Once a week, we have an unapologetic Doctor Who geek-out here to discuss the latest episode. I’ve just finished watching the fourth episode of the 8th season of the rebooted Doctor Who called Listen.

Fair warning now: this is not a summary, just an off-the-top-of-my-head response, and it does contain spoilers. Of course it does – we have to talk about this stuff! So let’s begin, Whovians…

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I may never sleep well again.

I thought I’d never be more terrified by an episode of Doctor Who than I was by Blink. And yet here I am, admitting defeat. The hint of a thing is always more terrifying than the thing itself, isn’t it?

So before we begin talking about the details, I’ll just go ahead and say that this is the best episode of the season so far. It will become a classic and if, in the future, it is not viewed as the signature episode of the Peter Capaldi era then I will be one surprised Canadian.

YES, IT WAS THAT GOOD.

Also, creepy. Did I mention creepy? CREEPY.

Here are a few highlights to me:

This episode felt like more of a character study, it was not a “save the day” episode.  We got to watch the Doctor learning and developing a theory. I can’t remember a time when we got to see this so clearly – a concentrated effort to learn, to develop a theory, to test, to research, to learn. It’s a good reminder that all of the Doctor’s life isn’t invasions and “42 minutes to save a planet” kind of stuff. It’s a slower pace but I like the slower pace this season.

The Doctor himself in this episode was ruthless and obsessive, probably a bit insane. I feel like this Doctor shows the underside of the previous Doctor’s character/personality that we used to only see in glimpses or unguarded moments as his actual self. And I love him.

There were two major incidents, both of them connected to our Soldier Teacher. First, the incident at the children’s home and then the end of the world with Orson Pink, his descendent.

As soon as they landed in Gloucester, we knew we were there for Danny. The phone rang and Danny flashed into her mind while she was linked to the TARDIS’ telepathic circuit (aside: where has THAT been hiding all of Nu-Who?) and we ended up in the right time but the wrong place and wrong person.

As a total aside, the comic relief of this season has been perfect. Smart, funny, quick, right at the moment. When he’s looking through the book for Wally and then, after Rupert informs him that Wally isn’t actually in EVERY single book, he ruefully admits that he’s lost years of his life to searching for Wally then. And then with Rupert: “Once upon a time, the end. Dad skills.” (I foresee a new hashtag.) Only exception: the ongoing jokes about Clara not being attractive to the Doctor. We get it, you don’t fancy her, you can stop now.

So, the Thing in the bed. THAT THING. That moment when they were under the bed, chatting about how there is nothing behind you but you think there is and then something sits on the bed above them? I couldn’t breathe. Could not breathe. When they crawled out from under the bed and discovered a Thing sitting there in the bed under the covers. Then it began to move – to turn its head(?) to look at them and then rose up to standing(?). I very nearly went and hid behind the couch myself.

After their encounter with The Thing in the Bed, Clara sets up the toy soldiers to “protect” Rupert. Then we meet the gunless toy soldier which is pretty obviously a metaphor for the Doctor himself. That’s when we discover that Rupert has named the soldier Dan the Soldier Man. Clara pales at the realisation that this boy is, in fact, her Danny.

But I can’t quite figure out the toy soldier connection all the way through the timeline – it was Rupert’s toy and it became a family heirloom which meant that Orson Pink brought it to the end of the universe when he was sent too far into the future as a good luck charm. He opens it and shows it to Clara very purposefully – to me, this meant that Orson knew right away and all along exactly who Clara is and who she is to him. Orson lied at the beginning when he met the Doctor about why he wanted to leave right away and then I’m pretty sure he told another couple lies – he knew who Clara was and he – maybe? – saw something when he saved the Doctor.

So then did she take it and hold it when she went into the barn? So now it belongs to the Doctor because of the encounter in the barn and he has carried the image of the gunless soldier throughout his life to guide him. I knew we were going to see the Doctor at the moment of his own dream when Clara linked into the telepathic circuits and then the Doctor took a big breath, distracting her yet again.

The big reveal of the episode is that it’s a cause-and-effect around and around. It wouldn’t have happened in the beginning if the end hadn’t happened. This is the wibby-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff we love, right?

The Theory itself is a circle caused by investigating the Theory. *head explodes*

If the Doctor hadn’t gone looking to figure out why he was scared of that dream as a child, he wouldn’t have had the dream to begin with because it wasn’t a dream – it was Clara under the bed.

I find it interesting that fear was the main theme here. Particularly since, as I’ve remarked a few times, one thing that does really endear Clara to me is that she’s one of the few companions who has seemed afraid. I remember Amy Pond jumping into the heart of the Dalek Asylum and saying, “Who’s scared? Geronimo.” That is NOT normal, Amy Pond. Most of us are good and scared at far less than what one encounters as a companion. And Clara shows that this is an insane world but over and over again, she overcomes her fear and gathers courage. She refuses to answer Half-Face Man in Deep Breath even though she’s terrified, she interrogates Skaldek in the Cold War one even though she’s shaking. So she has courage in the face of fear as part of her very self. It’s an interesting thing to have the girl who conquers her fears over and over again as the origin of the Doctor’s most primal fear.

