If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood,Who ya gonna call?GHOSTBUSTERS!
So in this episode of Doctor Who, The Doctor and Clara take on the Witch of the Well, a ghost that has been haunting the mansion on the Moors… but is she a ghost, or is there something more sinister at work here?
The Doctor and Clara arrive at the quintessential haunted house in the mid 1970s. It is a large old mansion located on foggy Moors shrouded in perpetual thunder. We couldn’t come up with a better location for a ghost story. Inside the house, we meet two ghost hunters: Professor Alec Palmer and his assistant/companion/side-kick Emma Grayling. Professor Palmer has enlisted the help of his trusty assistant because she is an empathic psychic. The two of them have been investigating the “Witch of the Well” for months. There is a great amount of evidence for her existence, including a number of somewhat blurry but definitely ghostly images. Strangely, all in the same position, no matter what angle the photos are taken from. It is as if the ghost is screaming “help me.” Pretty spooky stuff.
Clara makes a comment about she and The Doctor being “Ghostbusters.” That should give anyone a good laugh, but think about it this way: This is 1974. The movie Ghostbusters (1984) does not come out for 10 years…which is going to be weird for Professor Alec and Emma (but that’s just a random aside).
So an excited Doctor and a reluctant Clara go ghost hunting. We are beginning to see a really nice dynamic between The Doctor and Clara. They are clearly beginning to get more comfortable with one another and act like friends. Although, there are some hints that they feel more for one another. Which make us scream at the television, “Noooo! Please noooo! Don’t be in love with The Doctor.” Love stories between The Doctor and his companion have been done. And they are, at this point, pretty boring. We would rather see Clara as this kickass companion who isn’t defined by The Doctor.
They continue to investigate until The Doctor gets the idea to go through time but to stay in the exact same spot in order to monitor when this ghost is coming from. That’s right, when. So, he puts on his trusty flame retardant suit (a nod to the one we have seen in The Impossible Planet & The Satan Pit in second series) and goes through the beginning of life on the planet to the end of the world. For The Doctor this is nothing, but Clara begins to have a bit of an existential panic attack.
And that is why we love Clara. She is so damn human. The Doctor shrugs off traveling to the end of Earth, but Clara is visibly shaken and crying. She begins to realize that, for The Doctor, she is dead. She is already a ghost. And she had no interest in seeing the end of her planet. It is as if Clara, in this moment, has really understood death. It is incredible to watch as Jenna-Louise Coleman really pulls it off. We feel as shaken by this revelation as she is. She asks The Doctor what they (humans) are to him. And he answers, “You are the only mystery worth solving.”
We should note that this is very different reaction than Rose’s turn at seeing the end of the Earth. Of course, Rose had a little more context than Clara and she had the Ninth busy being a badass. So we can understand that she may have been too distracted to have existential revelations.
So, The Doctor discovers that this “ghost” is not a ghost at all. It is a time traveler named Hila who is trapped in a pocket universe. Basically, she is stuck in a transparent universe that is attached to our universe. If someone can think of a better explanation please comment below! Obviously, The Doctor and Clara have to rescue Hila by using Emma’s psychic skills to open a rift between these two universes. The Doctor jumps in (yelling Geronimo!) to save the day, but there is something terrifying in this universe that is chasing Hila down and scaring even The Doctor. Why is this creature trying to get into our universe? It is far more benign than you would think.
This was an amazing show! There are a number of interesting tidbits in just this episode that may be leading up to something much bigger. For instance, there is a theme of lying. After all, “Experience makes liars of us all.” So, what is The Doctor lying about? Emma warns Clara that The Doctor has a sliver of ice in his heart. We kinda knew that already, but it is noteworthy that it was brought up in this episode. But is he lying?
Or is it Clara? And what would she be lying about?Another interesting part of this episode focuses on the interaction between Clara and The TARDIS. We already know the TARDIS does not like Clara. It has locked her out a few different times. Clara and The Doctor finally acknowledge that The TARDIS hasn’t warmed up to Clara yet, but this has not really occurred to any other companion. The TARDIS really does distrust Clara. Why?
Again, this episode generates far more questions than answers. We do learn one thing: Clara does not like whiskey very much. In fact, she thinks it is the eleventh grossest thing ever created.