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Doctor Who 804 “Listen” – Quotable Quotes & Points to Ponder

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This week’s episode had shades of last year’s Hide in it.  Besides covering a “things that go bump in the night” subject, both Listen and Hide had pioneering time travelers from the relatively near future in them.  On top of that, both time travelers were direct descendants of the female protagonist in each episode.  In Hide, Emma Grayling was the empathetic protagonist whose ability to connect with lost souls saved a life from a collapsing pocket universe.  In Listen, Clara Oswald becomes the Doctor’s own Emma Grayling by guiding him with reassuring words when he was just a scared little boy and in turn saving him from his own collapsing personal universe.

This episode was all about fear.  Of course it ended with us learning the Doctor is afraid of the dark, but that his fear also propels him.  As they said, it’s a superpower of sorts.  Young Rupert/Danny and his descendant Orson all share the same fear as the Doctor.  They were all reassured with the same wise words that seemed to appear in a paradox since the Doctor first said them to young Rupert, but then Clara repeats them to the Doctor when he’s a young boy.

Overall, I really liked this episode.  The character dynamics changed again and it was good to see Samuel Anderson finally getting some decent screen time, even if he played his own descendant most of the time.

As promised, all the quotes are below.  Just wade through a few points that popped into my head when I was watching the show and please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments section at the end.  If you spot any errors, omissions, or just something you don’t like let me know.

  • The questions about Danny’s past in the military and his sensitivity to speaking about death still linger and were ever so briefly touched upon in this episode.  Sadly, it was really nothing more than a reminder that he has something sad in his past and not anything revealing the nature of it.
  • Speaking of Danny, his real name is Rupert. The Doctor put him to sleep and gave him a dream about Dan the Soldier Man. Now we know where the name Danny came from.
  • Danny really does like to beat his head against tables, doesn’t he?
  • With the focus on nightmares, this episode felt a little bit like last year’s Hide. Another thing it has in common with that episode is they both feature a pioneering time-traveler from our near future that gets stuck in an impossible place only to be rescued by the Doctor.
  • They really know how to get mileage out of that orange spacesuit, don’t they?
  • I hope I wasn’t the only one who laughed when the Doctor said Orson’s time-travel journey experiment was supposed to fire him into “the middle of next week.”
  • So Clara is Orson’s great grandmother. I guess we all sort of saw that coming.
  • The conversation between Clara and the Doctor at the end of the universe regarding her date was notable for further changing their relationship. With Capaldi they’ve moved away from the Doctor as a romantic interest, but with this conversation he’s become a bit of a father figure.
  • When Orson, Clara, and an unconscious Doctor are in the TARDIS and something’s trying to get in, did you notice the cloister bell ringing? That means even the TARDIS itself is in danger. Not good.
  • What a trip we took in this episode! First the end of the universe then the beginning of the Doctor!
  • Clara literally became the creature under the Doctor’s bed when she psychically moved the TARDIS from the end of the universe. They landed in a barn where a young boy lay crying in a bed. That boy would grow up to be known as the Doctor. Clara sat with the boy and comforted him by telling him it’s okay to be afraid. She used the Doctor’s own speech to young Danny/Rupert on him and added some extras of her own that we’ve heard before.
  • That moment in the barn probably sits as the cornerstone for all the other moments when Clara saved the Doctor after she entered his time stream in The Name of the Doctor. Her words played a pivotal role in making him the man he is now by helping him understand it’s okay to be afraid. Heroes are not people who have no fear, but people who do great things in spite of their fear.
  • Now we know what that raggedy, old barn the War Doctor went into with the Moment was. He headed back to the place where he first learned to accept his fear and become a better man.


(Check out Doctor Who on Three If By Space for all our coverage.)

Now, to the Quotemobile, Robin!


Doctor: Question – Why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone? Conjecture – Because we know we’re not.

 Image courtesy BBC America

Doctor: Question – Why is there no such thing as perfect hiding? Answer – How would you know? Logically, if evolution were to perfect a creature whose primary skill were to hide from view, how could you know it existed? It could be with us every second and we would never know. How would you detect it? Even sense it? Except for those moments when for no clear reason you choose to speak aloud. What would such a creature want? What would it do? Well? What would you do?!


Doctor: Why do you have three mirrors? Why don’t you just turn your head?

Clara: What are you doing in here?

Doctor: You said you had a date. I thought I’d better hide in the bedroom in case you brought him home.


Doctor: A bit early, aren’t you? Did it all go wrong, or is this good by your standards?

Clara: It was a disaster and I’m extremely upset about it since you didn’t ask.


