Ah, Ah, Ah… Spoilers
It is a dark and stormy night (a cliche already, hmmm). A young woman and Dougray Scott are setting up some equipment in a large and forbidding house. Thankfully no sign of Yvette Fielding or Derek Acorah just yet and this couple turn out to be far less annoying. Anyway… her ethereal style marks her immediately as a psychic and his glasses mark him as the generic “scientist”. He fiddles around with some equipment. Oooh, it is the 1970s. In the likeness of Most Haunted they try to communicate with “the spirit that occupies this place”. There’s some interference and we see a ghostly image proceeding down the corridor.
A ghostly knock at the door, Crooked House style… but it is The Doctor and Clara who introduce themselves as The Ghostbusters.
Introductions are made, hands are shaken etc etc etc you know the routine by now. But The Doctor knows who they both are. He takes on the persona of “Health and Safety” come to investigate their little operation. He uses his “highly classified equipment” (his sonic screwdriver) to scan the room and proclaims that they have not been exposed to any life-threatening emanations before asking “where’s the ghost?”
Dougray Scott (a decorated war hero) has bought the house to make it his personal project after his demobbing from secret operations and gives the pair a rundown – the girl who is haunting the house has been haunting it since long before there was a house there to haunt. The Saxons wrote about her, as did the medieval period and even seen during the Stuart era and the Second World War. Some food was left during this latter period but it was all found in the pantry which was bricked up with some hand written notes pleading with her to “stop screaming for the love of God”.
Clara notices that from the images, she is always in the same position, despite place and time changing, she always has the same pose when captured on film. The psychic comments that all she can hear is “help me”. One of her titles is “The Witch of the Well”. Dougray Scott comments that despite attempts to locate the well, nothing had ever appeared on plans of the house or the area (another type of well perhaps? Hold that thought)
The Doctor and Clara go to the music room, which is where the psychic says her feelings are the strongest. Cue moving down a dark corridor holding a candelabra. Back with the other two, the psychic makes eyes at Dougray Scott (well, what straight woman wouldn’t when alone in his presence I suppose!) and they discuss The Doctor. Despite proclaiming him a liar, Dougray Scott appears to trust him, to understand why the dishonesty is necessary. She flirts with him and he barely notices.
Via the pantry, The Doctor and Clara arrive at the music room. The Doctor performs the obligatory sonic screwdriver scan and indentifies as cold spot. He draws a circle around the boundary of the cold area all the while there are strange sounds going on in the room. They move on through to the next room. There’s some mysterious banging and the candles go out, which is fine really because the room they are in is pretty well lit in comparison. Back at the equipment, the graphs go crazy and the whole house is getting colder as the banging continues. The Doctor and Clara race back to see a disc rise into the air and start spinning. The image of the spectre appears, yet we also see her in a forest, and she proclaims “help meeeee!” before disappearing. The same words also appear on the wall.
The Doctor grills Dougray Scott about how such a war hero could end up searching for ghosts. They have a moment of male bonding while the girls simultaneously discuss
hair, make up and boys while sharing tea “well, yeah like he sooooo fancies you!” etc. When the psychic enquires as to The Doctor and Clara she replies “Nah” to which the psychic informs Clara that this is good because he has a sliver of ice in his heart. The Doctor arrives, grabs Clara and they race to the TARDIS with Dougray’s camera. On the journey, Clara tells him that she thinks the TARDIS does not trust her. They move through the entire history of Earth taking photographs of the same spot. Clever! Afterward, Clara has a cold moment of realisation that The Doctor – due to being a traveller in time – has a very different about life from her own and she is visibly upset.
