Series Eight, Episode Four
Whenever I see something titled ‘Listen’ nowadays, I always think of Alexandra Burke’s amazing duet with Beyonce in The X Factor series five finale.
I think it’s safe to say that Steven Moffatt wasn’t referencing that when he titled this episode. I’d say if the title was meant to trigger memories of anything, it was his famous and hugely acclaimed episode Blink which introduced the Weeping Angels and featured one of the most popular one-off characters Sally Sparrow.
This episode isn’t a sequel to Blink in any way, but it is kind of a spiritual successor. Making the ordinary seem very scary. The Doctor believes that there is something unknown that is always watching everyone, people notice it but it is so well hidden they assume nothing is there, and it is responsible for things such as objects moving even though you know you didn’t move them, words written down even though you know you didn’t write them down, appliances turned on or off even though you know you didn’t do it. He makes it a mission to investigate it.
He picks up Clara, who has just left a very awkward date with Danny Pink, and the Doctor intends to visit Clara’s childhood by allowing the TARDIS to make a telepathic link with her. However, she is still thinking about Danny, so they end up visiting Danny’s childhood instead. Clara doesn’t know this to begin with, as the little boy she meets is called Rupert, which turns out to be Danny’s birth name, which even as a kid he wanted to change. Rupert is scared there might be monsters under his bed. Clara says there isn’t, but they and the Doctor encounter a mysterious figure which is hidden under the quilt, almost like a ghost in a white sheet. The Doctor tells them to turn their back on it and ignore it, then it leaves the room. Clara puts some toy soldiers under Rupert’s bed, and tells them they will guard his bed from monsters, naming one of them Dan. The Doctor tells Clara than Rupert won’t remember anything and what he does remember he will think was a dream. The penny drops for Clara when she realises that she’s unintentionally influenced the entire course of Rupert’s life as an adult, his decision to become a solider and what he changes his name to.
Clara later meets Orson Pink, a descendant of Danny from 100 years from the present day. He is an astronaut and an early time traveler that ended up falling into the wrong time and stranded in the last planet still existing in the universe. Orson mentions being inspired to become a time traveler after hearing his great-grandparents telling him stories about it, and to the Doctor he mentions that he too had felt there was something watching him when he was stranded alone on the planet. The Doctor believes that whatever it is, whatever it’s agenda it should reveal it now as they are the last people alive and it is the last planet in the universe. The ship starts to break which would mean they will die if they stay. The Doctor becomes unconscious, so Clara and Danny take him back to the TARDIS, and Clara attempts to fly it using the telepathic link again. She ends up in a barn, where a child is crying. Two people come in and she has to hide, and it turns out she is in the Doctor’s childhood. When the Doctor wakes up, Clara tells him that this is a dream, and tries to calm him telling him that what he is really scared of is just fear itself, but echoing what the Doctor tells her earlier, says that fear can be a good thing, a “superpower” as the adrenaline can make you stronger and faster. She calls fear “A constant companion”.
This episode was very chilling, and very like spooky ghost stories. It was a very good episode for Clara, and Jenna Coleman was good throughout, but she was brilliant in the scene where she was giving the speech about fear to the young Doctor. A lot of time-twisting and paradoxes occur in this episode, with Clara accidentally changing peoples lives forever. She had already influenced major events in the Doctor’s life after being splintered across time in The Name Of The Doctor. Here it turns out she probably inspired both the Doctor’s lifelong fear and even him becoming a Time Lord in the first place. We learn a lot about Danny in this episode too, his past and his future.
This has been the best episode of series eight so far, very well-written and executed. It wasn’t as good as Blink, but then what is?