Doctor Who, S8 Ep7 — Kill the Moon

Say what you will about the 8th series of Doctor Who, it’s unusually self-aware. Maybe it’s because of the backlash the Moffat era has received, but the 12th Doctor is done being cute, done massaging people’s feelings, and maybe done being the savior hero — at least for a while. (Which is nothing new in terms of Doctor Who; it’s always been clear that 12 is a Classic-style Doctor, with hat tips to Tom Baker’s 4th Doctor at almost every turn). Don’t like it? Your complaints will be delivered to The Doctor via Clara.

As “Kill the Moon” opens, Clara’s complaint is that The Doctor told her student, Courtney Woods (the girl The Doctor took on a TARDIS spin previously), that she isn’t special. Clara is very focused on the words, but less on what The Doctor has been doing, which is, clearly, grooming Courtney to be a companion.

Courtney Woods

Courtney Woods

And let’s be real — Courtney’s a bold choice, because she’s not special. I don’t mean that in a “she’s worthless and will never make anything of herself” way, but the Moffat era so far has been about exceptionally special, mystical companions chosen by the universe. That’s been a big complaint of mine with the last three series — what happened to companions who are regular people, like Sarah Jane and Martha and Donna? Courtney doesn’t have a mystical backstory. She’s not special. That’s a good thing.

The Doctor refuses to cave to Clara’s demands, even when Courtney herself sadly asks him if he really thinks she’s not special. Instead, he sets the TARDIS to go to the moon then and there — she can be the first woman on the moon, if that makes her feel special. (That we’ve seen other women, including Martha, on the moon before is neither here nor there).

They land inside a space shuttle that’s about to crash on the moon. They endure the crash, but something isn’t right. It’s 2049, and the moon’s gravity is just like Earth’s. We soon learn from the ship’s crew that the moon’s apparent increase in density has caused the greatest natural disaster in history, as the tides have gone haywire. Their mission is to destroy the moon with nuclear bombs. Clara is nonplussed. The moon was never destroyed, obviously, so whatever is happening will work itself out.

Not so fast, says The Doctor. This is not a fixed point in time. Anything could happen.

Well, we didn’t really expect a simple jaunt to the moon, did we?

Upon exploration, they find a deserted human mining facility, covered in cobwebs. Strange, since there would be no spiders on the moon.

Or, you know, there could be giant moon spiders on the moon.

Soon after discovering the moon spiders, the group is attacked on the ship. As a crew member is killed by one of the spiders, The Doctor urges the rest to safety. Courtney doesn’t make it out in time. The Doctor goes into a panic trying to open the air lock to save her (the contrast between his reaction to the crew member being attacked and Courtney being attacked is striking — clearly, despite his bluster, Courtney is special to him).

Courtney manages to save herself with quick thinking: She sprays it with disinfectant, killing it. Apparently, the “spider” is a germ.

Captain Ludvik

Captain Ludvik

With one crew member, Captain Lundvik, left, the group continues their investigation and discovers that the moon is actually an egg about to hatch. Which leaves them with a heavy decision: do they kill the baby creature or allow it to hatch?

Lundvik is resolute. She wants to kill it. Courtney is resolute. She wants to let it live. Clara looks to The Doctor for the answer. At which point The Doctor decides to leave it to the three women. They’re all from Earth, he is not. Not only does he not help decide, he physically leaves. Clara is appalled. They debate, but Clara can’t choose. She decides to send out a message to the people of Earth: If they want the creature destroyed, turn out the lights. The planet’s cities gradually black out completely — Earth is with Lundvik.

Clara is still unsure, but she believes The Doctor will save them before the bomb goes off. As the bomb counts down, the TARDIS is nowhere to be seen. At the very last moment, Clara stops the bomb, just as the TARDIS appears.

They land on Earth and watch the moon hatch. A giant creature flies away, leaving behind a new “egg” that will remain for hundreds of millions of years, restoring balance. Sparing the creature was the right choice (a choice, not for nothing, that Courtney never doubted for a moment).

A happy ending — but Clara is livid. When they return to Coal Hill School, she tells him off for abandoning her and forcing her to make the decision alone. It terrified her, and The Doctor wasn’t even sorry. She tells him to leave and not come back.

Later, Danny listens, but he’s not sure Clara is ready to be done with her TARDIS adventures. And neither am I. But two things are pretty clear: The 12th Doctor and Courtney are a match, and Clara is moving toward focusing her life on Danny and starting a family.


Next week: The Orient Express in space.