Can You Hear Me?

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  • #69612
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    Can You Hear Me?

    The Doctor and her friends are stalked through time and space when they head back to Sheffield for a quick visit. Yaz checks in with her family, and Graham and Ryan touch base with their own friends. All three find themselves haunted by unusual signs and a voice calling for help from deep space.

    Soon, the Tardis team will face their darkest fears. But what does any of this have to do with the fearsome Chagaskas terrorising Syria in 1380?

    Ian Gelder, of “Game of Thrones” and “His Dark Materials”, guest stars as the creepy foe in this week’s episode. It also guest stars Clare-Hope Ashitey, who was in “Children of Men” and the Netflix series “Seven Seconds”, and Buom Tihngang, who was in “Spyfall” when Ryan was back with his friends at the start of the series.

    It is written by Charlene James (with Chibnall). Charlene James is a British playwright and screenwriter best known for her play “Cuttin’ It”. I’ll let you look that one up yourself. She is the second ever black writer on Doctor Who following Malorie Blackman last year, who wrote “Rosa”.

    It is directed by Emma Sullivan, who I think is also directing another episode this series. It sounds very interesting but I won’t spoil it here. She has a lot of TV credits including “Doctors”, “Holby City”, “Call the Midwife” and “Silent Witness”.

    #69624
    Craig @craig
    Emperor

    All right – Frankenstein is next.

    #69625
    jomomentor @jomomentor

    I really liked the mid-episode twist of the Doctor being used to free the second villain. “I used your instincts against you” was a great line too. https://dexterdiscuss.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/doctor-who-season-12-episode-7-discussion-can-you-hear-me/

    #69626
    Spider @spider

    That was better! I really liked what they did with this one. It felt far far more character driven. The villains felt a bit pantomime and shallow in the end, the actors were very good but there really wasn’t much there – and the Doctor did defeat them a bit too easily.  But I can completely forgive that because they were just the backdrop to the real story – our fears,  nightmares and doubts. Very mental health focused and personally I thought they handled this very well.

    This was all about the companions and a ‘grounding’ of where they all are – shown by throwing them back ‘home’ again and the contrast with their travels – always a great mirror to hold up (when it is done well and I really think this was).

    Finally we get more of Yaz’s background! That was really interesting. Also how all it takes is one person’s kindness, listening, advising (even when the person being advised does not want to know) to help put someone on a better path.

    Ryan seeing his best mate again and realising how much of that he might be missing. I think he must also be thinking about his Dad – how much his Dad missed by being away when Ryan was growing up. Ryan might be the one to actually walk away from his life with the Doctor – I had not tagged him in this category up until now but I am now.

    I also liked there was also a note played that you can’t just wave a magic wand and make things ‘all better’  – played out with a slight comedy twist with Graham trying to open up about his fears to the Doctor and she utterly not getting it and being rather awkward about it.

    There were a few points in this episode I saw the 12<sup>th</sup> Doctor peeking through in 13. That was really welcome because up until now I’ve thought that era was being a little glossed over.

    At one point I thought the prisoner was going to be the lone cyberman – I was convinced the creepy fingers in the spaceship were very silver looking. I loved the way the Doctor was tricked into solving the puzzle / opening the lock – of course she couldn’t help herself!

    Lots to look back and unpick more in this one I think (not something I could say about some of the other episodes this series!).

    (\(\;;/)/)

    #69628
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Here I am, on the wild, windswept coast of an island off the coast of Canada, waiting with bated breath for reactions to the latested episode, and (except for the noble exceptions of @spider and @jomomentor), nothing…

    Where is everyone? I know that the government has been taken over by something worse than alien invaders, but…

     

    #69629
    Davros @davros

    I didn’t dislike this episode but it certainly had an odd structure. Half MOTW with a twist, half Community Service Announcement about mental health.

    There was more of a contribution from Ryan in this episode, but overall I’m still not content. Maybe they needed to cast someone closer to the character’s age: he doesn’t have the energy of a very young man, and he’s just not enthusiastic about the material. Same can be said for Yasmin. We were reminded again in her conversation with the policewoman that she is 21 (3 years ago, she was in school), but Mandip Gill is 32, and she looks and moves like a 32 year old, she bears the emotional weight of a 32 year old.

    For whatever reason, I’m just not emotionally connecting with these companions in the way I did with Rose, Martha, Jack, Donna, Rory, Amy, Clara, Bill, even Nardole, or even some of the characters with fewer appearances like River, Jackie, Pete, Kate Stewart, Osgood, Wilf. They are still very blah to me, and after 17 episodes that shouldn’t be the case. I don’t know whether it is down to the directing or writing choices or what.

    #69630
    MissRori @missrori

    This one came off to me as half filler episode with regards to the Immortals’ plot, half oh-no-we-forgot-the-companions-have-lives catching up episode (with, as @davros notes, a bit of PSA thrown in).  The bit with the Timeless Child seemed thrown in as a bone for anybody actually concerned about this season’s story arc, given that the Doctor and TARDIS fam can’t seem to care much.  Unless next week’s episode turns out to be a “Face the Raven”-esque prelude to the season finale episodes…

    #69631
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @blenkinsopthebrave

    Maybe the ennui is just setting in. Not that this was a bad ep. I’d maybe count it as among the better episodes of s12. I liked the Syria setting and kind of wish that they’d stayed there a bit longer. It was also good to see the ‘fam’ (shudder) having their backstories filled in a bit more. I rather wish we’d seen some hints of Yaz’s mental health history a lot earlier, so we could have seen it seeded through the episodes. A companion dealing with those sorts of issues while travelling in the TARDIS would have been very interesting. Having said that, I’m not sure that I found the portrayal of Yaz’s depression wholly convincing – certainly not compared to Tony Curran’s as Van Gogh (although that was obviously a far more extreme example of mental illness). As a whole, I think Vincent and the Doctor is the more compelling story about these themes but I’m always glad when they get highlighted in something like Who. (I’m also left wondering if Yaz would really have been put on frontline policing duties if she’d had pretty recent mental health issues.)

