Doctor Who: Kill the Moon (8×07)
Synopsis: The year is 2049, and there’s something very, very wrong with the moon. The Doctor and Clara, accompanied by student Courtney, find themselves thrown into a situation teeming with man-eating spiders, unlikely aliens, and nuclear weapons. Clara is faced with a decision that determines the fate of the moon, the planet, and her relationship with the Doctor.
What starts as a quick moon trip to make student Courtney Woods (introduced in “The Caretaker”) feel special, quickly turns into a race to save Earth from the catastrophic consequences of the moon, well, hatching. That’s right—the moon is an egg. This week’s story created several rifts—and I’m not just talking about those cracks in the moon. The Doctor is more alien than ever, and this seems to hit home with Clara, who has herself seemed more and more distant with each passing episode.
The time traveling trio soon find themselves in the company of several astronauts, led by Captain Lundvik, who have been sent to the moon to destroy whatever has been causing its sudden and mysterious gravitational pull. Bloodthirsty alien spiders abound, killing several crew members and nearly finishing off Courtney and the Doctor himself. Although, it was a bit pathetic that Captain Lundvik was able to whack a spider off of the Doctor, yet couldn’t manage to save her life-long colleague. Details.
It turns out the spiders are actually a bacteria in the amniotic fluid of whatever is growing inside the moon. Information is limited, but the clock is ticking, and much to the frustration of Clara, the Doctor keeps disappearing just when they need his help most. The moon is breaking up, potentially threatening all of life on Earth, and they are faced with the decision of whether or not to set off the atomic bombs and destroy the creature inside. Contrary to the votes of the people on the planet below (apparently democracy is overrated), Clara and Lundvik stop the detonation countdown and escape in the TARDIS, just in the nick of time to watch the moon hatch from a safe (?) distance on a beach.
Several things that could have gone wrong with “Kill the Moon” didn’t. For the plot’s relative inconceivability, it held together pretty well and managed to be thrilling in a different way than “Time Heist” or “Listen”. Also, troublemaker Courtney wasn’t quite as annoying as I thought she would be. A bit stereotypical to be sure and I don’t think her character was entirely necessary, but she wasn’t completely useless and did a good job of connecting to a younger crowd of viewers. The Tumblr saga was a gem (“My Gran used to put things on Tumblr”), and was a humorous, well-placed shoutout to the show’s fan base. Because let’s be honest: who wouldn’t be live-blogging their adventures with the Doctor if the TARDIS had wi-fi?
Despite how well “Kill the Moon” has been received by the public, I can’t say I don’t have my qualms with some aspects of the episode. Some of the writing was borderline corny (“Courtney, grab my yo-yo!”), and during the Doctor’s strangely timed monologues, the show’s creators seemed to be compensating for bad writing with equally bad timing of an epic musical score. And can someone please explain to me how a newborn creature can lay an egg bigger than itself only seconds after its birth? Of course, Doctor Who isn’t the kind of show that adheres strictly to the laws of physics, but there is a line, and the building story becomes laughable when that line is crossed. Maybe I’ve been watching too much Battlestar Galactica and am making unfair comparisons (thanks for that, Netflix).
Also, perhaps this is my international studies degree talking, but when Clara and Lundvik made the announcement for people on Earth to turn off their lights to signal their vote that the creature be killed, did they fail to calculate that only half the world was voting? It happened to be the Eurocentric half, too. Guess the majority of the world’s population doesn’t get a vote, since it’s daytime over in Asia. I’m also shocked that the “entire world” understands English and has electricity 35 years from now. But I digress.
Despite all of my misgivings about “Kill the Moon”, it did contain some fantastic character development and was the kind of science fiction tale of unbelievable proportions that we have come to expect from Doctor Who. The cold, cutthroat Twelfth Doctor is truly coming into his own and is here to stay, whether you like him or not. Unless, of course, he abandons you at the least opportune moment.
Next week’s episode, “Mummy on the Orient Express”, is also directed by Paul Wilshurst and follows the Doctor on a high speed train ride through space. It premieres on Saturday, October 11 on BBC America and BBC One. Catch the trailer below, and don’t forget to share your thoughts on this week’s episode with us!