Okay, so I will just say that Listen was one of my most anticipated episodes of series 8 of Doctor Who. When the first five scripts leaked a month before the series 8 premiere, there was buzz all over the internet about Capaldi’s performance and some of the writing as well. A lot of people were saying that Listen was a brilliant script and said that there was a shocking scene in the episode, just making me want to watch it all the more. Okay let’s talk about Listen!
*WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*
Episode 4: Listen
The episode opens with a view of the TARDIS interior from the outside and then the camera moves up until we see The Doctor sitting on top of the TARDIS with his legs crossed meditating. He opens his eyes and urges the audience to ‘LISTEN!”
We are then shown The Doctor inside the TARDIS pacing and talking to himself. He begins talking “Question! Why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone?” (a fair question) He proposes an answer, “Conjecture! Because we know we are not!” The Doctor explains how evolution allows animals to become adept at surviving, writing notes on a chalkboard. The Doctor’s voice is played over scenes of him observing different creatures in their natural habitats. The Doctor mentions how there is perfect hunting, and perfect defense, but asks why is no such thing as ‘perfect hiding?’ The Doctor goes on to ask what if evolution created a creature that was perfect at hiding and says that we would never know because it would be able to prevent itself from being seen in plain view. He also says that it could be with us all the time and we would have no idea. The Doctor then places the piece of chalk he was writing with on a book, he turns his back and yells asking what said creature would do if it were in his presence. The Doctor then turns back to find the piece of chalk is not on the book, but finds it rolling near his boot. The Doctor picks up the chalk and finds that someone or something has written the word “LISTEN” on his chalk board…interesting.
Enter Clara Oswald, on her first date with Danny Pink. We see them arguing and she walks out upset and comes home to find The Doctor’s TARDIS blocking her door! The Doctor asks what Clara was up to and finds out she was on a date that ended horribly. The Doctor is acting very excited and says he needs Clara for something and asks her to come with him. Clara asks The Doctor if he has been traveling alone again and The Doctor says that maybe he never really has, referring to the creature who is adept at hiding.
The Doctor has a theory that everyone at some point has the same nightmare. You wake up because you hear something, then turn on your bed and put your feet down, and then suddenly something grabs your leg! (For the record I have never had this dream) The Doctor begins to ask Clara a question, which she guesses is “have you ever had that dream?” Clara says she believes she has and The Doctor tells her to think about that dream and for her to stick her hands into part of the TARDIS control panel (which looks like a honeycomb). The Doctor says these are The TARDIS’ telepathic circuits and will cling onto Clara’s memories, extrapolate the information and be able to take them right to the moment she had her nightmare. The Doctor tells her to concentrate and suddenly Clara’s phone rings, and she begins to think of Danny, but The Doctor tells her no distractions and throws her phone haha.
The TARDIS lands in Gloucester and The Doctor and Clara exit the TARDIS and The Doctor guesses it is the mid 90’s. Clara says she never lived in Gloucester, but grew up in Blackpool (a reference to where Jenna Coleman grew up in real life). The Doctor asks Clara to stay near the TARDIS while he scopes out the area. Clara sees a boy in a window above her and he asks what she is doing. Clara introduces herself and then asks the boy his name, he says his name is Rupert Pink, but he hates the name Rupert because it sounds stupid, and that he plans on changing it….what?!
The Doctor meets the owner of the building, who he chats with, before he steals his coffee haha. Clara sneaks in the building and meets Rupert in his room. Rupert says he is scared because he thinks there is something under his bed, but Clara tries to comfort him by proving there is nothing under his bed. Clara sits under Rupert’s bed and asks him to join her. Rupert and Clara are under the bed when suddenly the springs sink into Clara! Clara asks Rupert if anyone else is in the room and he says no, but Clara assumes it is a friend of Rupert’s playing a joke on them. Clara and Rupert get up from underneath the bed and we see something covered in Rupert’s blanket! The thing rises from the bed and walks towards Rupert and Clara, until suddenly a lamp turns on and it’s The Doctor sitting in a chair! The Doctor asks Rupert if he is scared, and Rupert says he is. The Doctor explains to Rupert that scared is good, because fear is a superpower that can make you run faster, jump higher, and make you so alert that you can slow down time! The Doctor asks Clara, and Rupert to turn their backs to the unknown entity. The entity walks closer to them and The Doctor turns his back and tells Clara and Rupert not to look behind them and to promise not to look behind them. The entity drops the blanket and we can make out a blurry image of a small gray looking creature with big eyes! Rupert believes there is nothing behind them and begins to look. The Doctor asks the creature to go in peace and understands if it does not want to be seen. Eventually a bright light is shown and the door slams shut, the creature has left Rupert’s room.