    And then there’s that horrifically emotionally tone-deaf scene with Graham and the Doctor. Yes, I get that the Doc is alien and her responses are going to be unexpected but that seemed to fly in the face of the core compassion of just about any other Doctor. Again, with Vincent and the Doctor, we see 11 (very much a socially awkward Doctor) able to comfort Amy after Vincent’s suicide. We’ve also seen 12 evolve from emotional isolation to embracing kindness. Has the Doc forgotten all that. And if she undergoes an emotional reset every time she regenerates, that strikes me as kinda problematic. And I guess what particularly jars is that it’s only a couple of episodes since she was in an isolated, lonely place and the fam rallied round for her. What with this and the mindwiping, I’m really not that keen on this Doc. My complaint last year was that there was no depth to her. Now we’re seeing plenty of depth but it’s rather revealing her to be a bit of a dick.

    But in lighter matters, the actual plot of this ep was pretty interesting and Ian Gelder and his co-God were genuinely creepy and brought some genuine old-school Who scares to proceedings. I liked the little animated sequence too — although it was perhaps a little bit too much of an obvious Gaiman-ey rip-off from Good Omens. Wasn’t crazy about the fanwanky cruff of the references to the Guardians and the Toymaker. It didn’t really add anything to the episode and was, if anything, rather self-consciously distracting.

    #69632
    Rob @rob

    Bit of a manic weekend so only managed to watch this late last night (bits of site being blown around entailing a trip to Somerset and back with added chainsaws).

    We both enjoyed Can You Hear Me, Zellin was properly sinister,  the fingers in your ears, another flashback to hiding behind the sofa.

    I get what your saying @jimthefish but perhaps the reason for the social awkwardness was to counter aha the Doctor is a woman touchy feely trope (not sure i agree with my own point here and rapidly disappearing into a loop of being an ism when not being is-ist or making any sense)

    Liked the history and modern resonances

    Mental health openly discussed another trick

    Graham is a human version of the Doctor,  running away from problems in the Tardis surely a salient lesson for our Doctor?

    Time for more coffee  as I thought the Doctor saw the Timeless Child in her nightmare or was I dreaming too

    #69635
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @blenkinsopthebrave      I watch on iTunes, so I don’t see it until Monday morning. Having just done so, I can now say that I really enjoyed this! I found it properly creepy, and interesting watching all the threads come together. I enjoyed the looks at the “real life” stories of the companions.

    @jimthefish    For what it’s worth, I think that society generally doesn’t always take seriously the mental health issues of teenagers. I can imagine it being glossed over by Yaz’s superiors if she now seems solid (especially if there were a need to be filled).

    @rob    It’s a good point, though. I like the idea of taking the first female Doctor in the opposite of an emotional direction. And I actually felt that it would have been clear to Graham, who is very intuitive, that the Doctor wasn’t unsympathetic to what he was telling her. But as she is a Doctor who is very much about rolling up her sleeves, getting to work, and fixing things, she might have been at a loss as his problem isn’t one that can actually be fixed as such. It’s actually a pretty common communication challenge.

    I loved Tibo’s story about going out to the store for human contact, and finding nothing but self-serve checkouts! This is a pet peeve of mine, and fortunately they are still not common in grocery stores here. I can relate to the value of a five-minute chat with the person ringing up my groceries! Human beings, and so on.

    #69636
    Mudlark @mudlark

    The first thing that struck me about this episode were the parallels with Listen, and not just in the sequence of the titles – Listen, Can You Hear Me?  Both dealt with the hidden fears which lurk in our subconscious and in our nightmares; the insecurities and doubts which generate the monsters under the bed and the bogeymen haunting the shadows, although in this case it was more specifically in relation to adolescent and adult depression and anxiety rather than childhood terrors. Zellin and his  detachable fingers – a literal digital storage system – were certainly scary and creepy enough to inspire some more sadistically minded younger viewers with a means to terrorise their even younger siblings.

    Listen is no doubt the better written and better crafted of the two, but for me this was nevertheless effective, and the ‘message’ was delivered with a little more finesse than in Orphan 55 or even Praxeus. Tahira’s problems, which appear to include kleptomania, are somewhat sketchily outlined but, traumatised by the deaths of her family (? – the date is too late for the crusades but about right for the Black Death) and seeking asylum in the hospital in Aleppo, she is perhaps intended to foreshadow the mental casualties of more recent disasters and conflicts; otherwise the inclusion of someone from medieval Syria seems a bit unnecessary, even if it does provide a picturesque setting.  Buom Tihngang as Tibo portrayed an image of clinical depression that I think most of us who have ever suffered from this condition would recognise. Yas’s teenage problems are covered chiefly in flashback; she has evidently come to terms with them to a large extent, but Zellin is still able to exploit the insecurity which lurks below the surface, just as he is able to tap Graham’s suppressed anxiety about the possible resurgence of his cancer as well as his grief and survivor’s guilt over Grace’s death. Ryan turns out in many ways to be the most grounded of the ‘fam’, but he is prompted to voice the dilemma which inevitably faces everyone who travels with the Doctor for any length of time.

    The Doctor’s crass avoidance when Graham tries to confide in her about his anxieties is, as @jimthefish says, jarring in the extreme, and a regression from Smith Doctor’s socially awkward but well intentioned bumbling or Capaldi Doctor’s increasing capacity for empathy and ultimate exhortation to ‘be kind’, although it might be seen as a rather clumsy call back to the latter’s initial unwillingness to engage. On the other hand, the Doctor here is  preoccupied with her own fears and worries, aroused by the cryptic information imparted by the Master and aggravated by Zellin’s intervention, and she, unlike the others, is still keeping these fears and worries to herself.

    Capaldi Doctor told us that fear is a superpower which enables us to confront and overcome  what threatens us, and so it proves here, when Tahira learns to face and therefore control the monsters which Zellin has made manifest from her nightmares* and then used to trap people so that he may continue to feed their terrors to Rakaya.  Controlling them she and the Doctor can then turn these monsters of the mind back onto the Immortals in order to trap them in their turn and imprison them for eternity with only their own fears to entertain them. This is the Doctor at his/her most implacable in meting out justice to monsters, as in Family of Blood.

    ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods’,  and these immortals are if anything even worse than the capricious gods of Olympus as described in the Iliad, who take sides and play with the lives of mortals as if they were pieces on a gaming board; but the stakes in this game are not just the lives of mortals but their minds and their mental integrity.