There are a lot of unanswered questions. We never really find out about the theory – did we just prove it or disprove it? Really, depending on what you believe or doubt, you could go either way. Is it a child in the sheets or was it a Thing that needs to hide? The Doctor saw “listen” on the blackboard and went to get Clara but as she pointed out, it’s his handwriting and it is very plausible that he wrote it and forgot it. When they were rescuing Danny Pink, the Doctor gave Clara reassuring explanations that at the time he clearly didn’t believe but could in fact be true – it doesn’t have to be A Thing out there, it could have been the airlock releasing etc.

Even the reason why the Doctor feels “something” is always there with him – could it be because Clara was always there in his time stream, saving him? It’s always been Clara. When he talks to himself because something in him feels like he is not alone, it’s because fear is his companion. But really that fear was born because of a companion – Clara. She was giving him a clue, perhaps.

Because as we are reminded in this episode, Clara is The Impossible Girl. Over her tenure, we have learned that not only does Clara save the Doctor in all of his incarnations over and over, but she also is the one who redeems him. In the Day of the Doctor, she was the one who stopped the three Doctors from pressing the big red button on The Moment and made them think again about a way to save the Time Lords – and save the Doctor himself from genocide.

Now we have also learned that Clara created the Doctor to begin with, right there in the barn when he was a child. She was the one who grabbed his ankle and then told him this was a dream. Then she sat by him and told him that fear is a superpower, it can make you cruel or cowardly, but it can also make you kind. She gave him his metaphor – the gunless soldier.  Even that line is a call back to that same Day of the Doctor episode. When the three Doctors talk about how their name is a promise, she asks what is the promise and they say, “Never cruel or cowardly. Never give up, never give in.” So Clara gave him the language for the promise he makes with his name.

And then he does return to that barn with The Moment and then he – and his 10th and 11th selves (or, depending on how save Gallifrey.

Confused yet? Good. <—- Steven Moffat.

Couple of random observations:

Was that planet at the end of the universe, Gallifrey? It sort of looked it was.

Moffat is at his best when he takes something we all know and experience and then turns it into THE SCARIEST THING EVER. Like the statues in Blink or the dark in Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead. This is another one that will make most of us scared of under the bed. But all of this usually without actually seeing a monster – the fear is more terrifying than the monster. Even the statues we never see actually move (well, until the crash of the Byzantium but even there it was sporadic). Doctor Who: Making You Scared Of Regular Stuff since 1964.

I miss the days when companions just stayed with the Doctor and the timeline wasn’t so wonky. We never know now if we’re seeing the Doctor in order or if hundreds of years have passed or what. I’m a fan of linear story-telling on the regular.

So I talked about the connections to the 50th anniversary special but did anyone else feel like there was a connection to the Tennant-era episode, Midnight – the thing banging outside the door but that possessed people? It made me wonder if perhaps the Thing that was on the planet Midnight was one of the Things that was under the bed/hiding but it had been exiled because it was no longer hiding well, it was stealing voices. Other episodes that jumped to mind: the Silence-infested orphanage in the sixth season where River grew up – anyone else think that off-focus image of The Thing Under the Covers kind of resembled a Silence for a minute? Just me still scared of those guys? Okay, then.

Also, in the episode “Hide” there was a stranded time traveller but it was from far in the future. Yet the connection between the “Empathic” and the Traveller was so strong because there was a family connection. Hello, Orson and Clara.

Another episode with no connection to Missy or to Heaven/The Promised Land. And again, there was no death with an element of sacrifice to it. So there’s that.

EDITED TO ADD (this is what I get for hitting publish and then still thinking…): We know that the names on Doctor Who sometimes mean things – and sometimes not. So Orson. Perhaps Orson Welles connection? Orson Welles is famous for many things but the one that jumped to my head is the radio episode in 1938 “War of the Worlds.” He created a show that was an invasion of Earth from Martians but the problem is that people tuned in and FREAKED OUT. There was a massive panic because people thought it was actually happening. But the fear was unfounded, it was a story. So does that mean our Pink descendent’s name is a clue?

Okay, now what do you think? Did you like the episode? Any theories or ideas or highlights? Have at it – I love your comments and can’t wait to get the conversation going. 

