Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Doctor Who 8.07 - Kill the Moon

This week’s Doctor Who episode Kill the Moon was perplexing. I can’t tell if it was okay, if oddly paced, or just tired and confusing. The plot idea itself was pretty interesting though and I guess for once we can’t blame Steven Moffat for all the bad stuff!

Follow me under the cut for a review of Kill the Moon.

The episode starts with an angry confrontation between the Doctor and Clara. Apparently after her trip in the TARDIS, Courtney Woods told Clara that the Doctor told her she wasn’t special. Feeling for her, Clara implores the Doctor to think of her future and to tell her that she is special, which he doesn’t seem to understand. This Doctor is plain mean really, and frankly that doesn’t make him someone I care about or really want to watch.

To prove that Courtney can be something, the Doctor orchestrates a trip to the Moon. Unfortunately the TARDIS materialises inside a shuttle headed for the Moon in 2049. The tired and beaten looking astronauts, headed up by Captain Lundvik, have arrived on the Moon to destroy it with nuclear missiles. It turns out that something has been happening to the Moon and it has cause massive destruction on the Earth; destroying it will mean no further harm to mankind.

There is a brief interlude in which creepy space germs (that really look like giant space spiders!) attack various members of the gang. Courtney manages to kill one with some disinfectant she has with her – the last time she travelled in the TARDIS she threw up everywhere. Scared, she pleads to return home, but the Doctor simply tells her to wait in the TARDIS.

It’s disappointing that one of the coolest and scariest things in the episode, the space spiders, are really only a minor blimp in the episode. They are really well animated and creepy. It’s also disappointing that after waiting so long to have a kid/teenager in the TARDIS we are always left with bewildered and surly, two dimensional characters. Courtney had a lot of potential, maybe she still does, but it was wasted in this episode for the most part.

Further investigation shows that the Moon is in fact, not a Moon at all but an egg. There is something growing inside of it and the forces being felt on Earth are the result of the egg hatching. Captain Lundvik, the last member of her crew, wants to kill whatever it is in order to save humanity on Earth. Although astonished by this view, the Doctor says that this is a point of flux in time. That whatever happens in the future is based on now. He doesn’t know what is the right decision, he doesn’t have more information, but he also does not think that this should be his decision to make. He returns Courtney to Clara and Captain Lundvik and leaves them to make a decision.

Unable to agree, the group ask the citizens of Earth to vote, to make a decision by turning their lights on for the creature to live and off for the creature to be destroyed. Dishearteningly, the Earth goes black and Captain Lundvik is happy to see the detonation of the missiles through. Courtney and Clara don’t agree and Clara pushes the override just in time. The TARDIS appears and the Doctor takes them to Earth to watch the birth of a beautiful space creature while the Moon ‘shell’ disintegrates. The creature simply flies away and lays a new egg in its place, re-establishing Earth’s tides. The Doctor says that on a day when the world and humanity could have turned its back, they looked up instead and they saw something wonderful and beautiful. This is the catalyst for them exploring space and populating the galaxy. I think the Doctor even illustrates how important this is for Courtney, making her part of that decision and experience and saying, I think, that she might even go on to become the PM.

There’s a lovely moment when Captain Lundvik thanks Clara for what she has done and the two women look with respect at one another. I also have to say, although it could have been a bit more engaging, having three women trying to make an important decision together was a good thing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very well executed.

This is cemented in Clara’s furious and frankly, confusing rant at the end of the episode. I couldn’t tell why she was so angry. I understand that the Doctor didn’t tell the whole truth and left her to make the decision, but I actually believed it was because he respected her and thought the decision should be made by the human’s present rather than by him. He HAS been accused of having a God complex in the past. I suppose the irritants for her might be that he seemed to have additional information – that the egg would disintegrate and no one would be harmed – and chose not to share that information with Clara, seemingly (and patronisingly) testing her, but that wasn’t her argument. Her argument was that he shouldn’t have left her there and that that is not what friends do. Honestly, it felt like a bit of a tantrum and dummy spit. Even if she had cause, she certainly didn’t come off as articulate or right. She was raving. The emotional connection between the characters and the words just wasn’t there.

With that rant over she tells the Doctor to leave, to go far away and to never come back. Wow.

All of this seems strange. There is certainly precedent for the Doctor asking his companions to make decisions without him when he felt the decision had to be made that way. He has also had companions intervene when he is making a bad decision, rather than working on blind trust and faith. I’m not really sure how this is different?

As Clara recounts the story to Danny it all becomes clear that this is to fuel the previous episodes Big-Danny-Rant about the Doctor being an officer and that one day he will push Clara too far and she needs to tell him about it so he can help. He tells her to get calm and then firm up her decision and I loose even more interest in Clara and even more enthusiasm about the show.

This is not in any way empowering. This is not Martha Jones at the end of her season, coming to the Doctor and saying that she cannot live like this or be treated the way she feels she is being treated. That there is more for her out in the world and she’ll never be all she can be if she never backs herself alone in a crisis and relies on the Doctor. This is a whingey, blindly faithful side-kick who got a boyfriend and started questioning the Doctor’s choices and swapped one male crutch for another.

In terms of the plot execution, though the idea itself was really cool, it just fell over a bit. This was like a much less exciting and moving version of The Beast Below. Maybe you should watch that instead?

Next week the Orient Express in Space, and perhaps a little less from the companions.

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