    The Eternals have their games, the Guardians have their power struggles. For me this dimension is a beautiful board for a game. The Toymaker would approve’. These references harking back to episodes in BG Who are almost certainly just a nod to long term viewers and the more dedicated fans and not of any particular significance in the narrative arc,  though one never knows.

    * Shades of Forbidden Planet

     

     

     

    #69637
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    It’s about memory. Not fanwankery – memory. I’d have to check the individual episodes to see if I can spot the set, but the two themes running through that I’ve spotted so far are genetics and the Doctors’ pasts. I don’t think it’s really possible to do an arc about whether the Doctor and the Master’s pasts are based on a lie (everything we know is a lie) without considerable name-checking and confirmation of what they and we the audience actually do know.

    Celestial Toymaker is Hartnell, Eternals are Davison and Guardians are Baker T. Zellin referencing them is a way of confirming that the Doctor’s memories of the Hartnell, Davison and Baker T. eras do correspond to an external reality, because Zellin also knows about the beings he/she’s encountered. Giving them a namecheck is a way of reminding/reassuring the audience that the Hartnell, Baker T. and Davison Doctors are real within the Whoniverse, that the Whittaker Doctor has memories which are real memories of events within the Whoniverse.

    Captain Jack has just assured us (by turning up) that the Eccleston and Tennant eras were real. Possibly the Master’s Wicked Witch of the West joke was a way of reminding us that Missy and Capaldi happened.

    Once we’ve confirmed what is actually known, we can proceed with the ‘everything she knows is a lie’ plot. The question being whether the lie is hiding behind the external reality that we know? Did what we thought we saw have a different meaning? Or is the lie that the reality she remembers is not the whole of her life? That the Time Lords are not who she always thought they were?

    #69638
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    Oh, yeah, and I forgot the obvious theme: everything we think we know is a lie.

    Spyfall – the man we think is an agent on our side (O) is actually the Master.
    Orphan 55 – the holiday resort planet is just a dome, the ‘alien’ planet is our own Earth.
    Fugitive of the Judoon – the human tour guide is really The Doctor.
    Praxeus – the helpful scientist is an alien conducting deadly experiments
    Can You Hear Me – the trapped ‘victim’ is an evil immortal.

    In each case we see – but we don’t understand. There’s something else (or someone else) hiding behind what we’re seeing.

    #69639
    Davros @davros

    I was so busy being grumpy that I forgot to mention what I liked about the ep.

    The 14th century Aleppo setting was nice and fresh, and a little bit of real historical knowledge was imparted. The first hospitals, in any meaningful sense, were set up in the Islamic golden age, and in particular the Mamluk Sultanate effectively had a form of universal healthcare, where the sick were treated at public expense. I liked Tahira as well.

    When I first got a look at Zellin, I thought of the Black Guardian from the Fifth Doctor era. I was a bit off the mark. The Black Guardian was in league with some of the Eternals. There was another story involving an Eternal and the Seventh Doctor. They’ve been mentioned a few times in the new-Who era but this is their first on-screen appearance. So for me the reference to The Guardians was apt but the Toymaker, not so much.

    Ian Gelder, who played Zellin, also played Dekker in Torchwood: Children of Earth (“That child’s going to fry”), so he’s got some experience at being unnerving. Once Zellin and Rakaya got together, their energy seemed to drop, which seemed weird for a baddy released from captivity… wouldn’t she be mad keen to start doing some damage?

    The floating nightmare-fingers were an original idea and sufficiently creepy. And I’ll admit, they caught me napping with regard to the twist. In and of themselves, the personal stories and fears of Yaz, Ryan, Graham and Tibo felt real, relatable, and I don’t object to DW doing some real-world good as long as it is not too clunky. Interesting The Doctor fears is the Timeless Child: did you all get any context clues from the Child’s location or appearance?

    As to the Doctor’s inability to comfort Graham: that felt right. In character. Yeah, 9 and 10 were better at that kind of thing, but “New Mouth, New Rules”. Even good people have weaknesses, flaws.

    #69640
    Charlie Cook @charlie-cook

    At the risk of being attacked by everyone here, I am going to put my head above the parapet and say, with the exception of the truly excellent Judoon episode, and ok plus Praxeus episode, I have found this series underwhelming so far.
    <div></div>
    <div>I can’t put my finger on why I am not enjoying them. Part of the problem is with three companions to write for, the stories are too fragmented. The back stories are getting in the way, and slowing down, the main story.</div>
    <div></div>
    <div>It is a pity, because I enjoy watching Jodie, her character reminds me of Colin Baker, but the screen is just too full.</div>

    #69641
    Davros @davros

    @charlie-cook I don’t think this is the kind of place where people get attacked for minority opinions…
    I mean what are we? Trekkies? 😉

    #69642
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Well, I tend to be rather skeptical of this one. For me, it was way too cluttered, and the “issue of the week” was so full-on that it drowned out any narrative coherence. There was not just one character dealing with the crisis of mental health, as in “Vincent and the Doctor”, there was a huge cast of characters–companions, friends and relatives of companions, characters from 14th century Syria, Eternals. On the treatment of fear–a key element of the episode–if one compares it to “Listen”  or “The God Complex”, too much is going on in this story to do the treatment justice.

    And in this episode in particular, I was acutely aware of an issue that has troubled me during all of the Chibnall/Whittaker period– The Doctor seems to be both consciously written by Chibnall and portrayed by Whittaker to not simply lack a sense of authority but to eschew the whole issue of authority. Does the Doctor provide comfort to those around her (like Graham)? Well, clearly no. In fact, she doesn’t do all that much at all except to be hyper-actively clever with her sonic screwdriver at the end, before suggesting (even though all three companions have just has some pretty awful experiences): “Hey, what about Frankenstein?”

    Perhaps Chibnall’s agenda is something like: “We shouldn’t look up to authority figures, we should be responsible for our own destiny.” Whatever. But this iteration of the Doctor has yet to really engage me.

