In Review: Doctor Who – “Listen”

The Time Lord and Clara are confronted by ghosts of the past and future.

Synopsis: The Time Lord and Clara are confronted by ghosts of the past and future.

Review: Before I saw ‘Listen’ I had been made aware that many of the advance reviews were mixed and that a few people has said that it was Moffat trying to do a rehash of ‘Blink’, which is fair comment, but the episode I watched wasn’t a rehash of ‘Blink’. It was as frightening and as atmospheric, but the implications of the episode and the reveals, which it included made it so we could know the Doctor a little better. It also further emphasized why its never good for the Doctor to travel alone because not only does he go too far, but during any down time much like most of us humans. He can think so much to the point where he can frighten himself and let fear control him as apposed to being in control.

What Moffat produced here was perhaps the most adult orientated ‘Doctor Who’ episode to date, which for us adults was fun, but it sort of neglected the younger viewers who may have gotten a bit bored by much of the expositional stuff that was happening. If indeed Capaldi’s intensity had not frightened them into quivering wrecks behind the sofa.

The episode is packed with some really good character moments which include Clara trying to get to know the very intense Danny Pink.

In fact thanks to Clara’s psychic link to the Tardis we get to learn a little about Danny Pink’s childhood as well as one of his future great great children Orson Pink.

Moffat makes clever use of the old childhood there’s something under the bed myth.

The whole episode is an exploration of The Doctor’s hidden insecurity and fear and Capaldi conveys it all brilliantly with an absolute powerhouse of a performance.

This episode isn’t for everyone, but its perhaps one of Moffat’s boldest exploration of the Doctor that we have seen for awhile.

Doctor Who -
  • Great character exploration
  • May have been a little to deep and frightening for younger viewers
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
8 Comments on this post.
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    14 September 2014 at 2:20 am -

    It was wonderful, and I’ll definitely be watching the repeat before next week’s new ep. I loved the mythology and tie in with Time of the Doctor. It also explains why so many of his companions are women. Clara was a comfort to that scared little boy.

    It raises an important issue, though. It isn’t just that the Doctor needs companions. He has one in Clara. The problems in the story arose, because she isn’t a live-in companion, which he obviously desperately wants again. In his case, the invisible, hiding creature that’s always there isn’t just fear. He wants the hiding creature to ALWAYS BE THERE.

    I wonder if Moffat is subtly telling us he realizes the disconnect between the structural need for modern companions with kitchen sink lives and the basic character need the Doctor has for a live-in.

  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    14 September 2014 at 1:49 pm -

    I’ve slept on it and had some more thoughts. I get the feeling that there was some Moffat misdirection last night, and we’ve been asking the wrong questions…

    1. We spent so much time focusing on “Listen” on the chalkboard. What has the Doctor been writing in chalk since the premiere? Are those equations part of the Promised Land Arc, The Impossible Girl Arc, or both?

    2. Why does Clara need three mirrors? It was treated as a joke through the episode, but that seeming throwaway was repeated three times during the episode — by the Doctor at the beginning, by Clara at the date with Danny, and by the Doctor again at the end of the universe.

    3. That pivotal scene with Young!Doctor in Gallifrey!Past was so awesome that we forgot to ask two things. First, if the Tardis was slaved to Clara’s Timeline, how did she even get the Tardis there at all. The probable answer is that Clara had been there before as The Impossible Girl. That’s likely why the cloister bell was going off. The Tardis wasn’t just panicked about messing up the Timeline. The Tardis knew Clara was going into Impossible Girl mode again. Second, apart from Clara, how did they reach Gallifrey at any point on its Time Line when Gallifrey was frozen in a pocket universe. Moffat forces us to recall that very fact by tying everything together with the War Doctor. Something is afoot.

  • Iridan
    15 September 2014 at 1:24 am -

    because not only does he go to far

    A little editing would be nice:”too far”

    I liked the episode, but I think Moffat plays it loose with logic. How did ‘listen’ get on the board? He subconsciously wrote it? I think that’s a stretch. And that was a kid on the bed? Again, I think that was another stretch.

  • Gary Mark Wood
    15 September 2014 at 9:00 am -

    just a response, and some very interesting points raissa devereux, but galifrey of the past isnt in a pocket universe, it went into a pocket universe after the doctor from different time streams put it there on the last day of the time war

    • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
      15 September 2014 at 1:42 pm -

      Good point and I thought of that. My counterargument is that Nine and Ten said the Time War effected planets couldn’t be tampered with, because the whole shebang was Time Locked. Time Locked and/or Pocket Universe, my questions still stand.

    • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
      15 September 2014 at 1:57 pm -

      The other option is a that this is just a continuity gaffe, but given Moffat’s penchant for long-term interlocking story arcs I doubt it. Moffat’s got something up his sleeve. Also, I just realized the Pocket Universe itself doesn’t jive with Gallifrey being Time Locked. Oh well. Moffat will come up with exposition to deal with the seeming incongruities and we’ll hash it out for eternity. 🙂

  • Gary Mark Wood
    15 September 2014 at 9:16 am -

    just a theory, but i dont think there was a monster but a manifestation of the doctors fear at the very moment when clara grabs the young doctors ankle before clara reasures him, as for the young doctor crying i think that he had just seen the untempered schism of the time vortex, where they take them young as initiation to becoming a time lord. clara and the doctor are still linked even though events never took place in the name of the doctor, but as time travellers events are remembered, the cloister bell goes off for many reasons, one is when the doctor is in danger as seen in deep breath , it sounds once when the doctor collapses just after recently regenerated,

    • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
      15 September 2014 at 1:45 pm -

      Good observations. However, that stern man said he was going into the army because he’d never make it into the Academy, so he hadn’t seen the schism yet.

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