“Tell me what you knew or I’ll slap you so hard you regenerate.”
– Clara Oswald
Some of the best moments on Doctor Who are the philosophical debates. Often what sets the show apart is the Doctor’s compassion and patience.
Many shows have a “monster of the week” format. The goal normally is to defeat that monster and save mankind. But I love the moments on this show when the answer isn’t that simple. Maybe the monster is just lost and scared. Maybe it’s not a monster at all. Maybe we are the ones terrorizing it.
So on that level, I enjoyed “Kill the Moon.” It set up a fantastic debate – our heroes discover that the moon is actually an egg that is about to hatch. If they let that happen, it could ruin the entire ecosystem of Earth and potentially release a deadly monster. But that is all speculation. It could just be that nothing will change. Can you take that risk?
What I like about the debate is that neither side is really wrong. Killing the creature to save Earth is the safest course of action. It’s just also heartless.
But obviously, as dark as this show can sometimes get in the Moffat era, I think we all knew that the solution was going to be to let it live. The show is heavy, but not the heavy. Ultimately, it is optimistic, so the creature had to live and society had to be rewarded for that.
Thematically, this episode reminded me a lot of the early Amy Pond episode “The Beast Below” where a star whale was being tortured to power a ship full of human survivors. The fear was that if they stopped torturing it, everyone on board would die. It was in great pain and the Doctor was about to lobotomize it when Amy took a chance and freed the whale, giving it the choice to power the ship without being tortured, which it of course did.
The one thing that episode had that this episode lacked was better supporting pieces. I thought the weakness of “Kill the Moon” was that, while the debate itself was interesting, everything else happening in the episode was fairly dull.
It was a lot scenes where people just stood around and talked. Or wandered around the moon. The backgrounds to the scenes were gray and boring. There wasn’t a lot of action. And the supporting characters themselves were unmemorable.
So I loved the idea, but the execution seemed a bit lackluster. I wanted more from the episode as a whole. Thought I did enjoy the visual of the moon hatching and freeing the creature at the end. That was a great shot.
I also totally buy that this adventure would burn Clara out and make her question what she’s been doing this whole time. With Jenna Coleman leaving after the Christmas special, I thought this was a good way to plant a seed of doubt in her head that will eventually lead to her saying goodbye to the Doctor.
She has a reason to stay in Danny Pink. And she is beginning to see that the Doctor, while amazing, isn’t someone you can follow forever or build a life around. I’m curious what the next few episodes will bring (especially since the previews for next week didn’t show Clara at all) and how their relationship will play out as we reach Clara’s end game.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.