 

Read More:

Episode 1: Deep Breath 

Episode 2: Into the Dalek

Episode 3: Robots of Sherwood

Episode 4: Listen

Episode 5: Time Heist

Episode 6: The Caretaker

Episode 7: Kill the Moon

 Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express

Episode 9: Flatline

Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night

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  • Sarah, I totally agree with all of the above. Arguably Moffat’s best episode since Blink. Definitely the most scary. And it only took the pre-title sequence to know this too. Once that little scene was done, I was hooked. I was in. I knew it would be a classic.

    It also touched not only on the Doctor’s past but also Clara’s future, without any doubt. And it makes Clara the most important companion in the Doctor’s story, most likely.

    I loved it. A classic already.

    • You’re right – they’re making her into the most important companion even if she isn’t the most beloved.

      • Samantha Ward

        Exactly! I’m finding, though, that as the episodes go on that I love her more and more. I hated the forced most-important-person-ever thing in the beginning but now it’s kind of endearing.

      • groon

        I never cared for Clara . . . until the regeneration. I think the writing for her is so much better with Capaldi than with Matt Smith. I don’t really know exactly what the difference is between her now and her then, but she’s really turned into a great companion. Before, she was just . . . snarky.

      • Tara

        If you think about it, all of the companions sort of taught us something. Clara taught me that it’s okay to be afraid because fear can always be destroyed.

  • Nicole Chase

    Aaaahhhhhh! So creepy. I about hyperventilated when the Thing was standing right behind them. Definitely thought it kinda looked like the Silence – and the Doctor even says they’re hearing “the silence at the end of the universe.” Could also explain how he forgot writing LISTEN? Dunno…

    I almost hope they DON’T go back and explain/reveal/tie in everything from this episode. I think Moffat has an unfortunate tendency toward “It’s all CONNECTED!” when leaving some questions unanswered would’ve made things much more memorable.

    Also, how did coat Clara end up back in the TARDIS from the barn? I think I missed a timey wimey there.

    • Me, too! The silence at the end of the universe seemed so familiar – good catch! And yes, AHHH when it was right behind them. I have no idea about the coat. I think she left it in the TARDIS perhaps?

      • Rosana

        Well, that’s easy, she got home after storming out on Danny and there was the doctor. She left her jacket home when she left with the doctor to go investigate on what could be under the bed.
        I also thought of the Silence all throughout the episode. And there are a lot of clues that it COULD be them: Orson having to write down the reminder about not opening the door (which reminds me of the orphanage episode), both of them seemingly unaware of what was there when the doctor opened the airlock, the doctor forgetting he wrote listen… of course, they did remember seeing something under the blanket (I hope they revisit that, I really do), and we never hear the characteristic hissing that tend to come with the Silence..

  • So I watched it this morning instead of last night and I’m so glad I did because fear of nightmares and things going bump in the night–whoa. I pretty much had the same thoughts you had, except I mixed up the Orson connection with H.G. Wells/time travel (close enough). I also wondered if maybe, possibly, Danny wasn’t actually Orson? I mean, he said time travel “runs in the family” but what if he was just lying about that, too, and in fact had changed his name yet again or it was his middle name? Rupert Orson Pink? It’s possible. Anyway, I definitely felt like this one was one of the best of recent years, really reminiscent of “Midnight.”

    • Good point! Maybe it was, in fact, Danny? I never thought of that!

  • Tracey

    Hated that thing on the bed. Ugh! Loved the tie in with 8.5 am the barn. My heart was pounding. “My great great grandparents were time travelers.”

  • Smith Anna

    First of all. Yes I also think this is one of the best episodes from Moffat so far. And I’ll be brave to say this is one of the best episode throughout DW history. For me at least. I was scared. I was interested. I was sad. I was curious. And OMG!!! I don’t know why, for me Blink is not so iconic. But, you know what? I’m lying. 😀 I know why. I started watch DW not in order. I started with 11th Doctor and just then watched the 10th Doctor episodes. So for that time the Angels were not a new thing for me. But this one. Like I was terrified. And I really hope that we will hear about it again. And Sarah, thank you for mentioning Midnight. I was thinking about til the end of the episode. Is it the same thing? Cause if we think logically wa haven’tseen that monster either. Interesting theory.
    And the fear. Since it’s a Christian blog and I’m a Christian and you are a Christian. I liked the idea of fear as a thing, that does not have power over you. You have power over it. You could do all things for those who you love. for those who matters. Just as where there is love, there is no fear. Iconic episode. Best of.

    • Yes, the first time we saw the Weeping Angels it was legit terrifying. It was still scary with the crash of the Byzantium but not the same since they had been defeated. I was more scared of them in the Angels Take Manhattan episode, I think. (Oh, Ponds!) And yes, great point about how fear doesn’t have power over us and how we can overcome it by using it.

  • Melanie Dale

    At first I really thought he was waiting for the shadow critters from Silence in the Library, one of my favorite episodes. I cringed, worrying that he was going to get eaten like a chicken drumstick. And I’m with you, when the bedsheets started rising, I forgot how to breathe.