Rupert is still scared and cannot go to sleep, causing Clara to comfort him again. Clara finds some toy soldiers and says they will protect him and that because one particular soldier has no gun, he is the boss. Clara tells Rupert that he is a soldier so brave, that he doesn’t need a gun (a clear reference to The Doctor). Clara asks Rupert what they should call him and Rupert says “Dan, Dan The Soldier Man.” Clara is shocked to hear this and figures out that Rupert is in fact a young Danny Pink! The Doctor uses some kind of telepathy to make Rupert fall asleep and tells Clara he scrambled his brain and that he fell asleep dreaming about “Dan The Soldier Man.”
Clara and The Doctor leave and Clara asks The Doctor for a favor. The Doctor takes The TARDIS to the moment right after Clara left her date with Danny, and walks into the restaurant to apologize. Clara and Danny have some laughs until Clara reveals she knows Danny’s real name, which is in fact Rupert. Danny is suspicious and asks how she knows his real name. Clara claims a teacher at school told her and Danny does not believe her. Danny becomes upset and demands Clara tell him the truth. Clara cannot tell him the truth because of how weird it would sound (imagine that “I’m sorry Danny, but the truth is I spend my free time time travelling with a man in a blue box and I met you when you were a little boy, but he scrambled your brain so you would have no memory of ever meeting us.”) Danny becomes frustrated and while he is getting ready to leave, a person in an orange spacesuit (very similar to The Tenth Doctor’s in The Satan Pit) gestures Clara to come with them.
Clara follows the person into the TARDIS and assumes it is The Doctor, but it turns out to be a man who looks quite a lot like Danny Pink, but with an afro. The Doctor shows up and explains to Clara that he fired up the TARDIS telepathic circuits and it brought him straight to the man in the orange spacesuit. The Doctor explains that the man is Orson Pink (when I first watched this episode I could have sworn The Doctor said “Awesome” haha). The Doctor says Orson is from 100 years in Clara’s future, and asks Orson if he recognizes Clara. Orson says he does not, but you get the feeling he does somehow.
The Doctor takes Clara to a space station at the end of the universe where he said he found Orson. The Doctor shows Clara on a tv screen how Orson is a time traveler and was sent a week into his future, but ended up at the end of the universe. The Doctor goes on to explain that Orson has been stuck in his space station for 6 months, which explains why he is packing his things so quickly. Orson is ready to leave when The Doctor says he needs to give The TARDIS time to recharge. Clara knows The Doctor well enough to see that he is full of crap. The Doctor figures out that Orson is lying to them because he notices how the door to his space station is locked, and says there is no life beyond this door. Orson pleads with The Doctor to not stay another night, convincing The Doctor that there is something out there that Orson is afraid of. Clara follows Orson into The TARDIS who is carrying a case that falls open in The TARDIS and Clara sees that he was carrying the toy soldier without a gun in a glass case! Orson says it is supposed to be a family heirloom that brings good luck. Clara asks why he became a time traveler and he explains that it runs in the family, but clarifies that it’s just a story that he heard about his grandparents, that is his great grandparents! (heavily implying that Danny and Clara will travel with The Doctor and start a family together)
Clara meets The Doctor back in the space station and they talk about the guy she went on the date with and The Doctor jokes that he could find out his prospects for Clara by traveling into the future, haha. Clara asks The Doctor why they are staying at the space station for the night, and The Doctor explains if there was such a creature that lived to hide, what would it do if there was no one else around to hide from. Clara is frightened by The Doctor’s obsession, and says she is not leaving his side. The Doctor becomes angry and tells her to go back to the TARDIS and to do as she is told! Clara calls The Doctor an idiot and he agrees haha.
The Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to open the space station door, and waits hoping to see the creature, while Clara looks on the TARDIS scanner. The screen becomes blurry and Clara is upset she cannot see what is happening to The Doctor! The Doctor is seen hanging on to the space station’s control panel, while the air pressure from outside is knocking him around. Orson decides to save The Doctor, but he is rendered unconscious. Something begins knocking against the TARDIS and the TARDIS cloister bell sounds, (which means the TARDIS is in danger). Clara begins to panic, looks at The Doctor sitting in a chair unconscious and remembers she can use the telepathic circuits to fly the TARDIS. The TARDIS begins to leave the space station and eventually lands. Clara goes outside to find out where they are and asks Orson to watch The Doctor. Clara finds herself in a barn, and walks up to someone who is crying in bed. Clara assumes it is Rupert and when they do not respond, believes it may be Orson, but the person still does not respond.
