I’ve always thought of myself as a very humble individual, despite the overly egotistical nature of that statement. I’ve never expected much, and asked for even less, but always hoped that such an inoffensively British stance on events would somehow work in my favour once in a while. With this in mind, should I dare threaten your ears with a request I would hope to do so with the utmost amount of pleasantry and manners that you would be favourably inclined to acquiesce to such a suggestion. I’d never ask more than the odd favour, and never take open generosity for granted should it be in attendance. I’m making this clear to you all now so that you can hopefully see my predicament preceding our most recent adventure-jaunt with that most persistent of time travellers, The Doctor. I asked for one thing, ONE THING, from last week. No more Courtney Woods. Sigh. Thanks for nothing humility. Anyway, let’s get on with this. Episode 7. Kill The Moon. Etc. etc.
You may take from the introductory word sprawl that I wasn’t very happy with this latest pizza slice of Whovian adventure, but that’s not the case. The problem is, at least as far as I found, that the show keeps stumbling where it’s always stumbled and succeeding where it’s always succeeding. If we want to delve deeper into those irritatingly vague statements, we have to get address all this plot that drapes over the episode like the figurative pile of dead leaves it is. Can’t do any proper gardening without clearing up first, after all.
So The Doctor is guilt-tripped into taking annoying child on an adventure to show that he didn’t mean to call them unimportant. Destination: Moon-Town! Or, you know, just ‘the Moon’ to you and me. They land on a shuttle that is itself landing on the Moon and full of adorable nuclear weapons. A trio of astronauts accost them (Hermione Norris’ Captain Lundvik and Monster Baits #1 and #2), but are themselves accosted by gruff Glaswegian noise and the standard status quo of a ‘Who’ episode is established. For reasons unknown, the Moon has gained a lot of mass, causing gravity and severe natural disasters on Earth. The astro-person plan is to blow up the Moon with severe force before bits of it twiddle off into the planet and ruin everyone’s day, and to find out what happened on a nearby survey base.
After searching said abandoned Mexican survey base (you can tell Mexicans used to be there as every other flat surface has a Mexican flag on it, plus there’s a poncho. On the Moon. A Moon-poncho. What the f-) they find massive cobwebs and both Monster Baits done get moidered by spiders-but-wait-they’re-not-actually-spiders-they’re-germs-or-something-whaaaaaat. The Doctor goes for a ramble and finds these germ-y beasts have been living in pools of amniotic fluid on the Moon (a-moon-niotic?), ’cause guess what? The Moon’s a ruddy egg. An egg that contains a one-of-a-kind boogin that’s on the verge of hatching. The Doctor admits he has no idea what the outcome of this discovery will be: do they blow up the massive beastie before it’s born and let the nuclear bombs somehow reform the Moon, or do they let it live and be all space hippy about things, even though there’s every chance Moon-bits will destroy the Earth and a giant alien thing will just be floating around now? Do they: Kill the Moon?
Ultimately The Doctor, like all the single ladies, puts his hands up (woah-oh-oh) and chooses to be done with it all. He hops in the TARDIS and leaves the three women (Courtney Woods [boo], Clara [yay] and Lundvik [erm… okay]) to sort it out amongst themselves. What a gent. Lundvik says ‘BOMBS!’ whilst our other two moral debaters say otherwise. Clara wisely opts to ask Earth in a final transmission to use its lights to show whether or not they should kill the Moon-egg-critter, with the result being Earth firmly and resolutely deciding on baby-murder (don’t go changing, humans). However at the last second before the bombs go off, Clara hits the abort button and The Doctor appears to whisk them back to Earth where they see their choice unfold. The space baby saunters away from its harmlessly-disintegrating egg, leaving behind a new Moon-egg in its place and everyone is saved forever.
Now it would be lazy and obviously perfunctory at this point to harp on about Monster Bait is Monster Bait, how one-note characters really love their one note and how child character resurfaces once-thought-lost ‘Newt from ‘Aliens” levels of irritation, but when Doctor Who stumbles on these things it really makes a prat-fall out of it. I’ve read people pulling their teeth out over how cock-awful the science is in this episode, but, seriously guys, it’s a science fiction telly show. Calm down over your science jabber and refocus your grumbles over how its characters and story are butt. Okay, all but two characters are butt.
This episode sees our two leads to some really gosh darn interesting things, firstly The Doctor. If you can cast your mind back to Matt Smith’s inaugural episode, with Olivia Coleman as a trans-dimensional shape-shifting eel and those massive eyes with their cosmic fake lashes, you may recall his declaration that he will always protect the Earth, no matter what. If you’d spent God-knows-how-many years saying that and protecting humans only for them to be distrustful and weird around you with their faces made of ill-shaped ham, eventually you’d get sick of it too. There’s been a bit of a backlash to Capaldi’s cantankerous Doctor, and whilst his decision this episode to just sod off was sudden, he did it with the noblest of causes: so that humans can look after themselves. It’s nice to see that kind of subtle growth.
Likewise, Jenna Coleman’s Clara simmers along for most of this episode until the last five minutes where she really gets to pop. Given how much danger she’s been in in her tenure on Doctor Who, Clara’s always had The Doctor to back her up. What happens when you suddenly take that safety net away in those kind of dire situations? You freak out. You want to go around flipping tables and be excessively angry at the sea or the sky or something. The Doctor doesn’t pull stunts like that. It’s condescending, it’s hurtful and above all else, what if he’s wrong? Coleman gives Clara’s final denouncing of The Doctor as personal and bitter a sting as she can muster that makes me really want to see what happens next (despite Clara not being in next week’s episode due to, well, you know, that big shout I just mentioned). This all ties in to Danny Pink’s ultimatum from last week about being pushed too far, and dearie goodness me, what could this mean for our little time-traveling show?
So, yeah. The main plot’s a donk, the secondary characters are donk and the science is double donk with stupid sprinkles on top. This episode was all based around the idea of The Doctor pushing Clara too far but, whilst that concept is interesting unto itself, everything else about the episode was left to hang around lifelessly like the poor tattered cloth remnants of a Chinese washing line on a breeze-less Beijing summer afternoon. You know the kind I’m talking about.