Doctor Who Recap: “Kill the Moon”
Welcome to my obsession. All the recaps are here. This post is a spoiler-filled cookie.
There is ongoing debate on the internet (WHAT? Debate on the internet?!). Specifically, this debate is over whether Doctor Who is a science fiction show or a fantasy show, or some other type of time traveling space alien show. Frankly, I don’t give a care. If I needed my science fiction to be more “science” and less “fiction” I don’t think I’d bother with any of it because fiction is the place science takes a sharp left turn into “what if” territory. Fiction is where we dream, science is where we try to quantify and engineering is where we turn those quantities into doors that open by themselves and internet boxes I can carry in my pocket. Doctor Who is the dream, the reality is best left to someone who isn’t sitting on their couch in their pjs eating popcorn.
That said, this was the least sciency episode of Doctor Who ever. Well maybe not ever. But pretty un-sciency. If you care about that, I suggest you move right along. Everyone else, the moon is an egg, amirite?
The episode opens about two thirds of the way through the episode. Clara is making an impassioned plea to humanity:
Clara: Hello Earth. We have a terrible decision to make. It is an uncertain decision and we don’t have a lot of time. The man who normally helps is gone. Maybe he’s not coming back. In fact I, I really don’t think he is. We’re on our own. So. An innocent life versus the future of all mankind. We have 45 minutes to decide.
Post-credits, we timey wimey ourselves back a few days or hours to Clara telling the Doctor that Courtney “Disruptive Influence” Woods has caused some disruptive influences lately. She tells him the girl stole his psychic paper and has been using it as a fake I.D.
Doctor: To get into museums?
Really, Doctor? I know it’s been a while but REALLY?! Apart from being sort of massively stupid about teenaged girls, he’s wearing this mysterious outfit:
Clara goes on to explain that the Doctor told Courtney she wasn’t special. I had to sit with this a long time, guys. He goes back and forth, doesn’t he? Look what I found:
I think I’m starting to see why I liked Matt Smith so, so much. He’s my kinda guy. Tennant was… slower to warm to people. Once he did, he was hella loyal. He adored Donna, eventually. I’m wondering how long we have to wait to feel any warmth from Capaldi at all. He’s so mean.
Anyway, so Courtney is waiting on the TARDIS where Clara tells the Doctor to tell the girl she’s special for heaven’s sake. We discover Courtney has brought disinfectant and anti-nausea pills with her in case she’s space sick again. I find that charming as FUCK. The Doctor mentions he doesn’t like people being sick nor hanky panky in the TARDIS. You’d think he might amend that rule since he married the woman conceived there last but hey, what do I know?
He refuses to tell the girl she’s special. She asks him if he really thinks she’s nothing, not special at all? He scoffs and looks super uncomfortable with any kind of feelings (this part of him I totally get).
In the most ham-fisted attempt to be nice ever, he offers to take her to be the first woman on the moon so she can then be special. Backhanded time travel much?
The TARDIS materializes on not the moon at all but on a shuttle on its way to the moon in the year 2049. A shuttle that promptly crash lands because the moon has surprise gravity. The Doctor has time to point out there are many nuclear bombs on board.
The astronauts in the shuttle (a lady and two obviously doomed men) appear and ask who they are and where the actual fuck did they come from. They threaten violence. The Doctor says go ahead, shoot them! But shoot the little girl first. This seems callous, but he explains that she would rather die first than watch the others die. Less terror that way. I don’t think Courtney was too comforted by this explanation. He goes on to tell them that they could shoot him as many times as they want and he’d keep regenerating. He thinks he might regenerate forever (good to know, since we’ve been wondering about that).
He tells the astronauts he’s a super intelligent alien being who flies in time and space, and they decide not to shoot him despite his enormous ego and obnoxiousness.
The astronauts explain that they’re on the moon because no one knows what happened here. The moon suddenly put on enough weight to have a similar gravity to Earth, which has caused chaos down below (tidal floods and things, although they never quite go into it. Remember I said it was not super sciency. At all.) The Doctor says that must be terrible, and asks what they’re doing about it. Lady astronaut picks up the big remote for the nuclear bombs. She says, “that’s what you do with aliens, isn’t it? Blow them up?”
