And this episode definitely lived up to the promise of the trailer - though maybe not in the way you would expect. The Doctor and Clara travel to the 1970s to a investigate the long-time residence of a ghost in an old-manor, Caliburn House. The Witch in the Well, as she had become known, had appeared in the exact same position since the 17th Century, always crying out for help. The Doctor is assisted by ex-spy, Alec and an empathic psychic Emma, who have been trying to help the "lost soul". Things take an unexpected turn when the Doctor discovers that the Witch in the Well is not actually a ghost but a woman, Hila, from the future, trapped in a pocket universe and trying to escape before it collapses on itself.
Caliburn House was a perfect setting for the spooky story. Lots of shadows and creepy things in the dark created a very eerie atmosphere for the story. The horror aspects of the episode were definitely helped by the interesting camera work, like the jump cuts and unevenly paced shots. It gave the feeling that there was something out there.
Which, of course, there was. 'The Crooked Man' as the credits named him, chased Hila through the pocket-universe and another alien who was stuck in our universe, lurking in the old manor. However, these 'monsters', though rather scary looking, were not as malevolent as they appeared because at the heart of this 'horror' episode was an old fashioned love story.
There was Alec and Emma, the awkward pair who had feelings for each other but refused to let the other know. There was the weird, gnarled creatures who only wanted to find their partner. And of course, the Doctor and Clara, though maybe not lovers, but definitely connected in some way.
The parallels between the pairs (though maybe not the aliens) offered an insight into the Doctor and Clara's burgeoning relationship. The Doctor and Alec shared a scene where Alec talks about his time in the war, the people he watched die and the effect it has had on him. It poses the question of what this has done to the Doctor as well. Simultaneously, Clara who is later described by Emma as a "normal" girl, is warned by the psychic that the Doctor has a "sliver of ice" in his heart so she should be wary.
As always, the chemistry between Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman works well in this episode. Their light-hearted portrayal of the friendship between the Doctor and Clara, however, was thrown into question when Clara realises just how frightening all of time and space can be. Why hasn't the Doctor realised by now that the end of Earth, billions of years into the future, isn't exactly what every human wants to see? Just like Rose in The End of the World, Clara is shaken to the core by the sight of the destroyed and devoid-of-life, Earth. However, as would be expected, the Doctor isn't bothered by it and this frightens Clara even further. As usual, the Doctor asserts his fascination with the human race and their significance by saying "you are the only mystery worth solving." This facet of the Doctor is certainly one of my favourites. I love his reactions to the peculiarity that is the human race.
Overall this episode was a good mix of horror and sci-fi, with a little bit of romance thrown in too. I really enjoyed it and I think it may be the best on of the season.