Doctor Who: The First Woman in Space/Time
There are really two ways to look at the latest episode, "Hide." One is that it is objectively the best episode in this half of Season 7 so far. It's the first truly frightening episode since "Blink." I mean, "Night Terrors" was scary as hell, but the warm ending sort of skews it. Doctor Who doesn't do near enough horror episodes, so it was nice to return to that.
It's 1974, and The Doctor and Clara stumble across Alec Palmer (Dougray Scott) and Emma Grayling (Jessica Raine) as they investigate ghosts in an old English mansion. Palmer is a brilliant scientist and former member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a Special Forces operation group that serves as Winston Churchill's personal A-Team and included, we are in no way joking, Ian Fleming and Christopher Lee being all kinds of still classified badass. He seeks to assuage his survivor's guilt by helping a legendary specter trapped near the house.
Emma is his assistant, a medium and empath who can sense the ghost and who is also madly in love with Palmer. The tension between the two is wonderfully sweet, often mirroring the relationship with the battered soldier who was the Ninth Doctor and warm, loving Rose Tyler. Raine in particular is such a happy, brilliant spot in the episode that frankly I can't believe she actually survived. I very much look forward to seeing her portray Verity Lambert, the amazing young BBC producer who gave us Doctor Who in the first place, when An Adventure in Space and Time debuts later this year.
This is truly Clara's most consistent performance as a regular companion. Ever since her Victorian self's wonderfully confident and cheeky accompaniment to The Doctor, we've been so eaten up with the hesitancy in both her trusting him and him getting too close to the person and not the mystery of her existence that the dynamic between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman has honestly suffered.
We're on her fourth or sixth episode by this point, depending on how you look at it. Think of Rose and Ten in "Tooth and Claw" (Their second together) and how they already had an easy, inside-joke relationship. Donna was even further along in her very first episode, or think of the solid assistance Amy offers in "Victory of the Daleks." It's almost as if we're being challenged on the very nature of the Doctor/Companion symbiosis.
Clara fears the Time Lord's capriciousness, while he is doubtful of her as a human being. Both of these things are the absolute basis of what makes the show what it is. The God Who Needs Us...The Child That Saves Us...Infinite and terribly, terribly finite holding hands together against the universe.