In Listen, the fourth episode of new Doctor Who series, the Doctor goes in a quest to find out the answer to the fundamental and inexplicable fear that accompanies humanity since its beginning, and which often materializes in the form of a dream that repeats itself through time and civilizations. But this journey of discovery turns out to bring a lot of revelations, especially for Clara as we found that the binding of the Impossible Girl with the Doctor can be even stronger than we think.
“What’s that in the mirror, or the corner of your eye?
What’s that footstep following, but never passing by?
Perhaps they’re all just waiting; perhaps when we’re all dead,
Out they’ll come a-slithering, from underneath the bed!”
“Listen”, the fourth episode of Doctor Who new series, can easily be classified as brilliant, and without a doubt, is the best episode this season. Not so much by the scary scenes, but mainly by the enrichment of the personal story of Clara and the Doctor.
If you were waiting for an episode full of mystery, tension and scares, as the teasers had promised, you must be a little disappointed by now. “Listen” is not nearly as scary as “Blink”, which definitely still remains as the scariest episode of the entire series so far. But “Listen” also has its share of scary moments, especially those within little Rupert Pink’s bedroom. The scene in which Rupert’s bed bent with the weight of someone while Clara and Rupert are underneath it and the moment when the creature under the blanket approach them from their back, are actually able to make tense even the most experienced viewer.
But what really shines in this episode are the new plots introduced in both Clara and the Doctor’s storylines. The connections that had been opened among the Doctor, Clara and Danny Pink are exciting and give a new range of perspectives to the show.
The revelation that Danny Pink is someone who will be really important in Clara’s life is something that makes room for countless speculations. It is emblematic the moment in which Orson Pink reveals to a perplexed Clara that time travel is “something that runs in the family” and hands her “Dan, the soldier man”, the same toy soldier that Clara had given little Rupert before. And that moment becomes more special when, after she refuses to accept the gift to be a family heirloom, Orson still insists on giving her, precisely because of this.
But even more exciting is discovering that not only the biggest nightmare of the Doctor is Clara herself as to know that the “Impossible Girl” plays a crucial role to shape the man who the Doctor has become. Clara Oswald is the thing hiding under the bed of a boy Doctor, from whom we don’t see the face, but from whom we hear the crying. And although she has been the reason of a fear herself had judged unfounded, it is she who ends up soothing the young Doctor with a touching speech about fear. Words very similar to those the Doctor had used earlier to also calm down the little Rupert.
It is Clara who will give to the young Doctor the same toy soldier which she had given Rupert, an emblematic memento for the man who would later become the soldier Clara had described: “a soldier so brave that he doesn’t need a gun. He can keep the whole world safe.” These moments between Clara and the Doctor in the barn caused me the same thrill watching “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” recently, knowing everything that had happened between the Doctor and River Song.
Another important revelation is that the War Doctor hadn’t chosen that barn randomly, but he chose that specific place because it was a an important place in his life, a place that had led him to the path of the Time Lords soldiers.
It’s an episode that has two distinct moments and Moffat is consistent in both. In the first half, we were intrigued to solve the problem of the primordial fear that accompanies humanity since its beginning. The fear of what hides in the dark, what lurks our backs when we are not looking. In the second part, we are taken on a journey of discoveries and, in an exceptional turn, fear becomes a mere background for a sequence of touching and revelatory moments.
If anyone still doubted that Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi would work together, even after “Robot of Sherwood”, “Listen” definitely ends with any doubts. Both actors know very well how to use their on screen chemistry as well as the nuances of the new relationship between Clara and this new Doctor. A clear example of this is the scene where Clara, after all the recent revelations, watches the Doctor moments before rushing to embrace the not-hugging-type Doctor, gifting us with one of the few funny but yet very touching moments of this episode.
Some may complain that Moffat left some loose ends because he gives no explanation about what was under the blanket in Rupert’s bedroom, or what had terrified Orson Pink so much in his ship at the end of the universe, or yet, who wrote “Listen” on the blackboard when the Doctor was not looking. But I believe that this was really his intention. As much as the scientific spirit tries to find an explanation for everything that happens in the universe (and the Doctor tries to do it whenever possible in this episode) there are many questions for which we have no answers. So Moffat left us with something else to feed our imaginations, to feed our own inner fears. But for this, he leaves us a memento, a solution, in Clara’s words:
“So listen, if you listen to nothing else, listen to this. You’re always going to be afraid even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s OK, because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home.”
|Peter Capaldi||The Doctor|
|Jenna Coleman||Clara Oswald|
|Samuel Anderson||Danny Pink
|Remi Gooding||Rupert Pink|