JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 7- Kill The Moon

Wow, that was quite something.

Okay, so that's the episode in a sentence review out of the way, now lets get into the more detailed stuff shall we.

Lets start off with the plot premise here, and I would advise not reading any further if you haven't seen the episode yet, because I am going to spoil pretty much all of it. So, we kick off with The Doctor taking Clara and Courtney on a trip to the moon in the future because the Doctor hurt Courtney's feelings in the last episode. Of course, we know how good the Doctor is at keeping children under Clara's care out of trouble (see last seasons "Nightmare In Silver"), so as you'd expect everything goes tits up the moment they arrive and they find themselves on a crashing space shuttle in a room full of nuclear bombs. Ok, pause. I know the space shuttle isn't designed to land on the moon, but you'd have thought that NASA would have had a better plan than "oh, just let it crash", unless of course something went wrong, forcing the shuttle to crash, but they don't go into that at all. Meanwhile, in this very tame crash, none of the bombs manage to dislodge themselves from their rather frail looking holdings and blow everyone up, which is nice. Our heroes are then discovered by the crew of the ship, who threaten to kill the TARDIS crew, despite not having any weapons of any kind apart from aforementioned nuclear bombs and our heroes are only saved from this painful and agonising non-death by the Doctor talking an awful lot, which does of course give Peter Capaldi an opportunity to be smart, do a funny walk and play with a yo-yo. The TARDIS crew then join up with the three members of the shuttle crew to investigate a missing moon mission from Mexico (say that three times fast) which was apparently up there collecting mineral samples and has been missing for a year. We discover their moon base in fairly good condition, minus the fact the airlock has been blown open and the insides covered in what seems like spider web (plus the obligatory dead body, which has been devoured whilst still in its spacesuit, which is very Vasta Narada). This gives the team an opportunity to leave the token useless, over passive guy out side to do nothing until he gets eaten by the monster, which then proceeds to walk in the open airlock and into the moon base. Meanwhile our heroes are in the moon base discovering that they can get the oxygen working enough so that they can take their helmets off, despite the fact the airlock is open for the monster to get in and then set about finding out that the Mexicans found that the moon has no mineral trace (thus throwing all of NASA's Apollo mission data into disrepute and meaning that those 6 hugely expensive expeditions were nothing more than an excuse to drive around and play golf on an extraterrestrial body, but we'll ignore that for the sake of the story). All of a sudden the monster arrives, turns out to have the same weakness as the T-Rex from Jurassic Park (i.e. it can't see you if you don't move) and promptly kills one of the astronauts, leaving just one, the captain, who is cut straight from the same mould as that woman from "The Waters On Mars", being all over tough and "I must do my job, even though I'm really not sure what I'm dealing with and if that means I have to die then I will die and be happy about it. Hang on what do you mean I don't get to die, I wanted to die." (You know, basically summing up her entire character development in two sentences. And I think I did a pretty decent job). Then, after killing said extraneous astronaut, the monster turns on Courtney, who sprays it with anti-bactireal spray she just happens to have in her space suit pocket (no idea? Oh and also, where did the Doctor get those two extra spacesuits from any way? He nicked his from the base in "The Satan Pit"). The Doctor then surmises that the monsters that everyone at home thinks are spiders are in fact MASSIVE (yes, full capitals) bacteria (even though a bacteriological life form would not be able to grow to that size due to it's body structure, but hell what do I know. And here's a question for you. If they weren't spiders, what was with the webs?). Courtney declares she's scared and is sent back to the TARDIS, whilst the Doctor goes off to get attacked by aforementioned Spiderteria and then jump in a crater filled with amniotic fluid, which he emerges from a few minutes later quite dry. We are then shown a natty hologram of something inside the moon, which is apparently a giant egg and told that it is hatching. Clara of course expects the Doctor to make all the decisions and is quite dismayed (to put it lightly) when he summons Courtney back from the TARDIS and summarily buggers of to leave the humans to deal with it (much like Matt Smith did in the last Silurian episode, only he was much nicer about the whole thing). Clara then makes a broadcast to Earth to try to dump the burden on anyone else and humanity replies back in the only way humanity knows "kill it" (despite the fact that blowing up the moon would probably screw the Earth up just as much as the moon hatching into a giant space creature, but hey, we get to kill something). So of course they don't kill it, thanks to a very last minute intervention by Clara. The Doctor comes back, the egg hatches, doesn't destroy the Earth and conveniently leaves another moon in its place (and rather amusingly the tide still seems to be normal during the time the egg was being laid, which is highly unlikely). And finally it's back to school time for Courtney, leaving Clara alone with the Doctor, who she gives a very tart dressing down before declaring that she never wants to see him again and storms off. At which point the current best character, Danny Pink, comes in, makes some mysterious allusions to his past and makes Clara realise she does in fact want to see the Doctor again, and we end on some thought provoking shots of Clara looking at the moon. The End.