    When Danny and Clara were in the restaurant and Orson the Spaceman lumbered in, I really thought Danny was turning out to be a Time Agent or something and it was Danny from the Future and that’s why Teacher Danny was so awkward and cagey. I did not see the great-grandson thing coming. And time-traveling runs in the family, so Danny and Clara!??! What!??! Can’t wait to watch that unfold.

    I also thought I glimpsed one of the Silence when we saw that blurry figure from under the sheet. And I hope not, because…just…no.

    I like that Clara asks, “How long have you been traveling alone?” Because when the Doctor gets wonky it’s usually because of too much alone time (I’m like that, too!) and I love that she checks in on him. And how she takes authority of him later on in the episode! Oh my word. I feel like the Doctor and Clara are moving into more of a relationship of mutual submission, where they listen and respond to one another, and I like seeing her rise up and assert herself.

    I’m also sick of him pecking at her appearance. The first time or two I thought it was funny because it reinforced that this Doctor is more alien than his predecessors, less inclined to be attracted to a pretty human girl. But at this point, it feels downright misogynistic and I’m over comments about Clara’s looks.

    • Oh, man you’re right! Maybe Danny is more connected than we realise. I’m SO interested to see how this shapes up. Because he DID have a childhood at the same time as Clara sooooo….? And yes with the Doctor travelling alone and the shift in their relationship to being one of equals. it isn’t even friendship like it was with Amy and Donna but more mutual respect and need in a way. And yes to being over the put downs. So with you.

    • Tawny Burgess

      So agree about the misogyny!

  • Michelle Woodman

    Loved this episode – Capaldi continues to make this character his own and I love it. He is, well, the Doctor. He’s brilliant, mad, and still not ginger.

    The tie-ins to The Day of the Doctor and the Doctor’s childhood were so well done. Moffat nailed it with this one. And I look forward to seeing how things progress with Clara and Danny, individually and as a couple.

    I wonder if there may be any sort of a tie-into Stavros from Missy’s end of things? He had talked of the Doctor creating soldiers, and Missy seems to be collecting those who sacrifice themselves for the Doctor’s cause.

    Oh! And the Doctor briefly imitated a Dalek and I thought it was hilarious.

    • I missed the Doctor imitating a Dalek! I’ll have to rewatch to catch it. And you know what- I never would EVER thought of the Stavros connection. VERY interesting.

    • Samantha Ward

      All the awards for:

      “Capaldi continues to make this character his own and I love it. He is, well, the Doctor. He’s brilliant, mad, and still not ginger.”

      Well done! 🙂

  • YES!! All of this.

  • Leanne

    Newish reader here. (Yes, I’m late to the party.) When I heard that last night’s episode was scarier than Blink I thought there is Just. No. Way. But having read your post, I believe you. Something under the bed is a childhood fear of mine. No way will I be watching this episode! (Plus, I was getting pretty sporadic with watching it during the last Amy Pond season because it got too dark and non-linear for this old school Whovian and then gave up altogether when my DVR simply would not record the new episodes. Sigh.)

    • It could be properly scary, so you’re probably wise!

  • Karen Morti Charles

    Making the ordinary scary – one of my favorite things about Dr. Who! (For example, who would have thought a child’s voice “Are you my Mummy?” could be so chilling?) Capturing the common fears of childhood and using nursery rhymes – more brilliance! It worked with the sing-song “tick, tock, goes the clock” woven through the 11th Doctor’s storyline with River, and the rhyme for this episode, Listen, is truly creepy. Are either of those based on real nursery rhymes? Anyone know? I’m not familiar with them, but they capture the essence of such rhymes and seem real! This episode also reminded me of George and the scary things in his closet….sorry, forget the title.

    Scary, funny, and deep. What’s not to love?! (I can even tolerate the Dr.’s comments to Clara as I believe he is intentionally goading her now. Can’t a thousands year old man act like an annoying younger brother?!)

    • I don’t think they are real nursery rhymes but they position them like they are within the show. But I think they’re unique to DW.

  • Nurse Bee

    I guess I’m in the minority, but I thought the episode was a little anti-climatic. I mean, it turns out it’s nothing scary at all, it’s just Clara (and everyone else’s imagination, I guess??) But I think part of it is that I’m still in mourning over the departure of Matt Smith…..

    • I think that’s part of the fun – it *could* be nothing….or it could be everything we thought it was. We never do actually get the answer. And yes, it can take a whole season to get over a Doctor’s departure.

  • Paul Wesley

    Marvellous episode. The opening of the episode was dark and
    moody, and set the scene for a tremendously atmospheric tale.

    I loved the ambiguity of the writing. Sometimes plotlines
    tied up with neat little bows can be a little tiresome. I’m sure there are many
    times that the Doctor doesn’t get all the answers he’s looking for and it’s
    great that the viewer is occasionally denied that satisfaction as well.

