Monday, September 15, 2014

Doctor Who 8.04: "Listen"

“Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I’m gonna leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.”
- Clara

I’ll be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of this episode. Not just because Moffatt wrote it but because it was very confusing and bizarre. Sometimes that can be good and sometimes, it’s just frustrating. I think I had high hopes after the pretty solid “Robot of Sherwood” the week before and this just let me down. The episode opens as the Doctor questions whether we are ever really alone or if there’s always someone with us. He wonders if there is a creature so good at hiding that we’d never know it existed until it wanted to be found. This kicks off a bizarre adventure with him and Clara to the past and future to try and solve the riddle. Before we talk a little more about the time-hopping, let’s take a minute to discuss the really awkward Clara and Danny dynamic. They’ve finally gone out for that drink and it’s just one disaster after another. They keep verbally stepping on each other’s toes until Clara says something about Danny knowing about battle that really sets him off. I swear the guy has PTSD. Anyway, it ends with Clara leaving the restaurant and going home for a cry. I have to say most of their interactions in this episode were painful to watch. Some p0eople just don’t mix and it’s pretty obvious that Clara and Danny have a long way to go if they are going to gel at all.

The Doctor’s already waiting to whisk her off to find out what is hiding in the dark and under the bed. He doesn’t really give her any choice in the matter. Instead, he links her to the TARDIS telepathic circuits to go back to her childhood when she first had a scary dream about waking in the middle of the night, hearing noises and something under the bed grabbing her ankle. The Doctor thinks that everyone in the universe has had the dream. Unfortunately, Clara gets distracted by Danny and they end up in Gloucester in the mid-1990s to find a little boy named Rupert Pink who is scared. It had a feeling a bit like the orphanage did in “The Impossible Astronaut”. It was very creepy for sure. I half expected the Doctor to look down and find hash marks on his arm but alas, no reference to the Silence.

While the Doctor is interrogating the night watchman, Clara is chatting up Rupert and trying to show him that there’s nothing scary under the bed. While they are both stuck under the bed, something sits down on top of the bed. I will admit I thought it was the Doctor but it’s not. He’s there, sure, but there’s a figure hiding under the covers on Rupert’s bed. It’s pretty creepy and the Doctor tells Clara and Rupert to turn away and not look, don’t even stare at the reflection to give the creature what it wants, to hide and not be seen. The thing under the covers disappears (along with the blanket) and Clara tries to reassure him by putting toy soldiers around his bed to guard him. The boss soldier (he’s not got a gun) is called Dan the Solider Man. Clara makes the connection and is worried that he’ll remember all of this when she meets him as an adult but the Doctor knocks him and gives him a dream of Dan the Soldier Man (hence adopting the name Danny).

Speaking of, Clara makes the Doctor take her back to just after she left the restaurant to try and patch things up with Danny. Too bad for her she continues to stick her foot in it. And Danny gets suspicious since she doesn’t have her jacket. Clara also gets distracted by a guy in a space suit. It didn’t occur to me when I was first watching but it’s kind of reminiscent of “Day of the Moon” with little River in the space suit. It’s not a little girl this time but someone who is named Orson Pink and appears to be a descendant of Danny. He’s also been stranded at the end of the universe for about six months and just wants to go home. The first thing I thought of was the 3-part series 3 finale. This was a very different end of the universe. We also see that Orson has the toy soldier (he says it was a family heirloom). As much as I don’t see much chemistry right now between Danny and Clara I get the feeling that they might get married.

Things get very tense near the end (and the Doctor gets very shout-y). The Doctor orders Clara to stay in the TARDIS while he confronts whatever is hiding out in the dark at the end of the universe. The outer doors of Orson’s ship are breached and the Doctor gets knocked unconscious. So Clara taps into the telepathic circuits again. This time she ends up in a barn at night and there is a little boy crying. She thinks it might be Orson or even Rupert but in fact it is a very young (and scared) Doctor. Before he took on the name and ran away with his TARDIS. Clara realizes as she whispers to him to go back to sleep that she is the reason the Doctor thinks he’s had that dream and that it freaks him out so much. I did like the nice tie-in to the War Doctor (we got footage from the 50th Anniversary special as he’s going to the barn to set off The Moment). I really am not a fan of Clara. She still feels a lot like a plot device to me. First she was the “Impossible Girl” and her whole purpose was to save the Doctor and here she is being the instigator of his nightmares! Good job. She manages to stop the Doctor from crossing his own timeline (which is good, we don’t need things going any more wonky than they are) but we don’t get any answers to what was under the covers or what was knocking on the ship’s door.

As I said at the start of this post, this was not one of my favorites. It was convoluted, questions that seemed like they might be important weren’t answered and it just seemed unnecessary. I seriously hope the rest of the season is better than this. I can handle one dud in the group but not too many more.

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