|Production Code||Series 8, Episode 4|
|Dates||September 13, 2014|
With Peter Capaldi,
Written by Steven Moffat Directed by Douglas Mackinnon
Executive Producers: Steven Moffat, Brian Minchin.
|Synopsis: What if there were aliens you could never see?|
A Review by Jacob Licklider 11/11/14
This was one of five episodes that was leaked onto the Internet before it aired and was hyped to be better than Blink so I was very nervous because Moffat's latest track record has been on and off lately. Series 5 and 6A was mostly good, but 6B and 7A couldn't find their footing when Moffat wrote. However, Moffat redeemed himself slightly with The Bells of Saint John, The Name, Night, Day and Time of the Doctor along with Deep Breath and Into the Dalek.
Now I beg you reader. Listen. Listen to me. Listen to a fan explain why you should believe the hype. Listen is a story that put faith back into the writing of Steven Moffat. It may have its problems, but Listen is a story that keeps you on your toes. This is a narrative that plays with your fear of the monster under the bed, which we of course knows doesn't exist, and this is actually used in the story. The story was also very creepy, being the creepiest since either the first half of Hide or Big Finish's The Chimes of Midnight. Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman work off of each other perfectly and Clara is able to actually come across as a character and not just a plot device. The direction by Douglas MacKinnon is shot so well to keep the identity of the creature a mystery.
Many moments stand out, but the biggest would have to be the barn scene in the end. The only faults of the episode would be that Danny Pink meeting the Doctor and Clara seems too similar to Amy and the Doctor meeting and the soldier stuff is really forced.
More Than The Sum Of Its Parts by Donna Bratley 25/3/18
Listen is an odd beast. Much of it is sublime. Parts are cringe-making. Fortunately they're supposed to be, but even so they're the moments where my attention drifts away.
Clara and Danny are meant for each other, apparently. They must be; otherwise, why does she go dashing to his flat having experienced disaster twice over, just for the sake of a snog? The grand romance comes off as a severe case of knicker-interest rather than a meeting of minds, and that Moffat writes their scenes here for such broad comedic effect doesn't help.
As a romantic comedy, I'm sure it's brilliant, but I loathe rom-coms at the best of times. When they interfere with a seriously creepy, clever Doctor Who story they're doubly irritating.
Listen serves to confirm all my gripes with the entire subplot: first and foremost with the way it's written. Coleman and Anderson are fine actors, and they play the first date from hell to a T. I don't feel any particular chemistry between them anywhere in the series, but for once that's actually an advantage.
Taken together, the broad nature of the writing and the lack of "click" all add up to me up wondering why they don't give up the whole relationship before it even starts. Given its importance as the series develops, that's a problem.
Samuel Anderson's second role is much more interesting. Orson Pink's predicament and his possible connection to Clara is a lovely sideline, well-handled and nicely played: the lack of friction between Orson and the Doctor doesn't hurt either. It's tempting to wonder with the gift of hindsight where Orson really fits in - if he ever existed, given the diversions in Clara's timeline to come - but I'm prepared to give Steven Moffat the benefit of the doubt. If for the sake of the bigger picture one or two tweaks have to be made, I'm all for it. Retconning, I think it's called.
As Doctor Who fans, don't we all do that when it suits us?
I certainly do where Clara's little chat with the boy on Gallifrey is concerned. I know who he's supposed to be - we're more or less hit over the head with it - and I don't mind getting a glimpse into his early life, but I do have misgivings about quite how important this particular companion has become in the Doctor's personal history. RTD made Rose the centre of his universe; now Moffat's topping that by putting his creation right at the heart of the legend. I'm not wholly comfortable with either.
Using the Doctor's little pep-talk to Rupert (a nice natural turn from Remi Gooding) to comfort the frightened "boy" is clever: the whole episode is obviously, consciously clever. It's beautifully narrated by Jenna Coleman and it makes its points about fear and the value of companionship so eloquently it even - almost - makes sense of Clara's actions at the end of the episode.
I just wish it didn't play so strongly into the whole "Clara Who" debate.
Because, from where I'm looking, Clara isn't the central element of the show at all, no matter how much emphasis is placed on her romantic travails. They can give her as many lines and as much screen time as they like, and she's still secondary because the star of the show, stealing every scene he gets, is the Twelfth Doctor himself.