    I thought this was a tour de force for Capaldi. His
    stillness during the scene with the caretaker was wonderful and reminded me,
    more than a little, of the great Sir Anthony Hopkins. His recitation of the
    nursery rhyme was enough to chill the very blood. Jenna’s confrontation with
    the thing under the covers was pitch perfect, and she continues to go from
    strength to strength this year.

    Thematically, the story of facing our own fear was nicely
    handled, and very true to the character of the Doctor. I loved his pep talk to
    Rupert and could imagine any one of the actors to have played the Doctor, to
    have delivered it. This is his heart for the weak shining through.

    I think you called it right; this is definitely a candidate
    for a classic episode.

    • You’re right – Capaldi really made it here. Both of them were stellar in this episode. And so was the Danny/Orson Pink character (his name is escaping me at the mo’). So good.

  • The MIDNIGHT THING! Yes! I said to my husband, “this is like that creepy Midnight episode” (which was my most-scary-episode-ever). This was a good one.

    Also, I have so many thoughts about the Missy/Heaven thing…which they once again didn’t even mention! Two episodes in a row! My kingdom for some answers, damnnit!

  • Shane Deal

    What I noticed was parallels with Season 3. Particularly the Utopia episode through the end. (Which also features a place at the end of the Universe, which the TARDIS isn’t supposed to come to, hoping to get to Utopia (Reminds me a bit of the concept of Promise Land.)

    Honestly, if you consider that another episode in which we saw “writing on the wall” was Blink, the last four episodes of that season. Perhaps there is something to The Master theory, as he also appeared in this segment of that season. There was quite a rhythm to the banging noises on the planet too, while not quite the same pattern, it was in places rather like the sound of drums.

    This was the first episode I do not recall any sort of burning death being mentioned or occurring, a welcome relief. (Kind of personal reasons.)

    I love your observations about Clara. The scene where we saw The Doctor as a child, I particularly liked that scene. I loved how The Day of The Doctor played out, this episode tying into that like this really endeared the current episode to me.

    I’m guessing that there is at least something, related or unrelated to what we saw in the bedroom, of the place where we saw Pink as a child. The man we meet in the office describes it as though it’s unusually creepy. (Not to mention his television and such.) My guess is there is something about the place, as he believes and that it isn’t a prankster under the blanket. Difficult to say exactly what.

    Just for a moment, if the planet at the end of the universe is Gallifrey, and the place we find in Utopia, that would be an interesting turn of things. Kind of unrelated, it is interesting that until The Master in Utopia remembers who he is he is actually helpful and kind, if Missy is some form of The Master of sorts, she seems a bit weird, true, but not particularly villainous at the moment. (Personally, I do not think Missy is The Master.) Like I said, just for a moment, this particular paragraph is pretty much pure speculation!

    I liked how the monster under The Doctor’s bed turned out to be Clara. What is interesting is that he did not seem to panic once she started talking to him, instead listening. I don’t know about you, but if someone did actually start speaking from under my bed, I might at least take a look. Why does he respond as though hearing her voice is both calming and familiar to him? Perhaps it is like you mentioned, Clara has been behind The Doctor for a very long time. (Is there something of a “Doctor Donna” thing going on here?)

    Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. 🙂

    • VERY interesting observations! I had forgotten about the Utopisa episodes (I think I block them out of my memory – I wasn’t keen). I’m with you about Missy as Master, it doesn’t seem right since The Master was more of a RTD era thing and I don’t think Moffat would revisit that major story arc.

      • Shane Deal

        I’m not very keen on those episodes either.

    • Karen Morti Charles

      The only time I can think of the Doctor listening to a companion was when Amy swore on Fish Fingers and Custard that the 11th could trust her and not question what she and River Song knew about his future, (Day of the Moon?) but were not going to tell him. He graciously complied. That kind of trust seemed to pass between the current Doctor and Clara with a look.

  • groon

    Definitely one of the best episodes in a long time. I’ve loved Peter Capaldi since he started (I don’t usually warm up to the new Whos so quick, but I did with him) and I’ve been waiting for him to have a “That Episode” kind of moment, and I think he did this week. Chilling, frightening, thought-provoking . . .

    I honestly thought, though, that they didn’t leave it that open-ended. It seemed fairly obvious to me that the thing on the bed wasn’t a kid, and that there was something outside of the airlock on the planet (I’m pretty sure I saw things flying outside of the window, right before they showed up). I wonder if they will come back to play a role in the arc of this episode.

    I was a bit annoyed by what I thought were some pretty blatant run-ins with the past that didn’t get explained. As was pointed out already, they’ve already been to the end of the universe. And it was dark, because there were no stars So, why the red? I’m used to a little inter-show contradiction, but that was a bit much.

