It’s the classic template the Moff is renowned for – take a childhood fear and make it real. Thanks to him creepy angel statues are potentially deadly, a fear of the dark is completely rational, and a ticking clock could be a robot under the bed. But Listen asked an important question – does it really matter?
Welcome to the only story without a true antagonist (as far as I’m aware, and not counting The Sarah Jane Adventures), and one of the few where the mystery is never really solved. It wasn’t about the monster of the week, and, in some ways, it wasn’t even a character piece – it was a story about basic human (and time lord) fear. For a story that basically built up to nothing, it still achieved a surprising amount of things…
A Few Initial Reactions
- Firstly, I love Clara’s look in this story. But then again, I always envy her, her style is really appealing and Jenna Coleman is almost exactly my height (5’1″ for the win!). It kind of reminded me a little of companion Polly’s look from The Moonbase (1966).
- Wait a second, the Doctor sitting on top of the TARDIS?! You know, in space?! I’d get down from there if I were you Doc, your time machine is erratic and you’re a little too trusting.
- Danny and Clara finally got their date, and it all went adorably wrong. Twice. As awkward as it was to watch, it was also hilarious, and I’m glad it (sort of) worked out for them in the end.
- Can I just point out that Danny is wearing a pink shirt?! I don’t know if it’s deliberate or not, but it’s a cute detail.
- Here’s another question: I wonder if “Courtney” (the “go on, do it” pupil) will have any significance? She’s already appeared in two stories this season, and now Clara’s brought her up. An interesting thing to keep an eye on…
- “You said you were on a date, I thought I’d better hide in the bedroom is case you brought him home” BAHAHAHA I love how the Doctor *pretends* he’s not the awkward Dad when he totally is.
- Clara doesn’t own an iPhone. I should have known she wouldn’t. Give me a second while I write down reason #43672 why I love her.
- Come on Doctor, I thought you’d know why kids convince themselves there’s a monster under the bed – because it’s the only part of the room you can’t see when you’re trying to get to sleep. Duh. It’s the same reason kids are scared of monster in the cupboard. Nice try Moffat, but you can’t get me there.
- Also, I’d expect Twelve to realise that Clara can’t have been in a children’s home in the 90s. He only, oh, went back and looked over her entire life before he met her in The Rings of Akhaten (2013). He watched her parents meet, for crying out loud. He knows she had a loving mother who died in 2005 (when she was a teenager), and that her Dad was still around after that. We’ll just have to ignore that little plot hiccup for now…
- Danny grew up in care? And his real name is Rupert?! AWWWWWWWWWW
- The psychic paper is back! I was beginning to wonder if Twelve would use it, its’ appearances have thinned out a little over the years.
- I’m thinking (and I’m probably wrong) that “Dan the Soldier Man” with the broken gun is some form of clue toward Danny’s time at war. I think he never actually fired a gun, and the person(s) he killed was a total accident. I’m excited to see how it all develops anyway.
- Great “Dad skills” you’ve got there Doctor. I wonder if all your kids enjoyed having their lives ruined via a rushed telepathic bedtime story. It’s pretty clear that the “big old dream about being Dan the Soldier Man” will come back to bite you eventually.
- Although Danny’s awkwardness is starting to get to me, I like that he’s observant. Only someone smart would notice that Clara was missing her coat, that was a nice touch.
- Wait a second, Colonel Orson Pink?! Funnily enough, a lot of things suddenly make sense.
- “The TARDIS isn’t supposed to come this far but some idiot turned the safeguards off.” Yes Doctor, and exactly what ‘other things’ have you managed to turn off over the years, hmm?
- The fact that Orson is a time travelling pioneer is interesting. The Talons of Weng-Chiang (1977) implied that time travel was experimental in the 51st century, and this also raises the question of where pioneer time traveler Hila Tacorien from Hide (2010) originally came from…
- The implication that Clara was related to Orson was really, really interesting. This further adds to my theory that Clara will leave the Doctor to settle down with Danny. But, of course, knowing the Moff, it will never be that simple. It was also interesting how Orson mentioned that only one of his great-grandparents traveled in time. The question is: which one?
- “He’s not going to the academy, is he? He’ll never make a time lord”. Wait, whaaaaa?! Now that is amazingly adorable. I’m accepting as headcannon that this was shortly after the Doctor looked directly into the time vortex for his initiation into the academy (he said they were eight years old, remember?) and that would explain why he’s afraid of the dark. That quote also fuels the many fan debates about what a “time lord” actually is – if it’s an actual race, or a title given to certain Gallifreyans (in other words, are you born a time lord or do you become one?)
- And here, my friends, is where the goldmine for my favourite type of reference – “parallels” – really begins:
- “I can do a thing” “That’s your plan?” “It’s not a plan it’s a thing” – I like to believe that Clara got this from the Eleventh Doctor when she jumped into his timeline (we’ll add it to the headcannon). The quote, of course, mirrors Eleven’s conversation with Amy in Vincent and the Doctor (2010): “You do have a plan, don’t you?” “No. It’s a thing. It’s like a plan, but with more greatness.”
- The first thing Twelve says when he comes around is “Sontarans perverting the course of human history!” which is, of course, the first thing the Fourth Doctor said after he regenerated.
- Clara tells child Doctor that “fear makes companions of all of us”. The Doctor said almost the exact same thing to Barbara in An Unearthly Child (1963)
- Clara telling the Doctor that “one day you’re going to come back” mirrors the First Doctor’s words to Susan in The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964): “one day, I shall come back”
- “What if there was nothing? What if there never was anything? Nothing under the bed, nothing at the door. What if the big bad Time Lord doesn’t want to admit he’s just afraid of the dark?” that has got to be one of the single most ingenious and frustrating episode endings ever.
- I love that the speech that the Doctor gave Rupert was inspired by the one Clara gave him, which was inspired by the speech he gave Rupert. Typical Moffat.
- “No, not the hugging! I’m against the hugging!” haha Twelve is the best.
Next Week: Time Heist
Yay, the episode I’ve been looking forward to most is here! It’s written by Stephen Thompson, who wrote my favourite New-Who story Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS and who I really took a liking to after I read his interview in Doctor Who Magazine. I mean, the Doctor and Clara robbing a bank? AWESOME.
This is just a dream.
But very clever people can hear dreams.
So please, just listen.
I know you’re afraid…
but being afraid is all right.
Because didn’t anybody ever tell you…
..fear is a superpower?
Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger.
And one day, you’re going to come back to this barn,
and on that day you are going to be very afraid indeed.
But that’s OK.
Because if you’re very wise and very strong…
…fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly…
..fear can make you kind.
It doesn’t matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark,
so long as you know it’s OK to be afraid of it.
If you listen to nothing else, listen to this.
You’re always going to be afraid…
..even if you learn to hide it.
Fear is like…
..a constant companion, always there.
But that’s OK, because fear can bring us together.
Fear can bring you home.
I’m going to leave you something, just so you’ll always remember…
..fear makes companions of us all.