When you’re alone. you might get the felling that something is watching you…hiding.
Even the Doctor has that feeling, and so does someone else. In this week’s episode, he tries to find out what’s out there…and the answer is one of the best plot twists in a long time.
When an episode starts with the Doctor meditating from on top of the TARDIS…in deep space…that’s a sign this will be an unusual story. He has a theory: “Why do we talk out loud when we know we’re alone? Because we know we’re not.” He wonders if there’s a creature who’s a master at perfect hiding, and why it would use such a skill. It sounds like he’s about to go on a snipe hunt, after dealing with a Dalek and Robin Hood. That is, until he sees someone has written the word “listen” on his blackboard
Meanwhile, Clara (Jenna Coleman) finally has that date with fellow teacher Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson), and it doesn’t quite work out for several reasons. When she gets home, he finds the Doctor there, and has Clara join in his search. “How long have you been traveling alone?” she asks. “Perhaps I never have,” he says. If he’s looking for a nemesis to fight, he’s either bored or alone for too long. He claims at one time or another, everyone has had the same dream: you wake from your bed but you have the feeling you’re not alone, then feel something grab your ankle from under the bed.
So, to find what was under the bed, Clara is mentally linked to the TARDIS by placing her fingers at a certain spot, hoping to land somewhere in her childhood. But she’s distracted by a ringing cell phone, Danny Pink calling, and they land at a children’s home in Gloucester. Thing is, she’s never been there….but a little boy named Rupert Pink (Remi Gooding) is there. Yeah, it’s really Danny, and he doesn’t like being called Rupert.
Clara’s able to assure Rupert that there’s nothing under the bed by being there with him. Just before the Doctor gets there, someone is sitting on the bed, covered in a blanket. He advises Rupert the it’s OK to be afraid, that it makes you more alert. It’s almost like a super power. He tells Rupert just don’t look, and it will leave. Sure enough, it does. Before they go, Clara tells Rupert to use a set of toy soldiers as his army, led by a broken general called…Dan. That little piece will have a lot of significance soon.
Clara returns just in time to improve her date with Danny thanks to a little time-traveling trickery, but she makes things a bit worse. For one thing, she mentions Danny’s real name, and he wonders how she knew that. He says Clara should be honest with him, and she’d like to, but it’s a bit weird. He says he doesn’t do weird, but she is interrupted by a guy in a spacesuit–who is not the Doctor. It’s someone named Orson Pink (Anderson, again), apparently a future descendant of Danny’s from a hundred years from now, who traveled in time . He went too far, and wound up on the edge of the universe at the end of time. Even if he’s alone, Orson is also afraid of what’s out there. He also happens to have the “Dan the soldier man” toy, and senses that Clara looks familiar. It looks like Clara is the Impossible Girl to more than one person.
Anyway, the Doctor wants to know what’s out there, watching. They can’t leave yet because the Doctor says the TARDIS has to recharge, although Clara’s not sure if that’s true. When something seems to be banging on the door of Orson’s ship, the Doctor winds up breaching the air lock, and nearly gets sucked out. Clara uses her mental link to get the TARDIS out of there, and they land…somewhere.
Clara hears a little boy crying in a barn, and thinks it’s Rupert. She hides under the bed while his parents discuss the boy’s crying. The women assures the boy he’ll be OK. The man says the boy will never make it through the academy….that trains Time Lords! They are in Gallifrey, during the Doctor’s childhood.
Whenthe doctercalls to Clara from the TARDIS, the boy starts to get out of bed to investigate. When his feet hit the floor, Clara grabs his ankle. She is actually responsible for the Doctor’s nightmare, but she’s also there to assure the boy it’ll be fine. She uses the same advice the Doctor gave Rupert to assure him.
Meanwhile, the Doctor panics because Clara was gone, but she gets back to tell him and Orson that maybe whatever’s out there is nothing at all, but someone’s personal fear. She tells the Doctor to just leave and promise her he will never look at where they were, but doesn’t say why.
Orson is brought back to his time, and Clara gets back to resume her date with Danny, which goes much better. It’s safe to say their fates will still be connected, and the Doctor and Danny will meet sooner or later.
All the while, Clara tells the young Doctor that this is a dream, but very clever people can hear dreams, She also says he’ll go back to the barn someday, and may be very afraid when that happens. He does…as the War Doctor (John Hurt). “You’re always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it,” she says. “Fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there, but that’s OK because fear can bring us together, fear can bring you home.” She leaves the boy one last thing: Dan the soldier man.
This episode, written by Steven Moffat, gave fans a good look inside the Doctor’s psyche. Even though he’s the hero and legend, he can be afraid, just like anyone. He knows how to use that fear to be brave and that knowledge from a very unlikely place. Maybe there wasn’t an enemy we can’t see, and it turns out to be the point. The Doctor needed a nemesis, and it turned out to be a childhood trauma. It also shows Clara has more of an influence to the Doctor’s life than she thought, not to mention the Pink family line. Some may accuse her of being a Mary Sue for that, but it’s still a good twist.
Still, what was that thing under the covers at Rupert’s room? Maybe it was a manifestation of the fear Rupert, Clara and the Doctor were feeling…except the bedspread that covered it was gone, too. Or, it was something that was freaked out by them, too.
Next week: the Doctor has to rob an unusual bank, and clash with a very powerful bank official played by Keeley Hawes.