There has to be a perfectly logical explanation for the paranormal screwiness that's going on here.  Well, perfectly logical to an alien that lives and breathes time and space.  For the rest of us humans, it sounds like so much made-up gobbledegook.  But the Doctor's a Time Lord. They invented time travel - or near enough to it.  I'm willing to take his word at face value.  In this instance, anyway.

The plot was pretty straightforward for this one - strange ghosty-type things happening at some haunted mansion in the country. The Doctor figures out the mystery of the ghost, turns out to be a pocket universe timey-and-spacey thing, he gets some help from a psychic girl and the Eye of Harmony and things are peachy.  But what makes this story so good and so powerful is the smaller ideas woven throughout the story.  Here are a few that stood out to me -

1 - I've had this one cross my mind before, but Clara actually spells it out in this episode.  When the Doctor is time traveling in the same geographical spot and they see the Earth from beginning to end, it affects Clara and she calls the Doctor out on it, saying that because he can move through time, she is essentially dead to him.  But also, she hasn't been born yet (as evidenced by the Doctor following her parents from their first meeting to Clara's mother's death).  Yet, what do we constantly hear from the Doctor about humans?  Humans are special, they're important, they have so much potential, he'll take humans on their worst days over some other species' very best days (that was clear back from "The Power of Three," wasn't it?)  So, while humans by and large are basically children compared to the Doctor, he sees possibilities for us - both in terms of humanity as a whole and with specific individuals.  The Time Lords never understood that because they were the pompous elites of the galaxy that couldn't be bothered with lesser beings until those lesser beings infringed on their pompous elitism (usually by means of the Doctor or some other renegade Time Lord doing things that proper pompous elite Time Lords don't do).

2 - A little bit of very accidental meta for the whole of Doctor Who - the girl who plays Emma (and her name escapes me and I'm too lazy to look it up right now) is also playing Verity Lambert in the docudrama An Adventure in Time and Space, which is the big special about the beginnings of Doctor Who.  This whole time, I could not get that out of my head because I'd seen pictures of the filming and to me, this lady is Verity (even when she's playing a totally different character - she looks remarkably like Verity Lambert in 1963).  So, when Emma is talking to Clara about everything ending, but in reality not everything ends, I had this flash in my mind that one of the creators of Doctor Who is speaking to the newest companion about endings and beginnings.  I'd have to go back and watch the scene again, but it was a very striking image for me.  I'm pretty sure that was unintentional, since I'm sure she was cast as Emma before they even started talking about An Adventure in Time and Space - but it's just one of those serendipitous things that seem to follow Doctor Who in pretty much all of its history (I have a list that I need to write down of everything that's happened to Doctor Who that, if things had gone any other way, we would not be having this 50th anniversary year.  Honestly, this show was born and bred from serendipity).

3 - There were so many good one-liners in this episode!  Some were silly ("Doctor what?" - makes a nice change from the usual gag) and some were a bit more profound ("Experience makes liars of us all."  "The music room is the heart of the house."  "I may be a teeny-tiny bit afraid, but I'm still a grown-up")  Something that Neil Cross does well, just from seeing the two episodes he's written this season, is puts all this great emotion into a pretty straightforward story.  I did not get any of these wonderful ideas and feelings from "Cold War" last week, even though they were meant to be there.  But from "The Rings of Akhaten" and "Hide" - there are just some very beautiful and brilliant ideas.  And they don't even need to dwell on them - they're just there for the viewer to pick up and relate to.  Personally, I hope Moffat keeps Neil Cross in the writer rotation because he is brilliant.

4 - Because I'm a total girl and I like to keep my shipper goggles handy, I bought into all the love stories in this.  Even the one at the end between the two creatures who'd been torn apart by the anomaly of the pocket universe.  It was cute.  Not as cute as Emma and Alec, but still... I like the idea (maybe that would be a fun one to focus on more in another story - has Doctor Who ever done a story where lovers are separated by time and the Doctor helps them come back together?  I know it's been done in other places, but I'm trying to think if the Doctor's ever had to deal with that. On second thought, maybe not... the fanboys would throw a fit.  Feelings are icky, after all).

5 - The TARDIS still doesn't like Clara!  I don't recall the TARDIS ever showing overt hostility to a companion like this before! (okay, maybe Jack - but that was easily explained).  Also - Emma tells Clara not to trust the Doctor, that he has a sliver of ice in his heart.  That's a very strange description of Eleven because I'm pretty sure he's been portrayed as a trustworthy guy since "The Eleventh Hour."  He might not be entirely truthful about certain things, but he's the guy that fights the Weeping Angels and takes on Daleks with a jammie dodger and gives epic, badass speeches to killer parasite suns and whole fleets of monsters.  Nothing's going to get you as long as Eleven's around because he's going to kick ass and take names before the day is out - and he is still your best friend.  So, yeah... this is new territory and it'll be interesting to see where it goes from here.

That's all I can think of for "Hide."  Fantastic story, lovely characters, brilliant writing - love for everything.

Next Week - "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS" (yes, I'm going to make an effort at spelling it the British way) looks like it's going to either be fantastic beyond belief, or it is going to be an exercise in missed opportunities.  I have avoided watching any pre-released clips because I want to see everything on first viewing (though I'm okay with the "Next Time" trailers and such), so I have no idea.  As always, I reserve judgment until I see the episode.

(To be fair - I very rarely hate anything related to Doctor Who.  I've discovered this while I've been borrowing some black and white stories on DVD from the library and watching them and I found out that there are actually people who hate "The Space Museum," which is one that I quite enjoyed.  That sort of shocked me, even though these kinds of things really shouldn't.  Honestly, my love of Doctor Who ranges from "LOVE LOVE LOVE!!" to "Eh, it was okay" and everything in between.  I never really take out hate and malice toward a Doctor Who story.  Even "Love and Monsters" - which is arguably my least favorite story - I just shrug and move on with my life).

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