First, if you haven't already, catch up here with REVIEW - DEEP BREATH
Catch up the 2nd episode of the series here with REVIEW - INTO THE DALEK
Catch up the 3rd episode of the series here with REVIEW - ROBOT OF SHERWOOD
Listen turned out to be the scariest episode in Series 8 we've had so far. It was also the most unusual, the weirdest, creepiest piece so far with just a smidgen of timey-wimey thrown into the mix. Well, maybe more than just a smidgen. I mentioned that Listen was the story I was most looking forward to. After watching it, I can say that it was indeed the highlight of series 8 so far!
It wasn't perfect though, but it was closer than any other story in series 8 has gotten so far. Taking on a rather different feel when it came to format, it was more like a high dive into the mind and psyche of the Doctor, analyzing what happens when he doesn't materialize the TARDIS in some strange and exotic location and helping people who can't help themselves. When he stays put and let's his mind wander. We learn from the episode that this is a bad idea to have happen.
The side plot had Clara and Danny going on a date and showing us exactly how first dates are NOT supposed to go. Clara still makes cheap, unfunny war jokes, but Danny somehow forgives her. He in turn does something to piss her off. Not entirely sure what, but it happened. You guys know that Clara is becoming (or has been) a slowly developing pain with her beyond the impossible personality and influence. Her Clara-Sueness if you will. For the most part, I quite enjoyed her character. She is shown making mistakes and retreating when things don't go her way and that speaks volumes about her personality.
Samuel Anderson had two roles in this. He played Danny Pink, awkward dinner date to Clara Oswald and also Orson Pink, stranded time traveler from one hundred years in the future. I found Orson a little lacking in some places - as if it wasn't made clear why exactly he was put in the story or how he should deal with everything that comes next. I do feel for him though. Stranded at the end of everything for six months will dampen your communication and social skills. The possibility of a creature who never gets seen right outside the door is also quite scary. I mean come on - he had to write 'don't open' in fluorescent ink.
The true star of the story was indeed Peter Capaldi who put in the best performance as the 12th Doctor yet. Okay, he's only had four stories, but as good as his portrayal was last week, comparing it to this week would be like trying to fart against thunder. A lot of bits had him coming across as mad - properly 'I belong in a mental institution' mad. A lot of the scares seemed to come from how unhinged he was; as if he was going out of his way to try and out-scare the thing that was haunting this episode. Truly great stuff. This week had the Doctor tumbling down the proverbial rabbit hole and instead of landing in Wonderland, he ended up dragging Clara into the madness of his own thoughts and ideas.
This week's script felt like Moffat's greatest hits all rolled into one. It dealt with blinking (Blink), looking away (The Impossible Astronaut), monsters underneath the bed (The Girl in the Fireplace), eerie nursery rhymes (The Wedding of River Song) and even breathing (Deep Breath). It also fused these elements with a common child phobia - tetraphobia - which is the fear of monsters. It's like the Sinister Six of Steven Moffat - only with one missing. Fatal Five maybe?
1) Piloting the TARDIS
2) Piloting the TARDIS to Gallifrey which has a special lock preventing the planet and it's inhabitants from communicating with others that are from the past OR future
3) revealed as the source of a powerful influence on the development of the Doctor just became too much.
The Doctor has lost all importance. He is now a paper champion. He owes his life to Clara a million times over, he owes his new regeneration cycle to her, he owes her for saving Gallifrey, ...list goes on..., he now owes her even more by her being the reason he is who he is. Clara, according to Listen, made the hero known as the Doctor. I can't be the only one who has issue with that. Clara is the reason the Doctor can't do anything right anymore. She outshines him in every episode.
I truly hope and pray Clara leaves at the end of series 8 because she is slowly turning the show into Clara Who and that is not a show I like to watch. Since she showed up, Doctor Who has slowly been becoming one of my favorite shows, but not my favorite anymore. There are probably at least three that I think is better right now. Here's hoping something changes.
Rating this episode: 8/10. Fantastic beginning and middle, but a lackluster finish.