Yo-Yos are More Than Meets the Eye: A review of Doctor Who’s “Kill the Moon”

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Doctor Who (series 8) ep 7October has arrived and Doctor Who has decided to present a wonderful mix of space thriller, whimsy, suspense, and spiders. Prepare for an episode reminiscent of an epic game of “what if”.

The episode begins innocently enough. Clara is berating (she’s always berating) the Doctor for calling a 15 year old girl “not Special”.

Side note: Good for the Doctor! That 15-year-old girl is Courtney Ward who described herself as a “disruptive influence” when she met the Doctor. Before going off on the adventure, she has been seen as an obnoxious and sassy student. Most teens are the same way, so I’m not really surprised. I am really surprised by much coddling Clara was unleashing upon her. It seems that Ward needs to have her ego checked and realize that there are things much bigger than her. Which this episode does dole out

Back to the story: so to placate Clara, the Doctor decides to have Courtney walk on the moon since he figures that should be special enough. As with any adventure with the Doctor, one little visit is never just a little occurrence. Something was immediately amiss. With the handy dandy yo-yo, he realized that something was affecting their gravitational forces. This leads to an encounter with astronauts who were charged with  igniting nuclear explosives to blow up the moon since the conditions on Earth were bad. Reliving the nightmare of “Aliens” , the party finds space spiders that can latch on to them like face-huggers before eating them.

Doctor Who (series 8) ep 7At this point, the viewer assumes that the moon is probably suffering from an infestation of spiders hence why the gravitational field is wrong. Think back to your physics class. The moon never increased in size, only in mass.  The infestation would have just spread across the moon, not alter it’s mass. What is a situation that can do this?

The moon…is….an….EGG.

How wonderfully absurd is that?!?!??! The episode has been doing a great job scaring the daylights out of me when this is thrown at us. This also reminded me of some great what if games like what if there is no moon? If I remember my physics correctly, the affect on the tides would be one and the rotation of the planet would be affected. Man on the moon, rabbits on the moon, now the moon is an egg. Brilliant!

So now the real moral dilemma of the episode presents itself: should they use the nuclear bomb to destroy the moon and baby that is about to hatch. Or do they let it live, “feel the sun”, and risk the consequence. In a surprising turn of events, the Doctor does not decide. He walks away and leaves it to three women: a child, a teacher, and an astronaut.

This is monumental on so many fronts. We have all been used to seeing the Doctor take charge and decide on behalf of humanity. To see him take himself away from the situation is really jarring and highlights humanity vulnerability. If Clara is to represent humanity in the form of a companion, then this swept the rug from under the feet.

Doctor Who (series 8) ep 7There is an unmistakable theme of abortion debate in this episode on top of that. The child sees a child in the hatchling and wishes for it to live. The astronaut sees the reason behind killing it and acknowledges that sometimes adults have to make decisions that aren’t nice. Clara is indecision. She acknowledges both. She takes advantage of her resourcefulness and quick thinking by sharing the burden of the question to Earth through a one-way transmission.

Now the prologue video that Clara made in the beginning of the episode makes sense. She had proposed  a question to humanity: should they save one innocent life or sacrifice it to save millions. She asks Earth to answer this way: if “yes-save the innocent life”, illuminate the Earth. If it was in the negative, then turn off all the lights. Humanity answers it in a beautiful scene of the Earth turning dark which gives off so many metaphors to the episode.It can seen as humanity’s literal dark side in ensuring their own survival. We have seen this many times before so the answer was not surprising but it did make for one amazing scene. Also, did Clara explain what that innocent life was? Not sure but the way she phrased it made the answer predictable. If someone posed the same question to me, I would answer in the negative too.

In a typical Moffat-era Doctor Who style, the answer was to abort the nuclear bombs. The egg hatched into what looked like space dragon (where did it go?!?! Do we get to see more space dragon?! I want to see space dragons!). After leaving behind an egg.That is biologically and annoyingly impossible. How could something that just hatched,create an egg that quickly? Even fleas need time. The moon was an egg so I’m not going to reason this one out too hard.

Side note: while the egg was hatching, how was the ocean so calm? It should have been roiling or about to be tsunami or something.

The happy feelings don’t last long as Clara loses her mind as she argues tearfully to the Doctor. She feels patronized that he would just walk away leaving her to make such a heavy decision. Now after such an experience, adrenaline is expected. Her argument though turns me against her.

It was a little unfair for Clara to explode on the Doctor for giving her the hard decision to make. She forgets one thing: he has to make decisions like that all the time.He’s been doing it for hundreds of years. He even tries to argue that he knew she would make the right decision since he trusted her. Instead she yells at him to stay away and storms off. Clara’s anger is not a complete surprise though No one likes to realize how they have become overly dependent. Even Danny pointed that out in the previous episode mentioning that she should be afraid but she just trusts him. How far can she trust him?

Who do you side with: Clara or the Doctor?

The Doctor has always been helping humanity and sometimes it did more harm than good. Most of the time he decided the fate of mankind even though he is not human.This one time, this one time he took a step back and let humans decide their own fate.There was an interesting aspect about time travel that was introduced. There are fixed points in history (like not being able to kill Hitler) but there are “gray” areas in time where it can all change due to an event.

So many great lines in the episode but the line spoken by Danny is pretty amazing. As he’s consoling Clara, he tells her that she will be seeing the Doctor again ,”…because you’re still angry. You never finish with anyone while they can still make you angry”.

Side note: the space spiders were just germs (which Courtney took care of by spritzing it with a household cleaning solution. Love that scene). The episode veers away from the spiders but I still have some questions about them. Are spiders indigenous to the moon? Did they arrive from somewhere else? Were they feeding off the amniotic fluid?

More side notes: I had to look it up since this there has been two Pride and Prejudice triggers and it snagged my attention. Pride and Prejudice has nothing to do with Doctor Who but it speaks volume on what will catch my attention. The first trigger was when the Doctor was the caretaker and he was correcting Clara on the year. The second was when they step out of the  TARDIS he makes a reference to the items on the ship station were outdated as the “Bennet Oscillator” conditions showed. Bennet is not a reference to Pride and Prejudice but it is a reference to a Doctor Who writer. It goes back to the “The Ark in Space” with the Fourth Doctor  (played by Tom Baker). I happily watched the four part episode and found that the Bennet Oscillator is indicative of “late 29th-30th century”.

The connection to “Kill the Moon” and “The Ark in Space” is not a coincidence. This episode is written by newcomer Peter Harness. In previous interviews, he mentioned that Moffat encouraged him to be inspired by the shows golden period of Doctor Who which were produced by Philip Hinchcliffe. Both episodes are on a space station, both deal with human emotions, both have alien parasitic lifeforms, both deal with the future of humanity. One difference: the Doctor is an active decision maker in “The Ark in Space”.

Harness did a fantastic  job writing an episode that combined so many elements.”Kill the Moon” feels like a Doctor Who episode. Capaldi and Coleman really brought their action chops for this one.

The season is progressing better now but I still have one question: are we ever going to deal with Gallifrey?!?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Jessica Greenleee October 5, 2014 Reply
  2. Toni Adams October 5, 2014 Reply
    • Jessica Greenleee October 6, 2014 Reply

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