Sunday, October 5, 2014

Doctor Who 8.07: "Kill the Moon"

“Just now I can’t tell what happens to the Moon because whatever happens to the Moon hasn’t been decided yet. And it’s going to be decided here and now, which very much sounds as though it’s up to us.”
-The Doctor

I wouldn’t say “Kill the Moon” was one of my all-time favorite episodes of “Doctor Who,” but it certainly wasn’t bad, either. I saw many of the plot twists coming from a mile away, but I wouldn’t say that makes it clichéd. I think it was predictable more because I’ve seen so many episodes of “Doctor Who” and know the characters so well. We also got some interesting development in the arc of Clara’s relationship with Twelve. She still hasn’t managed to adjust to the new, harsher version of the Doctor, and in this episode, she reaches her breaking point. This episode also provides more screen time for Coal Hill student Courtney, who is a precocious but thoughtful when the situation calls for it teenager. As you would pretty much expect from “Doctor Who.” All in all, the episode, while not mindblowing, is definitely worth a watch.

The episode begins firmly on Earth, where the Doctor and Clara are arguing about how the Doctor has been treating Courtney. Apparently the Doctor told Courtney that she’s not special, and she’s been acting out with even more of a vengeance ever since. Clara basically wants the Doctor to treat Courtney with more kindness, which I think is fair enough. The Doctor decides that the solution is to take Clara and Courtney on a trip to the Moon. It turns out to be more than Clara bargained for, though. The TARDIS lands inside a Space Shuttle that is in the process of crashing into the Moon. Said Shuttle also happens to be carrying nuclear weapons. The Doctor and Clara are introduced to the crew, which is led by Captain Lundvik, a no-nonsense woman with short, blonde hair.

As the Doctor chats with Lundvik and her crew, he starts acting strangely, walking very deliberately in an odd manner and also playing with a yoyo. When questioned about what he is doing, the Doctor says he is conducting a gravity test. It turns out that the Moon’s gravity is significantly higher than it should be, and the Doctor is concerned about the resulting high tides causing significant damage to many of Earth’s cities. Lundvik says it’s too late. There has already been a significant amount of tidal destruction, and her crew has been sent to try and put a stop to it. As we’d expect from a group of humans, the method Lundvik and her crew have been told to use is blowing it up with nuclear weapons. This gives the Doctor pause, also as we’d expect.

The Doctor, Clara, and Courtney start exploring the Moon’s surface along with Lundvik and her crew. Their destination is the abandoned ship of the Mexican mineral survey crew who were the Moon’s last visitors before our intrepid crew. The Doctor has found evidence of a whole bunch of fault lines, which can lead to only one conclusion. The Moon is falling apart, and quickly. For now, though, the Doctor and crew have a more immediate problem. They are being chased around by a big kind-of-spider-looking thing. It zeroes in on Courtney, and somehow she ends up killing it with disinfectant. She is able to kill it with disinfectant because it’s actually a giant germ. I’m not sure if that’s more or less frightening than the idea of it being a giant spider.

Courtney was understandably frightened by the experience of being attacked by a giant germ, and Clara wants the Doctor to take some sort of action to protect Courtney. The Doctor ends up locking her in the TARDIS. Clara also, however, wants to go home right away. The Doctor tries to convince her to stay by saying that there are brief moments in time that he can’t “see,” and this is one of them. It’s a pivotal moment in the history of humanity, and he’s not sure how it will turn out. Clara says it must be okay considering they have traveled much farther in the future and the Moon is still there and Earth is fine. The Doctor says that he still can’t be sure. Lundvik says that her crew are the last astronauts, and they are using the last Space Shuttle and the last bombs. If they don’t solve this problem, nobody will. This particular scene hit me, because I’ve been a space nut since I was a kid, and it makes me sad that nobody cares about space exploration anymore.

The crew goes out exploring the Moon’s surface again, and after surviving a germ attack, something in a crevasse catches the Doctor’s attention. It turns out that the substance is amniotic fluid. Before anybody can stop him, the Doctor jumps down into the huge crevasse to investigate further. The rest of the crew are a little unsure if he will return, but return he does. Back at the Shuttle, the Doctor starts running tests and doing generally science-y stuff. His conclusion is that the Moon is actually an egg for a gigantic interstellar being, and it’s about to hatch. Lundvik’s reaction, of course, is that she wants to kill it because it is killing so many people on Earth with the tidal flooding. Clara isn’t so sure, although she hasn’t made up her mind. Courtney, when she hears about what is going on, is very against killing the creature, and she wants to be let out of the TARDIS immediately to help save it. Oh, and Courtney posted pictures of the Doctor on Tumblr, which made him extra grumpy!

The Doctor comes up with a rather harsh but interesting plan to deal with the situation. He’s going to leave the fate of the creature up to Lundvik, Clara, and Courtney. Since this is a pivotal moment in the history of humanity, he thinks he should stay out of it. The trio have a lot of trouble coming to a consensus. Ground control contacts them to find out what is going on, and Clara uses their connection to broadcast a message to Earth. She basically wants to poll all of humanity. She asks everyone to turn their lights off if they think the creature should be killed and leave the lights on if they think the creature should be allowed to live. This doesn’t seem like a very effective poll to me since it’s not going to be night on the entirety of Earth during the short window they have to act. It probably would have been better if she just had everyone leave a comment on Courtney’s Tumblr…

I guess I’m a cynic, but when watching this part of the episode, I couldn’t believe that in real life, humanity would vote to save the creature. The recent Ebola hysteria is proof enough of many people’s (not everyone’s) lack of compassion when the chips are down. I think the Internet in general has made me cynical just because of the straight-up nasty comments people post everywhere. Anyway, my cynicism is proven justified in this case, because all of the lights on Earth start turning off with a vengeance. Clara seems to be regretting her decision to let humanity vote on this, and Lundvik is just about to push the button to set off the nuclear bombs. Clara stops Lundvik from pushing the button, and at that moment, the Doctor arrives and pulls all of them into the TARDIS. He takes them down to Earth and shows them what happened when the Moon hatched. The creature just flew off, and the “shell” was so thin that no damage was done to Earth. To top things off, the creature even laid a new Moon before leaving! Before leaving Lundvik behind, the Doctor tells the group that this event is what inspires humanity to spread out across the universe, and that the decision to start exploring space again is what allows humanity to endure to the end of time. The Captain thanks the Doctor, and the Doctor, Courtney, and Clara whoop off in the TARDIS.

Back in the 2014, the Doctor drops off Courtney back at Coal Hill School, and Clara shoos Courtney off to class. Then the Doctor and Clara have quite a row. Clara thinks that the Doctor’s whole stunt where he pretended to let the three humans decide the fate of the creature was incredibly patronizing. In fact, she pretty much thinks he’s been consistently patronizing ever since regenerating. And I guess she wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Clara ends up telling the Doctor to just go away. Back at her apartment, Clara tells Danny what happened. She’s clearly very upset. Danny says he’s seen that look before on himself after he left the Army. He doesn’t think that Clara is done with the Doctor, because if she’s still angry she obviously still cares.

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