Sunday 5 October 2014

Reviews in Time & Space: Kill the Moon

Doctor Who s08e07 - Kill the Moon

It seems like trying to kill Hitler wasn't enough for Doctor Who, as this week it comes back with the even more ridiculously titled Kill the Moon. Penned by Who newcomer Peter Harness, this episode also takes the action out of Wales for once for some filming in Lanzarote. With sadly no relation to 1984's Planet of Fire. Boo!

The episode sees the Doctor, Clara and Courtney (the student who has been cameoing all season and made a more prominent appearance in The Caretaker) take an impromptu trip to the moon in the year 2049, where they arrive on a space shuttle filled with explosives. After meeting with the shuttle's crew, they discover that the moon has been breaking apart - causing massive disturbance to the Earth and killing its people. The only solution left is to destroy it. Clara seems skeptical that the moon is destroyed because she's seen it in the future, but the Doctor claims that this isn't a fixed point in time and events could always change.

As the team are slowly picked off by giant spider-like creatures, the Doctor investigates what exactly is causing the moon to break apart. What he finds is something nobody quite expected, and leaves them with the difficult choice of whether to follow through on their original message. However the Doctor decides this is a choice that isn't his to make, leaving Clara, Courtney and sole-shuttle survivor Captain Lundvik to make the ultimate decision.

Courtney joins the TARDIS crew

Kill the Moon is a story that can be broken down into two very distinct parts, with the first following all the hallmarks of a classic Doctor Who horror episodes. Shadows, corridors, giant spider monsters - it's all very by the books and does a good job of setting up a reasonably eerie atmosphere, even if it's a little too slow paced and meandering at times. The inclusion of Courtney as an extra companion is another poor effort by the writers to shoehorn a child into the show to entice the younger demographic of Who's audience, but they really should learn by now that something like that really isn't needed. Courtney is mouthy, annoying and ultimately contributes nothing to the episode at all other than carrying around some bleach. Plus with came along the most unrealistic aspect of the episode of all - there's no way she's the kind of person that would be using Tumblr.

Spiders on the Moon!
More convincing than Metebellis 3

Meanwhile the second half is strictly moral dilemma, as humanity is left with the decision of killing an innocent newborn creature to save themselves or letting it live and potential doom them all. Meanwhile the Doctor just outright leaves, claiming it to be something that's up to them to decide. The way he goes about it is considerably horrible even for him. It's becoming evidently clear that "The Twelfth Doctor is dark" isn't the angle their pushing this season, it's "The Twelfth Doctor is an asshole". That isn't to say I don't agree with his arguments for not getting involved because he does make a fair enough points, it's the fact he remarks that it's "time to take the training wheels off of your bike" then leaves only to return seconds after Clara makes her final decision. And then reveal that he sort of knew what was going on all along.

Naturally the weeks of being broken down finally takes its toll on Clara, who finally snaps and tells the Doctor to go away and never come back. This is one episode where Clara has essentially had centre stage over the Doctor and I don't have any problem with it. The Doctor has been constantly pushing her to the limit since his regeneration and finally it's reached breaking point. You really feel for Clara as she launches her rant against her supposed "friend", and Jenna Coleman completely steals the scene. For once the Doctor can't get a word in, and he's deserving of almost everything he gets.

Clara reaches boiling point
Poor Clara: moral dilemmas and that awful space suit

The only question left is just what this new dynamic between the Doctor and Clara is building up to. With a handful of episodes this season left we know Clara didn't mean what she said (and so does Danny by the looks of it), and surely the Doctor can't remain this much of a dick forever? Does he need fixing in the same way the Ninth Doctor did? Is there something more to it or is this just the Doctor we're stuck with now? It all feels like its going somewhere, but with no indication of where this rather interesting interpretation of the Doctor is turning into a very unsettling one as well.

The team investigate what's wrong with the moon
Gives a new meaning to "the man in the moon"

Finally, Kill the Moon is an episode where you have to turn off your brain and just roll with the logical inconsistencies of the whole thing, because there's quite a few things to raise an eyebrow even for Who standards. Other than it's questionable use of gravity, there's the fact that a) surely only HALF of the world would get a vote in the moon-destroying decision, b) that the egg hatching proves to be fairly unspectacular and c) the creature inside can apparently lay a new moon of almost equal size a minute or so after hatching. Okay then.

Kill the Moon is a fairly odd viewing experience, one that proves to be as equally frustrating as it does gripping. The episode tackles head on possibly the most interesting Doctor/companion dynamic we've seen in the TARDIS, but at the same times seems to be trying the patience of its audience just as much as it is Clara's. Next week we have a little breather from that as the Doctor embarks on his own solo adventure, so maybe when he comes back things might start returning to more comfortable territory.

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