    And also–we already have a creature that is perfect at hiding, The Silence (mentioned here already, as well).

    Finally–how great can this perfectly evolved creature be at hiding if the Doctor finds it, easily, after only seeming to look for a couple of hours?

    Those questions aside, though–and maybe they have perfectly logical answers–this episode was outstanding.

    • Terri Trewin

      I was wondering if the Silence hasn’t “evolved” that little bit more and become even better at hiding because when seen, they’ll be shot on sight. But yes, it really wasn’t terribly difficult to find… whatever it was. If it was, something…

    • Yes, it took me a whole season to grudgingly give Matt Smith over after Ten’s departure. (David, I still love you most.) But yes, this was His Episode, totally agree. Good point about The Silence and the hiding.

  • Terri Trewin

    I watched this one, then went back to the start and watched it again. I loved every single minute of it. Twice. I loved it so much I don’t even care what the thing on the bed was, although I did wonder if it was a Silence that’s perfected ‘hiding’ because if it’s seen it’ll be shot on sight. Just a theory. I didn’t really find it terribly creepy though, I think it’s because I just *know* that with the Doctor there it’s going to be okay, and there’d be some sort of logical explanation. I feel safe in his (Moffat’s) hands. There was nothing about this episode that I didn’t love including Clara, but then, I’ve always thought she was pretty awesome. I really enjoyed the time-line jump with Pink, and love the intimation that Clara is Orson’s ancestor. Nice. The only thing I did find frustrating was the actual interaction between Danny & Clara. Oh, and Capaldi? Billiant!

    • I know, it was such an awful date. You just wanted to straighten them out – or at least, i did.

  • Holly Rogers

    I’m so glad someone else saw the Midnight episode connection too!!! I couldn’t breathe when he was opening the airlock door. But the scariest part was definitely when the Thing under the covers was walking towards them. I may regret watching this episode right before bed.

    • Seriously. Just re-watched it and thoroughly regret that decision.

  • Samantha Ward

    I loved reading this script (*ahem*) and I loved watching it even more. Hands down this is one of my favorite episodes ever. Certainly my favorite Capaldi episode so far. And I knew it would be an instant classic. I’m so happy that every else that I care about is having the same reaction to the episode that I am.

    My theory is that there is something out there, hiding. There was something on young Danny’s bed and under his blankie. But even if it turns out there wasn’t, I’d be ok with that too. I think the fact that the Doctor believes there is, is enough. It’s really his belief that drives the story until the end when you learn Clara started the whole thing.

    I do feel a bit jipped in that we didn’t get to see young Gallifreyan baby Doctor. I was sooo hoping we’d see what he looked like as a boy/child.

    I’m looking forward to finding out who Danny Pink is and what his story is. There is a theory floating that he’s related to the Doctor, but I don’t think so. I think he’s going to wind up with Clara – obviously – and then they’ll have time babies and one of them will have Orson.

    Is it Saturday yet?

    • Nicole Chase

      See, I’m the opposite – I’m glad they didn’t show us his baby face. 🙂

    • I am actually kind of glad we didn’t see Boy Doctor. But I’m also in the camp that doesn’t want to know his name so…. And yes, SO INTERESTED in Danny Pink. I can’t remember ever being so fascinated by a side character. Except for River (always River for me, I love her so much) in her first episodes.

  • Ack, this episode was very creepy. I don’t mind the banter between the Doctor and Clara, I think it’s funny. I loved seeing the Doctor theorize on his own. I always feel like I need to watch the episodes more than once to pick up things I missed the first time!

  • bad wolf

    didn’t anyone think about the “untempered schism”??
    I think the thing on the bed is the 8 year old Doctor facing the “Gap in the fabric of Time & Space”.
    the Doctor said he was always on the run since
    Remember how the Timelords planted “the beat of 4” in the Masters head?

    we know the Tardis can’t reach Gallifrey.
    Even by distracted telepathic steering, it sounds unlikely to reach Gallifrey, without using a major weakness in the time-lock.
    and i don’t think Bad Wolf / The Moment is directly involved.

    but

    the doctor still needs a way to prepare himself for “the Moment”.

    Therefor he confronts his primal fear, to connect himself to his childhood.

    just re watched this part: clara under his (doctor) bed;
    “00:40:57,700 –> 00:41:00,370
    Why does he have to sleep
    out here?
    00:41:00,420 –> 00:41:03,010
    He doesn’t want the others to
    hear him crying.
    00:41:03,060 –> 00:41:05,730
    Why does he have to cry
    all the time? You know why……..”

    do we know why?

    i think he just had his initiation
    and saw something in the vortex, may bee the timewar and his involvement, something about clara or he just dreamed of a hand under the bed?

    • I’ve also been wondering why he was crying, and if that couple were his parents or not. It’s very interesting.

