But this past week’s episode, “Listen,” is a standout, not just of the season but of the rebooted series as a whole. It’s one of the most frightening episodes I’ve seen, up there with “Midnight,” “Hide,” “The Waters of Mars,” and, of course, “Blink.” The scariest Doctor Who episodes prey on very primal fears - things that move when you can’t see them, water that will kill you if you touch it (let alone drink it), loss of control over your voice and your movements, and now, of course, what it is that lives in the darkness under the bed.
Steven Moffat has always been an expert at creating monsters that are simultaneously devastatingly ordinary and horrifying - Weeping Angels, anyone? - and the fact that there are perfectly reasonable explanations for every instance of the mysterious creature(s) in “Listen” just makes the other option (that there’s always something hovering just at the edge of your vision, but you can never see it) all the more viscerally terrifying. What’s under the blanket in Rupert’s room in the orphanage? Is it really just a friend playing a trick on him? The image of the out-of-focus figure standing just behind Clara, Rupert, and the Doctor will stay with me for a long time - especially when I’m home alone at night.
I wrote about how much I like the new season of Doctor Who over at Word + Film!