Peter Capaldi gets a first real chance to show off his phenomenal range with Listen: from absent-mindedly lecturing himself alone in the TARDIS to that raw moment of fearful anger as he barks "TARDIS. Now!" at his protesting companion. He manages the hairpin turns of mood effortlessly, and it's easy to see why Clara, who seemed to feel she could control the Eleventh Doctor, hasn't got a hope in hell with this one. I couldn't be happier about that.
This Doctor is curious. Dangerously, recklessly, about everything. But he's still careful of other peoples' lives even when he's almost gleefully risking his own. He's willing to tell the odd mild fib to get his own way and he's confident enough in his sidekick that he doesn't let her in on the plan first, just innocently announcing he needs to "recharge the TARDIS" and letting her flounder, albeit briefly. He's also incredibly funny.
Clara's three mirrors; that ever-so-innocent offer to pop forward and check her date's future prospects; the exquisitely shot theft of the unfortunate caretaker's coffee at the children's home. There's nothing forced about the humour; no flailing of limbs or forced "Fantastic!" grins to mar my enjoyment of Steven Moffat's wordplay. Ironically, given all the overblown pre-series hype about a "darker" Doctor, what we've ended up with is, to my mind, a funnier one than we've seen in decades.
Kudos to Douglas Mackinnon for evoking that strange and spooky atmosphere both in Rupert's bedroom and aboard Orson's vessel; and to the sound department, whose contributions I rarely find myself noticing but who added hugely to the sense of creeping unease here. Those screeching pipes; those ghostly knocking sounds. It wasn't difficult to imagine there might actually be something out there beyond the end of Time itself.
Was there? I doubt it. Like the strange creature on young Rupert's bed, which I'd love to believe was more than a mischievous fellow resident but can't, those monsters were the product of an over-active mind that let itself stop for too long. Throw in a common nightmare and the vaguest wisp of an unhappy childhood memory (the look on Jenna's face when Clara grabs the child Doctor's ankle and she realises this whole mad scrape's her fault is priceless) and the ingredients, for a bored traveller, are all there, waiting to be mixed into something more than the sum of their parts.
Much, in fact, like Listen itself. I'm not sure I rate it as high as many people do - the date scenes drag on far too long - but in essence it's a scary piece that puts the Doctor right at the heart of the action. How can I not love it for that?
"Clearest Blue" by Thomas Cookson 18/8/19
My enthusiasm had been rather deflated by Robot of Sherwood, where Capaldi's manic Malcolm Tucker shtick grew out of control, and I just stopped believing in the character. I'd expected Capaldi to be a Tom Baker-esque force of nature. Instead, he'd been surprisingly wafer thin and even bland. Given little to do except await his cue to complain with a hyperbolic caustic remark. Scripts doing little to challenge him to fight for the character's essence.
Perhaps a deeper running problem stems from Day of the Retcon. The worst time for Moffat to conceive Hurt's War Doctor was right before conceiving another new, radically old-school Doctor. The inspiration that shaped Hurt's Doctor unfortunately left Capaldi with mere leftovers. A diet version of Hurt.
There's also Moffat's retconning Gallifrey's fate, undoing the Doctor's burden and loss. This virtually was his defining characterisation for seven years. Without it, he's a character without context. I'd hoped we'd see the Doctor reborn anew with a catharsis and quest to find Gallifrey. Sadly, that hadn't transpired. Instead, Moffat's just been contriving new things for Capaldi to brood about. Asserting new arbitrary unprecedented truisms about the Doctor each episode, whilst simultaneously retconning past Doctors into blander versions of themselves. Unfortunately, to accommodate these arbitrary truisms of who Moffat's Doctor now is, he's no qualms about jettisoning previously established character foundations.
Listen seems to be Moffat's attempt to substitute a new troubled past for the Doctor, which inevitably isn't as interesting as what it replaces and in fact renders the Doctor a far blander character. It does nicely exhibit a uniqueness to Capaldi's incarnation. He's following Sherlock's insatiably inquisitive instincts, but in ways Sherlock wouldn't care to. Seeking to decode a distant childhood memory Sherlock would've simply buried as irrelevant but which the Doctor has his hearts set on understanding.
The idea of humanity's long existence being forever plagued by invisible, unseen companions had potential to go somewhere interesting. It'd been done before (the Silents), but Series 8 offered a clean slate to work from.