    #69643
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Another reflection on my previous comment about the Doctor’s lack of authority. It was a line in “Fugitive of the Judoon” where the Doctor is being driven by Ruth to the lighthouse, and the Doctor says: “I’ve never been in favor of growing up.”

    Now, this is a Doctor who was a grandparent. Either she has forgotten all about that, or Chibnall has. Because it just sounds wrong.

    #69644
    Peace Frog @peacefrog

    @blenkinsopthebrave

    “Now, this is a Doctor who was a grandparent. Either she has forgotten all about that, or Chibnall has. Because it just sounds wrong.”

    Yeah, but how much time has the Doctor spent thinking about his real family on screen. Nothing more than a few vague mentions of having one, even in the BG era other than Susan. At the end of Capaldi’s run we got her picture on his desk, that’s about it. And after Susan stopped traveling with him, did he go visit her? Don’t think so. Something like that should be on the screen if it happened. Her parents are the ones I’d like to learn more about.

    Was it the Doctor’s son or daughter that had Susan? Would it be possible to regenerate during childbirth? I mean the mother, would she cause some kind of genetic mutations if that happened?

    Maybe it’s too painful for the Doctor to remember everyone. That’s a looong lifetime, the people that the Doctor has lost must number in the thousands if not tens of thousand.

    His reunion with Sarah Jane was bittersweet for the both of them. He’s thinking “Awkward….I don’t usually run into the people that I’ve left behind”. She’s thinking “Oh, I see you traded me in for a younger model”.

     

    Almost missed the “this is a Doctor who….” part. Nice!  😀

    #69645
    Davros @davros

    Wait, did I get the wrong end of the stick? Did they say in episode that Zellin and Rakaya are Eternals or did I just imagine that?

    #69646
    Rob @rob

    The comforting/non-comforting of Graham…..

    The Doctor said ( I paraphrase)

    This is where I should say something (acknowledging Graham’s worries)

    But as I’m socially awkward (admitting her own foibles and or a lack of an immediate good answer)

    I’ll move over here and work on a control panel (hiding from truth of needing go respond and inability to do so)

    And then think of something I should have said (a universal truth we’ve all experienced)

    The fail(?) in the script was not showing a resolution, for example giving emotional physical contact,  or later saying I’ve been thinking about what you said and…..

    As I think that the Doctors have always shown that they do care but have not always exhibited that caring at the appropriate time

    #69648
    Arch @arch

    I enjoyed this episode. Was as other have mentioned a bit cluttered but it all seemed to tie together and I liked that it fleshed out the companions.

    I think the biggest issue I have this season and the last for that matter is 3 companions is too many. The Dr usually runs with 1 or 2 but 3 just doesn’t give enough screen time to the Dr herself or indeed the companions. I think it’s been handled well generally but it often feels like things are rushed as a result of just having too many characters. Add to this the usual list of extras each episode and the soup is just too watered down to be tasty.

    #69649
    Davros @davros

    I think the biggest issue I have this season and the last for that matter is 3 companions is too many. The Dr usually runs with 1 or 2 but 3 just doesn’t give enough screen time to the Dr herself or indeed the companions. I think it’s been handled well generally but it often feels like things are rushed as a result of just having too many characters. Add to this the usual list of extras each episode and the soup is just too watered down to be tasty.

    Yeah … I mean 1 companion works perfectly well. It was okay with Rory and Amy because they were a set…

    Darn me if I’m wrong but I think this is the first time there have been three regular <i>human</i> companions.

    #69650
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @davros

    Darn me if I am wrong but

    Well, there was Ian, Barbara and Vicky during the William Hartnell years. But that was when they had multi-episode stories and the companions did not crowd out the story-line as much as they seem to do at the moment.

     

    #69651
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    I think this episode was really good for the first half hour – the villains were interesting and creepy, the companions all got things to do and I loved the animated sequence. The pacing of the ending let it down for me though; the immortal villains were defeated in the blink of an eye once they returned to Syria, and then the episode spent about 10 minutes on the mental health messages – which are of course important, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t have been there, but I think the main plot suffered a bit as a result. It’s mostly the fault of the 50-minute runtime; this may have worked better as a two-parter, and then the villains could have been more fleshed out and the resolution would have had more time to play out. Still, I really enjoyed the episode overall.

    I have to say, I feel the same way as @davros about the companions. I like these three but I’m not connecting to them as much as previous companions either. I think part of the reason for that is that each of them rarely gets time alone with the Doctor. Normally we learn a lot about the companions via their relationship with the Doctor, but with these ones I don’t really know how they individually get on with her. We did see Graham alone with her at the end of this episode, which I appreciated; he’s probably my favourite of the three. I’m not sure how to feel about the Doctor’s lack of comforting words towards him though.

    #69652
    Claire54 @claire54

    I have to agree with Charlie Hook here.  Other than the Judoon episode, I cannot work up the energy to really invest in the show.  Too many companions, none of whom impress me either in their acting or how their characters are written.  Same with JW…she’s a good actress in a mediocre series.

    I feel like there was a preproduction meeting and someone said “Let’s just throw everything on the wall and see what sticks.”

    #69653
    Arbutus @arbutus

    I really like @bluesqueakpip‘s take on memory and “everything you think you know is a lie”. It also occurs to me that tying in references to the Doctor’s past selves can help bridge the emotional disconnect between regenerations, both the Doctor’s disconnect from his own past selves, and ours. It’s easy to say it’s the same character, but it’s not what we feel when faced with a Doctor completely different in looks, age, accent, attitude, and now even gender.

    On the issue of the Doctor and her many Companions, the Chibnall era thus far has been strongly harkening back to some of the older, pre Gap eras of the show. How well that works for each of us is an individual thing. I never minded the periods when the Doctor travelled in a group, and I don’t mind it now. I first came upon the show in the very late Tom Baker era, so companion clusters were something I got used to right away. The Fourth Doctor also set the gold standard for me, and I’ll admit that I never felt quite as simpatico with an incarnation again until Capaldi. But I have always found things to enjoy in every Doctor, even the ones that aren’t “mine”, meaning I’m fairly easy to please! 🙂

    #69654
    Arbutus @arbutus

    Thinking a bit more about this. This Doctor has occasionally referred to her previous self, saying things like “back when I was a bloke” and so on. I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think that this is something the Doctor has commonly done. He doesn’t say things like, “I met that alien before, when I was into bowties”, and so on. Once the immediate regeneration period is over, I don’t think the Doctor really considers his older selves any more. When he has encountered one of them in a multi-Doc episode, he always seems a bit taken aback by the previous reality. Has he forgotten? Or is it that thing of when you really look at yourself in a mirror, you don’t match the image in your mind? (Personally, I remember myself as better-looking and definitely younger!)

    Not sure where I’m going with this. I’m just wondering, if my memory is correct and this is new behaviour for the Doctor, what does it mean? Is the Doctor herself trying to remember that she is still the same person? And is she happier now with more companions, because it’s easier to keep things on the surface? We saw this week that she definitely still does not like to travel alone. But she’s having more trouble accepting the loyalty of her friends than she did in the past.

    #69655
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @jimthefish

    Looking back over the previous comments I find myself in agreement with all your points on this one. For example, I agree with your point that Yaz’s mental health issue might have been more effective if it had been seeded in previous episodes. Also agree strongly with your points about the Whittaker Doctor. She seems to have forgotten an awful lot about her previous iterations. For me, this plays out most clearly in what I see as the surprising lack of empathy and authority in this Doctor. In the episode, there is a clear demonstration of empathy and authority displayed by the policewoman who sets Yaz on the road to recovery. I could see a range of previous Doctors (both BG and AG) acting this way. But not this Doctor.  This is the main reservation I have about this iteration of the Doctor.

    #69657
    Whisht @whisht

    I’ve not really been commenting much on the episodes.
    Usually everyone here covers all (and then much more!!) of my thoughts.

    Oddly with this episode I find myself agreeing with @jimthefish but also with those more disposed toward it.
    Personally I found the Graham and Doctor interaction at the end jarring, but not because of past Doctors and how they might have handled it.
    To be honest I don’t mind Doctors differing wildly from one regeneration to the next. Is Davison like Pertwee?
    But I thught I’d seen Whittaker very empathic in previous episodes (maybe last season) so it felt odd for her to be unable to interact.
    However maybe that’s my bad memory as I don’t have examples to hand!

    I guess overall for me this episode was ‘better than some’ of this series (which is hardly insightful, which is why I’ve mainly been struggling to think of music tie-ins!)

    In terms of arc… I can absolutely see one or two or even all the companions being separated from the Doctor (an each other!) at the end of this series (though maybe not separated forever).

    #69658
    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Thinking more about this encouraged me to go back and rewatch the very early two-part “Edge of Destruction” from 1964. In a way, it has something in common with “Can You Hear Me?” in that it deals with irrational fear, paranoia, and developing the relationship between the Doctor and the companions. On the question of the relationship, “Edge of Destruction” resolves early tensions between the Doctor and the companions who feel, by the end of the story, more comfortable travelling with the Doctor, whereas in this story the companions show all the signs of wanting to return to their lives back on Earth. In terms of how it deals with the relationship between the Doctor and the companions, I think “Edge of Destruction” is quietly effective. On the question of fear and paranoia I have always felt “Edge of Destruction” was a cracker, both when I saw it as a child and on subsequent viewings. The scene of Susan with the scissors remains extremely unnerving today. In 1964 it was even more so. As a story, it has come in for a bit of flack over the years, partly because it was written rapidly as a “filler”, takes place entirely within the confines of the Tardis, and features no monsters. But, in spite of all that, I think it was more successful a story, and more successfully realized,  than “Can You Hear Me?”

    #69662
    MissRori @missrori

    Just saw this article — apparently, the Doctor’s behavior at the end of this episode got enough criticism that the Beeb had to put out a statement explaining it.  Twelve never had it this bad!

    https://io9.gizmodo.com/the-bbc-responds-to-backlash-over-doctor-whos-approach-1841634018

    #69663
    BadWolfAlice @badwolfalice

    @missrori That statement makes it clear that the intention of the scene was good at least, even though it clearly could have been handled better.

    #69664
    Mudlark @mudlark

    @missrori

    In that link the BBC do make a valid point. It is true that a lot of people have difficulty responding to those who have suffered a bereavement or who are in mental distress, and they do tend either to avoid the issue altogether or to resort to euphemisms or platitudes; if someone has died it seems people have difficulty saying the words ‘died’ or ‘death’ or referring directly to bereavement at all, and if someone is suffering from depression people too often try to jolly them along or, if particularly tone deaf, tell them to ‘pull themselves together’. Then again, in my experience even those who have difficulty expressing their sympathy verbally, may do so in their supportive actions.

    That said, in the case of the Doctor’s reaction to Graham’s confidences I don’t think that the issue was handled as subtly or as sensitively as it might have been. Instead we got her, as so often, thinking aloud – telling rather than showing – and then briskly changing the subject with a cheerful suggestion that they go and look up Mary Shelley et al. and witness the genesis of Frankenstein. Moffat would, I think, have handled it a lot better.

    And while on the subject of inner demons and Moffat, embedded in the article you linked to was another link to Christopher Eccleston’s autobiography and his account of working on Doctor Who, and he has nothing but praise for Moffat’s writing – which accords with the verdict of every actor whose opinion on the subject I have read so far – and who should know better! So much for the nihilists and the ARSE brigade 🙄

     

     

     

    #69667
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @blenkinsopthebrave et al

    It’s an interesting statement and I think I largely agree with the sentiment. Though part of me thinks that if you have to put out a statement explaining a scene then that scene has probably failed. Some thoughts:

    For one thing, the ‘socially awkward’ line seems so gauche, and not something any Doc would come out and say, unless they were using it to dissemble. To my mind, it made 13 look shifty rather than honest. For another, the Doc isn’t ‘socially awkward’, not in the same way we are. Because our society is not theirs, no matter how long they’ve lived in it. To paraphrase Missy, we’re the puppies. You don’t feel socially awkward around the puppies. You just accept that your terms of reference are so very different.

    But this isn’t a big deal to me, partially because it might play out in later episodes. The Doc might help Graham in some way or – my preference – the fam realise that the Doc is not someone they can be with or rely on long-term just because her frames of reference are so different. I’m also still slightly holding out for that this is maybe not the ‘true’ Doctor and the Ruth Doc is and that JW is some weird anomalous alt Doc created by abortive regenerations over a black hole. And that would maybe explain why her behaviour doesn’t chime with what we might expect.

