[Review] - Doctor Who, Series 8 Episode 7, "Kill The Moon"

Courtesy of the BBC
A question before I start, and this isn't so much a critique about this episode, but just in general: how hard is it to google how old the moon is? There, I just did it. Took about five seconds to type, and 0.41 seconds to find out it's 4.527 billion years old. I knew that before, but if I hadn't, I would now, and it took less time then it does to say the word "moon" aloud. So, why is it then, that no one seems able to put this readily available information to use? Especially the writers on Doctor Who, who seem to have this fetish about not aging the moon properly.

The Silurians, who are either from the Silurian era or the Eocene era (neither of which had dinosaurs, by the way), apparently went underground because of the moon coming into orbit (which isn't how we got the moon, but anyway), and that's rubbish because either era is still a solid 4 billion years off the mark. In this episode, twice, the Doctor dates the moon at having been around for only 100 million years. The implication in that figure, which was not a figure of speech because it was used verbatim twice, is that the dinosaurs woke up one day moonless, and went to bed with a new friend in the sky.

This was a solid episode, with a lot of old school flourishes and a whiz-bang of an ending, but through it all it's piddly little shit like this that gets in my way. Because it's little shit like this that is easy to fact check, and having the Doctor say 4.527 billion instead of 100 million changes the episode in no way, other than the fact that one way its right and the other way its stupid.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers whose Gran used to post things to Tumblr.


One thing the old series of Doctor Who never did quite as well as it does now was the heavily emotional stuff. On occasion, it stepped up, but on the whole the writing was about as deep as it's special effects budget: it used what it could find in the cupboard. When I think of this, I think of moments like companion departures, which should be a Big Moment in the life of the TARDIS. Some departures, like Sarah Jane or Adric received the attention they deserved, and are heralded at great moments in the series' history. Others, like the abrupt departures of Susan or Leela seem like they were dashed off while in the elevator on the way to set. The departure of Tegan is more the latter, and deserved to be the former. And Clara, at the end of this episode, was everything that a companion's departure like Tegan's should be.

Because so much attention of late has been given to the companions falling in love with the Doctor, or coming to tragic ends, that we forget that sometimes, the companions just get fed up. Tegan left after having suffered through one horror too many. And here, Clara gets an enviable goodbye after delivering a devastating "you suck" speech to the man who once amused and entertained her. His new self ran off leaving her in the lurch one too many times, and the literal weight of the world was too much for her to handle. After a redemptive season which found the character given new strength and purpose, it was a powerful and self-realized leave. Which makes it all the more shame that it happened in episode seven, which almost certainly means she'll be back to undermine all that before series end. Just like Amy and Rory did. Because Steven Moffat is incapable of knowing where the leave-line is.

Elsewhere, this episode yet again felt like it would have been home back in the Third and Fourth Doctor eras. It had all the classic elements of sci-fi that no one seems to make anymore, the utterly ridiculous kind of nonsense, like the moon being an egg. It was horrific and space colonish without ever trying to be Alien, which I had nearly thought was impossible, and ended up being incredibly socially aware and relevant. I never expected a sizable portion of a Doctor Who episode to be devoted to what was basically the abortion debate, and yet here it is. Once the Doctor left, and a tiny bit before then, when he explained that, despite all his messing about with Earth, that it's not really up to him, the episode was very critical of humanity. Not pessimistic, but certainly not shy about our shortcomings as a species.

Earth looked down, to paraphrase the Doctor. We're doing it right now, in the real world. We are all collectively looking down. We're looking down at our phones, we're looking down our noses, we're looking down an imaginary drop that we're all so terrified to fall off into that we're paralyzed on the edge. So we shout at each other, and throw ourselves into the vapid and meaningless, and be don't inspire to do anything. We're not just in an economic recession, we're in a cultural one. We're increasingly xenophobic, anti-science, anti-art, and more reliant on nostalgia than on creating anything new. We are stagnant and dreadful. And in the world of Doctor Who, the moon cracking open is a solid enough way to shake us out of that. And truth is, in the real world, we'd need something equally unsubtle.

So, in a lot of ways, this is a bleak episode. Moon spiders and a heavy amount of being down on humanity and some lovely shouting to cap it off. But it never feels bleak. It never feels like it's a cross school teacher giving us a dressing down for being horrid. What it feels like is the bit at the beginning of an inspirational speech, where the speaker goes over all the bad things that have gotten to this point, and is just about to get to the point where they tell us how to get better. The Doctor is all about telling us how we get better. The world votes to kill a thing because they don't understand it, the companion acts out of fear and desperation rather than affection or knowledge, and the moon is destroyed. Except, it ends with something wonderful being introduced to the universe, and an old man on a beach being moved nearly to tears because a rash action spurs the birth of an eternity of wonder. And that is a big "up" to a lot of "down."
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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