On The D/L – Doctor Who
Season 8 Episode 7 – “Kill The Moon”
Doctor Who heads to our doorstep relatively speaking with a trip to Earth’s Moon in the not too distant future. The year 2048 will be in the lifetime of many people watching so the show really hasn’t gone far at all. It turns out that 34 years from now the Moon is going to start breaking apart which naturally will cause problems for people on Earth.
Kill The Moon starts off like a fairly standard Doctor Who episode; The Doctor takes Clara -and this week her pupil Courtney- to visit The Moon on what starts off as an innocuous “want to see the universe?” type trip. When they get there it quickly becomes apparent that something is amiss and people start to get picked off by spider like creatures that turn out to be germs. Very quickly the expedition they intrude upon is left with one survivor named Lundvik (Hermione Norris). It turns out that the reason The Moon is breaking apart is that it’s actually an egg that is getting ready to hatch. The implications for Earth are quite severe once the creature hatches since any number of terrible things could result in a massive loss of life down there.
One thing this episode did very well was building tension, there’s a moment where Courtney is confronted by one of those spider-germ things that was genuinely effective. Comparisons to Ridley Scott’s Alien are obvious given the claustrophobic setting and relentless creature. Turns out like any germ some Dettol (or whatever it is) is all that’s needed to subdue it but with a finite supply of that and a countless supply of the germs it won’t be effective for very long. The main issue with the tense moments is that there weren’t enough of them but one standout sequence is one better than the majority of episodes this season.
Around halfway through the episode it switches gears completely and focuses on the moral dilemma. A decision needs to be mad over whether the creature inside the egg should be killed to assure the safety of those on the planet below or whether they should leave it alone and see what happens. As you might expect the decision is not an easy one as Clara is not too happy about killing an unborn creature that is only doing what instinct tells it. Lundvik is convinced that killing the creature is the only way so a conflict is created between the two sides of the argument. These are the moments where The Doctor would normally swan in and give all the answers so I found it surprising that he doesn’t do that here. He states that this isn’t a decision that he can make since a turning point is facing the human race and him being an alien means that he isn’t qualified to make that decision for them. It’s an interesting moment but it’s got to be a first for The Doctor, typically he decides what is right and wrong for humanity and passes judgement on them for not doing what he wants them to do. Admittedly that was other versions of The Doctor and we haven’t seen the Capaldi incarnation’s stance on these issues before now. The real question is whether he’ll be consistent in this line of thinking after this point, I’m not convinced he will because this version is so poorly formed so far and I’m really not sure the talent is there from the writers to ensure that this character trait stays with him.
Even though I liked the fact that The Doctor left the decision in the hands of the race that would be affected I still don’t like that Clara does everything in this season. The Doctor taking a back seat should be the exception rather than the rule but this has been almost every episode this season where The Doctor didn’t actually need to be there to move the plot forward. I really like how much development Clara is getting as a character since that was lacking last season but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the man the show is supposed to be about.
Clara decides to put the decision in the hands of the whole human race by instructing them to turn their lights off if they want to kill the creature and leave them on if not. Turns out everyone on Earth wants the creature dead as the whole planet goes dark but Clara decides not to kill it anyway. I really had issues with this sequence, even if the majority of the planet would want to kill a creature about to hatch from the moon I don’t think the decision would be 100% like the episode suggests it would. We humans can’t ever fully agree on anything and I doubt this would be an exception. I would have expected at least a handful of lights to still be visible.
Ultimately it doesn’t really matter as there’s a happy ending for the planet since the creature is born, the egg shell disintegrates and a new moon egg is instantly laid to replace the old one. Wow, what a string of convenient plot points absolving our heroes of any potential guilt. Turns out not killing the creature was an immaculate decision that had absolutely no consequences for anyone. I know that Doctor Who often shoots for the positive endings but this really did not work for me. I would have expected something bad to happen like the creature turned to attack and had to be led away. It could still have been the right decision with some negative consequences. The moral dilemma aspect of this episode reminded me of The Beast Below in season 5 where there were similar stakes and similar consequences. I could see what decision was coming and predicted that nothing would happen once it was made. There’s been a lot of obvious callbacks to previous episodes this season and I feel this is hurting the show by making everything feel a little too repetitious in terms of plots.
Seems that Clara has finally had enough and tells The Doctor to leave her alone since she is sick of the way he’s been treating her. It was clear that this would come sooner or later but I dare say it’ll all be resolved pretty soon. I’m not convinced this event should have been the catalyst for her to snap at him as surely she should appreciate the enormity of the decision she helped make and that it wasn’t The Doctor’s place to make it. It would have made more sense for this to happen last week after the noted intrusion on her working life. I do like that she wasn’t convinced that it was the right thing to do.
I feel I should mention the score of this episode since it was one of the best parts. Murray Gold did a fantastic job of establishing the proper mood through his compositions. Although, I wonder if anyone else thinks that the music sounds like the score for the Metal Gear Solid games. Aside from that the music sounded great, evoked the right emotional beats and was excellently timed. Absolutely the best scored Doctor Who episode in a long time.
One of the strongest episodes this season with some really tense moments, an effective moral dilemma and a wonderful score. The same problems the show has been having all season are still around and the character of The Doctor still seems to be all over the place. In terms of execution the moral dilemma felt a little too familiar when compared to previous episodes but the script was strong and exciting. I’m still annoyed by how downplayed The Doctor is in his own show but not a bad episode.