Doctor Who has always been one of those shows that tentatively balances between the jovial family spirit and the downright petrifying. Ever since its conception, it has made children cower behind the sofa as aliens and monsters terrorized the screens. In New Who, there have been several episodes that have similarly captured that sense of dread and a handful of them were written by Steven Moffat. The show runner, even in isolated scripts during Russell T Davis’ era, has proved repeatedly he can give very good reasons for our (ir)rational fears. For example, Blink made those life-like statues monstrous and The Forest In The Library made us all afraid of the dark. Well, in Listen, Moffat is back in full force, to spook us all.
The crux of the episode relies on subverting our conscious and subconscious fears. With Listen, Moffat’s skill at digging under the skin is highly unnerving. Relying on our childhood nightmares and the shadows we make out in the night, Moffat has written a stellar episode that has poignant parts as well as tense ones. Intellectually weaving different parts of both Clara and The Doctor’s pasts and adding a ghostly villain that I am sure we’ve all faced, Moffat delicately builds on the fright. The chills spiral down your skin and the hairs on your neck stand up, it is a thrilling episode.
Of course, as with any creepy horror story, there are a few mysterious points that will go without explanation – leaving us turning to fan theories and more. Plus the new addition of Danny Pink, a character who is transcending time not for The Doctor’s sake, is grabbing us in similar ways to Bad Wolf and River Song. Listen is one of the finest episodes written, showing that Moffat has an excellent flare for terrorising our minds. Much like The Doctor is doing, Moffat seems to be tying up many threads (and mistakes) he left dangling in the air, hammering in the fact that he is a magnificent writer (and an Emmy award winning one too).
And seeing as my bed has an empty space beneath it, as I can imagine yours does too, I’ll be sleeping on the sofa. With the lights on.
Oh who am I kidding? I’m never sleeping again.