“Doctor Who” is too full of whimsy and joy to imprison it with criticism and review boxes. Instead each week we’ll share our impressions of each episode. As always, these will contain a synopsis of the episode, as well as thoughts on the episode and the series as a whole. Also, there are likely spoilers ahead.

Just when I had outgrown the fear of monsters under the bed Listen comes around and reminds me of the nightmarish possibility of having my foot grabbed by an outstretched hand lurking in the shadows beneath my mattress. I thought I would have to sleep with the lights after watching Listen, but no night light was necessary. This episode turned out to be a masterpiece; the best of the season so far.

However, based on the divided comments on Doctor Who message boards in the 24 hours since its airing, there is a split in the fandom on whether Listen was scary or not. Let’s add a little perspective here, ok guys? Blink taught us to fear statues. The Empty Child taught us to fear gas masks. And The Bells of Saint John taught us to fear WiFi. But the only difference between those episodes and Listen is that we never feared those things before Doctor Who introduced them. We never shivered at night, afraid to get out of bed to use the bathroom for fear of our WiFi bandwidth, right? No, we didn’t. The monster under the bed is a childhood fear as old as time (I imagine Neanderthal children afraid to look under their rock…but I digress). This was a spooky episode that played on our oldest of childhood fears.

So, here’s what happened. Clara finally gets that date with Danny Pink, and through her awkwardness, as well as his, the date ends on a not so swell note. After storming out, she makes her way back to her flat where the Doctor has landed the T.A.R.D.I.S. in her bedroom. After The Doctor rants about his new theory of people never being alone and all sharing the same “monster under the bed” dream, he asks Clara to allow the T.A.R.D.I.S. to key into her timeline and take them back to the first time she herself had that dream.

Well, silly Clara, she got a tad bit distracted and ended up thinking of Danny in the process. When they step out of the T.A.R.D.I.S., the West Country Children’s Home in Gloucester stands before them. The Doctor instructs Clara to stay behind because, of course, meeting yourself in another timeline is a huge Time Lord fopaux—though we remember how many times Amy Pond broke that rule, right? But, as she points out, she has never been to Gloucester so this isn’t her timeline. But she does as she’s told anyway…kinda. She sees an open window with a young boy looking down at her. She asks his name, and surprisingly its Pink—Rupert Pink. Though he adds, “that name is rubbish. I’m going to change it.” Hmm, we can see where this is going.

Clara makes her way up to the boy’s room to talk to him, all the while the Doctor is scaring the living daylights out of an unsuspecting caretaker (you need to watch the episode, if your haven’t already, to fully appreciate the exchange). Rupert confides with Clara that he is scared of the noises in the house and the monsters under the bed. The Doctor takes a stab at parenthood and describes fear as being a superhero power. Clara, on the other hand, takes a very motherly approach in lessening his fears by climbing under his bed to show him there is nothing to fear. Everything seems well and good until the bed suddenly sags with the weight of someone, or something, on the bed. They climb out from under it to find a spine-chilling form, underneath a red blanket, sitting on the bed. The Doctor, in all his infinite wisdom, suggests ignoring the form and postulates that whatever is under the sheet should never be seen for the consequences are unknown, but likely catastrophic. I don’t know how well this really worked—as I was watching through the spaces between my fingers—but the “thing” disappeared through the door and all is well again.

This is where it gets cool. Clara takes a set of army men and positions them around Rupert’s bed to protect him. She tells him that the one with no gun is actually the leader and the most brave since he doesn’t need weapons (very much an ode to the heart of Doctor Who). Rupert says he calls him Dan the Military Man. Well, they eventually depart from Rupert and return to the T.A.R.D.I.S. Clara asks the Doctor to do her a favor and bring her back to the date she had been on earlier. She attempts to smooth things over with Danny, and does a fine job until she mentions the name Rupert (she’s really bad at this dating stuff), which really pisses Danny off. So she retreats once more to the T.A.R.D.I.S. There, the Doctor has a man in a spacesuit that has a very strong resemblance to Danny Pink. But it’s not Danny. The Doctor tells her it is a man from her timeline (remember, it’s not actually her timeline though…its Danny’s), but 100 years from now. A relative? Ooooh, but it gets better. Orson Pink is his name, and through the remainder of the episode we come to find that he is a time traveler himself, and from a long line of other time travelers—or so the family folklore tells. He also travels with a tiny army man figurine. Coincidence? Nope! This is Doctor Who after all.

Orson Pink is attempting to get back home and as far away from his haunted spaceship as possible. But the Doctor foils the plan for immediate evacuation and instead proposes a sleepover while the T.A.R.D.I.S recharges. But we know that is a rouse. As the day becomes night, the monsters start to rise. The spaceship’s containment door indicates it is locked, and the words “Do Not Open Door” are written above, as the monsters pound on the door. What is the Doctor to do? Open the door of course! After shooing Clara and Orson back into the T.A.R.D.I.S, our fearless Doctor unlocks the door, only to find himself holding on for dear life as he is almost sucked into the void of space. Luckily, Orson is equipped for such rescue and retrieves the Doctor as Clara frantically attempts to steer the T.A.R.D.I.S to any place other than where they are.

Now you’ll want to grab a tissue because this is where it gets good. With the Doctor unconscious, Clara opens the T.A.R.D.I.S doors and finds herself in a barn. Believing this is, once again, Danny Pinks timeline and possibly the younger version of Orson, she tells Orson to stay behind. She enters the barn to find a bed with a frantically sobbing child in it. “Danny?” No response. “Orson?” Nothing. Then the barn doors open, and Clara darts under the bed to hide. Two parents come charging in to quiet the child’s tears and attempt to have him come back inside, but to no avail. The parents exit saying “he’ll never make a Time Lord.” It dawns on Clara as she hears these words that is actually the Doctor. At that moment, the unconscious Doctor awakens and with it awakens the boy. Knowing that the child Doctor and the adult Doctor cannot meet, she reaches for his ankle and holds on. It’s at that moment that you realize the dream the Doctor was talking about, the dream that everyone has had, is actually his own. And Clara realizes she is the one who started this journey. Being the kind woman that she is, she wants to make sure the Doctor is safe and cared for (as she has already saved the other Doctors, it seems only fitting). So she sits on the edge of his bed and whispers “Listen…” and retells the Doctor’s analogy of fear being a superhero power. She adds that one day he would return to this same barn, very afraid, and make a big decision (This barn is the same barn in which the War Doctor goes to destroy Gallifray). Then, she leaves with the boy a tiny figurine—Dan the Military Man.

With mouth agape and my head spinning, I turned off the television. But does this mean she marries Pink at some point? (oh by the way, she totally ends up going back to Danny’s place and snogging him). And just like Orson is 100 years in the future of Danny’s timeline, would that make her an actual time lord or just a time traveler in the sense of her being a companion? I mean, she is the “impossible girl” after all so why couldn’t she be a time lord? Could she be 100 yeas in the future of the Doctor’s timeline? It’s just speculation based on a mind-blogging-ly amazing episode, I know, but this episode has now just opened up a whole new character arc for Clara and the Doctor.

Oh, Moffet, I do love thee for your ability to take a television show that I am already completely enamored and make it even more irresistible. *Fangirl sigh* Can’t wait for next weeks episode!!

So, what do you think is going on here? I really do want to know! So check out the Doctor Who message boards to posts your theories. Penny will be watching!

Written by | Penny Brown

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