Doctor Who S8E4 - "Listen" Recap

The Doctor speaks to himself in the Tardis, pondering why people talk to themselves when they know they're alone, suggesting that they do so because they're not. He talks about hunters, nature, evolution, and hiding. It culminates to his concluding that it is important to listen.

Clara and Danny meet for their date. After a slightly awkward start, things start to go well. But when his being in the army comes up in conversation, they get into a bit of an argument by their misunderstanding each other. Clara ends up storming out but appears to feel guilty by the way things soured. When she gets home, the Doctor is waiting there and says he needs her help. She joins him in the Tardis and he tells her that he has developed a theory that every living being has a constant companion, noting how children have the exact same nightmare in which a hand grabs them from under the bed at night. Clara admits that she dreamed that but dismisses it, saying everyone has it and it's nothing to be alarmed by.

The Doctor has the Tardis extrapolate from her memory the relevant information. They then visit Clara's childhood to determine what was under her bed. But Clara gets distracted by her phone ringing so they end up in a children's home in Gloucester in the mid 1990s. Instead of meeting young Clara, they find a young Rupert Pink. It's Danny, before he changed his first name (which he hated).

Clara goes upstairs to visit Rupert and finds him sitting far away from his bed, being afraid of what lies underneath. Clara tries to show him there's nothing to be afraid of by crawling beneath the bed and eventually Rupert joins her. It's then that something sits on top of the bed but Rupert insists that no one else came into the room while they were talking. They come out from underneath the bed and find that something is underneath Rupert's blankets. Clara thinks it's someone playing a game but the figure doesn't answer her. The Doctor then appears and tells them to not look at the figure, saying they need to turn away. He addresses the figure and tells it to go in peace, which it eventually does. Clara coaches Danny to be brave using his toy soldiers. She unintentionally inspires his later name, Danny, when Rupert names the lead soldier Dan.

Clara feels guilty about the way she left her date so she has the Doctor return her to the restaurant right after her earlier self left. They start to hit it off but she accidentally calls him Rupert and he becomes angry and suspicious of her before storming out. Clara is drawn back into the Tardis by a figure in a spacesuit. When the figure removes his helmet, it's a man who looks like a much older version of Danny. They determine him to be Orson Pink, one of Earth's first time travellers, from 100 years ahead of Clara's future. The Doctor picked him up from the end of the universe where he had been accidentally become stranded. Orson is said to be descended from a time traveller and possesses the soldier Clara had given young Rupert. He says it's a family heirloom that was supposed to give him good luck, which would imply that Danny and Clara may be his great-grandparents.

The Doctor shows Clara a view of the last planet in existence. This is where Orson was stranded. The Doctor believes that the entity he is investigating is attempting to enter through a locked door of Orson's spaceship. The Doctor unlocks the door and orders Clara and Orson back into the Tardis, saying he has to know what he is facing. The spaceship's air bubble disperses just as the Doctor lays eyes on the creature but Orson rescues him just in time. Clara uses the Tardis' telepathic connection to escape the end of the universe and the creatures trying to get in.

Clara exits the Tardis and finds herself in an unknown location. It appears to be an old barn where a child is in bed, crying under the covers. Clara approaches the child, but has to hide when she hears some people coming. Upon overhearing their conversation of them discussing the child needing to be a soldier, as he doesn't have the potential to be a Time Lord, Clara realises she is under the bed of the young Doctor. The guardians leave and Clara accidentally grabs the Doctor's leg as she is trying to leave. She gently assures the Doctor that everything is alright and that it's just a dream. She is the monster under the Doctor's bed. She returns to the Tardis and tells the Doctor to take off and never look back to see where he's been. It's then shown that Clara has told the young Doctor that she knows he's afraid but that it's okay to be afraid. "Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster, cleverer." She tells him he'll come back to the barn one day (in "The Day of the Doctor"). She tells him he'll always be afraid, even if he learns to hide it, but that fear is like a constant companion but that fear can bring people together and make him kind. "Fear makes companions of us all."

The Doctor returns Clara and Orson to their respective time periods. The Doctor determines that there is no monster underneath the bed and Rupert Pink's 'monster' was just another child at the home trying to scare him. Clara visits Danny and they both apologise for the things they said, before sharing a kiss.

This is arguably the strongest episode of Who to date in series 8. Capaldi seems to have found his stride as the Doctor, combining just the right amount of cantankerous energy that makes for strong comedy and dramatic flair. Many of the stronger episodes of Who have had elements of the horror/thriller genre and this may indeed be added to that list of stand-out episodes, though only time will tell what sort of legacy it develops. The messages regarding fear are ones that can strike cords in the wide age range of Who viewers. Given the many children that watch the show, they may come away feeling a bit braver about the monsters under their bed, while adults may be inspired to not let fear get in the way of pursuing what it is they truly desire from life. Danny Pink's adorably awkward moments are always a joy to watch, but one can only hope that his character will see more development in future episodes.

Doctor Who airs on Saturdays on BBC One.


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