What’s that, creeping up behind you, in the corner of your eye? Why, it’s The Companion Piece of course – Hex Dimension‘s weekly examination of the latest Doctor Who! I’m sorry to announce that Emily will not be joining us from now on (she’s drinking tea in the Promised Land) but here to fill her shoes this week is Matthew King. Because having two Pauls wasn’t already confusing enough.
Please don’t read on unless you’ve seen the episode Listen, because this is one you definitely don’t want spoiled.
So, after some chilly meditation on the roof of the TARDIS (how’d he even get up there?) the Doctor this week wants to settle an age-old mystery. It’s a quest that takes him to the very ends of the universe, and deep inside himself. In the words of the Doctor, there’s a very obvious question I’m about to ask you…
Have you had that dream?
I’ve had a few but not that one. I’ve never been worried about monsters under my bed as I’ve always had my trusty nightlight.
Has anyone ever had the habit of talking to themselves, though?
Umm, I’ve had a similar dream many years ago, although I never felt something grab my leg.
The whole monster under the bed was creepy though, that I really related to especially as a young kid.
I have talked to myself – they locked me up for a while, but I escaped. Shhhh.
Nope. Never really had quite the same thing. I’ve had a dream within a dream, but not quite like that. Doctorception.
But I talk to myself all the time. Sometimes I answer too.
I talk to myself all the time, Matthew… and Matthew.
But if I’ve ever had the dream I don’t remember it. So already that’s four of us who haven’t. The Doctor’s wrong about everyone having the dream – and that seems to be a running theme this series. He was wrong about Daleks, wrong about Robin Hood, and very wrong about everything this week. Capaldi seems very fallible compared to past Doctors, and I wonder why we think that is?
I was going to save that bombshell until later in the conversation, but yes. Every episode he has to be proved wrong.
If I was a Scottish viewer, I’d be pissed! The only series with a Scottish Doctor and he’s constantly wrong!
I think it’s become a bit too much of a “thing”, a bit like the “no flirting” and the “darker Doctor”.
Well I think that he might be putting a bit too much crazy then what Matt Smith did with his incarnation.
He does seem a little more fallible but then he’s never been perfect.
I don’t think he was as wrong last night as he was with Robin Hood. He wasn’t wrong about everything – there was certainly a creature that appeared on the bed of Rupert Pink.
Ok, that’s something we’ll have to get into. Who thinks the monsters were real?
I don’t. Mass hysteria (err, tri-hysteria?) maybe…
I really wanted to see what those creatures were, for me there was definitely something there. It just so happened that the Doctor was fearful of that same dream when we visited his past.
You also got to see a shimmer of something underneath the blanket just before they turned around. Unless it was the cameraman and they didn’t pick up on it.
It really left another item unexplained.
They seem to have done that quite a bit recently…
I like that it’s ambiguous on purpose, so you can believe in the monsters if you want, but for me the episode seemed pretty clear that it was just a kid on the bed, and that all the noises were just pressure changes.
It didn’t even occur to me that you might read it the other way. It’s like the top falling in Inception – and that’s kind of awesome!
I would like to have thought it was a baby Silence.
Certainly makes you wait if it has any relevance to that Promised land place that they’ve been showing.
True, was just thinking that, perhaps it will tie in with Missy at a later point.
…Maybe it was a young Clara…?
Think about it, without the thought about what’s in the darkness hiding, The Doctor may not have become who he is today…
Well, maybe there were monsters and maybe there weren’t. Either way – what do we think of an episode where we never actually see a monster, and it may not even exist? Pretty bold, if nothing else.
I think it was one of Moffat’s strongest scripts in a while. Nearly meeting the brilliance of Blink.
It kept you guessing and on the edge of your seat, the atmosphere was just intense.
Yeah, it’s actually one that I really liked. Which is kind of a first for this season so far.
I’d say it’s the strongest episode in three years. It told us loads about the characters, everything tied together in a clever, meaningful way, the time-travel element informed the plot rather than just the location, and the monsters – even though I don’t think there were any monsters – were still the scariest since the Silence.
I loved this episode.
So, is Moffat off the hook?
I haven’t really minded his work that much.
It’s a good step in the right direction, let’s just wait till the end I’d the season though.
I mostly forgave him for the last two crappy years after the anniversary special – but yeah, now he’s properly off the hook.
It was also a fantastic introduction to Danny Pink.
Yeah that was quite a twist and half with the future relative.
Now he has me intrigued, he could prove to be a rather interesting addition to the mix.
Yes, so long as he’s handled correctly.
Yeah – I really like Danny and what they’re doing with him. And I liked the way this whole episode was sort of built around one really bad date.
Do we think Orson was his and Clara’s descendant? Or is that too obvious?
