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Recap / Doctor Who S33 E9 "Hide"

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Well, it's been a while. Time for another not-ghost story!

"I am the Doctor — and I am afraid."
The Doctor

The one that scares the Doctor so bad he has to take off his bowtie to breathe easier.

The first episode written by Promoted Fanboy Neil Cross, although his second episode, "The Rings of Akhaten", was aired earlier.

Clara and the Doctor arrive in the 1970s at Caliburn House, a haunted mansion alone on a desolate moor. Within its walls, ghost hunter (and ex-spy) Professor Palmer and gifted psychic Emma are searching for the Witch of the Well. Her apparition appears throughout the history of the building. The Doctor runs a Bavarian Fire Drill and takes charge of the ghost hunting, while Clara wonders why on Earth Palmer would buy a haunted house in the first place.

The Doctor and Clara investigate, encountering rather scary noises and feelings and words on the wall all over the house. When the Doctor and Palmer spend a few minutes alone to develop their new photographs of the ghost, Palmer explains that as a soldier, he killed people to protect his own country. Although he's proud of his actions, it's very difficult to live after seeing so much death, and he's closed himself off to becoming emotionally involved. Meanwhile, Emma, The Empath, has quite a bit of blatant Unresolved Sexual Tension with Palmer, which everyone picks up on but no one does anything about.

Clara realises that the ghost has the exact same pose in each picture, so the Doctor merrily heads back to the TARDIS, digs up his old orange spacesuit and takes a few pictures all across Earth's timeline to see what time period the ghost's appearances span. Clara quite seriously freaks out at seeing the entire lifespan of her planet flash before her on the control room screen. She calls the Doctor out, telling him that all humans must be nothing more than ghosts to him — from his perspective, she hasn't even been born yet, and at the same time she's already dead, as are all humans. He gently tells her that that's not quite the case, but doesn't elaborate.

Because the ghost appears in all of Earth's history, the Doctor knows what she must be: a time traveller trapped in a Year Outside, Hour Inside pocket dimension. Using a mind-enhancing crystal from Metebelis III, a part of his TARDIS' Eye of Harmony and Emma's natural empathic link with the ghost, he opens a portal to said dimension and jumps right in to go fetch the woman. Fortunately, although she's very frightened, he's able to convince her to run, and she ends up in the regular universe. Unfortunately, the portal is closed because Emma is utterly exhausted — and the Doctor is trapped.

Clara tries to follow him in the TARDIS, but the TARDIS still just doesn't like her. The two get into a rather splendid snarking match before the TARDIS relents and forcibly vworps herself and Clara over to the pocket universe, even though it might kill her within seconds. The Doctor is saved from the claws of the monster. In the aftermath, he explains that Emma and Palmer are the ancestors of the time traveler (named Hila), which is why Emma's link with her was so strong. Hila knows that history says she went missing, so she decides to stay behind and live with her great-great-great-grandparents. Also, the Doctor asks Emma what she can feel when she looks at Clara... and the answer is that Clara is a perfectly ordinary young girl.

Happy with having saved the day, the Doctor leaves Emma and Palmer to come to terms with the idea of becoming a couple... when he suddenly remembers a number of things that just don't make sense yet. He has a sudden "Eureka!" Moment when he realises that there's a second monster in the house... just looking for its mate. He reunites the two by doing the whole dimension-jumping all over again, with the help of Emma, Clara, and the TARDIS.


