Doctor Who
The Doctor and Clara go ghost hunting in this week's Doctor Who. (BBC)

This season of Doctor Who has come disguised in various genres. We've had a western town under siege from a cyborg, a New York-set film noir with the Weeping Angels, and now this week a good old-fashioned ghost story.

A marked improvement on Neil Cross's first Who story, The Rings of Akhaten, Hide was a spooky episode brimming with suspense, and one that further explored the dynamics of the Doctor and Clara's blossoming relationship.

The Stone Tape

The decrepit mansion on the moors is the perfect setting for such a story, where Professor Palmer and psychic Emma conduct their paranormal research using a whole host of 70s analogue equipment.

Whilst none of the tropes, the knocking sounds, the room getting colder, the spirit only being captured in photographs, are original, they lend themselves well to the subtle unnerving horror of the episode. The show is often populated by numerous prosthetic aliens that are much more freaky than scary, but as this episode showed sometimes less is more.

Unfortunately the resolution of the ghost's existence was a lot less satisfying than the actual mystery. Copying the idea from season two episode Army of Ghosts, the poltergeist that they are trying to communicate with is in fact a person from another dimension.

Doctor Who is full of so many ridiculous and far-fetched concepts that it seems strange we can't have an episode where a ghost is actually a ghost. It culminates in an all too predictable finale where time traveller Hila is saved from the other world and brought back in to the real world through Emma's powerful psychic connection.

Army of Ghosts

The real message of Hide was in highlighting the power of love and the developing relationship between the Doctor and Clara. From being the impossible woman, a mystery that the Doctor needs to discover the answer to, she has now grown in each episode as more of her character shows.

This fact puzzles the Doctor, disappointed when Emma says that Clara is just, "A perfectly ordinary girl". We might have seen her twice before, but this Clara is just a normal person like us who shows both fear and compassion.

The strongest moment of the episodes comes when the Doctor hurtles in the Tardis from the beginning to the end of the universe, collecting data on the ghost as if he were just popping out to the newsagents.

But as Clara notes, behind his travels in time and space lie millions of generations of people who have lived and died. "We're all ghosts to you," she says, recognising that in time the Doctor loses everyone he travels with as in the end everyone must die. No wonder as Emma observes, "There is a slither of ice in his heart".

Love Conquers All

Their coy relationship is mirrored by Emma and Professor Palmer, played with great charisma and charm by Jessica Raine and Dougray Scott. Their awkward romance might be hokey, but it was nice for a change to have an episode that focused on the supporting cast just as much as the Doctor and Clara.

In what has become Doctor Who tradition, it is the power of love that saves the day. Emma and Professor Palmer's unannounced romantic feelings, along with her psychic connection to what turns out to be a distant relation in Hila, are what pulls the time traveller into the real world. Clara shows her bond with the Doctor by managing to commandeer a belligerent Tardis into flying in and rescuing him.

In a nice twist as well, even the crab-like monster is not an evil villain, but just a lonely creature looking for their soulmate trapped in the other world's haunted house. Science might be used to explain the ghosts, but love continues to be the unexplainable force that conquers all, even death. "Not everything ends," Emma says. "Not love, not always".

Previous Episodes

Episode 8 Review - Cold War

Episode 7 Review - The Rings of Akhaten

Episode 6 Review - The Bells of Saint John