  • Radagast

    Loved it…best episode so far!

  • Kendall Ashley

    I love this, and I love the connection to Midnight! I absolutely thought they were on Gallifrey–100% agree with you there. This definitely felt like one of those episodes where I need to re-watch it to pick up on everything. And, like we saw in Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone, I wonder if there aren’t things that Moffat dropped for us that he’ll be picking up in future episodes. I’m also loving seeing Clara now that they’re developing her more as a character. I felt for a while that she wasn’t so much a character as she was “The Impossible Girl”. Now that we’ve got that bit sorted, I’m loving how they’re making her grow and develop as a dynamic character with a pretty amazing role to play in the Doctor’s life. Series 8 is definitely off to a fabulous start!

    • Yes, Clara as a character is one of the biggest surprises of the season for me. I love her.

  • Emily B

    Sarah, thank you so much for writing this. Your thoughtful blogs about Dr. Who are almost as fun as the episodes themselves. This was the best one yet.

  • Gary Haines

    Best episode I’ve seen in a long time. Super scary and I’m almost 44.

  • ReJoycingToday

    Apologies if someone already mentioned this, or if I missed something obvious, but I’m wondering why Clara felt like she needed to lie about knowing Rupert Pink. Thoughts? (I can see not telling all the different Pinks, but why not the Doctor?)

    • I was wondering about that, too! I think she was just embarrassed but that might be more significant.

  • Kylie Michelle Fraser

    “(aside: where has THAT been hiding all of Nu-Who?) ”

    they’ve been there. the gel board is probably just a new feature from when he redecorated.

    http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Telepathic_circuits

  • Christine

    A thought from a ‘nuwhovian'(?) (I JUST started watching this Season with my teen daughter who is rabid ‘long-timer-since-we-got-netflix’).
    think the continued put-downs for Clara aren’t to continue to remind us he’s not interested-I think they are meant to remind us that he doesn’t see the world the way we do. Remember to the Doctor (The Doctor? Sorry, again I’m new!) Clara is comparable to the suntarian (sp?). I think the writer wants us to keep fresh eyes.

    If the purpose of the put downs IS in fact to show romantic disinterest it disapoints me that the writer believes that’s how we need to buy it. In my observation it is the female fans that are more concerned with the romance/chemistry season coming to an end, so then it feels like if we are being patronized–we don’t(shouldn’t) need to have others put down to feel better I hope the writer aims higher!

    I have great fun reading all your posts – the Doctor Who ones are like a little girlfriend coffee date, which I sorely need!

  • Jessa

    My brain totally went to the Midnight episode. Even the landscape that we saw outside of where Orson was stuck looked like the landscape from Midnight (in my mind, because I haven’t watched it in a while). I loved this episode. It wasn’t as scary as Blink for me, but definitely creepy in the good Who way!

  • Lisa Adams

    This was definitely my favorite episode of the new season so far. Few episodes really, truly creep me out (Silence in the Library being the top one for me); this one gets to join the list. It is the unknown, the thing you can’t see that makes me nervous. Also, I have had a few dreams about “the end of the universe” over the years, and they always have a deeply lonely feel to them. This episode captured that perfectly, I thought. The previous end-of-the-universe episode Utopia did not give me that feeling (although, Ten, I do love you most!). And having the idea of “something out there” (which, yes, reminded me of Midnight, too) when there shouldn’t be anything out there…definitely creepy. I do like that a definitive answer wasn’t given, whether there was truly something there or not.

    I also really love the connection with the young Doctor (pre-Doctor). It gave the episode a sad/sweet touch, which I always like. I’ve been going through some of the older episodes on Hulu, and I’ve been enjoying developing a wider understanding of who the Doctor is. To be able to see him so young and innocent is special. I can’t wait to see how they continue to develop his character.

    I look forward to seeing more about the development of Clara and Danny. Given that this is Steven Moffat, I don’t think things are going to be straightforward. I wouldn’t be surprised if he leads us to believe things will go one way, only to turn the tables at the last moment. What exactly that might be, I don’t know. I just expect twists with him. 😉

  • Laura

    Not only is this one of the best episodes thus far, but this post was the best too!! You made so many great points and connections that I wouldn’t have thought of or were just a jumble in my head but you spelled them out.
    This episode was definitely a creepy one, but for me, a lot of elements of the episode sorta distracted me from getting into it. Like the Doctor’s beginning soliloquy(or was it??) seemed very forced and out of place to me. Also, the flashback/flashforward style this season that they’ve been using to tell of Clara and Danny’s encounters is getting to be a bit too much to handle. Also Danny and Clara’s fighting, making up, then fighting again, then making up also seemed like a bit much and without the best writing/motivations. Lastly, this new season seems to center around Clara rather than the Doctor in a really weird way. The Doctor isn’t doing much leading as he usually does or even as much interaction with Clara. Hm.
    But this episode was a fun one and definitely carried Moffat’s signature mind-blowing, reaction-inducing qualities!
    I’m impatient for Danny to join the TARDIS crew!!
    Thanks for all these awesome posts!