Clara: No, it’s just possible that I might get a phone call.

Doctor: From the date guy? It’s too late, you’ve taken your makeup off.

Clara: No, I haven’t. I’m still wearing my makeup.

Doctor: Alright, okay. Well, you probably just missed a bit.


Doctor: Yes, you know sometimes when you’re talking to yourself? What if you’re not?

Clara: Not what?

Doctor: What if it’s not you you’re talking to. Proposition – What if no one is ever really alone? What if every single living being has a companion, a silent passenger? A shadow. What if the prickle on the back of your neck is the breath of something close behind you?

Clara: How long have you been traveling alone?

Doctor: Perhaps I never have.


Clara: It looks like your handwriting.

Doctor: Well, I couldn’t have written it and forgotten, could I?

Clara: Have you met you?

Image courtesy BBC America

Doctor: I think everybody at some point in their lives has the exact, same nightmare. You wake up, or you think you do, and there’s someone in the dark, someone close, or you think there might be. So you sit up, turn on the light, and the room looks different at night. It ticks and creaks and breathes. And you tell yourself there’s nobody there, nobody watching, nobody listening. Nobody there at all … and you very nearly believe it. You really, really try. And then … <hands reach out and grab ankles>. There are accounts of that dream throughout human history, time and time again, the same dream. Now, there’s a very obvious question I’m about to ask you. Do you know what it is?

Clara: Have you had that dream?

Doctor: Exactly.

Clara: No, that was me asking you. Have you had that dream?

Doctor: I asked first.

Clara: No, I did.

Doctor: You really didn’t.

Clara: Okay. Yeah, probably. Yes. Everybody dreams about something under the bed.

Doctor: Why?


Clara: What is it?

Doctor: TARDIS telepathic interface. You are now in mental contact with the TARDIS so don’t think anything rude.

Clara: Why now?

Doctor: It might end up on all of the screens.


Clara: Never been to Gloucester in my life and I’ve never lived in a children’s home.

Doctor: You’ve probably just forgotten. Have you seen the size of human brains? They’re hilarious. Little you must be in here somewhere with your little brain.


Doctor: <thumbing through book> Where is he?

Clara: Doctor?

Doctor: I can’t find him. Can you find him?

Clara: Find who?

Doctor: Wally.

Clara: Wally?

Doctor: He’s nowhere in this book.

Rupert: It’s not a “Where’s Wally” one.

Doctor: Well, how would you know? Maybe you just haven’t found him yet.

Rupert: He’s not in every book.

Doctor: Really? Well, that’s a few years of my life I’ll be needing back.


Doctor: Let me tell you about scared. Your heart is beating so hard I can feel it through your hands. There’s so much blood and oxygen pumping through your brain it’s like rocket fuel. Right now you could run faster and you can fight harder. You can jump higher than ever in your life and you are so alert it’s like you can slow down time.

What’s wrong with scared? Scared is a superpower! Your superpower! There is danger in this room. And guess what? It’s you. Do you feel it? Do you think he feels it? Do you think he’s scared? Nah. Loser!


Doctor: Imagine a thing that must never be seen. What would it do if you saw it?

Rupert: I don’t know.

Doctor: Neither do I.


Rupert: He took my bedspread.

Doctor: Aw, the human race. You’re never happy, are you?


Rupert: Am I safe now?

Doctor: Nobody’s safe, especially not at night. In the dark anything can get you. All the way up here you’re all alone. <Clara smacks his head> What was that for?

Clara: Shut up. Leave this to me.


Doctor: People don’t need to be lied to.

Clara: People don’t need to be scared by a big, grey-haired stick insect, but here you are. Stay still. Shut up.

Image courtesy BBC America

Clara: You see this one? This one’s the boss one, the Colonel. He’s gonna keep a special eye out.

Rupert: It’s broken, that one. It doesn’t have a gun.

Clara: That’s why he’s the boss. A soldier so brave he doesn’t need a gun. He can keep the whole world safe. What should we call him.

Rupert: Dan.

Clara: Sorry?

Rupert: Dan the Soldier Man. That’s what I call him.


Rupert: Would you read me a story? It’ll help me get to sleep.

Clara: Sure.

Doctor: <walks over to Rupert> Once upon a time … <touches Rupert’s forehead causing him to immediately fall asleep> The end. Dad skills.


Clara: Is that what I look like from the back?

Doctor: It’s fine.

Clara: I was thinking it was good.

Doctor: Really?


Clara: Hello. I’m Clara Oswald. I’m a bit tricky, sometimes a bit up myself and I do not like my surname, but I think that is basically everything you need to worry about.