Clara hears some people enter the barn and hides underneath the person’s bed. Two voices are heard talking to each other, one man and one woman. The man asks “why does he have to sleep out here?” The woman responds “because he doesn’t want the others to hear him crying” The man then asks “why does he have to cry all the time?” The woman responds “you know why.” The man says “there will be no crying in the army.” The man tells the boy to stop pretending he is asleep, because they both know he isn’t. The woman tells the boy to come and sleep in the house with the other boys. The man and woman leave the barn and the man says “he can’t just run away crying all the time if he wants to join the army.” The woman responds “he doesn’t want to join the army.” The man says “Well he’s not going to the academy is he that boy, he’ll never make a Time Lord” WHAT?!
Clara is shocked at this revelation and realizes who the boy in the bed is. The Doctor wakes up in The TARDIS and asks Orson where Clara is, and begins to yell her name. Clara hears The Doctor and is about to leave, when the boy in bed continues to cry. The boy hears The Doctor’s voice, and asks who is there and turns on his bed, before Clara grabs his leg! Clara tells the boy he is dreaming and to go back to sleep and the boy listens to her.
Orson asks The Doctor what he saw, and Clara enters the TARDIS and says what if there was nothing and The Doctor is just afraid to admit he is scared of the dark. The Doctor wants to know where they have landed, but Clara makes The Doctor promise that he will leave and never look where they landed. She tells him to do as he is told, aha nice one Clara!
The TARDIS de-materializes and leaves the barn, and we are shown Clara speaking to the boy, while he sleeps. Clara says that he is dreaming, but very clever people can sometimes hear dreams. Clara says she knows the boy is afraid, but it’s okay to be afraid, because fear is a superpower. Fear makes you faster, cleverer, and stronger and says that one day he will return to this barn and he will be very afraid. We are then shown the shot of The War Doctor with The Moment from The Day of The Doctor! Revealing that the boy is in fact a young Doctor before he will become The First Doctor!(William Hartnell) Clara tells the boy that fear is alright, because if he is very wise and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make him cruel or cowardly, but fear can make him kind.
Clara then hugs The Doctor in the TARDIS and he pleads with her “No no no, please not the hugging! I’m against the hugging! All while Clara smiles. The Doctor drops Clara off at Danny’s house and they both apologize to each other and kiss.
After hearing all the hype leading up to this episode, I have to say I really enjoyed this episode. I think this is Peter Capaldi’s best episode so far, and he was really able to show us a different side of The Doctor. A Doctor that is paranoid and obsessed to the point that he puts others in danger. This was the episode that Peter Capaldi became The Doctor in my eyes. Not that I didn’t believe he was The Doctor in his first three episodes, it just took me awhile to get used to him. Capaldi showed us in this episode that he does have a kind side to him, worrying about Clara when she was in the barn at the end of the episode, and being able to show Rupert/Danny that fear is something that can make you stronger. I think Capaldi is really proving to us that he was the right person to play The Doctor. This incarnation of The Doctor does seem to be a lot darker than his previous incarnations, but he also is still kind, and has a sense of adventure. He seems more professorial at times as well. The opening of this episode where he is talking to himself feels like he is speaking to a bunch of college students in an auditorium. Now who wouldn’t take a class taught by The Doctor? Admit it, you would! I think this is one of the best episodes of the series so far, and one of the best episodes of NuWho as well. Despite the story ending with the idea that there was no creature and it was all in The Doctor’s head, I disagree, there was clearly something in Rupert’s room. Whether or not it was the same creature that was in Orson’s space station will be left for others to debate.
Listen was one of Steven Moffat’s best scripts and I just loved the idea of fear being the enemy. Fear playing tricks on you, making you hear and see things that may or may not have actually been there. Fear can make you paranoid and even make you crazy as we saw with The Doctor and his obsession with this creature who was perfect at hiding. Fear can also make you stronger because you can use it as a way to become more brave and kind as we have seen with The Doctor for the past 50 almost 51 years. Listen was a great episode, filled with lots of creepy moments and a great shocking twist near the end! I really enjoyed Listen and that’s why I am giving it a 10/10! How about you, did you enjoy Listen? Did you like Peter Capaldi in this episode? Do you still think Capaldi has to win you over? Let me know!