  • Laura

    Also, the title of the episode along with your ideas and the comments from others are DEFINITELY making me think the Silence are involved..

  • eswan1600

    Does anyone else think Danny Pink could be the Doctor? In the episdoe, the Doctor says, “Last man standing in the universe: I always thought that would be me.” Well, it’s Danny Pink. Who has the gunless soldier. After he shows it to Clara, Clara takes it to the boy who we presume is the Doctor on Gallifrey (also raised in a children’s home? like Danny Pink and River Song?). “Time travel runs in the family,” says Danny. Has the Doctor then carried that soldier with him until the end of time? Regardless, I think Danny is a Timelord of some kind. Maybe Danny Pink and Journey Blue are the Doctor’s kids? We know he had a couple.

    • Brenda P

      Interesting! We do know that the Doctor does revisit old faces, so there could be some connection there.

  • Pol

    Still not as scary as The Horror of Fang Rock – which left me with a lifelong terror of spiral staircases – mind you, I was 6 when I saw it…

  • Tawny Burgess

    I adored this episode. It definitely helped to have the balance of being terrified of benign things and having awkward dating tales! Seriously. I love Danny Pink and Clara. They are so hilarious together. Always saying the wrong things, but they’re trying so hard. I do hope that there is nothing sinister to Danny Pink as some other message boards have suggested.

    I have already adapted the Fear is a Superhero speech. I think it’s fantastic and so accurate. It’s taking something that we usually see as a weakness and turning it into something that is powerful.

    I think Clara is a great companion. She is the impossible girl, for sure, but she is such a great companion to the Doctor.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sarah!

  • huntermagnus999

    Am i the only one who is thinking about the fact that Listen is an anagram for Silent? Because as the Silents (Silence?) were able to hide themselves by making you forgot you saw them I was wondering if we might see the two ideas meet….

    • Alina Abbott

      ooh good catch. Who writers have used anagrams before: Doctor Who = Torchwood

  • Alina Abbott

    I have a theory about Clara, and this episode did nothing to dispell it. Somehow, she is going to be all the companions. Falling into the Doctor’s timeline at Trenzilor (sp?). Living in the same flat complex as Rose. Only poster boy she ever had was a Roman. Teaching at the same school as the first two teacher companions. In this episode, she is the Doctor’s fear, and she says fear is his “constant companion”. Maybe this is a weird theory, but it doesn’t seem impossible for the “impossible girl.”

    The thing under the blanket. NOT explained away by Clara being the thing under the bed (though she was under the bed when the thing appeared). There is still so much we are going to learn about Danny Pink, so I suspect this is just a part of that bigger story. Keep your eyes open for the red blanket, cuz time travelling runs in that family.

  • Tara

    The “creature” from the airlock could be explained farther in the series. Remember when Matt Smith opened the door to the hotel room in “The God Complex”? Moffat could just be waiting for the right moment to reveal what the doctor was so afraid of. Maybe it’s a future version of Clara who got lost on the last planet in all of time and space. Or maybe it’s something we should all be afraid of, like the statues that move or the times we forget. Maybe it’s something far worse, because I recall the 12th doctor looked shocked or afraid when the airlock opened.

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  • Andrea

    [Late to the party, but I’m catching up quickly!]
    I really enjoyed this episode. I look forward to Danny being more involved and in the loop with Clara and the Doctor. One of the worst things about the previous companions from Doctors 9-11 is that they were constantly lying to people they cared about because they couldn’t explain or expose (the weirdness of) time travel. Danny seems much more quick to call Clara out on her evasive answers; these two could be committed enough that even if he’s not always accompanying (like Rory or Mickey), he’s on the same page, and commands respect.
    Also, I was super-thrilled that a companion FINALLY got to go to what I’m presuming is Gallifrey. The whole “there was a war” and “we can’t go there” and “it’s time-locked” were getting really boring. I liked that it tied in nicely with Clara’s role as the Impossible Girl: going places in the Doctor’s timeline to save him, and especially going where no other companion has gone–into the Doctor’s childhood, before he was even “the Doctor” (another shout-out to “The Girl in the Fireplace” reference to the Doctor’s “lonely childhood” [heart breaking–was he there as part of school? or as an orphan? what was he scared of–had he recently looked in the time vortex {10th Doctor explained that he looked into it and ran away…}]). So many questions…

  • Samuel Skeirik

    I have a question….we’re never told what the thing on the bed is. So what is it? What made the covers rise up? What walked up to the window behind them? Was it fear? Or something real?