“Clara and the Doctor arrive at Caliburn House, a haunted mansion sat alone on a desolate moor. Within its walls, a ghost hunting Professor and a gifted psychic are searching for the Witch of the Well. Her apparition appears throughout the history of the building, but is she really a ghost? And what is chasing her?”
Now that’s more like it.
In this episode of Doctor Who, we go ghost-hunting with the Doctor and Clara–and we sort of make a move towards solving what Clara is. Or isn’t. Not that we get an answer. Of course not. It’s not the finale yet. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Instead, let’s go back to the beginnings of the episode.
So, we have a Professor and his assistant trying to find out the identity of an apparition inside a scary old manor. It’s properly creepy, so hat’s off to everyone in the production, and it sets the mood of the rest of the episode. Did I already mention that it’s properly creepy? Well, let’s take it up a notch and put it in the scary category.
And then, of course, the Doctor arrives.
Neil Cross, the writer of the episode, has chosen an exceptional mode of storytelling for this episode–which frustrated me at the beginning as I’ve gotten used to the Doctor explaining something, appearing somewhere, before the story actually begins. In this episode, the story is already underway, and the starting point was the Christmas episode.
That might have been a spoiler, but I’m not telling what it spoils. Anyway, by episode’s end, you’ll have a clear understanding of why the Doctor chose to go to this place at this point in time. ‘Chose’ being the operative word.
What I particularly like in this episode is that we get a well-plotted and well-paced story, and still manage to get the (half-)season story arc moving forward. I’m hoping next week’s episode will propel it further on, but I’m good with what we got this week. Even if it’s just to say that the writers have not forgotten what’s going on, and the circumstances of where the Doctor is currently.
Also, the acting was exceptional in this episode. Matt Smith continues to amaze as he jumps to and fro a multitude of emotions in a matter of seconds. I especially like how he played the scene, where he’s alone in the misty forest–yes, the one in the trailer–and says that he is the Doctor, and he is afraid. There are layers in his delivery there, horror on top of sadness on top of frustration and anger, and at the bottom of it all, there’s still the frenzy of him trying to figure a way out of his current predicament.
Now, that’s layered acting.
Jenna-Louise Coleman was also great this time ’round; there’s much more for her to do, and more for her character to explore. This story fit her better than last week’s Cold War does. Definitely.
As for the episode’s end–
Well, let’s just say I’m willing to embrace it. This is Doctor Who after all. And the episode delivered the chills it promised anyway, so I don’t mind how it ended. In a way, it’s a bit fitting too. One happy ending before we delve into the center of the TARDIS next week.