TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “Listen”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 14, 2014

Doctor Who

So far in this season of “Doctor Who” we’ve visited Victorian England and met a nice dinosaur and a not-so-nice robot, we’ve run around the inside of a Dalek, and we’ve met Robin Hood. What could the writers of “Doctor Who” possibly do next? The show’s been around for over 50 years, and the various reincarnations of the Doctor and his numerous companions have gone on many adventures and faced just as much danger. There’s always a mystery to solve. But what if the mystery this time is something much closer to home? What if the mystery is something we’ve all encountered at night, in the darkness?


“Listen” forces us to face something we’ve all feared as a child: the monster under the bed. The shadow that we hear following us, or feel nearby. Sometimes we feel that we’re not alone. The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) realizes that we might never truly be alone. The Doctor brings Clara (Jenna Coleman) along with him after she returns home from a failed date, and he plans to go to her childhood. Instead, they end up in another person’s childhood. No matter, because they still encounter the creature in the darkness, and by the end of the episode they find out it isn’t what it seems.

“What if no one is ever really alone?”

“Listen” looked to be one of the most thrilling episodes with a premise such as that, and that made the episode riveting. Much like like season 7’s “Hide”, it plays around with a simple fear humans have or have had at one point in their lives. In the case of “Hide”, it’s ghosts. In “Listen”, it’s the creature that hides in shadows, who we can only ever glimpse in the corner of our eye. The episode started off really strong in dealing with this premise. The Doctor and Clara travel to three different coordinates to ascertain just what this creature is, and indeed it seems like they encounter it more than once. Where the plot starts to fall apart is when writer Moffat tries to explain it by saying Clara visited the Doctor as a child and she was the one under his bed. She was the one who told him we’re never alone, though she meant it as a comfort. The problem with this solution is that it leaves a glaring plot hole. What was the thing sitting on Rupert’s bed, the one who came right up behind them? And what is the thing that entered the spaceship and knocked on the Tardis’ door? There’s absolutely no explanation given for these two creepy (but awesome) occurrences.

Doctor Who

I really like the explanation that Moffat gave for the Doctor being so determined to find out what was under his bed as a child, so I wish it worked better with the episode. The answer we’re given once again places Clara as a sort of saviour for the Doctor in his past, and further cements her as the Impossible Girl. And Clara flies the Tardis with ease and success simply by connecting her mind to the navigator so it knows where to go. That is a very significant scene because it shows that the Tardis accepts her, and it shows that Clara is much more than a passenger.

“Scared is a superpower.”

I really liked that Clara and Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) are given more screen time to interact in this “Doctor Who” episode. Rather than Clara being in the Tardis for uninterrupted periods, we get to see her at home doing normal things. And that includes going on a date with Danny that starts well then quickly heads for disaster over a misunderstanding. But there’s comedy and it’s endearing to see these two so nervous for their date. I predicted their relationship would mirror Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory’s (Arthur Darvill), and it seems like I’m not too far off the mark. Clara and the Doctor accidentally visit one of Danny’s ancestors and he says that time traveling is in his family. So, perhaps Clara tells Danny about the Doctor and he goes along with them in the Tardis.

Doctor Who

Another great aspect of this episode of “Doctor Who” is the comedy. While it’s rather dry, the Doctor seems to be gaining more stable footing in terms of having good comedic dialogue. In an episode that is mainly intended to be scary (but actually ends up being sweet), there was a good amount of comedy to keep the tone from becoming too dark. There’s a mysterious creature hiding under the blanket on a child’s bed? Fast talking should keep them from being too scared. The Doctor tends to be fast-talking and funny, and now the same can be said for Capaldi’s incarnation of the Doctor.

“Once upon a time…the end. Dad skills.”

Overall, “Listen” is a good episode of “Doctor Who”, with comedy, a dark thrill, and some sub-plots advance. That being said, the mystery doesn’t feel like it’s fully solved here, so Moffat’s writing could have been better; he could have still had the same resolution, and gone back to fill in the glaring plot holes left behind. If you can get past these plot holes, it’s a fairly good “Doctor Who” episode.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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