I’ve been looking forward to this episode since I saw the first promo for it. It had the feel of the episode ‘Hide’ from last season, which was one of my favorites from that year. This week, I was not disappointed, and ‘Listen’ was one of the best episodes of Doctor Who yet. It was scary, heartfelt, emotional, funny and so many other adjectives, but, I’d rather not bore you with that. The Doctor has a lot of great lines in this one, and Clara continues to be a strong companion who knows how to boss the Doctor around.
The episode begins with the Doctor talking to himself in the Tardis and he’s trying to figure out whether or not it would be possible for there to be a species so good at hiding that no one would ever see them even though they were always with us. (Yeah, I thought The Silence too, it’s not). He’s breaking everything down on a chalkboard into a list: 1) Hunting, 2) Defense, which features a fantastic shot of the Doctor stepping out of the Tardis underwater protected by the Tardis’ shields, and, 3) Hiding. He’s frantically writing, talking, and flipping through books (wait, did he just flip us off?) when it cuts to Clara showing up to her date with Danny Pink. Things are going wonderfully awkward when they finally start to bond over a problem student they’ve both dealt with. Eventually, Clara mentions something that makes Danny think of his unpleasant time in the military and that’s when the date really goes off the rails and Clara marches out.
Clara comes home to find the Doctor waiting for her in her bedroom claiming to be there in case she brought her date home…jealous much? The Doctor then goes on his little rant about how we might not ever be truly alone and how this one nightmare has been recorded time and time again in human history. The nightmare is that you’re asleep when you’re suddenly woken up and it feels like someone is there in the room with you even though you know there isn’t. Then, just as you step out of bed, sure that nothing is there, something grabs your ankle. The Doctor asks if Clara has had that dream which she is pretty sure she has. His response is to wire Clara into the Tardis in order to go back to the time she first had the dream so he can find out what’s under the bed. Wait, is Clara flying the Tardis?? Well, Danny ends up calling during this moment and Clara thinks about him. They end up landing at a children’s home in Glasgow, a place that Clara has never been. When the Doctor goes off to investigate, Clara see a boy in a window and finds out that his name is Rupert Pink which, of course, sets off alarm bells. She then sneaks into the home while the Doctor gives his creepy being alone rant to the caretaker.
Clara goes into Rupert’s room to find out what’s scaring him and finds out it’s the same nightmare the Doctor has just described to her. To make him feel better she looks under the bed and crawls under it encouraging him to do the same. Once they are both under the bed and Rupert is starting to feel better, something sits on the bed. Clara and Rupert get out from under the bed and see that there is a figure underneath a blanket on top of the bed. They are both very scared when we suddenly hear the Doctor’s (almost) familiar brogue. The Doctor does what he does best and assures Rupert that it is good to be scared, that being scared is his super power. He then convinces Rupert to turn his back on the creature and “Don’t look ‘round!”, that looking at it is giving it what it wants. The thing, which may or may not be just a kid playing a joke, gets off the bed and comes right up behind Rupert. As the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, the door slams and whatever it was is gone. Clara then sets up some toy soldiers under Rupert’s bed to keep him safe. One soldier in particular doesn’t have a gun and Clara explains that the bravest soldiers don’t need guns and that’s why they’re the leaders. An obvious nod to the Doctor. Rupert has named the soldier, Dan the Soldierman, if you hadn’t guessed already, Rupert is a young Danny Pink.
Once back on the Tardis, Clara has to ask the Doctor for a favor and he drops her off just moments after she stormed out of her date with Danny. Present Clara tries to start over, but, quickly ruins things by calling him Rupert. She’s forced to tell Danny that she has a secret. In the mean time, someone in a spacesuit (like the one Tennant wears in The Satan Pit) walks in from the kitchen and beckons to Clara. Danny is demanding she tell him how she knew his real name and she can’t do it. This time, he storms out. Clara chases down spacesuit guy assuming it’s the Doctor, of course, it’s not. It turns out to be Orson Pink (who looks exactly like Danny if he’d been stranded somewhere for some length of time), the first time traveller from Earth about 100 years into Clara’s future. Turns out he was supposed to be shot into next week but was actually shot to, what turns out to be, the last planet in the universe. After picking up Clara in the present and going back to the last planet in the universe, the Doctor asks Orson why there is a locked door on his time machine when there is no one left in the universe to get in. He explains that he’s scared of something, probably his own shadow. There are lots of “probablies” in this episode, almost all of them turn out to be true.
