Doctor Who: Series 7, Episode 10
I'm not usually a fan of when Doctor Who goes into the supernatural. I never really consider the show "hard" sci-fi, but I tend to think it works best when we're dealing with monsters and aliens rather than ghosts and spirits. It's why the quick turn in the later stages of Neil Cross' "Hide" was such a pleasant surprise.

As you all know, I hate recapping so here goes: The Doctor and Clara stumble upon an old house that is being "haunted". Professor Palmer and his psychic will-they/won't-they named Emma inhabit the house. In between clumsily flirting, they're trying to save a "ghost" who is calling out for help. The Doctor finds, through the show's often-convenient use of technology and psychic powers, that it is NOT a ghost, but a time traveller who has been stuck in another pocket universe. Like Homer Simpson in an early Treehouse of Horror, the Doctor basically ties a rope to himself and jumps in the other dimension, saving the time traveller, and then himself being saved by Clara. All pretty standard Who adventure as far as I'm concerned. So why the hell did I like this episode more than its average premise would make me think I would?

I'm starting to sense a pattern in that the more Clara and the Doctor interactions I get, the more I'm likely to enjoy myself. Last week, we saw what Clara can accomplish on her own, in spite of the Doctor. This week we see the two clash and ultimately come together. But more on that in a minute.
The central ghost-story-ness worked well because Cross was able to make the Doctor and Clara fit into his own Scooby-Doo adventure. Even when these two are scared out of their mind, they are hard-wired to be at their quippy best, never letting the other take a breath without reminding each other they're a wonderful duo. With loud banging in the distance the Doctor casually asks if Clara was making that noise as if that was even remotely possible. Clara later tells the Doctor that she doesn't need her hand held, even though he's not holding it (Ahhhh!).
There is a brief aside in the episode about the Earth-shattering, unspoken love between the professor and the psychic (as they shall be known for the rest of time. Don't tell me you'll remember their names). We find out by episode's end that the professor would never let the psychic use her Charles Xavier powers if they may put her in any danger, but we know he's full of shit because she helps the Doctor go back and forth between universes, causing her immense pain. (An aside - just once I want super-psychics portrayed in media to not be moaning in pain when they do something hard. I guess them just saying, "Whew, that was a tough one," just doesn't cut it?) We find out that the time traveller is like their great, great, great granddaughter and that means they're totally gonna fuck each other raw. At least I think that was the subtext there.

Anyway, back to the things I really enjoyed. The highlight of the episode came with Clara and the Doctor back on the TARDIS. We see that the TARDIS kind of hates Clara for some reason, maybe it's because of "whatever" she is or maybe its just some foreshadowing for next week's "Journey to the Center of the TARDIS" (Squeeee!) Once they're actually in the TARDIS, Clara brings up a great point, kind of tearing right into the hearts of the Doctor. What are humans to him? This type of question has been brought up many times, but it never fails to make me think deeply about the Doctor and his relationships with humans. After going to the ends of time, knowing how casually the Doctor dances on the dust that used to be humanity, Clara is showing for the first time the honeymoon period is over in her companion-dom and she wants to know if she's just some ghost to the Doctor since everyone dies and turns to dust as he just twirls about the galaxy. It reminded me of when Wilfred tells the Doctor that humans must look like ants to him and Tennant rebuffs him saying that humans look like giants. It was one of my favorite moments in 10's run. Here the Doctor seems a bit uneasy answering the question, partly because Clara is such a unique case. Doctor says she (or humanity as a whole) is the only mystery worth solving.

With this seed of doubt planted in Clara's head that she may be dealing more with the mad man with a box instead of the raggedy Doctor, I'm excited to move forward into what looks like a darker batch of episodes. After this week's strong showing, I'm growing more curious as to how things shake up for our dear Clara.

Grade: B+

Random observations:

- Doctor Who quote of the week: "To you, I'm a ghost. We're all ghosts to you. We must be nothing." - Clara, invoking Wilfred a bit in how the Doctor is basically a god.

- I don't want to forget to mention the monster in the pocket universe. It was scary because it was so abstract and it ultimately fell into another Doctor Who trope of the big scary monster just wanting to be free/loved/get laid

-Solid job from Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott as the psychic and her Doctor. Though I'm sure I'll forget they ever existed in like two weeks. That ghosts line from Clara, I'm not forgetting that.

- Also a special shout out to that fun Ghostbusters reference in the cold open. Loved how it just sliced through the haunted house feeling right away.

- Definitely now looking forward to more from Neil Cross. Thought his first go around with "Rings of Akhaten" was solid but not great. This effort worked much better for me.
Tags: Doctor Who
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