Doctor Who takes a time jump to the end of the universe, where mastermind Steven Moffat introduces his newest creature creation, as well as life’s final hero, in what will certainly be referred as the episode which helped solidify Capaldi as the Doctor to the show’s many fans.
“Listen,” written by the one and only Steven Moffat, throws Clara (Jenna Coleman) and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) into the world of children’s nightmares, taking them on an adventure to the past and future in search of the beasts who live in secret and wait until all is silent. Elsewhere, Clara’s date with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) leads to a confusing meeting in the far distant future, while the Doctor is saved from his past by finally doing what he is told.
After weeks of genuinely entertaining, though just acceptable tales, this week’s episode serves as a refreshing return to the iconic, fairy tale-esque adventures that Moffat wrote during Russell T. Davies’ years running the series. Coleman, who is essentially thrust into the lead position with this story, comfortably walks through the mentalities of the series’ two main male characters, Danny Pink and the Doctor, allowing the child versions of each to shine as The Impossible Girl calmly reassures them that fear isn’t something to hide from.
Capaldi, too, is gifted with a fun and exciting story, which along the way tempts the Doctor and his many vices to sidestep safety in order to satisfy a curiosity that began at a very young age, in very unfortunate circumstances. Additionally, a mysterious nemesis has been revealed (sans actual reveal).
Once again, as many Moffat episodes so often do, the life of the Doctor outside of the series’ “known” universe has a light shined upon it. Right now, admittedly, it may be a bit difficult to see exactly where the Doctor’s story is headed.
However, if subsequent tales – or even the seasonal story arcs, really – are as carefully planned as episode 4 of this 12-episode season, then there’s no doubt that when the time finally comes, Capaldi and Coleman’s ever-growing performances will be focused toward extremely powerful and, of course, emotional moments worthy of Doctor Who.
Outside of a thrilling glimpse inside childhood influencing one’s behavior and life, Danny Pink (formerly Rupert) received one of the best introductions that a boyfriend and/or male companion has ever received. Perhaps it’s not completely because of Danny Pink, per se, but because of Orson Pink, Danny’s far distant relative who was able to sneakily serve as an entertaining story companion… who just so happens to look exactly like the man we’re supposed to welcome into the TARDIS (and perhaps Clara’s heart) in just a few more episodes.
As Moffat’s reign ages, there’s no doubt that he’s delivering more less-than-stellar episodes than before. Even so, as this is his job, and he does love Doctor Who, this aging is also forcing him to reach for new elements to play with in order to keep himself interested – and honestly, he’s immensely successful when it comes to doing this.
Moffat is able to weave these volatile storylines – “which shouldn’t be touched” – into an adventure worth being told, no matter where in the series’ mythology it takes him. Sure, that means we also receive many episodes where Dalek = “bad” and Doctor = “good.” But it also means that, while a dinosaur may indeed to be in London, there’s also a very young, very terrified Time Lord who, for some reason, grew up to be a hero, and a “silly” girl who really is proving herself to be impossible.
Doctor transitions are always awkward, and this one is no different. Fortunately, as Moffat calms down from his episodic Doctor Who season 8 premiere and is able to focus on actual story arcs, Capaldi’s version of the Doctor continues to grow with each and every scene we see him in. Where this growth will take him, only Moffat knows – but Matt Smith’s fourth episode was the military vs. Weeping Angels, and it’s safe to say that this week’s episode is much more rewarding than that.
Doctor Who returns next Saturday with “Time Heist” @9pm on BBC America. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: