Doctor Who is on a roll in my opinion. Not since the second half of season 7 when we saw a few really good episodes in a row has the show enjoyed a consistent quality. Nothing has been absolutely spectacular mind you but nothing has been bad. We don't have too many silly head shaking moments that Doctor Who has become famous for. Peter Capaldi has steadily become the Doctor and Clara continues to do her part as the companion. The stories have ranged from the light-hearted to the dark but all have had some nice double meaning and underlying themes that have been strong and well executed. The episodes have not been these frantic runaround stories designed to confuse and misdirect from script shortcomings. They have been direct and simple enough without too many gimmicks. What of "Kill the Moon"? Are we due for the seasons first clunker of a messy script?
It is hard for Doctor Who to have a perfect episode. Many series can pull it off but Doctor Who, for some reason, always seems to have something in the way to keep it from consistently being excellent. "Kill The Moon" has that shocking set up of NASA being sent to the moon to blow it up? In what possible situation could this happen and why is their gravity on the moon along with cob webs and spider like creatures? Well, there is a creature being hatched out of the moon. The spider creatures are bacteria and the heaviness of the creature is creating a heavier gravity. The science behind this episode is probably not the most accurate but one could argue that Doctor Who never really has thatlocked down anyway. Still, it is hard to accept all this but for the most part I did.
Another problem with this story is the reset at the end where the moon is destroyed and yet another one just appears. Is it possible that the creature is able to create a new moon out of thin air like that, perhaps and since we know little about this creature and the universe in general, I am okay with the idea but again, the writers are taking time in an absurd idea of the moon hatching and giving us an absurd answer for the moon to return so any episodes that take place in the future (like The Moonbase) still make sense. The writers can't always do this and get away with it except in Doctor Who where audiences do tend to be more forgiving I suppose.
Now, the decision is very interesting and is the primary point of this episode. My first viewing of this saw it for what the Doctor said. It was a decision that humans should make for their planet. By all means it would have been great to see the Doctor leave the decision to humanity and the astronaut Lundvik but they ended up making the wrong decision and Clara made the right one. The idea that the Doctor could allow history to unfold as it should is not a new idea and happened all the time, especially with the historicals but in this case, it was all about Clara. (See Clara's meltdown later in this review). It is as if the writers of this season are trying to make the Doctor less appealing (his hatred or soldiers and throwing Clara to the wolves).
So the Doctor taking off like he did appeared to be more of a jerkish move, especially in Clara's eyes, than anything and there didn't seem any good reason why he chose to do that right then and there and not in the past. Unless......there was an agenda here.
After the second viewing I got it stuck in my head that the destruction of a newborn creature and the decision to carry this out is a decision that might be in better hands of the woman or in this case, three women. Three women of varying ages are left by a man to make the decision. Humanity makes the decision to destroy the baby because of the potential problems that it could cause for everyone, including destroying lives and yet Clara and Courtney appear to be the only ones sympathetic to the baby's cause. And why humanity, who decided to kill the creature would suddenly want to travel out into space with high hopes after seeing that beautiful creature seems a bit of a stretch.
The fact that the decision could be a commentary on pro-life in today's world is a bit heavy handed for the writer and while I am all for agendas and such, they probably are better when they are less obvious and make better sense in the story. It wasn't horrible but the Doctor leaving it up to the women was never fully convincing and seemed forced.
Now why would Clara decide to save the creature and potentially destroy the Earth? I think this is more about reading the Doctor and his decision to leave. If the Doctor thought the Earth was in danger he would have been doing something about it but he didn't. He left it to Clara to make the right decision. I would expect that he would have stopped the wrong decision from being made. This was a test of sorts and this is yet another reason for the Clara meltdown (see below). Clara has faith in the Doctor and just accepted that the decision to allow the creature to live based on the Doctor's actions and not by instinct or if it was the right thing to do.
I want to end this review with a few positive points. First off, I loved the settings and effects. The moon surface was highly affective and well done. The shuttle dropping off the edge and the moon hatching were all excellent effects. The visuals of cobwebs on the moon and spiders were also nice.
It was excellent to have Courtney Woods in this episode. She had some good moments and acts as a good sounding board for the story at times. Ellis George played the part well as did Hermione Norris as the astronaut Lundvik.
Peter Capaldi has some wonderful moments including talking about the gray areas of time and humanity venturing out into space. His interaction with Ellis's Courtney have been excellent two episodes running. The Doctor's first moments when confronted by the astronauts on their shuttle was also good.
I am sorry some of you fans there, but you continue to miss the boat on this one. Jenna Coleman delivers another excellent performance and her meltdown at the end was logical and made all the sense in the world on an emotional level. She cannot get the Doctor. Sure, she may be a little selfish by claiming that it was unfair for the Doctor to do that but I am glad not every companion has to follow blindly to what the Doctor does. She and Courtney were put in danger to prove a point really and Clara is real enough to allow that situation get to her. Some fans may not like this because it sort of flies in the face of what it is like to be a companion and how a companion should follow the Doctor and the Doctor is always right. She will more than likely come to her senses but it certainly may be the start of her leaving. That is also a very real emotion and reaction if that is the direction they want to go. Hopefully, for your sake, fans that dislike Clara, they will follow her up with a more stable, fake character that may even fall
Thank you Jenna for delivering one of the best acted scenes in the series!!!
So with the good and bad of this episode, I felt this story could have been better as could they all but there was enough good to give it a pass. I think the writers had some trouble with the concept and perhaps allowed an agenda to steer the script to a rocky spot of writing. I like the fact that this episode is perhaps good material for discussion and that different people will have a different way to see it. I am not sure what the writer was trying to prove though with the vote by humanity and Clara's decision. If she was not swayed by the Doctor's inaction then her choice seemed irresponsible. I guess the entire human race could have admitted they were wrong and wanted to venture out into space and obviously the writer's mini commentary on the declining space program is a neat little jab.
I may find this episode in my top of the season and part of that might depend on what the follow up is and how the Doctor and Clara's relationship changes because of it.