This week ‘Doctor Who‘ went back into creepy territory with its fourth episode ‘Listen‘ and it did it in great style. This is by far the high point of the season so far with Capaldi brining so much uniqueness to the role that by the end we were nearly saying ‘Matt who? David what?!’.
The story of ‘Listen‘ became a little convoluted at times: were we learning about Danny Pink? Was it a tale of the Doctor? Was it Clara’s story? But actually it was a little bit of all of them. Moffat has crafted a brilliant, mature story which was grounded firmly in reality and yet at times it took place amongst the stars. Opening with a brilliant monologue from Capaldi the episode dived in to Clara’s personal life to find her on a failing date with fellow teacher Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) finding a new level of normalcy in the Who-verse before catapulting itself in to the psychological drama of monsters under the bed.
I want to start with Clara. Still a talking point amongst fans she is genuinely brilliant in this episode, amongst all the brilliant elements she stands out as one of the best. She shows a great emotional breadth in this episode, taking control of her own destiny she comes across as feisty and strong yet in comforting the young Doctor and also Rupert she shows the gentle side that we’ve all come to love whether we like to admit to it or not.
Moffat has always talked about his love of completing stories and bringing in elements from the past to round them off and here he does so by returning to the barn from ‘Day of the Doctor‘ and even bringing in a momentary flash of John Hurt just to drive the point hime. With that we get a huge reminder that Clara if The Impossible Girl and still taking care of the Doctor even when she’s using his own words to do so.
This episode has cemented the relationship between Clara and Capaldi’s Doctor which is really nice to see so early in the season. There’s still a great playfulness between them which is not lost even with the darkness that Capaldi brings to the role. Capaldi himself really comes in to his own here, his Doctor has become sure of himself although focussed still delivers some extremely hilarious one liners which stray completely from the obvious in to the extraordinary.
There’s a subtlety to his delivery that has been absent from ‘Doctor Who‘ for a while now, Matt Smith was more subtle than David Tennant and Tennant was not subtle in the slightest. There was nothing wrong with either portrayal of the character and certainly nothing wrong with Capaldi’s it’s great to see each Doctor has their own nuisances but right now, for me, Capaldi is just taking it to new levels of awesome with his trendy, grumpy portrayal.
Sam Anderson does a great job of stepping up his portrayal of Danny in this episode, this is the most time he’s spent on screen so far, albeit as two different characters, there’s a great chemistry between Danny and Clara which is undoubtedly going to be explored further and at this stage all fears that this could be the Ponds 2.0 have been dissuaded.
The story itself was brilliant, it was equally as subtle as Capaldi and never delved in to full on scares. It was a truly psychological experience throughout which went in directions that never strayed in to the obvious. In fact there’s potentially more to be delved in to which is unresolved at the end of the episode.
‘Listen‘ had every opportunity to be second degree remake of ‘Blink‘ but again ‘Who‘ moved away from convention and created a truly unique episode that was both scary but also heartwarming. Like last weeks ‘Robot of Sherwood‘ (reviewed here!) there’s no development towards the overarching story this week but in its place we do get a huge amount of development towards the show itself.
I can’t lie, my love of ‘Doctor Who‘ wavered (only slightly) during the Matt Smith years, only because I felt that some of the stories were not up to the level that Tennant was given over his tenure but Capaldi has me back to counting the days between episodes!