  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: Eleven places the stress in "Metebelis" on the second syllable, whereas Three put it on the third.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Between Emma and Palmer, whose actors have a 17 year age difference.
  • Amplifier Artifact: A blue crystal from Metebelis III can amplify the abilities of a psychic.
  • Apocalypse How: The Doctor takes Clara into the future, where the Earth has been rendered lifeless by the Sun expanding into a red giant. Understandably, she freaks out.
  • Arc Number: Sort of. Clara mentions that whiskey is the 11th most disgusting thing ever invented.
  • Artistic License – Geology: The Doctor briefly visits the very young Earth and declares it to be about six billion years ago. The Earth, by the 2010s, was only 4.5 billion years old.
  • The Atoner: A Downplayed Trope; Palmer doesn't regret the actions he took during the Second World War, but he still feels bad over the people he killed or caused to be killed, and the men and women who he endangered by sending on missions. He's not overly happy about having to lie to people about his past, either, even if it's for valid reasons of national security.
  • Badass Bookworm: Professor Palmer was in the "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare", officially known as the Special Operations Executive, the organisation tasked by Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze" during World War II.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The Doctor and Clara barge in on Palmer and easily convince him they're connected with Military Intelligence just by acting with confidence and knowing about his classified war service.
    Emma: Is he really from the Ministry?
    Palmer: Er, I don't know. He's certainly got the right demeanour. Capricious, brilliant...
  • Bittersweet Ending: The time traveller, once rescued by the Doctor, is told her disappearance is a fixed point in time and so she can never, ever return home. Fortunately, the Doctor introduces her to her ancestors instead, and she seems fine with that.
  • Bottle Episode: The only characters in this episode are the Doctor, Clara, Palmer, Emma, and Hila, as well as "Romeo" and his mate. Much of the special effects are a small portal disc and a blurred monster.
  • Brick Joke: In "The Bells of Saint John", the Doctor gleefully reveals how much he enjoys being addressed as "Doctor Who?" by Clara. When the Professor refers to him as "Doctor What?" in this episode, he reacts with, "...if you like".
  • Broken Ace: On paper, Palmer has it all: A WWII British Major and spy with an extensive service record, a professor of psychology and a scientist, a gifted artist, hobbyist ghost hunter, and has enough money to purchase an enormous manor and its surrounding land on a whim solely to pursue his hobby. Beneath the surface however, he is deeply affected by the things he's had to do during the war. While he doesn't regret any of them and saw them necessary, there's no denial that they damaged him as a person. As a result, he's emotionally withdrawn, even coming across as awkward at times.
  • Buffy Speak: Clara finds herself describing sharks as being "eat-y" types of creatures.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Doctor needs a blue crystal from Metebelis III to amplify the abilities of a psychic. He's also afraid again (as he was in the presence of the Great One), which is something he's not used to.
    • The Eye of Harmony is also used (bits of it), and the Cloister Bell is heard.
    • The space suit the Doctor uses is a (very) slightly darker shade of orange, but otherwise identical to the ones from "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit" and last seen in "The Waters of Mars".
    • Clara notes that the TARDIS doesn't like her, an observation she made without the Doctor nearby in "The Rings of Akhaten".
  • Catchphrase: The Doctor throws another "Geronimo" into the mix, with an "oh well why not?" face.
  • Characterization Marches On: This was the first episode that Jenna Coleman filmed as Clara and it's clear she's still finding her feet. She displays traits that are never shown before or since, such as folding her arms and raising her eyebrows at the Doctor's antics.
  • Classified Information
    • The Doctor easily convinces Palmer he's with Military Intelligence as he knows top secret information about Palmer's service in SOE.
    • How the Doctor handwaves his sonic screwdriver.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The "Witch of the Well" was first named after a monster the Eighth Doctor found, which was unsurprisingly, a witch stuck in a well.
    • The Doctor did use to have an umbrella/hat stand. In fact, there was one in every version of the TARDIS before the current one.
    • The voice interface from "Let's Kill Hitler" makes another appearance.
    • The Doctor once again travels to the end of the world.
    • The Doctor also mentions he can travel into a pocket universe, but that entropy would prevent him from going back out, harking back to the Tom Baker E-Space trilogy.
    • The Doctor still likes giving a very simplistic statement on what human couples probably do together, although he has revised it from kissing to holding hands. He also kisses on both cheeks in greeting again while completely missing the cheeks.
    • The Doctor geeking out over the 1970s-era equipment, and "companion" being corrected to "assistant", is a reference to his days as UNIT's scientific advisor.
    • This isn't the first time the Doctor and his companion referred to the Ghostbusters.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The Doctor's spacesuit may conceivably be insulated against the heat of primordial Earth and red giant-cooked Earth, but the Professor's camera he borrowed and used in those environments certainly wouldn't be. In a subtle subversion of the trope, the Doctor has Clara stand far away from him when he gets back in the TARDIS, because the suit is still emitting too much heat.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: "HELP ME" appears on the wall.