I was wondering if it was just Danny in the future. Though unsure why he’d lie about his identity.
There’s certainly a little twist there, Orson seemed to know more than he was letting on as well.
Especially with the “family history” line.
Definitely keeping cards close to his chest. I’m thinking we may see more of Orson.
It felt kinda obvious, especially with the toy solider.
I liked the soldier, because we’re meant to think it represents Danny but, of course, it doesn’t at all.
Though, wouldn’t the Doctor have recognised it when Clara and Rupert were playing with it on the bed?
True it’s all just a matter of time. It’s an interesting item though considering the hate we’ve seen from the Doctor towards soldiers the last few weeks.
Why would he recognise it? The bed scene happened before the end of the universe scene.
But Clara left the toy soldier with the Doctor at the end, when he was just a child, didn’t she?
I think (and yes, I know, quite out of character for me), but the Doctor is meant to be over 1000 years old…
Well he’s always seemed to be running from his past, so maybe he just doesn’t want to remember.
He did forget about writing “LISTEN” on the blackboard, I suppose.
He wasn’t running away from stuff this week, though – he was looking for trouble. And I love the way Capaldi smiles when there’s trouble. This new Doctor seems almost excited by danger and fear – which I suppose is what his “stronger harder faster” speech was about.
He does seem to get a little glint in his eye, I’m really growing to like Capaldi more and more each week.
I’m kinda hoping he doesn’t act too much of an actual raggedy man.
I think he appears more helpless than previous Doctors. Which is interesting…
Speaking of previous Doctors, it’s time for our weekly classic-series question:
At the end of the episode, the Doctor’s parents (maybe?) were talking about him never going to the Academy and becoming a Timelord – which suggests that not all Gallifreyans are Timelords, and that it’s a job-description not a species.
Is that heresy and retconning, or was that already an established fact?
It’s never been a clear fact and in several classic episodes there seemed to be other Gallifreyans that weren’t classed as Time Lords. Other characters who weren’t Gallifreyans even were sometimes classed as Time Lords. In the audio adventures and some of the new adventure novels, for instance, Ace is sent to the Time Lord university.
You know it would actually be a big twist if that boy turned out to be The Master.
Oh wow. That would be pretty incredible. And the drums are why he’s always crying…
I think the link has been established though with the short bit with the War Doctor though.
Oh yeah, forgot that part with the War Doctor.
Yeah I liked that little twist, another question solved – it was nice to see the importance of the barn.
That’s something I really want to bring up actually. There were a few weird montages like that this episode, as well as a lot of intercut flashbacks.
It had a weird opening and a really weird ending that was actually a bit confusing (did she leave that soldier there or not? Whose eye was that?) not to mention the strange way they had glowy blue lensflares all over the monster-in-the-sheets bit. It just seemed a weirdly constructed episode to me, with some very strange editing choices.
I thought it added to the overall tone of the episode, but that’s just me.
I thought maybe there was a bit that was cut, as I couldn’t quite understand how the Doctor was simultaneously knocked unconscious as well as hanging on when the airlock blew.
Yeah, that sort of thing. I felt like the filmmaking this week let down the excellent script. Though it did all feel a bit dream-like as a result, which is fitting for an episode all about dreams.
Apart from that, though, I can’t really fault this one. It had all the ingredients of my favourite Doctor Who episodes. The time-travel mattered, the monsters (imaginary or not) were creepy and scary, and yet both of those things served an emotional story that helped us to understand the characters. That’s what Moffat does best, and that’s what he did this week.
It also helps that both our main characters had some meat to chew on this episode. Capaldi, and especially Coleman, were both great this week, and they’re impressing me more and more as the series goes on.
It was a fairly dull episode for me, maybe the quietest episode so far.
There wasn’t much running, but the air lock door opening was probably the only exciting element to it. It almost felt a bit soap drama to me.
This was the best episode so far this season, it kept you on the edge of your seat and Capaldi thrived throughout. The proper introduction of Mr Pink has made him an interesting addition to the roster and I can’t wait to see more of him. Mr Moffat returned on form with one of his best stories in years. I just hope the rest of the season remains as strong.
Definitely an improvement. Hopefully they can continue to gain momentum, because unfortunately if this season fails, it could both spell disaster for the future of the series and potentially make people lose faith in British Sci-Fi.
But yes, the episode – definitely like. I just hope they solve some of these mysteries before the end of the season.
And that’s it from us this week. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts too. Were there actually any monsters? Or was it all in the Doctor’s head? And why is he so wrong all the time? Let us know in the comments, via social media, or by sending a spaceman into the restaurant to fetch us.
Can anything top this week’s episode? The Companion Piece will be back next week to find out. Join us on Monday, when we break into Time Heist.