Capaldi's seeking these hidden lifeforms out of curiosity. Possibly pitying their lonely, furtive existence. Wanting to understand them, learn whether they're a threat. Maybe discover his hidden constant companion (potentially his world's only other survivor). Taking something that provokes instinctive fear and instead embracing their alien-ness as Doctor Who does best. The story's earnest and cuts back on humor enough to work.
What's strange is Listen does satisfy, yet simultaneously doesn't. It has more in common with a minisode, yet its constricting 45 minute runtime only gives us half a story.
Clara's relationship with Danny seemed a contrived emergency measure to flesh her out. I never found it added to Clara's character. In fact, it's the part of the episode I'd rather skip, with nothing seeming missing for their absence. I feel no chemistry between them. Maybe it's the scripting, the spark not being there between actors, but ultimately their relationship's awkward false starts and faux pas make it seem a non-starter rather than one laced with difficulties and obstacles that prove worth overcoming for the emotional rewards.
Moffat's contrived Clara and Danny's dysfunctional character traits, but his writing's become repetitive and superficial with overemphasis on snark. We're told repeatedly Danny has raw wounds that Clara's indelicacy keeps rubbing salt into, because Moffat can only write Clara as a snarky smart-mouth and keeps repeating the same scenarios. It's tired. There's no energy or enthusiasm propelling the characters together, moving them through the developmental stages of romance. It's all dead on arrival.
Danny's sexually aggressive quip about going 'straight for afters' leaves a sour aftertaste. Being reduced to a 'desert course' and his seeming impatience to skip the date and get straight to sex would've probably left Clara feeling disrespected and regarded as a piece of meat. Perhaps sex was on her mind too, but not to the point she didn't want to wait till the mood was right and she was sure. Frankly, his remark would've been at least a turn-off, probably giving her ringing alarm bells.
Danny's PTSD might mean he's the one most scared by intimacy. His mind racing, everything muddled up in order and sequence. It's likely sex scares him. That even whilst drawn to pornographic thoughts, it simultaneously makes his state of shock worse. That amidst fears of being judged or rejected, he quickly, carelessly exaggerated his sexual prowess in overcompensation. This insight doesn't come across, however, because Moffat's always ridiculously over-emphasising masculine libidos, using Danny's condition to show comical ways Clara can carelessly rub his sorest wounds.
In hindsight, we're meant to learn something secret about Danny here. That Clara's quip about him threatening unruly Courtney is meant to trigger that he's killed a child. It's a stretch that Clara's supposedly saying more than she realized, despite already knowing a former soldier certainly might've killed someone. What she'd said was no innocent mistake, but Moffat crassly plays it as one because she didn't quite know who he'd killed.
On paper, perhaps "Coming from you, that'd mean something", was meant innocently. Merely admiring Danny's teaching methods and knack for commanding pupils' respect better than her. Unfortunately, assuming such self-depreciating humility from Clara is difficult when her default characterisation is arrogant smugness. Her line comes off as sassy and cruel. Like a vulture picking vulnerable, raw wounds. She'd never made 'killer' quips about Matt's Time War. It makes Clara seem like an incredibly insensitive idiot we wouldn't want to be around.
Listen drew marmite reactions. Some consider it Moffat's best. Somehow fans who bashed The Rings of Akhaten preferred this, even though Clara meeting Merry and striking a natural rapport was easily better than this, whereupon learning young Rupert's name, he throws a hissy fit about hating it and intending to change it.
Claudia Boleyn complained that Clara entering Rupert's room was inappropriate and similarly singled out Clara's later sneak attack-hugging a protesting Capaldi (likely thinking 'Okay! I'm putting a cat-bell on her!'). I dread the cold PC world Claudia lobbies for, where Clara can't express tactile fondness without a hundred permission slips. But her complaint does highlight Clara's borderline unstable behaviour elsewhere this season and pathological disregard for others' boundaries.
This is worryingly symptomatic of Moffat giving female companions personality disorders rather than characterization. Made worse by his cruelly orchestrating the finale around pushing Clara completely over the edge.
Clara's interplay with Rupert is sweetly innocent, involving nothing subversive or perverse. We cut away from their windowsill chat, so maybe Rupert invited her offscreen. Clearly Clara's concerned with investigating this lead in Capaldi's personal monster hunt and feeling guilty seeing Danny as a scared child. The ambiguous 'monster' scene leaves major misleading loose ends under the bedsheets I knew Moffat wouldn't get around to resolving anytime.
