Can You Hear Me?
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Tosin Cole, Aruhan Galieva, Buom Tihngang, Bhavnisha Parmar, Clare-Hope Ashitey, and Ian Gelder
Writers: Charlene James and Chris Chibnall
Producers: Chris Chibnall, Matt Strevens, Alex Mercer, and Nikki Wilson
Composer: Segun Akinola
Director: Emma Sullivan
Doctor Who was created by Sydney Newman, and follows the adventures of the time-traveling alien known as the Doctor, along with their companions, as they explore and help the universe.
From modern-day Sheffield, all the way back to fourteenth-century Aleppo, something is plaguing the minds and dreams of innocent bystanders. Soon enough, the Doctor and her friends are pulled into the fray, being stalked by a malevolent force in the form of a strange man they keep seeing. Meanwhile, Graham is plagued by visions of someone calling for help in the far reaches of space, seemingly trapped in a prison. Finding the answers to these events will bring the TARDIS Team face-to-face with their greatest fears and nightmares, with nowhere to run. Who is the mysterious man, and why is he targeting the Doctor and her friends? Also, who exactly is the person calling for help, and why are they transmitting the message to Graham?
Nothing brings me joy and anticipation quite like a spooky episode of Doctor Who does. Something I definitely missed from Series 11 was a haunting and suspenseful episode, one that would play on the audiences fears and anxieties. Matt Smith definitely had a fair share of those in his tenure, such as The Beast Below, Night Terrors, and The God Complex just to name a few, and those are still somewhat stuck in my head to this day. So needless to say, I was definitely looking forward to this one, as it set itself up to be very eerie and spooky. What I didn’t expect was that it would hit me so close to home and touch my heart in a way it needed to be. Can You Hear Me? has its fill of spooks and thrills, yes, but at the heart of the story is a subject I haven’t quite seen this show touch upon before: mental health.
While she didn’t get a whole lot of development last episode, the Doctor makes up for it in strides this time around. Jodie continues to one-up herself week in and week out, finding new ways to expand her character even more. We get to see what she’s like when she goes off on her own adventure without any company, which shows just how much she truly needs her friends. Also, her state of mind from Spyfall and Fugitive of the Judoon makes a comeback, as she’s still seemingly haunted by the world-shattering revelations that have occurred, as well as the ones still to come. It’s a bit like The God Complex, but not entirely, as we can see clear as day just what she’s dreading and what she’s afraid of. The roots for this story are beginning to sprout, and I definitely think the story will reach a fever-pitch of a bloom by the end of Series 12.
The companions get a whole bunch of development as well, especially as we pry into what their fears and anxieties are. We find out sides to the that we haven’t really known existed, especially Yaz. What we find out about her puts a whole new perspective into how she’s acted as a person since The Woman Who Fell to Earth, and that’s no small feat. This episode does a fantastic job at making us feel like what’s revealed about each character was in the cards since day one, as all of this seamlessly flows with the development from Series 11. None of the character traits, none of the backstories, and none of the character flaws have been forgotten about, and that’s a testament to good writing and good show running. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see more and more of their layers peeled back in the future.
The threat this episode was absolutely bone-chilling and terrifying, and Ian Gelder makes for a wonderful and powerful villain within the Whoniverse. As I stated earlier, this episode touches on the subject of mental health, and it’s the last thing I expected. Not because I thought the show didn’t care to, but because it hasn’t been touched upon before at all. Not to get personal, but last year, especially last summer and fall, was one of the most difficult times of my life. It felt like my anxiety and overall mental health were getting worse, and I felt like I was wasting away every day, with no end in sight. Thankfully I got the help I needed, but I still always have a difficult time managing my anxiety to a healthy level, especially in school. This episode portrayed that feeling to absolute perfection, and shows in-depth what something like anxiety or depression can do to a person. It doesn’t just make them emotionally sad, it takes a toll on their bodies, their perceptions, their relationships, and their environments. Too many people out there are not educated on mental health, and so many people feel like they’re alone in what they’re going through. And it means the absolute world to me that this show that I love so dearly wanted to reach out and shine a light on it when we need it now more than ever.
Overall, Can You Hear Me? is one of my favorites of Series 12, as well as Whittaker’s era thus far. Not only is it a fantastic character-based episode with a chilling plot and threat, but it shines a light on a serious topic in an incredibly unique way that only this show could accomplish. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re going through, you’re not the only one, and you’re not alone. Help and love are out there when you need it, so don’t hesitate to reach out for them. While the episode is somewhat anticlimactic in the final confrontation, it’s made up for in strides with character development I’m genuinely excited for the last three episodes of Series 12, and I can’t wait to see where the characters are taken to next.