On their return The Doctor sequences the entire photograph collection to show a girl running. Here’s the science bit where he explains that she is alive and trapped in a “when”. he recognises her as a famous Earth time traveller who went missing but has now become trapped in a pocket universe (that will not last for long). The psychic is a lantern on which the girl is focussed. All rather bizarre pseudoscience but Doctor Who fans are usually pretty forgiving about this sort of tosh. Closer analysis of the photo reveals her to be running from something… odd looking. The Doctor drops in a reference to Metabilis III for the fanboys before the pair race off the to TARDIS. Once inside, he explains why the TARDIS cannot visit the pocket universe. Instead he takes the centre of the Eye of Harmony and a blue Crystal from Metabilis III and hook them up together. From what I can gather, the crystal will amplify the psychic’s abilities and the Eye of Harmony will open a wormhole. This is opened, The Doctor slips through and finds himself in the forest of the collapsing Bubble Universe. oooh, who saw that coming? The Well is the wormhole.
He soon finds her, again the introductions are made and races with her to the exit point. She informs him that there is something in the mist and the flashes we get make it look quite freaky. Despite “misplacing” the exit, they come upon a reflection of the house and shut themselves inside while the creature outside tries to break in. The psychic is struggling to keep the wormhole open. Hurry Doctor! They find the wormhole, the woman is pushed through but before The Doctor can make it, it closes (the psychic has collapsed!) The house disappears and The Doctor is alone in the forest…
Realising that The Doctor is in danger, the TARDIS sounds the Cloister Bell, these days such an ominous and lonely sound in knowing that no help will come. Clara tells the psychic to “man up”. Realising that she’s not up to the task and leaving Dougray Scott to sweet talk her into “womaning up”, Clara races to the TARDIS… but once again it won’t let her in. Clara gets annoyed, calls the TARDIS an un-ladylike name and a hologram of herself appears. After a few cross words, the hologram disappears… but the doors open huzzah! After the promise of a big snog from Dougray Scott, the psychic suddenly wakes up, triumphantly puts on the headgear again and attempts to open the wormhole.
Back with The Doctor, he notices that the wormhole is reopening but realises he is being stalked by the leftovers of bodyparts from John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. He asks why The Thing has not eaten him and he starts to run toward the source of the wormhole. But The Thing jumps him! Just in time, the TARDIS arrives and he escapes.
But something is bugging The Doctor and has been for a while, he asks the psychic about Clara but she informs him “she’s just an ordinary girl”. The Doctor accepts it but is not happy.
In the goodbyes, it is revealed that the Time Travelling Astronaut is quite possibly a descendent of the psychic and Dougray Scott – which embarrasses all three of them. Just as they are about to leave, The Doctor has a penny-drop moment about The Thing… it is in love with its partner who is trapped in our universe awwwwwwwww. Monster’s in wuuuuv. So The Doctor opens the wormhole entices the lovestruck Thing to come through and he promises to take them somewhere safe. Nobody explains how it got there in the first place.
Next week, an almost entirely TARDIS based episode! Let’s hope for the return of Toby Jones 😀
Light on scares for a ghost story but by now we know that there is no such thing as a ghost in the Doctor Who universe, there is always a wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey scientific story to bring it all back down to rationality. This one was particularly bizzare and wibbly-wobbly about a temporary universe being reflected in the same place across the planet right through time. Despite her ghastly appearance, there was nothing scary about her before we knew what was going on.
The story of love across the universes is a little sappy but a blindside considering how freakish the creatures look – at least from a distance. Once up close they are far less terrifying. A shame really and it would have been more effective had we seen it only in flashes from a distance but once it became a love story in those dying seconds, I guess the dynamic changed.
We are getting more inklings of The Doctor’s frustrations at his inability to figure out the enigma that is Clara. The psychic’s insistence that she is “just an ordinary girl” doesn’t sit well with him at all. It doesn’t sit well with the audience either and nor should it, something intriguing is going on and this dismissal could be born out of the psychic’s mistrust of The Doctor. When he tells Clara “you are the only mystery worth solving” after travelling through time to take the photographs, keeping in mind that she asked him “what are we?” we have to wonder whether he means her, us or both.
The TARDIS is still acting bizzare. Once again refusing Clara entry but after some pleading, allowing her in. I’m not surprised that next week has a TARDIS-based episode – perhaps we will get to the bottom of some of this stuff, about Clara, about the TARDIS and all the weirdness. Is it because The Doctor was fiddling with the security settings or was he merely neutralising her curiosity about what is really going on and his inability so far to figure it out?