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Doctor Who: Listen (Pic: BBC)

After last week’s romp in Sherwood Forest, it’s time to take a trip to the end of the universe and the beginnings of… well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

The Doctor is meditating on the word listen, because he has been developing a theory about the evolution of hiding. What if we talk to ourselves when we’re alone because we’re never alone? After investigating his theory thoroughly, he discovers that someone, or something, has written the actual word listen in his handwriting on his blackboard.

Time to go and fetch Clara, and do some more investigating. Except Clara has just been on a rotten, and spectacularly awkward date with Danny Pink, in which both she and Danny have managed to offend each other—she by mentioning his past as a solder, he by referring to her as “people like you”—rather than crack on with having a nice evening.

Thankfully the Doctor is on hand back at her flat to offer advice and support. Oh hang on, there’s no advice or support, because he needs her for a thing.

His new theory is that everyone has the same nightmare. That everyone wakes up—or thinks they wake up—in the dead of night, and finds that everything feels weird. Putting their feet to the floor, a hand reaches out from under the bed and grabs their ankle. Has Clara had that dream? Has the Doctor? Oh Clara has, and now we’re off to a hitherto unseen panel of the TARDIS console, the distinctly clammy telepathic interface. The Doctor wants to visit Clara at the point she had the dream, and see if any of it was real.

Unfortunately. Danny rings just at the point that Clara is supposed to be fixating on her childhood, and they end up in a children’s home in Gloucester. Right time, wrong place. And there’s a boy waving from the window that looks quite a bit like Danny Pink. Except his name is Rupert; Rupert Pink.

As the Doctor goes inside to investigate beds and monsters and have a coffee, Clara starts chatting to Rupert in his bedroom. He’s terrified of something under his bed, because he’s had the dream. To prove there’s nothing there, Clara climbs under the bed, and Rupert follows. Except now the bed is moving, and there’s a figure on top, hidden under a blanket. And the Doctor, who is suddenly in the room, is looking for Wally (as in the U.K. version of Where’s Waldo?) in all the wrong books. He then lectures Rupert on the biology of fear, claiming that being scared is a superpower, a source of heightened abilities.

He insists that they all turn their backs on the blanketed figure and shut their eyes. And then instructs the blanketed figure, having slipped the blanket off, to leave. Which it obligingly does.

In order to calm Rupert down, Clara arranges his toy soldiers, singling out one as the boss. Rupert names him “Dan the soldier man,” which rather freaks Clara out. The Doctor then scrambles his memory, giving him a dream about being Dan the soldier man, which rather proves that he IS the younger Danny Pink. This freaks Clara out even further.

Time for Clara to go back and give that date with Danny one more try. And it nearly works. It really nearly works. Except she calls Danny Rupert, which then freaks Danny out. And now it’s his turn to freak out. And he didn’t even see the man in the space-suit—in the middle of restaurant—beckoning Clara to follow him.

She assumes it’s the Doctor again, but this time it’s… is that… Danny? No it’s Colonel Orson Pink, from 100 years into Clara’s future. The TARDIS has rounded him up from the other end of time. Literally. He was the first human time-traveller, but overshot his target, and ended up on the last planet in the universe at the end of time. The Doctor promises him a trip back to his own time, but claims that the TARDIS needs to recharge overnight. This then freaks Orson out, begging not to be left there for another night.

As Clara shows Orson into the TARDIS, she comes across a box containing Rupert’s toy soldier Dan. And to really, really freak Clara out, he claims that time travel is something that runs in his family, possibly their family?

Later on, the Doctor and Clara sit by the locked door in Orson’s ship, wondering what could be on the other side that would require Orson to write “Don’t open this door” on it, given that everything is now dead. There are spooky noises, a knock at the door. Or is it the hull cooling? Only one way to find out. As he unlocks the door, and it starts to open itself, the Doctor insists, very bossily, that Clara go and wait in the TARDIS.

The air-shell has been breached, which means the Doctor is being sucked out into the void outside the ship, so Orson fetches him in, but he’s been hit in the head by something, and is unconscious. So, Clara once again utilizes the TARDISes telepathic interface to fly out of there. They end up in a barn with a bed in it. In the bed there’s a crying child. Is it Rupert? Orson? Just as Clara is about to find out who he is, there are voices, discussing why this child is in a barn (he doesn’t want the other kids to hear him crying) and why he is crying (he’s going into the army). Clara hides under the bed, just as the voices reveal that the boy is crying because he doesn’t want to go into the army, but he’ll never make it as a… as a… Time Lord.

Yep. It very probably means exactly what you think it does.

As the boy awakes and puts his feet down to find out who is there, Clara grabs his ankle and starts to talk. She tells him to lie back down and go to sleep. She tells him to listen. She tells him his fear is a superpower, that fear will make him kind, and that the next time he comes back to this barn—as the War Doctor, carrying the Moment and ready to destroy Gallifrey—he will be wise and strong enough to be kind. Clara is the monster hiding under the Doctor’s bed, and she tells him that his fear will make him a superhero, and that it is his greatest companion. And she leaves him Dan the soldier man as proof.

Back in the TARDIS, Clara bossily orders the nowadays Doctor never to inquire as to where they landed. And gives him a big hug. Then, having said goodbye to Orson, sets off to put things right with Danny, seeing as he may well prove to be significant in her own future.

Next time: “Time Heist”

See more:
5 of the Doctor’s Greatest Moments of Fear
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Robot of Sherwood’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Into The Dalek’
‘Doctor Who’ Recap: ‘Deep Breath’

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By Fraser McAlpine