Clara and Orson start bringing his supplies into the Tardis when a toy soldier, the same one Clara gave too little Rupert Pink, falls out of his bag. He explains that it’s an old family heirloom and they begin to realize who they are to each other. Orson then mentions that time travel runs in the family and that one of his grandparents was rumored to have time travelled. Orson then gives his toy soldier to Clara and she refuses to take it saying it’s a family heirloom, he knows this, and gives it to her anyway, I mean, they’ve got to be family, right?!? The Doctor and Clara then sit down alone to chat and they start hearing noises outside. Really freaky noises in fact, like screaming and crawling. Eventually, those noises turn to knocks, don’t worry, it’s only 3 knocks. The Doctor says it’s probably venting or some other normal function, but it doesn’t make them any less scared. Finally, the Doctor decided to open the door and when he unlocks it the door starts to open without him. At this point he demands Clara get back into the Tardis, but, she doesn’t want to leave him. He orders her in saying she won’t be allowed to travel with him if she doesn’t do it, so, she reluctantly goes. Once inside we get to see what’s going on through the Tardis’ version of CCTV and almost as soon as the door opens the air shield breaks and the Doctor is almost thrown out of the ship and onto the planet’s surface. Orson puts on his suit and goes out to pull the Doctor back in, turns out he’s been hit in the head and knocked out cold. Clara then proceeds to link up with the Tardis again and this time she really is flying it without the Doctor standing by!
When they land, Clara assumes that they are in another part of her timeline in regards to the Pink clan. She walks out of the Tardis into a barn and hears a boy crying. She goes up, thinking it’s Rupert, Danny, or Orson, and tries to find out what’s wrong. Suddenly, two people enter the barn looking for the child and Clara hides under the child’s bed. The woman is trying to get him to come back into the children’s home while the man is just annoyed that he has to do this, ridiculing the child that he’ll never be a soldier, or get in to the academy, or become a Time Lord….wait….WHAT!?!?!?! Once the two people leave, the young boy starts to get out of bed and as soon as he puts his feet on the ground, Clara grabs his ankle, just like in all those dreams. Clara convinces him that this is all a dream and to just lie back down. Clara begins to make her exit at this point when she turns back and sits on the boys bed. What follows is one of the most touching moments I’ve even seen in Doctor Who as Clara strokes his hair and give him the same speech the Doctor gave young Rupert about how being scared is his superpower. She continues by saying that fear is a constant companion and how that’s good and how one day he will come back to that barn to do one of the worst things he’ll ever do (destroy the Daleks and the Time Lords). When she’s done, she leaves the young Doctor the same toy soldier she gave to Rupert.
This episode was truly one of my favorites and while it did have a couple weird moments that left me asking why they did that, they weren’t really large enough for me to be too upset. Capaldi is great in this episode. He has some great lines insulting the size of the human brain, and telling Clara to get her eyes under control when she first meets Orson. He also does a great job playing a crazy conspiracy theorist thinking there are living things with us all the time. It was nice to come full circle with the barn and see why that was so important to the Doctor. I also love that Clara really has been an important part of the Doctor’s life every since the beginning. Danny and Clara’s date was wonderfully awkward and it hurt to watch. I don’t really like to talk bad about something unless it was really bad, but, my main issues in this episode can almost be explained away as being a victim of a deleted scene. Either way, watch this episode now, if you’ve already seen it, watch it again, because it’s just as good the second time around and I’m sure the third, fourth, etc… Oh, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but, I love Clara! She is such a strong character and does things with this Doctor that I don’t think any other modern companion would be able to pull off with Capaldi’s incarnation. I mean, when they are leaving the barn on Gallifrey, she orders the Doctor not to look where they’ve been. The Doctor at first is like, whatever pudding brain, but she insists, and he listens to her and flies off, and when the Doctor starts to order her around, she refuses, adamantly, until she no longer has a choice and the Doctor has to get real mean in order to do it. I’m not sure whether it’s true that she’ll be leaving or not, but I certainly hope not. Capaldi’s Doctor really needs her to keep him under control, whether he’ll admit it or not, and at times, Clara seems to be more like the Doctor than the Doctor. Whether she’s curing a Dalek, taming a giant death sun, or just calming a young boy when he’s scared of what’s under the bed, she gets the job done. Keep kickin’ ass Clara! – A
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