So, this episode has more holes in it than the moon would if it were made from cheese. The whole scenario the Doctor leaves the three humans with is a complete lose- lose, they blow up the moon- the Earth is screwed, they don't blow up the moon- the Earth is screwed 'cause the moon still gets destroyed. The lead astronaut was stupendously annoying once the Doctor returns to the scene, acting like she just went to the moon so she could kill herself. God almightily cheer up woman. And of course the premise its self is ridiculous. Bacteria that size would collapse in on themselves before they could even move a millimetre. But you know what. None of that even matters. Because this episode was truly and honestly fantastic. Five out of five. A+. And you know why. Peter Capaldi.

By rights this episode should have been a catastrophe. I've outlined all of its plot problems above. But I only really thought of those afterwards, whilst I was writing this. Because all the time Capadli was on the screen he owned it. I love the fact that he was just doing what we've seen the Doctor do before, but in his own gruff and awkward way. And the fact that he's still so new makes it better in a way. Of course we all know he's going to come back in the end, but apparently Clara still doesn't trust him enough yet and it makes the scenario work. And the fact he can't come back from Clara's rant at him at the end. He was not in the wrong. Not in any way shape or form. He's right, there are times when you have to make your own decisions, take responsibility for your actions and not rely on someone else. But he did it in such a brutal fashion (he basically said "well I'm out of here. Bye guys, oh and make sure you make the right decision, because either way it could cost lives. Not saying what the right decision is, but I'm sure you'll figure it out. Cheerio"), Clara had every right to hate his guts. It just worked so well it actually didn't matter how stupid the rest of the story was with all its plot holes and random inconsistencies.

Not saying that there still aren't problems though. And apart from the ones already listed, there's still a massive white elephant, which has been sitting there in the middle of the room, taking up room on the couch, ever since this series started. Clara. This was a character development episode for Clara, blatantly by how the story turned out. So why is she still leaving me feeling cold. Whilst she was mad at the Doctor I couldn't sympathise with her, all I could think was "yeah I see your point, but I can't really bring myself to care that much." I have no idea what it is still, but I honestly don't feel anything towards her. I don't like her, I don't hate her, she's just there, taking up space on the screen and to be brutally honest, if she had left the Doctor after todays episode, I wouldn't miss her. I wouldn't even care that she'd gone. And after 12 episodes and two specials as main companion (basically a full series), that's not a good position to be in. She's in the same boat as Martha, but Martha gets bonus points for following Rose, who is easily my least favourite companion by a mile. Clara has to follow Amy, who was peppy, inquisitive and feisty, plus she was a more interesting character anyway. I don't know if Clara is salvageable as a character at this point. I hope she is, but after having so long to make an impression and not having done so…..

So to round up: an episode that should have been terrible, given all the plot holes, that turned out to be good because the new Doctor is harsh and Clara doesn't trust him. Not bad.

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7 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 7- Kill The Moon

  1. Malfar says:

    Oooh I liked this episode so much I don’t know where to start. Actually, I do. I totally love all the aforementioned plot holes, sillyness and unrealistic stuff. Like, the giant newborn alien right after hatching hatches an egg the size of itself? Nuts! Still great, though.

    Although while I watched I was a bit disappointed about the plot. I genuinely thought and hoped that it could have something to do with some earlier episodes. Like, the web could be a sign of Yetis (in the episodes with the Second Doctor, those fluffy robots actually had something to do with webs). Then after revealing that the moon is an egg I first thought about Space Vampires from “The State of Decay” with the Fourth Doctor. That would be one hell of an epic story. Another guess was that it might be a space whale from “The Beast Below”. But it’s a new creature. A bit annoying that it’s again “The one of its kind”, though.

    I didn’t believe it when the background music stopped and the Doctor said that he will do nothing and leave the choice to Klara. It didn’t look serious. It reminded me of a “How It Should Have Ended” video series. Like when the character says something he maybe had to say but you don’t really expect it from him.

    Now about Clara. You know, I liked her better when she was Mary Sue. Somehow I am still so not used to her. She is great, like all other companions, but I preferred the ever-calm and ever-wise Clara.

    Not on the subject of this episode. Martha is super-cool. And I honestly don’t see Rose as perfect companion. Although, for me perfect companions are Leela and K-9. Still, I like all of them. Every single one.