    Because that’s my only real problem with the scene (aside from its actual placement in the ep). It just clips into what I think are the core values of the Doc and which are constant regardless of incarnation — one of them being unquestioned compassion to those closest to him/her It’s consistent with 13’s personality but not the Doctor’s character and there is difference between those. However, as it’s clearly resonated with a lot of people in a RL capacity it probably doesn’t matter that much. Plus for my money, we’ve already seen her behave in a much more egregiously non-Doctorey way in Ker-Blam! (and possibly also with her random mind-wipey behaviour earlier in the series) . Life went on after that, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t after this. And we’ve had behaviourally quixotic Docs before.

    Placement is another matter tho. It kind of undermines the over-arching message of the episode imo and it just makes for a packed episode. It would have been nice to see all this companion back story unpacked over a number of episodes, in fact. I do wonder if the evil Immortals might have been a better Big Bad for a series arc, with these companion bad dreams being unpacked over a number of episodes and culminating in a big showdown, which was kind of rushed anyway.

    My only other beef with the ep was it was kind of unoriginal again. Like Judoon, which was a mash-up of everything from Eleventh Hour to Utopia, this one seemed to be Amy’s Choice meets Listen. I’m starting to wonder if Chibs is the recycler showrunner rather than bringing anything actually new to the table.

    @blenkinsopthebrave

    Edge of Destruction is a great story. It’s always left me wondering two things though: Is it the first example of a ‘bottle episode’, and did Who actually do that before Trek, which gets credited with it. And is it the first example of a bona fide deus ex machina in Who?

    #69668
    nerys @nerys

    I think I will have to watch this episode again. We didn’t watch when it aired, and then had a rough week in which we had to have one of our cats put down. So I only got around to watching it last night.

    I admit I felt distracted as I watched; I’m not sure if that was due to my own state of mind, or problems with the episode. But I found it very cluttered, in an “Orphan 55” sort of way. There were too many characters and (I hate to say this) too many ideas. That sounds like a ridiculous criticism, especially of Doctor Who. But I was struggling to pull it all together, thematically. I understand what they were trying to do: present the mindset of each of the companions, exploring their deepest fears. But it felt so scattershot that I had a difficult time staying engaged in the story. Which is too bad, considering the themes it explored. Maybe a second viewing will improve things for me.

    As others have noted, the Doctor’s complete lack of empathy for Graham, as he was describing his fears about his cancer returning, was jarring. I thought they were moving in the opposite direction with the 13th Doctor, but now, for some reason, we’re back to the socially inept one. Very puzzling.

    #69680
    Arbutus @arbutus

    @nerys   Very sorry to hear about your cat. Hugs!

    #69682
    GalaxyMage @galaxymage

    This isn’t exactly related to Can You Hear Me, but this is the best place I could find for it.

    Season 12 Theories…

    The Master:

    The Master is going to escape the Kasaavin’s dimension, but the questions are when and how. Obviously, there are 3 options for when:

    The Future: The most straightforward option — he’ll escape before/in the finale or even later and then either work with The Doctor or try to kill her again.

    Now — The Master has an escape plan, which he is currently implementing. Right now, as The Doctor travels around and saves the world from plastic-eating disease and immortals, The Master is getting out of the dimension.

    Already — My favorite theory. The Master has already escaped and is manipulating events behind the scenes. Although The Doctor says she’d know if he escaped, he’s proved that he’s capable of evading The Doctor before. Despite this being interesting and making for a good story, on a meta level the “I’m monitoring time and space and would know if he got out” seems very much like a line added in to prevent us from going off on a tangent like this. Until we see him escape, though, I’m going to go with this one mainly because it would be a nice plot twist.

    Now for How:

    The only reason The Doctor escaped was because of Ada Lovelace, so that options out. I guess it comes down to the question of how exactly Yaz escaped and whether she’s still really Yaz. (I think she is, since it hasn’t been mentioned again but more on that later.) While the Kasaavin was trapped in The Master’s TARDIS, it, if I remember correctly, seemed to turn into Yaz and then she was transported there. (This actually makes me think that Yaz is herself but her body’s not her own — perhaps it’s made out of the Kasaavin and then her mind was transported/psychically grafted into/onto her new body.) So, how does The Master use this to get out? Was Yaz able to escape because The Master told the Kasaavin to let her go? Because then, now that he’s not in charge anymore, that option is gone. Did she escape because of the disappearance of the Kasaavin that was trapped? It may be possible to escape then without controlling the Kasaavin. But the idea that she escaped because the Kasaavin were ordered to let her go seems more likely. Which means that someone would need to control the Kasaavin and let him out.

    There’s been speculation that The Doctor will let him out due to the mystery of the Timeless Child, but I doubt she will. The Doctor still thinks that Missy betrayed her (well, him then) and so it would be strange for her to do let The Master out of prison after how she thinks it ended last time. Still, I think someone has to let him out. Who could it be?

    A past/future version of himself? Another enemy of The Doctor who wants him to fight? Ruth? A companion who stops trusting The Doctor or just barely escapes a mind wipe and then decides that they want to know the truth? This actually seems possible. There’s a lot more distrust between the companions and The Doctor right now, and I think the brevity of her “I’m a Time Lord from Gallifrey, you can’t visit right now” speech is just going to add fuel to the fire. As much as The Doctor will want to know what’s going on, she’s not going to let somebody dangerous out to do so (I think). It’s much more likely that one of the companions will let him out. They didn’t see him as himself other than in two scenes — one in which he blew up the plane but he didn’t succeed, and one in which The Doctor explained precisely how she fixed the situation and then makes the Kasaavin turn on him. They’re not going to be nearly as terrified of The Master as they should be — nearly dying loses some of its trauma when you’re constantly in peril.

    But which one?

