Doctor Who: Is the monster in Listen real?

After perhaps the most baffling episode in Who history, we stack up the evidence for and against

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Shh! Shut up! We’re trying to concentrate! Listen might be the most conceptual episode in the entire history of Doctor Who, a show that includes quantum locked statues and a psychic reflection of the Doctor who lives in people’s dreams. But a monster we never see and might not even exist? You’re blowing our minds, Moffat. 

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So, is there really a monster under your bed, or is it just Clara? Let’s look at the evidence.

The Ontological Monster

The Doctor didn’t bump into this monster, instead he conceived of its existence in a roundabout way. Realising that evolution had produced creatures who are perfect at hunting and defending themselves, he theorises that it would also produce an animal with perfect camouflage, or ‘hiding’. By the nature of this ability, this apex hider would leave no evidence of its own existence.

It sounds like an absurd leap in logic, but Darwin did almost exactly the same thing. Based on his theories of natural selection, he predicted that we would eventually encounter a moth with an extremely long tongue to pollinate long stemmed orchids. And we did. 130 years after he made the prediction.

Who wrote on the chalkboard?

Tardis interior. Dark. The Doctor is alone. He writes three words on a blackboard, turns around. When he glances back he finds a new word scratched in chalk: “Listen”.

Who wrote it? Clara says it looks like the Doctor’s handwriting, but as the Doctor says “I couldn’t have written it and forgotten, could I?” Clara suggests he could but we don’t think so. He’s kooky, not crazy. Chalk up some empirical evidence for the monster’s existence.

Who’s been standing in my bed?

Surely no kid is creepy enough to stand silently on someone else’s bed then, glowering, without giggling and with a sheet on their head, listen as the Doctor delivers a lecture on fear induced adrenaline? That’s not a prank. That’s just weird.

Creepy Noises

Lotta’ creepy noises in this episode, especially on Orson Pink’s space station at the end of time. What makes creepy noises? Creepy hiding monsters, that’s what. Fact.

Dream Girl

As the Doctor points out, believing someone is under your bed is an extremely common dream. Then again, so is all of your teeth falling out. We are yet to meet the show’s biologically perfect dentist.

Clara’s nighttime visit to the Doctor’s own childhood on Gallifrey may be an explanation for his obsession. Our childhood dreams and fears stick with us: we still panic about missing exams or coming to work naked. Also, through Clara’s psychic interface with the Tardis and Doctor Who’s wibbly-wobbly way of doing things, it’s even possible that Clara gave this dream to people throughout history. 

We never see them

Perhaps too basic to mention, indeed it’s the entire point of the episode, but we never see this monster. Any evidence for its existence is circumstantial. An 11th Century monk could see the flaw in the Doctor stating that because something is conceivable, it must exist. Plus how would such shy, invisible creatures breed? We can’t wait to buy the action figure.

Everything has a rational explanation

It’s not tapping against the door, it’s the pressure seal. The TV wasn’t turned off by ghostly introverts, it’s just broken. Moffat has been careful to give every suspicious incident and freaky coincidence a perfectly rational explanation.

Except this is Doctor Who, so the normal rules of rationality don’t apply.

Wait.

What was that noise?

Shh!

Listen!


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Do you think the monster exists? Debate below!