The TARDIS's telepathic-guided flight feature somewhat makes it plausible Capaldi might accidentally land in his Gallifreyan childhood. The question why he hasn't tried before is perhaps answered by The Fires of Pompeii. He can't face it. But somehow this feels an unearned indulgence.
It's well set-up. Placing us firmly in Clara's shoes and instincts as she tries calming this frightened boy. What plays out is a beautiful, welcome reminder of the gentle, caring, nurturing Clara from Matt's swansong, making a soothing, brushstroke story capstone. But I'm uncomfortable seeing Hartnell's Doctor represented as another Moffaty, generic sobbing lonely child.
This retcon's not as interesting as what it replaces. Ideally, the Doctor's a character of infinite, alien possibilities of growth, stemming from infinite, alien possibilities about his mysterious origins (inspiring McCoy's darker, Machiavellian characterization). The problem is, now his origins feel far less mysterious or alien, rendering the Doctor's past frankly banal. It's the oldest Moffat cliche in the book. Having his characters touched by the Doctor at an early age. Perhaps reflecting how the show enchanted his childhood.
Was this simply too soon? I'm unsure Listen would work were Capaldi's Doctor not ostensibly still new to existence, coming to re-understand the universe. Whilst simultaneously, that Capaldi's an older Doctor questioning the long scope of his life in existential crisis, also works.
What doesn't is the pay-off. If we're to believe some childhood event shaped his paranoia about creatures under the bed, we'd want it to be something truly terrifying and formidable. Not some contrived, inconvenient misunderstanding involving Clara. Even as a child, the Doctor should take a lot more to scare, but we find him already weeping to sleep, nightly. To quote Hartnell, "The children of my civilization would be insulted."
Moreover, Capaldi himself's denied the catharsis of discovering the truth. It remains Clara's secret. I could live with this, but I sure didn't want Moffat venturing further into the Doctor's past. Fortunately certain ambiguities remain preserved. The guardian adults weren't necessarily his parents. Possibly boarding school wardens.
But does it enrich the Doctor? It's providing no real insight into him. We don't see the origins of his intellect or instincts. Hartnell and Capaldi's Doctors are so steely I just don't see this cliched fearful child within them.
Many hated Clara being insinuated as the retconned inspiration for who the Doctor became. That his learned wisdom really came from Clara repeating his older quotes to his younger self, which somewhat devalues his wisdom. Clara then insists Capaldi promise to leave and never ask where they've been. Smith's Doctor would've understood Clara's trying to protect him and wouldn't be saying this without good reason. Capaldi's response is indigestibly petty, insisting he doesn't take orders, prompting her contentious "Do as you're told" to spell out she's a 'control freak'. Further making the season occasionally unpleasant viewing.
The problem is things are catching up with the show. They've created a cantankerous new Doctor yet clearly don't know what to do with him but make his complaints about human idiosyncrasies ever more petty and asinine. Rather than showing a natural dynamic of how these characters come to develop and bond together around their prickly traits, we get the easy way out. A version of Clara that can't have stable healthy relationships with adult men and can only be humble, loving and kind when with their childhood selves. Her final coupling with Danny merely resembles pity sex.
I mostly liked Listen initially and didn't come away thinking it did particular damage to series lore. But it's not as clever as it thinks. It's not a City of Death-esque life-changing viewing (how could it, when it essentially gives the Doctor a Disney childhood?). Any residual transformative effect it has is arguably the wrong kind.
Like Waters of Mars or The Happiness Patrol, it feels sublime during watching. But when reflecting on it afterwards, it seems a far more cringey, hollow, lost journey somehow. A bit too sub-Coupling, and sub-Disney saccharine cliche.
Perhaps that's what I mean when saying it's merely an extended TARDISode. It's intriguing, there's a nice finish to it, but it's also skippable. The ending perhaps only feels like overegging the sentimentality because it's a bait and switch of what we're expecting. Something frightening. Something different.
But somehow, from hereon my interest in Who started gradually waning. Capaldi continually failed to compel me. Maybe Listen did something terribly wrong. It exposed the Doctor being wrong and mistaken to an irrational degree. Afterwards, he no longer had the authority of being right in his instincts that usually drive a given story. If this story proved a pointless waste of energies in fruitless pursuit of shadows, so could any other. I now felt unable to care like I once did.