    Gram seems too loyal to The Doctor, but O’s offer of information may be too much. After all, he knows nearly nothing about her. He might even think he’s helping her. We saw a picture of him in the trailer with him in what appeared to be a white TARDIS, so that could be related. But Gram really doesn’t seem like the type to ever betray The Doctor, even if he really wants to know more than what was basically “I’m a Time Lord from Gallifrey. He is too. He’s evil. No, you can’t visit my home and stop asking questions.” (She wasn’t that abrupt, but she did shut down their attempts to discover more.)

    I also doubt Ryan would do that. We don’t really know much about his personality, and he seems kind of blank to me. He’s supposed to be a brave and determined character who works hard to overcome his Dyspraxia, but he doesn’t end up feeling like anything other than someone who tags along. This is probably the result of 3 companions, but it leaves me with very little knowledge about his motivations. And yet, he also seems to be too loyal to ever help The Master with anything. Unless, of course, he does it for someone who he’s even more loyal to. Perhaps Gram and Ryan’s relationship wasn’t built up last season for nothing. If Gram’s cancer comes back (which it probably won’t, since he said the checkups were all fine), I could see Ryan helping The Master escape if he thinks it would help him. The trouble is, I can’t think of a situation where The Master would actually be more help to him than The Doctor. This also doesn’t feel that Doctor Who like of a scenario.

    Finally, there’s Yaz, who I’m worried might do it because she thinks it will save the day. Perhaps the big foe (the one who’s coming for The Doctor in the season 12 trailer) is incredibly difficult to beat and the secret of the Timeless Child is the only way to win. Even then, even when the fate of the universe depends on it, I don’t think this Doctor will help The Master escape. She might not even realize that the fate of the universe depends on it. The fate of the universe might not even actually depend on it. (I think it will, though.) What matters is that Yaz thinks it does. I could see Yaz thinking about it, realizing that they will lose without his help, and weighing her choices. And I could see her making the difficult decision to let him out, even though he’s evil, even though he might just make it worse, and even though it would be the end of her travels with The Doctor. I’m probably wrong about this, but I think that if one of the companions helps The Master escape, it will be Yasmin, and she’ll do it because she honestly thinks it’s the best choice. She won’t believe she’s betraying The Doctor; she’ll think she’s helping her even though The Doctor thinks she’s sided with evil.

    Alternatively, Yaz really could betray The Doctor. Something strange is going on with her this season, which I will discuss below.

    Ruth:

    I’m not going to put much in — almost everything I can think of has been covered. I’m not averse to her being pre-Hartnell in theory, but I hope she’s not because I don’t want a lot of fans to drop out because they think it’s disrespectful or whatever. It would be cool if they went with Season 6b, but that would alienate so many newer viewers. It would have completely mystified me a month ago. I’m thinking she’s pre-Hartnell despite the continuity issues (because all the theories I’ve heard have them), but I’d love to be pleasantly surprised with something else I haven’t thought of.

    Yaz:

    Alright, Yaz has been acting weird this season. She’s been increasingly horrified at the results of her adventures, went off on her own like The Doctor would, was disappointed when she found that she hadn’t teleported to an alien planet (though in all fairness I would be too), was told by The Master to “stick with [him], Yaz”, is asked by Ryan how long this is going to last…

    Theory 1: Nothing; Yaz is a normal companion who will either stick with The Doctor or leave simply to get on with her life and be responsible. Maybe they’re setting something up with her — her exit. But it’ll be a perfectly friendly, reasonable one. Sort of like Martha’s, but without the romantic issues. She has to choose between her career and The Doctor and she chooses her career. The Doctor respects this, and gets a new companion. Possible, and has a decent chance of occurring but seems a bit too weak and simple to explain the focus on her.

    Theory 2: Yaz isn’t Yaz. Ever since the Kasaavin dimension thing, Yaz hasn’t been Yaz. There are three options to this.

    2a — Either “Yaz” is a Kasaavin or is a puppet controlled by The Master. Although it would explain some of her weird behavior, it wouldn’t make sense that The Master was telling her to stick with him. In addition, I don’t think they’d ever reveal that someone wasn’t their character all season, especially a main character. And ESPECIALLY with the past episode discussing Yaz’s depression. So this is unlikely.

    2b — Yaz is Yaz, but isn’t in Yaz. The Kasaavin appears to morph into Yaz…and then she appears. Perhaps her mind was psychically grafted into or trapped in this new body, created from a Kasaavin. Does she have 93% human DNA now? This option is actually a decent possibility. She probably doesn’t know, but it could explain her strange behavior. However, this would sort of be a retread of what happened to Amy with the avatar. Then again, this season has a lot of similarities with past stories.

    2c — External influences. Perhaps Yaz is fighting The Master’s mind control (hypnotism? he does have his TCE back, and “can do classic” apparently). Or maybe he’s got some sort of preprogrammed instructions in her head like the clone troopers in the prequels of Star Wars. Maybe she’s got some sort of psychic mind effect on her. I don’t know. I kind of like the hypnotism idea — she could always be a sleeper agent that doesn’t know that she is one. It might actually be true — and why The Master let Yaz live (or the Kasaavin did) despite her death being likely to cause The Doctor a lot of pain.

    Theory 3: Yaz is going to betray The Doctor to save the world. As detailed above, I believe she has a chance of getting The Master out because she doesn’t understand how dangerous he is and thinks he’s their only hope. I could see Yaz taking charge, and telling The Doctor that she’s not the right person to handle this because she’s actually terrible at saving people.

    Theory 4: The more extreme 4. Yaz is going to betray The Doctor and join The Master. I doubt this — she doesn’t seem evil or like she’d turn evil, and she’s far more likely to help him because she thinks that he’s the only one who can save everyone. Maybe that’ll even be true, since he knows something about the Timeless Child. There may be a scene where he tries to get Yaz to join him, in keeping with the “stick with me, Yaz”, though. In fact, I could actually totally see this. And Yaz a) being tempted but yelling back that he’s evil and The Doctor’s good, b) being tempted but saying that even though she doesn’t trust/follow The Doctor any more he’s still evil, c) not being tempted at all (I think she would be, though, at least a bit) and escaping, beating him, or pretending to join him and turning on him (1 or 3 is more likely than 2, but I could totally see The Doctor feeling all betrayed and Yaz wanting so much to explain that she’s actually on her side but unable to without ruining her plan) or d) briefly joining him and then turning on him and killing him (I don’t think this one will happen. Personally, I think there’s a high chance that either Yaz will denounce both him and The Doctor (though the whole “the fam sticks together” thing isn’t in keeping with that) or attempt to trick him into thinking she’s on his side and have to watch The Doctor think she’s betrayed her.

