Pop the streamers! Crack open the champagne! Series 8 has reached a good episode…sort of. It only took four attempts. Listen has a great premise, a decent execution, and opens up some new mysteries around Danny Pink. Unfortunately it’s let down by an ending that left me (and I’m sure others) thinking “Nah”. Spoilers for tonight's episode ahead.
Up until the last five minutes I was completely on board. It was scary, entertaining, and one scene in particular had me on the edge of my seat. The story takes the Doctor into the past and to the very end of the universe as he attempts to discover what lies under everyone’s bed. Playing on childish fears and nightmares is something that has been done before in Doctor Who, but never to the point of the “monsters under the bed”.
This carries over to the segment of the episode set in the future, which holds the series’ most tense moment as the Doctor prepares to face off against his foe. The door slowly opens, the monitor in the TARDIS flickers, TENSION! Then it cuts away. Oh Moffat you little tease you!
But that’s all we get. Yes it was a good, tense episode, but it’s all let down by the ending. Moffat teases us near the beginning with something hiding under a duvet, coming right up behind Clara, and sliding off the duvet to reveal something that’s clearly not human, which should not be looked at according to the Doctor. Holy tension Batman. Then it’s gone. Nothing more is seen of it. Is it the same thing that opens the door in the future? Who knows? We don’t get to see that either. Someone should probably explain to Moffat that if you’re gonna tease the audience with a blurred image, or something that knocks the Doctor unconscious, we need to have a dramatic reveal in the climax!
Instead, we find out that none of it was real. Clara takes the TARDIS back to the Doctor’s childhood (gasp!), and finds out that the reason the Doctor is so obsessed with it all, is because he suffered from the same fears as a child. As it turns out when Moffat comes up with story that can’t be zapped away by the Doctor’s trusty screwdriver, instead we get left with plot holes big enough to drive a Dalek Crucible through.
Although, they aren’t necessarily plot holes. Moffat makes the audience to choose between plot holes, or an excruciatingly unsatisfying ending. The plot holes come in the form of “what was under the duvet?” “What opened the door?” “What knocked the Doctor out?”. As these events were happening, people were saying things like “perhaps it’s another child playing a joke?” “it’s pressure locked, so unlocking it may cause it to open”, “He could have been hit by the debris when the air shell breached”. As it turns out, these perfectly plausible explanations are supposed to be taken as truth…really Moffat? Really?
At the end of the day, Listen is a great episode with some great thrills, but in an attempt at a twist ending, Moffat just ruined everything the last 40 minutes had achieved, and instead of a dramatic turn, seemed like a cheap cop out. With a little more thought, and perhaps a double episode to give the Doctor more time to battle something, Listen could have been one of the best episodes in recent years. A great idea is executed well, but squandered in its resolution. Even with these problems though, this is definitely the best episode of this series yet.