12 Great Moments From Listen
Mark McCullough and Connor Johnston pick out twelve faves from the 4th episode of Series 8.
Note: Episode spoilers naturally!
Once you have recovered and removed yourself from the safety of behind the sofa, join us as we pick twelve moments worth listening out for from Listen:
12. “Only three people left in the universe. And you’re lying to the other two.”
Several aspects of this scene stand out to me as interesting. Firstly the impact of the realisation that they actually are the last three people alive is a harrowing thought realised by the wonderfully dead landscape outside the confines of the ship. Second is the analysis from a psychological point of view, in that a character would prefer to lie to his potential saviours rather than admit he is scared. This is an example of Moffat showing his intelligence about what scares people; it’s perfectly relatable for the audience because no one likes to admit they are scared. As for the Doctor, we have been told he doesn’t understand humans as well as he did in other incarnations, yet he is astute enough to pick up on the façade of bravery.
11. Date Night Revisited
The handy thing about a TARDIS is the possibility of a do over, a chance to make things right. Clara makes avail of this unique opportunity to have a second chance at her date with Mr. Pink. Unfortunately for her this one goes even worse than the first with a series of calamities and a clever observation from Danny. Clara on the other hand has a moment that is incredibly stupid and totally out of character where she uses the wrong name for Danny suggesting knowledge that she shouldn’t have. Bearing in mind her intellect around people thus far this series and later in the episode it is a little jarring. Although it could be argued that Moffat again gets his situational awareness spot on and shows the effect love can have you causing you to do stupid things.
10. The Coffee Conundrum
How do you make scary scene, add to the fear factor of an unseen monster whilst still making your audience chuckle at the same time? It’s quite the conundrum, but one which Moffat solves with a cup of coffee (I wonder if he was having one while writing this scene). It’s extremely intelligent (I word I seem to use a lot when talking about Moffat) because people move things and forget them all the time. So for him to take this and suggest is it due to an influence of a hidden monster served to ground the concept in the minds of the audience. What should have been a scary scene as the camera revealed the coffee cup had gone turned out even better when we saw Capaldi walking down the corridor drinking it.
9. ‘Well’ then, it’s A Date
The first attempt at Clara and Danny’s was very well written and realistic progressing through a range of emotions. The initial contact was rather awkward in keeping with the established personality of the participants whilst also perfectly enrapturing that initial fear of the unknown. From here we progress into the more humorous and jovial part of the date where Pink Soufflé really click and seem to be having a great time. Unfortunately this devolves into an argument over a remark Clara, which incidentally is the second time she has mocked Danny’s soldier background. The way the scene was cut with the event and aftermath shown simultaneously was also very effective.
The episode opened with possibly the best sequence in the history of the show. It was fascinating to get an insight into how our hero thinks when he is alone. His behaviour seems spontaneous without any real organisation to it, yet what he considers makes perfect sense. His view on nature is consistent with his action in “Into the Dalek” allowing one to die for the sake of the rest. The question he poses in an interesting one, given that nature has adapted specialists for every given niche, it logically follows that there would be a specialist at hiding. The Doctor’s thoughts alone are enough to get the audience’s mind racing with the possibilities of what is to come. The trick with the chalk sets the tone perfectly for the chilling tale that awaits us, and also explains where the title of the episode comes from.
7. He Who Knocks
Two words: Peter Capaldi. Another word: Wow. This scene has possibly been, for me at least, his best performance of the Doctor to date. The curiosity, the fury, the horror all captured in one scene. The very definition of “edge of your seat” television. We get another deep insight into the Doctor and Clara’s relationship, the fact that he comes across protective of her – whether it be regarding her “date” or guaranteeing her safety by “ordering” her back into the TARDIS. Again Moffat’s writing excels with dialogue that leaves his audience with chills: “What’s that in the mirror? Or the corner of your eye? What’s that footstep following, but never passing by? Perhaps they’re all just waiting, perhaps when we’re all dead Out they’ll come a-slithering from underneath the bed.” And as for the monster itself? More on that revelation in 5 moment’s time – Who knows? Could it possibly have been Wilfred Mott and the Midnight Entity having a knocking contest?
6. Family Heirloom
The scene with the Dan the Soldier Man toy was a very poignant one, and one which tied up the different segments of the narrative extremely well. For something so simple it is incredibly effective at showing us the impact Clara had on Rupert and confirmed that she ultimately formed the man that Danny would become. It also serves to rule out Danny and Orson only shared appearance by coincidence and further suggested that Clara and Danny will go on to have a happy relationship – though this was never confirmed. The plot device was a very skilful addition to the narrative by Steven Moffat, which allowed the audience to work things out rather than him explaining them, as it wasn’t necessary. We can only assume and wonder until further developments come to light: What did Orson know about Clara? What was he implying? What is their connection; and as always: What will the future hold?
5) The Fear Factor
Capaldi once again serves the audience a stunning performance in “Listen”, including a brilliant conversation with Rupert Pink, proving that Clara isn’t the only main character this series that has incredible ability and chemistry with children. It’s this scene that terms of Capaldi’s Doctor’s character development is ground-breaking when it comes to how young children will receive him. Yes this incarnation is at times shocking, at times “snarling”, even at times scary – but this scene showed off such a gentle, inspiring side to Capaldi’s character, giving Rupert his strength in a situation that seemed almost impossible for a young boy to have.