    Of these, I’d like to see 3, 4c, or 2c happen the most, and I feel like 4 or 3 would be the most likely since they’re more straightforward than 2, don’t undermine her character like 2 would, and aren’t boring like 1.

    And finally, The Timeless Child!

    The Master said that he had to “make them pay” (about the Time Lords) as justification for destroying Gallifrey, but the Founding Fathers are all dead (maybe not Rassilon, but I think he is). How is killing the present Time Lords going to get a proper revenge, when they were, presumably, lied to as well? I get that The Master isn’t exactly sane, but surely he has some reason to blame the average Gallifreyan. Perhaps they were benefiting from the lie?

    But what could be so terrible that The Master destroyed Gallifrey?

    The Master has hidden at least one clue in the exact wording before — Spyfall, Part 1: “I said to look for the spymaster. Or should I say the spy Master?” (Which is still my favorite moment so far — my family had no clue what was going on and all I could respond to their questions was “oh my god he’s the spy Master! Now shut up I’m trying to watch”) I was thinking about the grammar of “The whole existence of our species built on the lie of the Timeless Child.”

    They could be told the lie, which is about the Timeless Child. This seems to imply more than a simple hidden secret. They were told a lie about the Timeless Child, and chances are we already accept the lie as truth. The Timeless Child is a person, so perhaps someone from Gallifrey’s history isn’t who we think? (I’m well aware that other people have said this already, but I still wanted to state my agreement.) Maybe Rassilon? Or Omega (no chance of that).

    Or, the sentence could mean something different. The lie of the Timeless Child. Not the lie about the Timeless Child. The lie belonging to the Timeless Child. The lie the Timeless Child told. So I think it might be possible that someone, one of the founding fathers of Gallifrey, is the Timeless Child, and was the one who told the lie. Perhaps the Timeless Child isn’t some innocent little girl. Maybe the Timeless Child is the one who lied to them. Or even she did it for their own good. If the Timeless Child is The Doctor, then she could find out that she told the universe the lie.

    Also, species. Very specific. I think this series has a genetics theme.

    Spyfall — Obviously; 93% human, DNA corruption, and all of that.

    Orphan 55 — Mutated humans.

    Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror— Not much…but the Skithra steal. Maybe a reference to stealing genetic code? It would have worked much better with the Krillatane (not spelled correctly).

    Fugitive of the Judoon — Masking DNA, 13th Doctor and Ruth have identical DNA

    Praxeus — Disease seems to change DNA to make those mutants.

    So, what does this mean? I have the feeling that the Time Lords were genetically engineered, maybe from humans. I don’t think this uproots cannon too much; they’re still Time Lords and not humans. I could be completely wrong, on all of this, but these are my theories.

    Tl;dr/Summary

    I think that The Master has already escaped from the Kasaavin dimension. If he hasn’t, I think Yaz will let him out. Despite the contradictions, I think Ruth is pre-Hartnell, which I personally don’t have a problem with but I think might cause some annoyance with the fans. Yaz might have orders implanted in her mind by The Master and be an unwitting sleeper agent. Something is definitely up with her this series, so if not this she either might betray The Doctor because she refuses to let The Master out and truly believes he’s the only way that they can save the world OR be asked to join The Master and either be tempted and refuse or attempt to trick him into believing she’s turned and in the process accidentally trick The Doctor.

    #69706
    nerys @nerys

    Thank you, @arbutus!

    #69728
    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    So, the problem of the Doctor’s lack of a sympathetic speech.

    I think the problem was that Graham really needed a chat with, well, Graham.

    Graham would have told him, in a kindly, sympathetic, but utterly down to earth way: well, none of us know how long we’ve got yet do we? And things looked pretty dark for you for a while back there. And you were given a gift, not just your life, but Grace. So you can either get on with it, and enjoy the life you’ve got, or you can spoil it worrying about what might happen, when quite frankly you’re probably as likely to be eaten by an alien animal than have your cancer return. And the last thing Grace would want is you spoiling the rest of your life with ‘what if’s’.

    (something on those lines. To be fair, I’m no Graham).

    Failing that, he should have a chat with his grandson. Who would probably tell him he’s being an idiot, tell him what he’d tell himself if Graham could get a Graham chat, only a bit more bluntly, make him laugh and throw in a ‘grandad’ to make him smile.

    But that might resolve a plot point too quickly. CC likes doing characters at least as much as he likes doing sci-fi.

    Capaldi Doc believed in kindness, but he was extremely abrasive a lot of the time. Smith Doc particularly liked having Rory around because of Rory’s capacity for kindness and caring. Rory called him out, Clara and Bill called Capaldi out several times for, basically, a bad bedside manner.

    I do think the Doctor dropped the ball here. And the way it was written was a little more comedic than it ought to/could have been. But I do think she likes have Graham there for much the same reason Smith Doc liked having Rory there, it’s useful to have someone around who is naturally good at human emotions. It’s a little awkward when that person then needs that particular skill set on himself.

    #69730
    toinfinityandbepond @toinfinityandbepond

    As Capdoc said of Clara, “She’s my carer, she cares, so I don’t have to”. I think this is true for Graham, and indeed, all of  the Doctor’s companions.

    #69753
    janetteB @janetteb

    A much better episode than expected. A really liked the story. It did resolve rather quickly. I do feel as though a re watch is required.

    Read the comments on Dan Martin’s thread and do not agree with the criticisms of the Doctor’s poor handling of Graham’s expression of concern. The Doctor is not human and does not always “get” human emotions and fears. Not demonstrating due sensitivity at times is a long established character trait and nice to see it is not forgotten.

    this episode, to me at least, had a very strong B.5 vibe, both in the dialogue and story about the gods destroying younger races in their eternal warring. The villain’s big speech had a very strong B.5 ring to it, not sure exactly how and when but it worked. (I am never going to complain about something reminding me of B.5)

    Cheers

    Janette

     

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