Doctor Who Review: “Kill the Moon”

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The Doctor explores more than the dark side of the moon in the seventh episode of series 8. After putting Clara’s student, Courtney Woods, in a tailspin when he suggested she was not special, the Doctor is put on the spot to make amends and, rather than do anything like a usual apology, he takes her on an adventure to the moon.

As is tradition, their adventure gives them more than they bargained for as they land on a ship on the moon in 2049. We quickly come to find out that the moon has gained significant mass and is wreaking havoc on Earth. The ragtag crew and their antiquated ship have the sole mission of blowing up the moon to restore life on Earth back to normal and leave space travel behind humanity for good. The Doctor quickly discovers that the moon is more than what meets the eye – it is in fact an egg and the sudden mass increase is the creature growing and getting ready to hatch. After avoiding Clara’s questions on knowing how the situation plays out, the Doctor leaves Clara, Courtney Woods, and the astronaut captain to choose the moon’s fate.

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The return of the orange space suit!

Before we get into the episode too much, lets talk about space spiders made of bacteria and the evil genius that came up with the idea. Kill The Moon is the second of the few non-Moffat written episodes of series 8, and Peter Harness did an incredible job in his debut. The cinematography absolutely needs to be mentioned as well as it was stunning, especially considering the limited TV-show budget, space-theme, and location of the story line. But more importantly, you had to know they would find a way to re-use those orange space-suits, and I for one welcome their re-appearance.

Now on to the serious bits. This story was definitely not meant to leave viewers with that warm and fuzzy feeling from a happy ending. The ending, while good overall in the scope of the story, was really rather depressing – humanity let everyone down. Clara was the one who made the last second decision to stop the astronaut from killing the creature (and themselves) and the Doctor only popped in to rescue them after he left them rather abruptly to decide the fate of humankind and its place in the universe.

The Doctor himself, while played brilliantly by Capaldi, was cold, abrupt, and seemingly apathetic before Clara jumped in to save the creature. After she confronted him about his abandoning her when she needed him for guidance, he tripped over his words and couldn’t find an answer for her. This path the writers have chosen to take the Doctor down is rather unsettling, especially in contrast to our previous happy-go-lucky Doctors.

While the happy fuzzy feelings were absent, the show was able to take a very complicated issue and present it in a very accessible way to both children and adults (even though there were more occurrences of “bloody” and “damn” then I remember ever being before). Doctor Who isn’t a who turned out the lightscomedy show and it has not been written like one. The writers tend to take on fairly complex issues and explore them in the Whoverse, I think this episode hit closer to home than previous episodes with so much tying in to current events (obviously not the egg being the moon part). It begs the question – what would you do in Clara’s place? And, are we those people that turned off our lights?

Jenna Coleman probably gave her best performance as Clara yet – not only did she step up in the face of adversity to do what she thought was right, but she came back and was able to be vulnerable and hurt in such a powerful way the threat to slap the Doctor so hard that he would regenerate was felt as much as heard (I think we were all on the same wavelength she was at that moment). This all after their usual joking and bantering in the beginning of their journey.

Speaking of regenerating, we seemingly have a clue from the Doctor himself that he could possibly regenerate forever Seeing as how Eleven was technically supposed to be his last regeneration (or Ten, depending on how we’re counting because Time Lord math is hard and wibbly wobbly). The writers have seemingly toyed with us (again) on how they plan to continue the series and un-paint themselves out of the “last regeneration” corner. It’s not entirely surprising, especially given the populartiy of the show, but interesting that it was brought up mid-season.

The Doctor’s pre-betrayal behavior was brilliant. I’m becoming more and more convinced that Twelve will go down in history as one of the best one-line Doctors of all time as almost every episode has had a “what’s wrong with my yo-yo” moment and it has yet to be anything but delightful to watch. With rumors of Coleman’s exiting the show (though both she and the show writers refuse to spill any details, because spoilers, sweetie), the resolution between Clara and the Doctor promises to be worth the watch.

What did you think of this latest episode?

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