This season of Doctor Who has so far been a bit of a mixed bag. While Peter Capaldi’s gruffer, less silly Doctor is a hit, the first few episodes haven’t been as well received. But it’s still early on in season 8 and there are plenty of episodes to go.
This week’s episode – “Listen” – for instance, looks unlike anything we’ve seen this season (or on Doctor Who in a while, for that matter). Written by showrunner Steven Moffat, the episode immediately brings to mind another Moffat-penned episode, “Blink.” And while the similarities hopefully end at a creepy atmosphere and foes hidden out of sight, it’s obvious “Listen” will be another episode best watched with the lights off (or on, if you’re a scaredy-cat).
Details are slim, and this episode’s trailer (above) and an even shorter teaser (below) don’t provide many more. But what they lack in substance, they more than make up for in managing to be really creepy!
If you’re having trouble making out what Capaldi is saying in that second video, he says – ominously – “Don’t. Look. Round.” Clearly the phrase will be this episode’s “Don’t Blink,” but again, let’s remain hopeful “Listen” isn’t a complete rehashing of that episode’s premise, something Moffat has been guilty of in the past.
The episode synopsis for “Listen” doesn’t shed much light on what’s happen either:
When ghosts of past and future crowd into their lives, the Doctor and Clara are thrown into an adventure that takes them to the very end of the universe. What happens when the Doctor is alone? And what scares the grand old man of Time and Space?
However, judging from the promotional images released for the episode (below) we can infer that some of “Listen” takes place at Coal Hill School (where Clara teaches), given the chalkboard motif as well as the reappearance of Samuel Anderson’s Danny Pink, another teacher at Coal Hill first introduced in “Into the Dalek.”
Yet, Danny isn’t the only character Anderson will be playing. As you’ll see in the images below, Anderson also plays astronaut Orson Pink. Brother? Son? Another relative somewhere in the future? That’s more than the likely, but whatever his relation – and reason for uncannily similar appearance – will have to wait for Saturday.
Moffat is prone to trying to make lightning strike twice. And unfortunately, the more he tinkers with an idea or the more he elaborates on one, the more scrutiny they come under. The biggest examples of this are the Weeping Angels and River Song, both intriguing elements he introduced to Doctor Who that only became more complicated and convoluted with each appearance.
And with that track record, it’s easy to see the glaring similarities between “Listen” and “Blink” as an ill omen, but perhaps “Listen” will indeed be a return to pre-2010 Moffat. (Remember back when he was everyone’s favorite writer?)
It’s been some time since he’s written an episode that wasn’t a big finale or a two-parter or giant anniversary special. Maybe all Moffat needs to get back in the swing of things is a simple, scary, one-off adventure.
Doctor Who season 8, episode 4: “Listen” will premiere September 13th on BBC and BBC America.