It’s been a long time since Steven Moffat has penned one of these kinds of episodes for Doctor Who: the self-contained episode that explores the darker and dingier side of human emotions. It’s been almost two years since “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe,” which was the last episode of this kind. Let’s get this straight out there—this episode is sure to rock the fan base. Fans the world over are already flocking to their keyboards to let their thoughts out. It’s one hell of a ride.
The episode begins with a moody, nuanced soliloquy from the Doctor explaining the idea of the type of being that could be the “perfect hider”—a being that could be following each and every person throughout their entire lives without being noticed. (It does sound like he’s talking about the Silence again, though. Maybe he forgot about them.)
Many people have described Capaldi’s Doctor as being something of a scientist testing his theories so far, and we see that on full display here. His already signature chalkboard musings are front and center and his monologue sounds increasingly like a hypothesis as it goes on. It culminates with the spookily tantalizing revelation that someone, or something, has written the word LISTEN on the Doctor’s board.
Next we get a Pulp Fiction-like timeline account of Clara’s first date with Danny Pink. What starts as a fun and flirty date hits a few bumps and then eventually ends with Clara’s angry exit when her and Danny start to upset each other. As she retreats into her bedroom, she runs into the Doctor who is, once again, hilariously unsympathetic to Clara’s troubles and wants her help in tracking down this perfect hider.
The Doctor explains the origin of his curiosity for this potential being: the dream everyone has where something grabs his or her foot from under the bed. He describes it in such terrifyingly intimate detail—pretty much guaranteeing everybody watching this episode will have that dream if they haven’t yet. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. Clara, meanwhile, plays the Scully to the Doctor’s Mulder and remains doubtful about there ever being such a being. To prove its existence, the Doctor hooks Clara up to the TARDIS’ controls and tells her to think about the time and place where she had that dream herself, but she gets distracted by the thought of Danny.
They wind up outside a children’s home that the Doctor insists is Clara’s because the timeline is right, despite Clara’s protestation that she has never been to such a place because, incidentally, she grew up with a loving family—which the Doctor has met. While the Doctor heads inside, Clara strikes up a conversation with a boy named Rupert Pink through his bedroom window. Inside the Doctor gets his spook on to creep out an unfortunate night watchman by regaling him with the possibility of the perfect hider being and then doing his Batman thing of disappearing into thin air.
NEXT: That which goes bump on top of the bed