#932 – Doctor Who-esday: Listen

listen

I probably shouldn’t have watched “Listen” at night before going to bed. As a child who was frequently scared of the dark there was a lot I could identify with in “Listen.”

Steven Moffat has written some of the creepiest episodes of Doctor Who. “Blink” obviously comes to mind, but he was also responsible for “Day of the Moon.” The Weeping Angels were terrifying but I lost my breath when Amy saw all the marks on her face, each one representing a Silence that she had forgotten.

I really enjoyed “Listen” and thought that it was the best episode of the young series. “Robot of Sherwood” was great for its humor and levity, but “Listen” was great because of its suspense and heart. It was engrossing to see the Doctor as a scared little boy and as a centuries-old man, still wrestling with that scared little boy.

Here are some thoughts I had on “Listen.” 

Fear

You’re always going to learn to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, but that’s OK because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring us home.

“Listen” not only had a lot to say about fear but it actually made us feel fear. I know I spent the entire episode on the edge of my seat: wondering what was beneath the bedspread, who was in the spacesuit and what was outside the locked hatch. I didn’t just watch the characters experience fear but I was taken back to my own experiences.

I was taken back to all those nights I laid in bed wondering what the noises in the dark were, terrified to turn on my light and see the monster-under-the-bed staring at me. The episode reminded me of my own fears, but then told me that they were OK, that there is value in fear.

The fear of losing our lives compels us to preserve them.

The fear of living lonely compels us to seek out relationships.

The fear staying stagnant compels us to move forward and better ourselves.

The fear of losing ourselves compels us to come back home.

Like Clara said, in the end it doesn’t matter if what we’re afraid of is real or not, as long as that fear compels to do something positive. As much as I was moved by Clara’s words at the end of the episode, I still want to know what was underneath the bedspread.

The Tongue

I loved Clara’s confession that her tongue sometimes gets her into trouble. I like Clara because she is quick witted and says what’s on her mind. As someone who has often spoken before thinking, I can commiserate with Clara and her date that turned into a disaster. James’s reminder that the tongue is a “world of evil” is something I should listen to every day. My tongue has gotten me in plenty of trouble over the years. Thankfully, the older and more mature I get, the less and less I say things I immediately regret. Hopefully when I re-watch this episode in a few years, I’ll be able to think, “I remember when I was like Clara, that was so long ago.” Unfortunately, even when I’m watching this in my 80s on the tiny screen implanted on my eyeball, I’ll still probably have some amount of trouble taming my tongue.

“Listen” wasn’t just a frightening episode, but it also fleshed out the characters of Danny Pink and the Doctor. Instead of just adding more questions about the Promised Land, this episode actually gave us some answers about the characters.

Now hopefully I’ll be able to fall asleep.

What did you think of “Listen?”

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One Response to “#932 – Doctor Who-esday: Listen”

  1. Great thoughts as always, Scott, especially picking up on the theme about taming the tongue.

    I don’t know exactly how — timey-wimey, wibbly-wobbly — but I’m convinced it was somehow the Doctor under that bedspread. It’s his handwriting on the slate. Both he and the mysterious figure enter Rupert’s room unheard. The voice outside the locked hatch says “Listen,” as the Doctor does several times throughout (and just as his voice echoes back to him in the TARDIS at the beginning). Most compelling of all, we see him as a small figure hiding under a bedspread because he doesn’t want to be seen (crying).

    It was a very cool episode all around – series 8 is 4 for 4 in my book!

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