I’m surprised to say this, but Listen may be the best episode of Doctor Who since series 5, and there are a few reasons for this.

ALERT – THERE ARE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT

For the second straight week there has been a lack of Missy, which is good.  The season arc isn’t being shoved in our faces and this gives individual stories room to develop without somehow being made to accommodate a larger arc.  Instead, the stories focus on the Doctor and his character.  As such, Listen starts with the Doctor searching to find if there are undiscovered beings who evolved to become perfect at hiding, and as such how do you find these beings?  What’s so great about this episode is ultimately, the Doctor never really finds the answer to this, and while I would have been all for this being a two part story, it was wrapped up rather nicely, more on that in a minute.

Switching over to Clara, we find her on a date with Danny, and it’s not going well at all, but that’s not a big deal, because time travel, except when time travel makes it worse.  Originally they’re getting on fine until she makes a joke about Danny being a soldier in relation to killing people, whereupon his PTSD comes back and understandably he gets

Basically, listen (also, let's note again how cool Capaldi is)

Basically, listen (also, let’s note again how cool Capaldi is)

aggravated about the comment and how people always ignore the good things he did in the war (though, we still don’t know the bad).  After that, Clara leaves, goes home, the Doctor is waiting for her, and after some adventuring, she goes back to Danny, messes up again, goes off adventuring some more, and eventually makes amends with Danny.

But what about the adventuring?  This is the Doctor’s quest to see if there are beings we cannot see.  It’s a search for the unknown, in which the Doctor is as helpless as the rest of the characters, which makes for a chilling change of pace.  For the first time in the show I actually felt the suspense the writer intended (while I greatly enjoyed Blink, I didn’t feel the tense atmosphere they were trying to portray).  The two of them go back to an orphanage and unlike the orphanage in series 6, this one actually plays neatly into both the story and the characters.  The TARDIS is linked to Clara, and brings them to the orphanage because Danny lived there when he was young, and while they did not know that, Clara began to figure it out rather quickly as she found Danny.

Then they go all the way to the end of the universe and find a future relative of Danny’s, who seems to be an eventual result of Clara and Danny getting married (I’m rooting for their relationship).  However, the most important place they are brought to is the last one.  While at the end of the universe, the TARDIS materializes in the ship of Danny’s future relative, and the Doctor opens the door to the outside, which has been locked and written on to not open.  The Doctor decides to open it after he and Clara hear banging coming from around the ship and eventually knocking on the door.  When the Doctor unlocks the door it is opened from the outside.  Clara is forced to go in the TARDIS and all we see of the Doctor is everything being sucked out of the ship once the door is open and the Doctor holding on for dear life.  Future Danny (sorry, I forget the character’s actual name) goes out of the TARDIS and brings the Doctor in.  We never see if any being comes into the ship, all we have is a cut on the Doctor’s head, which could be from objects flying out the door.

Clara attempts to fly the TARDIS away and she does, but where they end up is absolutely brilliant, if not somewhat confusing: Gallifrey.  Yes, they land on Gallifrey, in the very barn the War Doctor goes to in the 50th.  Except now we visit the Doctor’s very early life, when he is just a child, before going to the Academy to become a Time Lord.  The Doctor ran away to the barn (which it seems he did many times) because he was afraid of the dark and what may be out there.  Clara, not knowing where she is, goes up to the bed the Doctor is in, and as she goes there, two people walk in, so she hides under his bed (monster under the bed, afraid of the dark, or Clara what are you about to do?).  When the people leave the Doctor wakes up and sits with his feet on the ground, and Clara grabs his ankle, creating a moment of complete fear for the young Doctor.

This is when Clara shines.  She begins to recall what the Doctor said to earlier in the story about fear creating strength, and she tells this to the Doctor and reassures him everything will be alright.  It’s fantastic because it shows the Doctor has the same fears as everyone else, and they have been with him since childhood.  It allows Clara to further understand why this Doctor isn’t as playful (and why the 11th was) and hides his fears behind a new found maturity (a welcome change if I may say so).  Clara refuses to tell the Doctor where they landed and orders him not to look.

Clara, what have you done?

Clara, what have you done?

This episode was great on many levels.  The relationship between Clara and Danny as well as Clara and the Doctor are superbly written.  There was no interference with any sort of series 8 arc-ness (not a word but I will ignore that) with Missy and the Promised Land.  This was an episode all about the characters we have now.  I can’t express enough how refreshing it is not to waste another episode with Jenny, Strax, and Vastra and it’s especially nice to not have to deal with anymore one-dimensional River Song nonsense.

My only complaint is the paradoxical nature of Clara being the one to be an essential part of the Doctor’s fear of the dark/unknown, but it’s nowhere near as bad as the giant paradox that was series 7 and its Christmas special, so I’ll let it go.

Next week we have an interesting looking episode by the name of Time Heist, here’s the trailer:

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