I think–uh oh. The Doctor is not going to be excited by a humanity that likes to blow up aliens without really thinking about it very hard.
They all suit up (the Doctor’s crew are in the famous orange space suits) and head out. Courtney is the first one out of the hatch, and is suitably impressed:
Courntey: One small thing for a thing. One enormous thing for a thingy thing.
Lady Astronaut: So much for history.
No one talks about how the shuttle just crashed and how they’re all trapped there except for the TARDIS. But they don’t know about the TARDIS so?
The astronaut lady explains that there was a Mexican mining survey on the moon, and then something happened and the moon gained gravity. They’re up there to figure out what the hell happened. On their way into the mining facility, they find cobwebs. Outside. In the vacuum of space.
Lady astronaut (named Lundvick) sends off one of her monster bait astronauts to set the bombs up correctly. He seems worried they’ll explode. None of them seem to have much training or comfort being there.
Lundvick: Second hand space shuttle, third hand astronauts.
The Doctor asks if the mining people had sent any messages before they went dark, but the crew says that all the satellites were messed up when whatever happened, happened. They sent back some “screams.” We’re told that no one went up to check on them for ten years, because they didn’t have any kind of space program. This makes me wonder–when did the whole natural disaster thing happen? If we’re blaming the mining survey team, did humanity take ten years to get up into space to check out why the biggest natural disaster in history happened? Seems unlikely, even if there were no shuttles or astronauts at the time. It isn’t like we don’t know HOW.
The mining outfit is dark and creepy. They find a dead body, Courtney screams. One of the astronauts goes to turn the lights on.
Courtney: What did it?
Doctor: Maybe something trying to figure out how you’re put together. Or maybe, how you tasted. (see? Mean. She’s obviously terrified, and he doesn’t seem to care. Where’s the cool Doctor with the “fear is a superpower” speech?)
Side note: Serape. Mexican Miners. UGH UGH UGH.
Lights and air come on and they discover that the mining crew found absolutely no minerals on the moon at all. They did find that the moon was growing, though, big seas and craters growing bigger. The moon, says the Doctor, is in the process of falling to bits.
Meanwhile, dead astronaut walking number one is wandering around kind of terrified but supposedly doing something to the bombs. He takes a peek in a crater and gets killed immediately by a spider-type creature.
Back in the mining facility, we hear a creepy shriek sound. The lights keep flicking on and off (but air supply seems okay) and it’s all supposed to be pretty creepy. I was thinking of the Vashta Nerada, wondering whether we’d hear back from dead astronaut number one. Instead, something is skittering and then boom, spider’s gonna getcha.
They all try to run but one door won’t open for reasons then they try for another door and there’s a thing about how the spiders sense movement but it eventually ends in the second astronaut dude getting killed and used as bait while everyone else gets into the other door. It’s a sad day for dude astronauts, and I feel bad for them but the Doctor doesn’t seem to.
They all get through the door and then realize they’ve left Courtney behind. For some reason, the gravity disappears and she winds up floating for a while. The spider advances on her despite the lack of gravity. The doctor shoots his yo-yo (not a euphemism) at her and she grabs it, but before he can reel her in, gravity comes back and she hits the floor. The spider skitters toward her so she pulls out the disinfectant she brought–and apparently stowed in her space suit–and sprays it. It dies immediately like the aliens from War of the Worlds. Handy. Even the Doctor seems mildly impressed.
After scanning, he discovers the spider is actually a gigantic bacterium. He’s pretty impressed by this. Courtney is far less impressed and decides she is done with the whole deal. She is scared and seriously fucking done. So they drop her back inside the TARDIS to wait while the Doctor investigates the surface of the moon.
Clara tells him this shit is getting dangerous, and he makes the decent point that all things are dangerous but you can’t limit your life based on fear. Clara makes the also salient point that Courtney is still a minor and not really ready for this whole killer-bacteria level of danger.
Doctor: How old are you, 35?