  • Dramatic Thunder: It's nighttime, there's a thunderstorm, and we're looking at Palmer and Emma as lightning strikes and we see the "ghost" in the window to their right.
  • The Empath: The Professor's assistant, Emma Grayling, is a psychic empath; she "hears" feelings.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: First when the Doctor learns what the hellish knocking sound was, and again at the end when he figures out the motivation of the monster in the mist.
  • Everybody Lives: Unlike what happened to the last psychic dealing with "ghosts", here everyone gets to live. Even the monster; the Doctor goes back to the pocket universe specifically for him.
  • Floating Continent: The pocket dimension is a small patch of forest with the ground only being a few feet thick. Beyond that is nothing.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early on, Clara observes that the Professor's photographs all have identical images of the ghost, no matter the angle or location. This is because, for the ghost, it's barely been a moment between them.
    • When the Doctor takes Clara on an abridged journey through the Earth's entire life cycle "birth to death", Clara looks out over the ruins of the dead Earth and wonders if her long-decayed remains are buried there, somewhere. The Doctor solemnly notes that this is probably the case. A few episodes later, the Doctor will state that a time traveller should never visit their own grave.
  • Ghostly Chill: "Cold spot. Spooky".
  • Ghostly Gape: Hila appears to be doing this in photos.
  • Gibbering Genius: Professor Palmer and Emma have no trouble believing the Doctor is in the ghosthunting business because he is capricious, brilliant and deceptive.
  • Grandfather Paradox: Given a slight nod when Professor Palmer learns that the time traveller is actually a distant relative of his assistant and himself, and isn't sure on how to proceed. The Doctor assures him that paradoxes tend to work themselves out.
  • Haunted House: The manor is well known for being haunted and Clara extensively mocks Palmer for buying it in the first place. She has a point: considering that written records of the hauntings go back over 1000 years, to even before the house was built, who the hell decided to build it there?
  • Heroic BSoD: Clara has a minor one after the Doctor does a quick jaunt through the birth and death of Earth, understandably freaked out by the idea that she can exist before she was ever born and long after she's died.
  • Holding Hands:
    • Clara assures the Doctor that however scared she might be, he doesn't have to hold her hand. But that isn't him holding her hand!
    • At the end he recommends that the Professor and his assistant start with this and never let go. This and earlier incidents make him realize there are two creatures, a mated pair.
  • Humans Are Special: When Clara wonders how humans, merely a blip in existence compared to a being like the Doctor, could ever possibly be interesting, the Doctor replies that they're the only mystery left worth exploring. It's clear, however, that he means this in a much more specific way (that is, referring to Clara herself) than he lets on.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Doctor tells Clara not to "mess with the settings" on the ghost hunting equipment just after he got done playing with it himself.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Subverted; after a ghost encounter, Clara and Emma try some whiskey and agree they'd prefer tea instead.
  • Internal Homage:
    • Clara isn't the first companion who's supposed to be dead but is mysteriously still alive, calls the TARDIS a "cow", gets into a bitching match with her voice interface, forms a bitter rivalry with her and then gets let in by her without a key anyway in order to follow the Doctor to a pocket universe. Eighth Doctor companion Charley Pollard did all those things in Big Finish Doctor Who during the 40th anniversary story "Zagreus".
    • The words "HELP ME" and the Doctor's comment about holding hands and never letting go may also be references to the direct sequel to "Zagreus", "Scherzo". "The Witch from the Well" is also the title of an Eighth Doctor audio episode. Between this and "The Rings of Akhaten" (which had quite a few things in common with "Phobos"), Neil Cross seems to have a shared affinity with Steven Moffat for Big Finish Doctor Who, and especially the Eighth Doctor.
  • Intro Dump: The Doctor gives a inverted one, telling the Professor and Emma all about themselves in order to prove his credentials, and incidentally cluing in the audience as well.
  • Kid from the Future: The Doctor meets a scientist and a psychic who are investigating a haunting, and discovers the "ghost" to actually be a time traveller stuck in a pocket universe. They rescue the woman, and at the end of the episode, the Doctor reveals the time traveller to be one of the scientist and psychic's descendants, even though they aren't married yet. They aren't even a couple yet. They had just finally begun to recognize the mutual UST when the Doctor told them that they have a kid.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Clara gets in another joke about the Doctor's chin.
  • The Matchmaker:
    • Eleven once again, just like with his Ponds and with the couples in "The Lodger" and "A Christmas Carol". However, Clara has a bit more success in pairing Emma and Alec up.
  • May–December Romance: Emma is shown to be in her late 20s or early 30s at the most, while Alec has to be at least in his 50s given that he was active during WWII, which ended nearly 30 years before this episode's timeframe.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: The Doctor touches on this when explaining how lonely most empathic psychics are. Clara tells him to shut up, having noticed how upset the empath he's talking in front of is getting.
