I realize I’m a week behind on this one, but hey, I was on vacation and covering a film festival!
But what an ep! The cloister bell rings, there’s a knock 4 times, there’s ghosts and monsters, some fun banter, and a little more investigation into the mysterious companion.
Neil Cross penned this episode, and I have to say, this one, is probably my favorite story since Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) joined the Doctor (Matt Smith).
There are shades of Legend of Hell House, The Haunting, The Woman in Black and Poltergeist covering this episode as The Doctor and Clara journey to the early 70s to meet up with two paranormal investigators, Alec Palmer (Hemlock Grove’s Dougray Scott) and empath Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine).
The two investigators are holed up in a sprawling mansion trying to contact the Witch of the Well, a spirit that has been long haunted the grounds.
The pacing and dialogue of this episode make it a welcome addition the Who-universe, giving just enough creep to be unsettling, as the camera stalks our characters who talk about being watched, encounter cold spots, and take pictures of the ghost.
Then, the further we get into the story, the revelations change the entire style of story, though it is still couched in haunted house terms, especially with The Doctor donning a harness and plunging into the light – straight from Poltergeist, only this time, we get to see what’s on the other side.
Of course there is also the rarely glimpsed, unnatural movements of something referred to as The Crooked Man, and THAT is wonderfully executed, harkening back to the concept of the less you can see of it, the creepier and scarier it can be.
This episode is the one I’ve had the most fun with since the series came back from its mid-season break, I’d still like to see a little more character development for Clara, as I think she’s a lot of fun! Not even necessarily the oh-what-is-she-really development, just more insight into her. The moment when she’s in the TARDIS watching the lifespan of Earth pass before her eyes is poignant, but could have been more so. It could have been a wonderfully beautiful moment, instead of just a nice one.
Yes, there is still the back and forth of the TARDIS not liking Clara, let’s get that resolved please, because it seems kind of silly, but overall, the episode totally worked for me, and hopefully portends a return to the truly engaging episodes that we expect to get from Moffat and company.
I like the setting, I love the fact that the show continues to garner top-notch talent as guest stars, and the idea of the Doctor investigating something that appears supernatural in nature for a change as opposed to an alien-of-the-week story was very refreshing.
And I’m sure The Crooked Man will no doubt haunt some younger viewers for a long time.
Next week, even from the teaser I’m a little anxious, it looks like we’re taking on a disaster flick genre as the Doctor journeys to the center of the TARDIS to rescue Clara who is trapped somewhere inside!