Listen – Doctor Who Explained

[This post is of a series: Doctor Who Explained. It’s the fourth installment. Read the prior one’s here!]

There are episodes of Doctor Who that are fun loving but plain (like last week’s episode, Robot in Sherwood.) And then there’s episodes that blow up all expectations. Episode 5, entitled: Listen, does just that.Fear is a superpower

Steven Moffat the current director (show-runner) is known for writing the most intriguing episodes of Doctor Who. So when I saw him as the writer for this episode I was excited. And he did not disappoint.

[This next bit will make the most sense if you have watched the fourth episode of Season 8. Entitled: Listen. Go watch it on Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime, I’ll wait for ya! SPOILERS!]

Listen, is an episode that shows how complicated time travel can and should be. Some of Doctor Who’s episodes boil down time travel to simple placement within a story and ignores the implications of every action. Listen, is not such an episode. Its a glimpse into timelines collapsing in on each other and shows the danger of meeting your future and past self.

Not only does time come alive within this episode but the Doctor comes alive as well. Several iconic traits of the past Doctor’s come out within this adventure with the 12th.
One of these traits is the Doctor’s pure joy in discovering the unknown! He is so delighted to make a hypothesis and then prove it. He get’s so wrapped up in the pursuit of discovery that everything else becomes a blur. All smiles, he plunges into anything & everything without fear. The Doctor latest theory, that everyone has feared of something lurking under their bed at night. Like a mad scientist he is driven to near insanity in the pursuit of finding this creature. And when he does, it’s wholly underwhelming.
Every once in a while there’s a moment where compassion & love shines from the Doctor. This is when the Doctor comes alive for me! He becomes the best of everything within the universe. This happens in this episode when He gets eye to eye with a fear driven Rupert and speaks words of encouragement & love into him. The Doctor sees the flame of humanity flickering within Rupert. He comes alongside and stokes it into the all consuming fire that is the human spirit. The never ending, never yielding, uniqueness of being human. This time it is the power that comes from fear! As we fear we are propelled much like a superpower. A superpower that we can only feel & wield. Oh the timing of the Doctor and his deliberate words!

All the while, Clara is driven to her own madness. As they ride her timeline, Clara begins to meet critical people in her past and future. As she sees these points of time unfold, she takes hold of the present, trying to right her wrongs. Which in turn collapses in on itself. Bringing more complexity into the mix, and yet all the while keeping the Doctor in the dark about what is really going on. (I was screaming at Clara to tell the Doctor what’s actually going on!)

And with a last ditch effort to straighten things out, Clara finds herself underneath the bed of a fearful child-timelord. She’s the “creature” under the bed that a fearful adult-timelord is driven mad to discover. Surrendering to defeat, Clara consuls the child with the only words that she knows are true.

“Fear is a superpower. Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger… It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s okay to be afraid of it… You’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. 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.”

Holy Smokes! What is happening in this season! Just when I thought I had a grasp of something, it leaves me! Ha! Here’s the list of question that I still have:

  1. Who is Missy?
  2. What’s the Doctor’s catch phrase?
  3. What did the Doctor see at the last planet?

Let me know what you thought of the this episode. What questions do you have that are left unanswered? And what parts of the Doctor do you wish to know more about?

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