‘Doctor Who’ 8.04 Episode Recap and Review: Listen


The Doctor is working on a new conundrum, evidently just for the giggles, as this problem doesn’t seem to have bothered him before.

“Question: Why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone? Answer: Because we know we’re not.”

Not cool, Moffat. Not cool.

As the Doctor is puzzling things out and having creepy words mysteriously written on his chalkboard, Clara is finally meeting Danny Pink for dinner and drinks. It definitely could have gone better. In fact, Clara ends up storming out of the restaurant, only to find both the Doctor and the TARDIS waiting in her bedroom.

The Doctor has a theory about everyone having the same nightmare about someone under the bed. He hooks Clara up to the TARDIS’s telepathic interface so that they can go back in her timeline to the night she had the dream herself. Unfortunately, Clara’s a little distracted by the events of the evening (and a timely phone call), so they end up back in the childhood of one Rupert “Danny” Pink, who’s just awoken from that very same nightmare in the West Country Children’s Home. Clara sneaks upstairs to talk to him while the Doctor interrogates the night caretaker.

Rupert’s afraid to sit on the bed, as there was just someone underneath it. To show him that everything’s okay, Clara climbs under the bed, taking him with her. It’s an effective way to clear up that particular fear, except that now there’s someone on top of the bed. Clara and Rupert climb out to see a mysterious figure sitting under the blanket.

The Doctor is in the room as well, and gives Rupert a rather fantastic speech about fear being like a superpower that makes you faster and more clever. He gets Clara and Rupert to turn their backs on the creature on the bed and promise never to look, as long as it leaves now. It does, never showing them (or us) its face. Clara sets up toy soldiers around Rupert’s bed to protect him while he sleeps. She tells him that the one without a gun is the most clever of all of the soldiers, and Rupert names him “Dan, the Soldier Man.” (You know, in case we hadn’t yet figured out that Rupert is the tiny version of Danny Pink.)

Clara has the Doctor take her back to the restaurant just moments after her earlier self stormed out. The date goes a little better for a moment, but then she lets Danny’s real first name slip. Since she can’t give him a satisfactory explanation that doesn’t involve time travel, Danny’s the one to walk out of the restaurant this time. He chooses a good moment, at least, since Clara is summoned by a figure in a very familiar orange spacesuit.

When she arrives back in the TARDIS, it isn’t the Doctor in the suit, but Danny! Well, okay, not Danny. Orson, his relative from 100 years in the future, who happens to be the very first official human time traveler. He’s been stuck at the end of the universe for the last six months, going a little stir crazy. When they get back to the very last planet at the end of the universe, the Doctor wants to spend just one more night there to hear what there is to be heard when there’s nobody left.

Orson still has the toy soldier that Clara gave little Danny. He says it’s an old family good luck charm, and that time travel “runs in his family.” It’s strongly implied that Clara is his ancestress – so strongly implied, in fact, that I kind of doubt how true it is. We’ll see.

As Orson’s ship shifts over into night operations, Clara and the Doctor start hearing sounds. They could be the settling of the ship in a different mode, or they could be something else. Orson’s written “Don’t open the door,” on the hatch in ink that is only revealed by the night lighting. ‘Cause that’s not creepy at all. The Doctor orders Clara back into the TARDIS as he unlocks the door and opens it. Something breaches the air shell around the door, creating a vacuum in the room. Something else knocks the Doctor out, leaving Orson to rescue him. Clara reconnects to the telepathic interface and gets them out of there, but doesn’t land back at home, as she’d hoped.

Instead, the TARDIS has landed in an old barn. There’s a child crying in a bed up in the loft. Clara goes up to investigate, then ducks under the bed when two adults come in. They discuss the child preferring to sleep in the barn so that the other boys don’t hear him crying. The man tells the woman that the boy will never get into the military or the Time Lord Academy if he cries himself to sleep. (For the record, my notes at this point include the phrase “OMG Baby Doctor!!!”). The woman tells the little Doctor that she’ll leave the door unlocked so that he can come back in at any time.

The adults leave and the little Doctor swings his feet over the side of the bed, prompting Clara to grab his ankle on instinct. She tells him that it’s just a dream, and that everything will be okay if he lies back down and goes to sleep. When he does so, she gives him the same wonderful “fear as a superpower” speech that the Doctor gave little Danny earlier, and indicates that the barn he’s sleeping in is the very same barn that we saw in the 50th Anniversary Special. Effectively, Clara shapes the Doctor’s relationship with fear, and it’s an amazing moment in the series.

Clara takes some of her own (and the Doctor’s) advice to heart and goes to Danny’s apartment, where they make up and kiss.

Oh, how I loved this episode. It started out as an attempt to join Moffat’s best thriller episodes (“Empty Child,” “Blink,” “Silence in the Library”) and ended as more of a mythos-building glimpse into the Doctor’s life long before the TARDIS. I want to watch this one a few more times, because I’m betting that I missed things here and there. I admit, I also generalized a good bit of the episode recap, otherwise this would have run several pages long. Go. Watch this episode. You won’t be disappointed!


Best Quotes:

  • Clara: “Do you come with your own mood lighting now? Because frankly, the accent is enough.”
  • Clara: “Fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly.”


Things to Ponder:

  • How did the TARDIS get that far into Gallifrey’s past? Was it unlocked by the events of the 50th Anniversary Special?
  • If Clara really is Orson’s great great gran, I think I might be a little disappointed. That scene was pretty heavy-handed for Doctor Who.

Photo Credit: BBCA

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