REVIEW: Doctor Who – ‘Kill the Moon’

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in 'Kill the Moon'.
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor in ‘Kill the Moon’.

So what happened?

Hot on the heels of Courtney’s barf-inducing trip to Space with the Doctor in last week’s episode, Clara demands that her pupil be apologised to after he’d told the girl she wasn’t special. Rather than wasting his breath on an apology, Twelve decides to prove she is indeed a special snowflake by taking the student and her teacher to the Moon in 2049 and promising her she’ll be the first woman to set foot on it. The fly in the ointment comes when they land the TARDIS in a space shuttle rigged with several nuclear bombs, and are confronted by a team of astronauts headed up by Lundvik (Hermione Norris), who are tasked with blowing up the Earth’s rapidly growing satellite which has already caused havoc on it’s nearest planet.

Encouraging them to investigate why the Moon is growing, The Doctor, his two companions and the astronauts find the remnants of a Mexican base and are confronted with a cobwebbed corpse, and it isn’t long before they come face to face with the culprit; a huge alien, spider-like creature. After two members of Lundvik’s team are picked off by them and The Doctor is attacked by one, he comes to the surprising conclusion that these ‘Spider-Germs’ are actually parasitical and are hosting on a much bigger creature encased inside the eggshell-like crust of the Moon.

Twelve explaining to Clara, Courtney and Lundvik that what they've just done has changed the future course of the human race.
Twelve explaining to Clara, Courtney and Lundvik that what they’ve just done has changed the future course of the human race.

Undecided about what to do, Clara, Courtney and the remaining astronaut look to Twelve for answers, but instead of offering his help, he hops in the TARDIS and leaves them to determine the future of their own species. Not wanting to shoulder the responsibility on her own, the English teacher manages to broadcast the dilemma to Earth’s surviving inhabitants using one of the remaining, functioning satellites and requests that they turn off their lights if they want to blow up the creature with their already primed nuclear weapons, or to leave them on if they don’t. As the deadline approaches, slowly the lights begin to go out, and it seems like the decision is made. That is until Clara has a fit of conscience and aborts the detonation with seconds to spare before The Doctor pops back and ushers them to a beach on their home planet, just in time to watch the creature hatch and fly away without causing further harm. In fact it’s even so kind as to lay another Moon-egg before it leaves. Solemnly, the Time Lord tells them that this decision at this point in time coaxes humans ‘to look to the Stars’ and therefore secures their survival to the end of time.

Furious with his decision to abandon them, however, Clara heeds her boyfriend’s words from last week about being pushed too far and tells The Doctor that she wants nothing more to do with him, seemingly leaving her free to concentrate on her job and her relationship with Danny.

The hideously creepy, Spider-germ.
The hideously creepy, Spider-germ.

Monster of the Week

Marieke: Again a twist is added and the monster of the week is not the monster of the week (remember the Teller?). At first the spiders look like the big bad of the episode. And boy do the work or what?! They creeped me out. Massively. The pitter-patter of spider feet in the dark… Oh the hairs on my neck even react to this description. Properly terrifying. But wait, no, they’re not really spiders, they’re bacteria. Which can be fought with some Dettol basically. Which helps for sleeping at night (with a bottle of Dettol by your side), but also effectively erases the tension in the show. Then it became the moon as egg idea that was the big monster. Spider bacteria what? It’s all about the chicken dragon and the egg and the moon being destroyed. Or not. Something like that.

Danielle: Perhaps there’s something in this whole bad guy not actually being the bad guy theme that’s been played out a couple of times this series? They’ve certainly made a point of flagging Twelve’s own uncertainty about being a ‘good man’. Maybe the biggest alien The Doctor will have to fight this time around is himself? Duh! Duh! Duhhhhhh!

Creep Factor

Marieke: High during the spiders bit. And then… Low. No, wait. High, because it made me slightly uncomfortable. High, because a conversation happened that essentially can be seen as an abortion debate. I don’t mind sci-fi tapping into the more serious stuff, but this just didn’t feel right to me. I don’t know if children would pick up on this, but still, does a pro-life argument really belong in a show like this? I am not even sure if it was obvious to the regular mature crowd, but it made me feel a little queasy to say the least. I also have to add that the Earth getting a vote on destroying the moon or not by using lights was ridiculous, because not everyone has electricity (but hey, who cares about those people?) and also half the world would have quite a hard time showing that their lights are actually on (but hey, who cares about countries that are not Europe?). It feels like this wasn’t thought through at all or maybe too much and just not in the right way.

Danielle: Like Marieke, I do feel that this monster-egg plot was problematic, but there’s two ways to look at it. Either it’s a thinly veiled commentary on abortion, or there’s a wider debate on humans learning not to act with violence towards things they don’t understand and therefore fear. Twelve’s speech on the beach reinforced that for me. At a time when a huge number of species are becoming extinct because of our actions, I tend to lean towards the latter as it fits in with the wider ethos of the show, but I can see why my blog buddy’s mind went there.

It's 2049 and Robbie is still refusing to do the Take That Comeback-Comeback gig on the Moon.
It’s 2049 and Robbie is still refusing to do the Take That Comeback-Comeback gig on the Moon.

Mystery

Danielle: I guess the real mystery was what the creature entombed at the centre of the Moon really was. It looked a lot like a dragon and put me in mind of the ancient Chinese myths where a dragon swallows our largest satellite, of course with a twist. Perhaps us not knowing was part of the point of the episode. Did it really matter as long as it left us alone unscathed?

Marieke: Ooh I like that Chinese dragon idea Danielle thought about. That helps me a little, because I didn’t find a lot to enjoy this episode. I have to say I don’t mind not seeing Missy and Chrissy (we don’t know his name in the show yet!) again as a teaser, but I would like to know a little more about the big mystery arc so at the same time I am annoyed we didn’t see them. We all know it’s there, come on already Moffat!

Hermione Norris as Lundvik
Hermione Norris as Lundvik.

Familiar Face of the Week

We are always happy to see Hermione Norris, who played the eternally badass Ros in Spooks, back on our screens. As with previous guest star, Keeley Hawes, we can’t help but feel she’d make a great Bond villain.

The Verdict?

It’s safe to say that ‘Kill the Moon’ was far from our favourite episode. Everything from an undercooked plot to some achingly painful dialogue left us thoroughly underwhelmed this week, although the little nods to ‘Let’s Kill Hitler’ and River’s conception when Twelve forbade any ‘hanky panky’ in the TARDIS came as welcome relief.  It’s a shame as things seemed to be picking up. Hopefully it was just a temporary blip.

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