4. “He’ll never make a Time Lord”
I would have loved to have a camera on my face during the revelation that Clara had actually travelled into the Doctor’s childhood. I can only imagine the result would have been something along the lines of this. Easily one of the greatest and most unexpected twists in Doctor Who history, like with the Danny’s phone call earlier in the episode, the Doctor stirring distracted Clara while she was flying the TARDIS via telepathic circuits (Finally we have a use for the organic section of the console!) and as a consequence we find that they’ve travelled along the Doctor’s timeline to the night he had “the dream”. How amazing that after 50 years of the show, our knowledge of the most explored and developed character is still mainly restricted to post ‘Junkyard’ events. It’s the rarity and almost sacred atmosphere that is created whenever we learn more about the Doctor’s origins that makes this scene so exciting and treasured in my heart.
3. The Bedroom Barricade
Throughout this series, the influence that Clara’s job have had on her character have been increasingly touched upon; whether it be through channelling her inner Courtney in “Deep Breath”, teaching the Doctor a lesson in “Into the Dalek” and dealing with 2 disruptive students in the form of Capaldi and Mr Hood in “Robot of Sherwood”. “Listen” channels “Rings of Akhaten” in the way it showcases Clara’s brilliant ability with children, particularly through her interactions with Rupert. In using the toy soldiers to “protect” young Danny, Clara forms a bond with the child almost instantly – calming him down and reassuring him, before potentially inspiring him to become Dan the Soldier Man himself: “That’s why he’s boss. A soldier who’s so brave he doesn’t need a gun … can keep the whole world safe.” It’s scenes like this that confirm to me what a brilliant teacher – and possibly a brilliant mother Clara would make. The moral of the scene is something wonderful as well, and exhibits another reason why Doctor Who is so perfect for children (and in turn adults): Yes the humour, yes the wonder, yes the magic – But most of all the brilliant things that it’s plot teaches – the very thing that at his best, the Doctor stands for.
2. Attack of the Killer Bed Spread
One of the numerous contributing factor’s to ‘Listen’s’ successes is it’s terrifying plot points and scenes – specifically the first time we can put a physical presence to this “Hider” that the majority of our attention has been directed to for the first half of the episode. Fear of the unknown/ Fear of the unseen is where Doctor Who excels in scaring its viewers, and in this moment of uncertainty and insanity for the Doctor, Rupert and Clara, we too almost want to turn away and not look around in fear of how a creature who lives to hide would react when seen. The conclusion of the episode once again raised questions about what the “Hider” really was. What Moffat has done is a stroke of genius; he’s allowed leeway for ourselves to make up our own minds. For the more structured fans who need an answer for everything there is the choice of justifying the supernatural scenes of the episode to a dash of the Doctor’s paranoia and a pinch of mundane explanation; and for the fans who prefer the mystery, ambiguity “Fear of the Unknown” (like myself) then accepting that we might never know is also a choice. Regardless of what side of the fence one may fall on, neither resolution can take away from the sheer terror of the plot and more specifically this scene.
1. Fear Makes Companions of Us All
Was there ever any doubt on what would top the countdown today? This stunning episode culminates to easily one of the best written scenes in Doctor Who history. It’s a sequence that has one instantaneously crying, laughing, grinning and just being struck in a sense of shock and awe watching as Steven Moffat delivers a monologue that caters for all one could ever wish for: Wit, emotion, tributes to the past, material for the future: It’s a continuity dream come true. A moment needs to be put aside to applaud Jenna Coleman – what an actress and what a companion we have in Clara Oswald, her stunning performance throughout the episode reaching its pinnacle in these closing minutes. The marriage of Murray Gold’s breathtaking score, Moffat’s poetry in words, Jenna’s delivery and clips that emphasise the Doctor and Clara’s strengthening friendship, Orson’s farewell and of course the ground-breaking developments in Clara and Danny’s relationship could just make this my favourite scene of all time. Of course the crucial thing that makes this scene so instrumental in the grand narrative of Doctor Who is who it is directed to – a little boy who’s afraid to join the army, a little boy who grows up to be one of the greatest and most terrible men that ever lived, a little boy who grows up to be The Doctor. Yes, Listen is a terrifying episode, but unlike most episodes that send kids running behind the sofa – this scene teaches them that it’s ok to be afraid, that it’s ok to be frightened – because fear makes us stronger. The bravest people are the ones that overcome their fears. It is simply beautiful:
“Listen. This is just a dream. But very clever people can hear dreams. So please just listen. I know you’re afraid, but being afraid is all right. Because didn’t anybody ever tell you, fear is a superpower? Fear can make you faster, and cleverer and stronger. And one day, you’re going to come back to this barn and on that day you are going to be very afraid indeed. But that’s OK. Because if you’re very wise and very strong, fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly, fear can you make you kind. It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark so long as you know it’s OK to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to nothing else listen to this. You’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion. A constant companion always there. But that’s ok, as fear can bring is together. Fear can be bring you home. I’m going to leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all.”