    P.S. Yo-yo! An instrument for gravity checking since Tom Baker’s Doctor (if not Patrick Troughton’s)! It’s awesome and will always be.

  2. JR19759 says:

    @Malfar- I was hoping it was the return of the Metablis Spiders from John Pertwee’s final episode, but no *sighs*. There was no way it was going to be the Yeti’s because they wouldn’t bring the Great Intelligence back so soon.
    Rose certainly wasn’t the perfect companion and I would never even insinuated that. She was selfish, self-centred and too needy. She was just annoying. I don’t care for Martha at all, she was a weak companion IMO, but she was much better than Rose

  3. Vampyrist says:

    This is my least favorite episode of the series. The good things cannot come close to outweighing the bad and plain stupid.

    Doctor Who’s relationship with science has been iffy in the past, but Kill the Moon just decided to crap over the basic laws of physics. The moon cannot gain mass. It is impossible. Eating minerals does not cause the moon to gain mass. The mass of a system remains constant. And even if somehow it could gain mass, to gain billions of tons in a few years just makes it ludicrously wrong. A simple line about pulling in asteroids could have fixed this (Adding mass to the system). A handwave yes, but at least it doesn’t violate the laws of physics/biology. This ruined all suspension of disbelief. Adding to this is the break in the tides. When they go to the beach, they didn’t even bother to change the background. The tide went in, tide went out. Explain that. If the moon, the source of tides disappeared even for a second, the tides would stop. They didn’t. Even if the magical space dragon hatched then immediately hatched the egg. There would be a period of tide stoppage and mayhem. The decision not to even alter the background is utterly stupid and for anyone who even basically understands how tides work, ruins suspension of disbelief.

    On to the next are of stupid. Biology. One celled organisms cannot grow that large. If they could, it would be in the form of a amorphous blob, not a spider. The spiders only existed to add a physical threat, which in my opinion is unnecessary in this psychological episode. Stick to the moral dilemma, don’t shoehorn nonsensical threats. Spiders are creepy, so is the blob. Additionally, organisms do not immediately lay an egg after birth. It just doesn’t happen.

    Additionally, what happened to the other space programs. Russia has one, India has one, not to mention private industry. Are we really to expect that by 2049 all space exploration has stopped. This is ludicrous. If anything, it would only get bigger. Private industry would take initiatives and other countries would advance. Space industries are valuable. Technological advancements make space more and more viable.

    Now we move on to the non scientific flaws. Courtney. The writing for children is bad. They only exist to be put in danger or be annoying. She did nothing for the episode except stand stupidly to get attacked or be annoying in the tardis. The captain was a decent character, but a retread of the Waters of Mars.

    The doctor’s leaving was a dick move. The twelfth doctor has been uncaring, but abandoning Clara is too heartless. Is Moffat actively trying to poison our views of the Doctor. I like Capaldi as the Doctor, but his scripts only seem to exist to make us hate him. Leaving like that for humanity to make its decision is so cruel, it does not fit the doctor. The decision is also a nonsensical one. It has a simple answer, the wrong one according to this episode. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    Now on to the things I liked. Capaldi is always good, he’s becoming one of my favorite doctors. His scene with the YoYo was great as was some of his delivery. Clara’s reaction to the doctor’s mindbogglingly cruel decision was good. The concept of the moon somehow gaining mass is good, though it needs far better explanation of how it could come to be.

    So overall, this episode is too bogged down by bad science. Good performances cannot save it. Kill the Moon should have been Kill this episode.

  4. JWTX says:

    I think this was actually my favorite episode of the new doctor so far, scientific holes and all. While I’m sure I’ll get some backlash from this, I think it was because it was NOT a Moffat episode. I know Gatiss did the Robin Hood one, but I think he’s too close to Moffat to give us just a random stand alone Doctor Who adventure without the Moffat-ness. Long rant aside, Moffat might have some good episodes as a writer, but since becoming show runner I feel like he treats the audience like idiots who need things spoon fed to them, while at the same time withholding lackluster desserts like wall cracks, Trenzalore, and whatever the Promise Land ends up being. To me, the endurance of Doctor Who is and has been the doctor and his adventures. The whole tease them with some season long or longer mystery (see wall crack mentioned above) is a cheap ploy you use when you don’t have faith in the characters or story and need to force audiences to come back week after week to learn more of the mystery.