Side note: Really? He can’t tell what a 15 year old girl looks like or figure out what age a person would be in school? So–overthinking theory time. Has he just gotten so fucking old that he cannot relate to humanity anymore? I’ve always argued that anyone immortal would wind up basically amoral because who the fuck cares? All bad and good things happen over and over anyway. It would seem to be hard to care about anything. What Doctor Who has always done is show us that if you can care about everything or nothing, the best choice is to care about those who need help, who need a voice or are otherwise disenfranchised. The Doctor speaks for the powerless, for the “weak” (or those perceived as weak by those in power), and for those who need a leg up from a time travelling bad ass. He protects. This leads to some fantastic stuff and some fantastically fucked up stuff too, as a life as long as his is bound to. Is that guy here now, or is he too much of the anger and hurt and loss to feel a sense of duty anymore? Or is his sense of duty so removed from the momentary lives of humans that we can’t see it?
The Doctor locks Courtney in the TARDIS and Clara asks why they don’t just leave? They know in the future that the moon is still around so why do they have to stay at all? The Doctor says there are “grey areas” in the timeline, areas where “things are decided” that he can’t actually see. He doesn’t know exactly what happens until it does.
Side note: If he had never been there, would this even be an undecided moment in time? I would argue no. His presence, and Clara’s create the conflict that MAKE the decision unclear. So… what? Does he create the grey areas. Wow this is a big thing to know. I could basically go on indefinitely about this. I won’t, you’re welcome. Waters of Mars and set points in time is all I will say.
The rest of the team wanders out to see what’s up with the moon, and they find like a billion of those spider bacteria in a crack. The Doctor finds what he calls “amniotic fluid,” and then sends Lundvick off to get the bombs ready and Clara back to the TARDIS. He jumps into a crater to see what the hell is actually going on.
Courtney, meanwhile, starts posting pictures of her trip on Tumblr. This makes me laugh for days.
The moon grumbles and then the shuttle disappears down into a growing crack in the moon surface, taking the TARDIS with it. The Doctor appears out of the crack again (jumps? Levitates?). He and the other two left go back into the mining facility. Clara is concerned.
Clara: Where’s the TARDIS
Doctor: She’s in the shuttle, isn’t she? She’ll turn up.
Clara: Last time you said that she turned up on the wrong side of the planet.
Doctor: You two have never gotten on, have you?
Me: HA SEE?!?! I’ve been saying that all season. I’m smrt.
They spend a few minutes figuring out how to get in touch with Courtney to make sure she’s okay, and the Doctor gets mad that she put pictures of him online and deletes them. Hilarious. After they clear that all up, the Doctor shows them all what’s inside the moon causing all the trouble.
Yes that’s right, the moon is actually a giant egg. Whatever has been in there growing is suddenly ready to hatch and… who knows what? The Doctor is clearly delighted. A new life! The moon’s an egg! He’s practically giddy. He’s never seen whatever it is before, he says it’s unique in the universe. He thinks it’s beautiful.
Lundvick: How do we kill it?
All of us: Ooohhh shhhiiiiiitttt
Even Clara looks at the Doctor like “oh shit astronaut lady you do not know what you just said.” But the Doctor, he goes another direction.
He tells her she can kill it with her nuclear bombs. If she wants to. He explains that the creature will die, and the moon will stay as-is because the gravity of the corpse will pull it back together. Lundvick makes a compelling argument–Earth could be damaged in hundreds of ways known and unknown. Millions could die if they let the creature live. Everyone could die, they have no idea. Pieces of the falling moon could do massive damage.
Courtney, in a really great form, argues for the baby. “There’s life here, life just next door.” She decides to return to the party, even scared, because she doesn’t want Lundvick to kill the creature. She’s arguing the Doctor’s position, and it’s pretty darn great. The Doctor tells her how to get the TARDIS to them, something about sticking a DVD into the TARDIS console (why not use the TARDIS control goo–who knows).
Clara, who has heard both arguments and finds them both rational turns to her source of intelligence and information beyond her own. The Doctor tells her, uh, good luck with that. He refuses to help her, and humanity, make this decision. He tells her that this is a foundational moment for humanity, and whatever future humanity has depends upon its choice, today. He refuses to play a part.
Clara says she can’t make the decision, and that she’s asking him for help. She’s clearly scared, and wanting comfort, and he says welp, too bad. I’m leaving. He kicks Courtney out, and then gets in the TARDIS and leaves.
Doctor: Some decisions are too important not to make on your own.