  • Moment Killer: The Doctor, despite his matchmaking, has horrible timing. Luckily, Clara is there to stop him in time.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Doctor's exuberance manages to make scary moments unexpectedly funny, before they crash back into scary again. Such as when he finds a cold spot and starts walking in and out of it, remarking "Cold. Warm. Cold. Warm..." It's more the sweeping, waltzing steps he takes while turning in a circle in the cold spot that makes that bit hilarious.
  • No Antagonist: Unless you count the collapsing pocket universe; the "ghost" and beast in the pocket universe are not evil, just lost people trying to find their way home.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: The creepy ghost is a misplaced time traveller crying out for help, and the even creepier thing chasing her is just an alien looking for its lost mate.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever the Professor got up to in World War II involving carrier pigeons.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The monster keeps mostly in shadows or indistinct mists, and is only shown in very brief cuts so the audience has no time to register its appearance. It finally appears in front of the Doctor at the end of the episode. The only time we get a clear image of the monster is after it's no longer a threat.
  • No Time to Explain: In the pocket universe, with complete justification. The whole place will collapse in a couple of minutes.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: "I am the Doctor. And I am afraid."
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Let's see:
    • The TARDIS (Blue) with the Doctor's spacesuit, the volcanic area of a primordial Earth and a desert at the sunbaked Earth (Orange).
    • The lights at the haunted house give an orange atmosphere, whereas the darkness and echo dimension are blue otherwise.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: This one is shaped like a disc, and can only be accessed through empathic psychic powers.
  • Paranormal Investigation: The professor and psychic are doing one to the house from both a science/technology angle, and a psychic angle.
  • Pocket Dimension: The home of the "ghost" is one of those Not-Really-A-Bubble things.
  • Rule of Three: The method of entering the pocket dimension is used three times.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The Professor was involved in very secret, very dangerous goings on during WWII, and is still feeling the impact.
  • Shipper on Deck: Clara does everything she can to help the Professor and his assistant along, from frankly telling the assistant how the Professor clearly feels about her, to steering the Doctor away when he's about to be a Moment Killer.
  • Ship Tease: Eleven puts his arm around Clara while talking about love, before he realises how it looks and quickly apologises. Earlier on, Emma asks Clara if she and the Doctor are an item, and Clara just matter-of-factly says they're not, even though she moments later makes reference to romance and how the UST between Emma and Palmer is as obvious as the Doctor's chin.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Stealth Insult:
    • For a certain value of "stealth". The TARDIS decides that the image Clara will react best to is her own.
      Clara: Ugh! You are a cow, I knew it!
    • "Every lonely monster needs a companion!"
  • Subverted Catchphrase
    Palmer: Doctor what?
    The Doctor: If you like.
  • Survivor Guilt: Professor Palmer confesses to this. He survived WWII when so many others did not.
  • Take That!: In Clara's opinion, the opposite of bliss is Carlisle.
  • Techno Babble: The Doctor gets pulled away from trying to pull some at the end of the episode.
  • Temporal Paradox: The Professor dismisses time travel as impossible for this reason. The Doctor is quick to retort that they work themselves out, by and large.
  • Terse Talker: The Doctor briefly does this, with the justification "no time complete sentences".
  • These Hands Have Killed: The Professor admits to the Doctor that the reason he's nearly alone in a haunted house on the moor is because he has trouble being around people having killed and ordered others to kill.
  • Thicker Than Water: The time traveller is able to connect to the assistant because they are distant relatives.
  • Time Travel: The Doctor uses the TARDIS to solve a mystery. The ghost is a time traveller as well.
  • The Triple: Palmer and Emma conclude that the Doctor's story about being from the Ministry is likely true; he's capricious, brilliant... and deceitful.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: The Professor and his assistant are so clearly interested in each other that Everyone Can See It but they don't act on it. The Professor has survivor guilt and his assistant thinks she's imagining it. They get over it eventually.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Doctor, having Seen It All, doesn't think twice about taking Clara through the birth to life to death cycle of Earth. Clara, on the other hand, does not cope well and Contemplates Her Navel.
  • Void Between the Worlds: What surrounds the Pocket Dimension is nothing; big white nothing.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When the Doctor is unraveling the mystery of the Crooked Man, he says "Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it". This is a line from the song "Let's Do It, Lets Fall In Love" by Cole Porter.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: Time in the Pocket Dimension is slowed to such an extent that a time traveller running for a few seconds stretches from the beginning of Earth to its destruction.