So in this episode we have a very large, very old manor and inside that manor we have Professor Alec Palmer and his companion- sorry, I mean assistant, Emma Grayling who is also an empathic psychic and they’re trying to contact a ghost. So it would only make sense for the Doctor and Clara to come a knockin’, right? Because it’s ‘Ghost time!’
The atmosphere, writing and acting were superb. In that first half there were moments where I thought ‘yeah that’s going to have a cameo in my nightmares tonight’ however there was enough banter between the Doctor and Clara, as well as the Professor and even with Emma, that I could relax and enjoy the Doctor looking like he was teaching steps to a dance when identifying the cold spot in the music room.
The idea of bravery is mentioned or referenced a bit more in this episode. Clara points out that the Professor’s purchase of an old creepy, abandoned and rumoured to be haunted, manor with his own money is incredibly brave. Clara’s bravery is tested more and more with each episode, although I will admit that it was stretched farther last week, this week it seemed a bit more, I don’t know, human? She disputes the Doctor’s assertion that she would want to wander around in search of a ghost. Understandable. And it seems that in order to pluck up the courage to go with him, Clara tells the Doctor to ‘dare’ her. Accepting a dare is something incredibly human, you do things when dared to because it’s a great motivator. And I couldn’t help but think ‘challenge accepted’ when the Doctor ‘dared’ Clara. Even if it was per her request.
‘Experience makes liars of us all.’ Rule number one, the Doctor lies. The entire trip to 1974 to see a ghost is actually a ruse for the Doctor to have Emma read Clara, to gage what the psychic might glean off the Impossible Girl. Nothing out of the ordinary, according to Emma, but does the Doctor believe her? He’s seen too much and knows too much, just like the Professor, to ever just upfront about himself. Emma tells Clara that he has a sliver of ice in his soul and it prompts her, spurned by seeing the birth of the earth to its death, to question whether he even cares about them, humans. Clara, you have no idea.
Clara’s turbulent relationship with the TARDIS is so far my favourite relationship. I mean, sassy TARDIS interface telling Clara she’s up herself (in a matter of speaking) was perhaps the best interaction between the TARDIS and a companion.
I’m glad they managed to resolve or put their differences aside to save the Doctor from being stuck in the pocket universe. But what those differences are still eludes us. What does the TARDIS have against her? The TARDIS knows she’s Impossible, but how and why? That’s the question of the season though, isn’t it? Who is she? It’s why the Doctor took this adventure to interrupt Professor Palmer and Emma’s paranormal investigations.
I reckon they would have eventually managed to help time-traveler Hila Tarcorian, somehow. The Doctor even pointed out that as blood relatives, however far down in the family tree Hila was from Emma and the Professor, their blood was what called to her in the first place.
I don’t know that I liked the Doctor turning the entire experience into a mere love story, I know love stories can be epic but I think turning this ‘ghost story’ into a love story may have detracted from the overall impact of the scare. Although it was nice having it end on a positive note. Also, referencing of the Doctor and Rose’s separation after series 2?
– ‘You grumpy old cow!’
– Nope. Nope nope nope.