I’m a little late to this week’s review—and a little surprised by the intensity of the negative response it has received in some quarters. The episode has an extended PSA-leaning epilogue that feels decidedly out of place, and it’s more than a little confusing, but it’s also one of the more interesting episodes of this season.
Title: “Can You Hear Me?”
Directed by Emma Sullivan
Written by Chris Chibnall, Charlene James
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
Aruhan Galieva as Tahira
Nasreen Hussain as Anita Patel
Buom Tihngang as Tibo
Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya Khan
Sharon D. Clarke as Grace O’Brien
lare-Hope Ashitey as Rakaya
Ian Gelder as Zellin
The Doctor and her companions discovery nightmarish elements in a couple of different eras—and uncover ancient, eldritch entities at work.
The backstory gets presented in animated form, and it works surprisingly well. The live-action Ian Gelder, meanwhile, proves impressively creepy.
The episode is cluttered and chaotic, and it doesn’t help matters that (1) the solution feels too much like Whous ex Machine and (2) the story is followed by an extended epilogue that only partially works. They would have done better to have removed one of the plot elements they were juggling, shortened the epilogue (or integrated some of the character backstory into other episodes), and developed the remaining plot.
Originality: 4/6 This episode is the first in some time to stretch the possibilities of what Doctor Who could be.
Effects: 5/6 Some of the effects are basic, but I’m impressed by the recreation of medieval Aleppo.
Story: 3/6 The story begins with a great mystery that has tremendous potential. It gets lost in its own convolutions.
Emotional Response: 4/6 Long-time fans will appreciate the shout-outs to Immortals the Doctor has encountered in the past, including the Guardians, the Eternals, and the Celestial Toymaker.
In total, “Can You Hear Me?” receives 30/42