Danny: Why can’t I speak today?

Clara: It’s that foot you’re keeping in your mouth.


Clara: I am trying to have a date. A real life, actual inter-human date. Just a normal, nice, everyday meeting up sort of thing and I would just like to know is there any other way you can make this any more surreal than it already is? <spacesuit helmet removed to reveal Orson Pink>


Doctor: What’s gone wrong with your face? It’s all eyes. Why are you all eyes? Get them under control.

Image courtesy BBC America

Doctor: This is Colonel Orson Pink from about a hundred years in your future.

Clara: <laughs> Orson Pink.

Doctor: Yeah, I laughed, too. Sorry.


Doctor: Do you have any old family photographs of her? You know, probably quite old and maybe fat looking.


Clara: Where are we?

Doctor: The end of the road. This is it. The end of everything. The last planet.

Clara: The end of the universe?

Doctor: The TARDIS isn’t supposed to come this far, but some idiot turned the safeguards off.


Doctor: Listen.

Clara: To what?

Doctor: Nothing. There’s nothing to hear. There’s nothing anywhere. Not a breath, not a slither, not a click or a tick. All the clock’s stopped. This is the silence at the end of time.


Doctor: Look at him now, Robinson Crusoe at the end of time itself. Last man standing in the universe. I always thought that would be me.

Clara: It’s not a competition.

Doctor: I know it’s not a competition. Of course it isn’t. There’s still time, though.


Doctor: Is she doing the old eyes thing? It’s because her face is so wide. She needs three mirrors.

Image courtesy BBC America

Doctor: What’s the first thing I noticed when I stepped in here? You must’ve seen it, too, Clara, you’ve got eyes out to here.

Clara: Seen what?

Doctor: The universe is dead. Everything that ever was is dead and gone. There’s nothing beyond this door but nothingness forever. So why is it locked?

Danny: Please. Don’t make me spend another night here.

Doctor: Afraid of the dark, but the dark is empty now.

Danny: No. No, it isn’t.


Danny: Why can’t we just leave?

Clara: Like he said, it’s recharging.

Danny: You didn’t look like you believed him.

Clara: That’s just how my face looks when he talks.


Clara: If everybody in the universe is dead then there’s nobody out there.

Doctor: That’s one way of looking at it.

Clara: What’s the other?

Doctor: That’s a hell of a lot of ghosts.

Image courtesy BBC America

Clara:   Do you have your own mood lighting now, because, frankly, the accent is enough.


Clara: What’s that?

Doctor: What kind of explanation would you like?

Clara: A reassuring one?


Doctor: Who were you having dinner with?

Clara: Are you making conversation?

Doctor: I thought that I would give it a try.


Clara: Do I have to bring him to you for approval?

Doctor: Well, I would like to know about his prospects. If you like I can pop ahead and check them out.


Doctor: What’s that in the mirror, or the corner of your eye? What’s that footstep following, but never passing by?

Clara: Did we come to the end of the universe because of a nursery rhyme?


Doctor: Why are you still here?

Clara: Because I am not going to leave you in danger.

Doctor: Then you will never travel with me again because that is the deal. TARDIS, now! Do as you are told!

Clara: You’re an idiot.

Doctor: I know.


Doctor: Perhaps they’re not just waiting. Perhaps when we’re all dead, out they’ll come a-slithering from underneath the bed.


Orson: Have you got a plan?

Clara: Telepathic circuits; I left a trace in them before.

Orson: So?

Clara: So, apparently I can do a thing.

Orson: Well, that’s your plan?

Clara: It’s not a plan, it’s a thing.


Orson: What happened? What did you see? What’s out there?

Clara: What if there was nothing? What if there was never 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?

Doctor: Where are we? Have we moved? Where have we landed?

Clara: Don’t look where we are. Take off and promise me you will never look where we’ve been.

Doctor: Why?

Clara: Just take off, don’t ask questions.

Doctor: I don’t take orders, Clara.

Clara: Do as you’re told.

Image courtesy BBC America

Clara: <to young Doctor> 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 alright. 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 gonna come back to this barn and on that day you’re going to be very afraid indeed. But that’s okay, 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 okay to be afraid of it. So listen. If you listen to anything else, listen to this. You’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. But that’s okay because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I’m gonna leave you something just so you’ll always remember. Fear makes companions of us all. <she leaves Dan the Soldier Man at his bedside>

Image courtesy BBC America


Doctor Who: Time Heist airs Saturday, September 20 at 9/8c on BBC America

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Tom Gardiner