    As far as this episode, yes, the astronaut captain was much like the one on ‘Waters of Mars’, but that episode/special is one of my favorites. As far as science, I honestly don’t go to Doctor Who for my scientific studies, so I’m happy to suspend disbelief while watching a show about a Timelord alien with two hearts, who travels through space and time in a blue police box that’s bigger on the inside, and who also wields a space wand with a glowing light that has the ability to do all sorts of random things. Oh, and his biggest enemy has a plunger for a hand. So that being said, the moon being a giant egg with an alien inside… bring it on. Plus, this show’s budget has come a long way since 2005, but it’s still TV so CGI tides, cities in chaos due to exploding moon, etc. Someone see if Michael Bay is available… just kidding.

    I also enjoyed that Capaldi wasn’t a complete jerk to everyone in the scene like I feel he’s been written as in every episode prior (and without any hint of reason why). Yes, he was still his grumpy, alien-like self that he’s established as the new Doctor, but approachable grumpy with a bit of softness and charisma. More like a wise grandpa who can get grumpy, but also playful rather than a pissed off old man who just needs to take his meds and realize he’s the reason his family doesn’t visit anymore.

    In regards to his leaving abruptly, a little harsh, but again in-line with the Doctor that Capaldi is, but I don’t think it was mean. He trusted Clara (and the hopeful innocence of a teenager, Courtney). Remember this is the same companion that discovered his secret as the War Doctor, sacrificed herself by jumping into his time stream, and ultimately convinced multiple versions of the Doctor to try again to save Gallifrey rather than destroy it, even after hundreds of years of reflection they were still willing to do it again. Also, this isn’t the first time the Doctor has left choice up to a character, whether it be a companion, a one-off character, a group, or an enemy. Sometimes he takes charge, other times he gives them a choice and we’ve seen both of those go good and bad for the Doctor. He knew Clara would save the moon baby (or at the very least Courtney would) and had it turned hostile, would’ve intervened to save Earth AND the alien, but you know… 42 minutes and all.

    As far as Clara, I like her and I like her sassy and confident nature, and if anything I think the Doctor is preparing her to move on (subtly written in this episode) as her own strong person (much like Martha), because generally as a Doctor Who companion you meet a tragic end or move on. The Doctor tragically lost Amy and Rory recently, so this companion will move on, and I suspect we’ll tragically lose the one after Clara. While Moffat might be trying to run some parrallel with how Danny Pink left the Army, I think Clara needs to move on because of something good and not something sad or tragic. Especially since Moffat has made it painfully obvious this season that Clara is merely just a late 20-something female who needs to get married and start having babies because reasons (insert Danny pink, who I actually like). I’m a guy, but I almost feel insulted by how Clara has been treated this season. The cheeky British jokes about her being fat, ugly or old are sort of funny the first time, but annoying every time afterwards.

    Sorry for the TL;DR-ness of this all.

  5. Malfar says:

    I won’t say the word, I won’t say the word, I won’t say the word.

    No, really. Who needs realistic laws of physics in sci-fi? Next time you will say that police boxes can’t be bigger on the inside. I think, the show is what it should be – a fairy tale with magic, where magic is the things that we humans just don’t understand yet. Moon-size fairy dragon laying an egg that is bigger than himself? Great! Gold arrow that jump-starts the Sherwood Robot’s space ship engines? Cool! Satan Pit, flying sharks, Weeping Angels and potato-head warriors? Superb! The words “Doctor Who” and “bad” can’t even be used in one sentence.

  6. Kjakings says:

    But you need a certain level of scientific realism or it ceases to be a sci-fi show. It is, like you said, a fairytale with magic handwaving. The basis for all good science fiction is the first poxy word: science. If you do not have a good foundation of existing science and get your fantasy elements from either the fringes of theoretical work – such as the string theory and quantum physics ideas that would allow for the TARDIS’ extra dimensional rooms and therefore being bigger on the inside – or from extrapolating current technologies to fantastical lengths. The best science fiction becomes science fact in following decades, like many of the technologies present in the original Star Trek. That can never happen when you just decide to screw over all the laws of physics and wave away the bad writing by claiming sci-fi shows don’t need any element of realism, when every single succesful sci-fi franchise has at it’s core a great deal of science, which until recently included Doctor Who.

  7. JR19759 says:

    Okay, before any arguments start, I’m putting a stop to this thread. I can see where this is going and I’m gonna end it before it starts. Whilst I do agree that you do need to have some decent form of scientific basis for any good Sci-Fi show to work, it’s not like Doctor Who doesn’t have form in this department (see the sentient sun from 42, which wasn’t a Moffet episode btw). Everyone has their own opinions and that’s fine, it’s not like we have to agree on everything. Some people liked this episode, some didn’t, I just happen to like the episode, despite its numerous massive flaws. Oh well.