Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Doctor "Listens"

The teaser for Doctor Who 8.4 "Listen" was so creepy that I seriously considered letting my husband watch it first to see if I could handle it.

I'm glad I didn't. Spoilers to follow.

Finally. Finally we see Capaldi playing The Doctor.

Finally. Finally we see an episode that stars Clara, rather than featuring her.

Finally. Finally Moffat returns to some of that awesomeness that made us love him in Seasons 1-3.

Indeed, I might go so far as to say this is the best episode Moffat has written in a very long time, certainly the best episode of Season 8 thus far. But not for the reasons we'd think. What starts out as the scariest episode of Doctor Who since the Silence were introduced, ends on a very, very different note. Instead of introducing a new monster, instead of sending millions of children (and adults!) to sleep worrying about that thing under the bed, the episode instead sends the message "fear is not a weakness. Fear can be your superpower. Claim it, rather than letting it conquer you."

It's wibbly wobbly, timey wimey (as usual) as the Doctor's investigations to put a name to his fear lead Clara to his bed in a dark barn a long long time ago in a galaxy very far away, so that she both sparks the fear, and comforts him.

Which is a very unexpected twist, because the episode was set up very much like "Blink" to introduce a truly terrifying new monster. Instead, it is one of those very, very few Doctor Who episodes that has no aliens - other than The Doctor himself.

That's not to say there isn't science fiction, because time travel is very evident and serves a good storytelling purpose. This is both a self-contained episode in regards to "Fear" and also very much a story arch episode where we learn a lot more about the background of Rupert "Danny" Pink and both we and Clara see extremely strong hints that she is destined to marry Danny.

What's interesting is that adult Danny himself still is given little chance to do much on screen. His character is advanced through his childhood appearance, and through the implications of his descendant wandering around with some undetermined connection to Clara.

All I can say is that I hope we get a lot more of adult Danny very soon.

On a final creepy note, I want to point out (with apologies) that the episode doesn't actually ever say whether or not there is something hiding under the bed. Instead it does what every single incident in the episode itself does - gives a logical explanation... and a spooky one. Because it doesn't matter whether or not there is something in the dark, but it could be there.

As a Christian, for me, there is something there. But it's not scary and it's not hidden for those who look. I talk to myself, as the Doctor says, because I know I'm not alone. But I don't speak to fill the ears of some nameless ghost, but rather a Holy one.

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