Very clever people can hear dreams by Hugh Sturgess 4/1/20
As with Heaven Sent, the immediate reaction to Listen was to declare it a classic. It's worth pondering for a while that Steven Moffat managed to achieve the feat of two insta-classics in as many years, and his Doctor Who career is littered with other episodes immediately regarded as historically great stories, like The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances and Blink. Despite writing for Doctor Who for twelve years, he still produced stuff at the end that almost everyone recognised as the best of the best on a regular basis. There comes a point when this stops being a string of stand-out high points and becomes the new normal. Even Moffat's lowest points exceeded the best of plenty of writers.
Listen is great, and everyone who likes it is right to, but it is Steven Moffat showing off, no doubt. It is meticulously structured episode designed to look effortless. It's a big statement about Doctor Who that exists as a budget-saving bottle episode that needs only three new locations and two new actors. It's a sleight of hand that takes an unremarkable slot in the season, designed to make up the costs sunk on the big expenses elsewhere in the season, and tells what is probably the most conscious "message" story of the lot. The comparison to Blink, a standalone episode with an imperative for a title and a monster connected to vision, is instructive. Listen introduces itself as forty-five minutes of scares, but it ends up being something entirely different. It's a mark of how much Moffat has changed (and I think grown) as a writer that it takes the form of a classic "Moffaty" monster story, yet constructs something completely different in its ruins.
Moffat wrote Listen to, in his words, "prove I could still write". I'm not sure it is groundbreaking enough in itself to do that. Awkward relationships, creatures that play on a childhood fear, a nursery rhyme, the Doctor meeting the companion as a child, people meeting out of order - this isn't at all new ground for Moffat, but rather a distillation of everything he regularly does. Given that the episode plays around with the Doctor Who mythos by focussing on the Doctor's childhood fears, while Clara has a timey-wimey date with Danny, it almost qualifies as the definitive statement of Moffat Who. What Listen is displaying is a new kind of confidence on Moffat's part. In 2013, he took Doctor Who to the top of the charts as most-watched program of the week, something only previously achieved by Russell T Davies at the height of his popularity. Listen, and a lot of the Capaldi era, feels like the work of a man who has allowed himself to recognise the towering heights of his profession that he has scaled, and has decided to make the most of it. Doctor Who is Moffat's, and it will obey him.
Doctor Who canon is entirely additive. Nothing is ever "corrected" or erased. It never bothers to retcon away contradictions or reboot the narrative to simplify it, a la Crisis on Infinite Earths. Everything is simply overwritten, new bits are added, and trying to make any sizeable part of it be internally coherent is impossible. This is a show that suddenly decided seven years in that the Doctor had two hearts, after all. It isn't merely a show that doesn't care overmuch about its own fictional universe, but one that is almost antithetical to the idea of one. Having got away with a new Doctor slotted in where none had existed before, Moffat has fully embraced that anti-devotion to canon, and does so in the most ostentatious way. We go back to the Doctor's childhood and find him hiding in the barn from Day of the Doctor because he didn't want to become a soldier. Clara is the Doctor's monster under the bed, who teaches him both a crucial line from 100,000 BC ("Fear makes companions of us all") and the description that has come to define the Doctor's character ("Fear doesn't have to make you cruel or cowardly"). The most straightforward way to read this is that Clara sows the seeds that make the Doctor who he is. This is deliberately goading a certain segment of fandom, which bemoaned Clara's outsized role in the Doctor's life in The Name of the Doctor for flipping the power dynamic between Doctor and companion too much. Based on this episode's reception, that segment is a lot smaller than we might have thought. As ever, Moffat justifies this potentially blasphemous overwriting, akin to scrawling his name on the origins of the series, by executing it perfectly.
The small scale of the story adds to the liminal, numinous atmosphere of the episode. In a story about dreams, every location (the restaurant, the children's home, the last planet, Gallifrey) is set at night. The Doctor wakes up in the middle of the night and decides to investigate his bad dreams. The spaces of the story are isolated, protean and unreal. With dark around them, Rupert's room or the restaurant are islands of light disconnected from the rest of the world. In any other story, the ability of the Doctor and Clara to wander into a children's home in the middle of the night without the caretaker showing a great deal of concern, or Orson Pink walking around a restaurant in a spacesuit with no one but Clara noticing, would stretch the suspension of disbelief. In Listen, it adds to the dreamlike quality of the entire narrative. Even the TARDIS is put subtly off-kilter by the opening shot of the Doctor sitting on its roof, in space, and later his long lecture that amounts to breaking the fourth wall. As with the Doctor's spin as Orpheus in Dark Water, there's a real sense that the TARDIS truly can go anywhere, even into the dreams of a child. So much of this story has been seen before in other, less distorted forms that you could theorise that it takes place inside the Doctor's dreams.