Side note: I wish the show had slowed down a bit here. I wish they’d let us sit in this moment and see it from all sides just a little bit longer. I wish for a little more depth because I think this is really, really great but it’s too fast. I want to take out one dead astronaut scene and have this one twice as long. Okay now I’m done wishing for writing to be different.
Lundvick: What a pratt.
The three of them debate whether or not to kill the creature. Lundvick is on the side of death, Courtney on life. Clara is just confused (though not thrilled about killing a baby, and not willing to just do anything willy nilly), and angry at the Doctor for leaving them.
They get an emergency transmission from Earth, and Clara manages to broadcast the question we saw at the very beginning of the episode. She asks them to decide–if you want the creature to die, turn all your lights off. If you want it to live, keep your lights on.
Naturally, they watch out the window as the entire planet turns its lights off. Humanity is self-preserving at the best of times and at worst? Even more so. The planet has no apparent interest in waiting to see what happens with this giant alien baby.
Side note: Think about humanity’s side before you get too mad at them. Their entire experience of aliens on Earth has been negative, deadly and frightening. If it were me, I’d also probably want to kill it before it could do any dalek or cyberman type damage.
At the last second, despite humanity’s vote, Clara stops the explosion. In fact, Clara and Courtney do it together. Before they can even take a breath the Doctor is there, telling them to get into the TARDIS right now.
Lundvick is pissed, and complains that she wanted to die up there, not crushed to death on Earth. The Doctor rolls his eyes and tells her no one is going to die. She asks to see what’s happening. He takes them to Earth to watch.
Lundvick asks the Doctor what happens now? The Doctor does some kind of weird hypnotic thing and tells her that because of this day, humanity realized that the stars aren’t so dead and/or scary after all, and that our race endures because we get off our rock and spread ourselves all over the galaxy. He says we endure until the end of time, and he looks weirdly disturbed about that fact. Or maybe relieved. He has feels, and those feels are confusing to him.
He says Clara and Courtney decided for all humanity that it could, and would, live on.
Sometime while he’s making his speech, the alien thingy “lays” a new egg so there’s a moon just where it’s supposed to be. Okay then. Lundvick thanks Clara, who looks pretty shell shocked (SEE WHAT I DID THERE SHELL EGG OKAY I’LL BE HERE ALL WEEK).
The Doctor seems thrilled, and relieved, and even happy and kind. He returns Courtney to Coal Hill School with a new outlook on how important she is. Clara kicks her out of the TARDIS and toward Geography class. When they’re alone, she unloads on him. She gets angry, she tells him he’s full of shit and whether or not it was the right decision for humanity to make that choice it was wrong of him to abandon her.
He tells her he was respecting humanity by allowing her to make the choice. She says that she doesn’t feel fucking respected. She feels horrid, feels like he scared her and that because she was scared she almost made the wrong choice.
Clara: You walk our Earth, Doctor. You breathe our air. You make us your friend, then that is your moon too and you can damn well help us when we need it.
Doctor: I was helping.
Clara: What, by clearing off?
Clara: Yeah well, clear off. Go on.
She tells him to leave, and not to come back. She tells him to go away.
Side note: This was great. Clara needed to get angry and not just for leaving her but for all the crap he’s put her through, all the bullying and teasing and pigtail pulling this season. I think she needed to blow up at him, and he needed to hear that his actions have consequences to people. He needs to remember the microcosm as well as the bigger picture that he can see so easily. He’s been looking right through people, and it’s nice to have her tell him so–like, dude, you made her feel bad. Right decision or not, it’s okay to not be a huge asshole about it. Tennant always apologized, where is that remorse?!
Clara runs into her classroom and Danny is there. When he sees her face he knows–the Doctor finally pushed her farther than she wanted. She tells him the story, and Danny says he’s seen her look before. Says he loved the army, and then he didn’t anymore because of a situation just like this. Clara says she’s done with the whole business. Danny gives her a look.
Clara: What is that face for, why don’t you believe me?
Danny: Because you’re still angry. You’re never finished with anyone while they can still make you angry. Tell him when you’re calm, then tell me.
They hug, he’s very supportive, I still like the guy a lot. The episode ends with Clara gazing at the moon (presumably full of alien dragon baby).
Next week–mummy on a space train! I am pretty excited for that.
(screencaps from http://kissthemgoodbye.net/)