The Doctor's putative "creatures that live to hide" are the culmination of every one of Moffat's perceptual tricks - monsters that can never be seen or heard or perceived in any way. The episode's premise, of the Doctor chasing monsters that can never be seen, liminal creatures hiding at the edge of the world, again makes the story feel strangely unreal or ghostly. The Doctor's search is for an absence, which can't be recognised or reasoned with; when he encounters the creature under the bedspread, his only plan is to turn his back and encourage it to leave. The much-vaunted ambiguity of the existence of the monsters seems to me overstated. Rupert is right: no one came into the room, and they would have noticed a child climbing onto the bed. If the thing under the blanket is another child, they are very casual about finding two strangers inside the children's home, and the blurry, half-seen image of what's under the blanket does not look human. It (and the later encounter at the end of the universe) is so clearly uncanny that the episode only gets away with the "there were never any monsters" ending by dint of its dreamlike quality.
It even manages to get away with the fascinating dead end that is Orson Pink. When Moffat wrote this episode, he must have known that Danny was going die in Dark Water, so why did he introduce a character so clearly descended from Clara and Danny? The most likely possibility is that in the original draft Danny did come back from the Nethersphere, but it was changed when Jenna Coleman decided to stay on for the another season. Alternatively, the important "thing" that Clara wants to tell Danny seconds before he is killed, which requires her to preface with a declaration of undying love, could be a pregnancy. We have no idea how much time elapses between Death in Heaven and Last Christmas, but there are hints that it's been quite a while. Enough time has passed for a "younger brood" of the Zygons to be reared (even allowing for accelerated maturation, surely a single year is pushing it?) and for Riggsy to move from doing community service in Bristol to having a girlfriend, a child and a job in London. The "old Clara" dream in Last Christmas might be Clara's subconscious indicating that a while has passed.
So maybe enough time passes for Clara to give birth to Danny's child and put him up for adoption. For all that Clara demonstrates a strong maternal instinct in Listen, comforting both Rupert and the young pre-Doctor, and admitted she did want children in Kill the Moon, it is not all beyond the bounds of her character to give away a baby. It is a testament to the strength of Jenna Coleman's performance and the writing for Clara that one can entertain this idea without it seeming wildly out of character. Maybe she had postnatal depression and decided she couldn't raise a child on her own, and the freestanding house where she is sleeping in Last Christmas is a friend's or family member's. As Clara is something of a pathological liar, we shouldn't be surprised that she would never mention a child - except, perhaps, in the words she tells the Doctor in the Cloisters in Hell Bent, that he later remembers only as a song...
Maybe she gave the baby to the family of the boy Danny killed and saved. That would be a wild fanfic I wouldn't mind reading. It would at least get around the Euro- and Anglocentrism of humanity's first time-traveller being British.
In any case, Clara is given a lot to do in Listen, and Coleman is predictably excellent. Her nurturing, maternal side with Rupert and the young Doctor, her awkwardness and anger with Danny, her relationship with the Doctor - she has three quite different personas, but they feel like aspects of a real person. She feels like the sort of person the Doctor would consider his closest friend and confidante.
This could have gone really wrong. It could have appeared vainglorious or ridiculous or mind-numbingly cliched (returning to the Doctor's childhood issues?!), but even some of Moffat's greatest detractors liked Listen. None of this is new for Moffat, and if you hate his work you should hate this most of all. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Listen is how it is perfectly structured and, not beautifully written but efficiently written, so that it avoids all these problems. Listen is an elegant spiral through Steven Moffat's entire writing career, from teaching (Chalk) and awkward relationships (Joking Apart, Coupling) through all the obsessions and themes of his Doctor Who work. This is Moffat setting up memorials for himself and his time on the show. He has this to point to and say, "This is what Doctor Who was when I wrote it," a thing in itself, a discrete work that encapsulates everything he's ever wanted to say about the characters and the mythos and structure of the show.