‘Doctor Who’: ‘Kill the Moon’ review

This is more like it.

In spite of all the good things we’ve seen since Peter Capaldi took control of the TARDIS, we’ve been waiting for something that is unmistakeably Doctor Who, something as comfortable as a sparkly black sweater and as inventive as exterminating a giant alien spider with disinfectant spray, as familiar as the past and as prickly as the future. ‘Kill the Moon’ isn’t perfect, but it’s by some distance the best thing we’ve seen in Season 8 so far.

After spewing all over the TARDIS in last week’s ‘The Caretaker’, 15-year-old Coal Hill school pupil Courtney Woods (Ellis George) takes offence at the Doctor saying she isn’t special and pinches his psychic paper to use as ID for buying booze. When Clara insists the Doctor make it up to her, he grudgingly offers Courtney the chance of becoming first girl on the moon. The only condition is that she refrains from puking (‘No being sick and no hanky-panky – that’s the rules,’ the Doctor explains).

Doctor Who Kill the Moon Courtney

The time-travellers arrive in the year 2049 on a museum-piece space shuttle that crashes on the moon’s surface shortly afterwards. The crew, led by Lundvik (Hermione Norris), are on a mission to resolve problems on Earth being caused by its satellite – or blow it up if they can’t.

‘One small thing for a thing, one enormous thing for a thingy thing,’ says Courtney as they step out onto Lanzarote a lunar landscape. When she and her companions reach a deserted base with webs dangling ominously from the ceiling, like a mixture of Aliens and Arachnophobia, it’s nail-bitingly tense.

Doctor Who Kill the Moon Doctor

When the inevitable spiders actually appear, they’re suitably creepy – but not as much as they could be. Rather like the spooky parts of ‘Listen’, the fear factor seems to have been deliberately reduced out of deference to the youngest members of the audience. Nothing wrong with that, but the sanitising of the scariness extends to the way Lundvik’s entire team is killed off. Their deaths are the horrific part, not the manner of their demise, yet they’re dismissed and forgotten. It feels wrong that they are treated so casually.

The spiders turn out to be parasites living on a colossal monster about to hatch from inside the moon. Lundvik wants to destroy it, leaving Clara and Courtney appalled: ‘You can’t blame a baby for kicking.’ They all look to the Doctor for advice, but he refuses to get involved, leaving it instead to the humans to take responsibility for the creature’s fate – and the subsequent ramifications for Planet Earth.

Doctor Who Kill the Moon Clara

Unable to make such a huge decision, Clara asks the people on the planet below to vote in a spontaneous referendum. Humanity plumps for KILL THE BASTARD but Courtney deactivates the bomb before Lundvik can set it off. Alex Salmond must wish it was that easy.

The Doctor returns to see the creature hatch harmlessly and lay another ‘egg’ in the sky. ‘That’s what we call a new moon,’ the Time Lord quips, but his good humour is short-lived. Clara, incensed by having been put in such an invidious position, lays into her cohort with vehemence as shocking as it is potent.

‘Clear off!’ she rages, hurt and patronised and tearful and steaming. ‘Get back in your lonely bloody TARDIS and don’t come back!’ It’s a stunning performance by Jenna Coleman, who lives every second of it, and Capaldi almost matches it when the Doctor’s previously impregnable wall of sarcastic superiority starts to crumble.

The scene is devastating, full of poignancy and power; it makes the lightweight fodder of ‘Time Heist’ seem like a different show entirely.

This is Doctor Who. This is more like it.

images_Stars_4star

Aired at 8.30pm on Saturday 4 October 2014 on BBC One.

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  • Doctorwhen?

    tbh I am 420% sure Moffat was stoned when he wrote that episode.

    • Michael Pretorius

      He didn’t write it. Nor did he write the next three episodes., done by people I’ve never heard of. And the directors are also newbies. Must have seemed like great ideas at the time. Moffat really should be aware of where this series is going, and the reception it’s getting – not all of it positive.

    • USWhovian

      Maybe stoned when it was written, but he didn’t write it.

    • vlg

      No. but you are.
      he didn’t write it.

  • Wordtwister

    Is anyone going to ignore the lack of security on the TARDIS? I mean, seriously, can any teenager who wants booze or a place to vomit wander onto the ship?

  • Notjohnsmith

    The 12th Doctor is polar opposite compared to the 11th; he’s older, grumpy, immoral, oblivious, and selfish.

    • vlg

      he amazing!!! 11 was a spazzy idiot.

    • Dean Alexander

      Not immoral. He is Ammoral. Very big difference.

    • Mike

      Yes, He’s exactly like the Doctor was before RTD turned him into a pacifist empathetic space jesus…

  • remalta

    did he really tell courtney she wasn’t special? in those words? i can’t remember

    • John

      No he didn’t.

  • Evil Lynn

    Got to say I hated this episode. It pi**ed me off from the beginning, and just kept on pi**ing me off all the way through. I found it condescending and insulting and patronising. Worst episode so far.

  • Lynn Marie

    liked the bit where she said that she would smack him so hard he would regenerate. but that is all i liked

    • John

      Why does no-one have a problem with Clara threatening violence? It’s disgusting.

      • Jolly Roger

        You would have really hated Ace then. Or Leela.

  • Loved It!

    I love Capaldi’s doctor! He’s a mixture of all the early Doctor’s and not with the boyish charm of 10 or 11. Clara p***ed me off in this. I can see why he didn’t want to get involved considering he is the last of the Time Lords and this creature was the last of its kind. I loved this episode.

    • Jolly Roger

      Agree to a point. There’s not much 1, 5 or 8 to his character. The Clara performance was pretty spot on. This is what control freaks do when they simultaneously lose control and are left with handle things themselves.

    • Charles Marshall

      I have to admit i like the way you explain the reason of maybe why the doctor chose to step aside. After eleven and the space whale and how mad he got at amy for him having to make the decision and not let him make it i can agree with 12 letting earth make the decision.

  • Michael Pretorius

    “This is Doctor Who. This is more like it.”
    Actually, no. This is NOT more like it. This is not Doctor Who. This is Clara and the Oswalds. This is becoming possibly the worst series since the reboot. Very little action, mostly due to Capaldi’s lack of athleticism that had his three predecessors running and jumping where necessary. That was action. Capaldi is all but stationary, eyebrows growling. What truly lacks in this series is the writing. The acting is remarkable, and the scene where Clara blows a hold in the Doctor’s head is marvelous, but it’s NOT a Doctor Who-style show. It’s getting boring, predicable, and like an NBA game, all you really need to do is log on to the last 15 minutes to catch any relevant action and conclusion. I used to wait with anticipation for these shows. Not any more. The writing is bad. There’s little action, and I sometimes have to resort to Closed Captioning to understand what Capaldi is saying. This series better have an ace in its sleeve for November.

    • John

      I agree that the series so far is bad, but Doctor Who is not about the action. It never was, until the show was revived.

      • Fabio Empi Bhaktivashya D’Abra

        did you see any Pertwee episode?

      • Jolly Roger

        I disagree that the series is bad. I do agree that Doctor Who has not traditionally been about action. The show used to do A Lot of set filming for budget reasons. They couldn’t do a lot of action sequences. The show had to be cerebral and focus heavily on the interaction of The Doctor and his companions, or The Doctor and the episode antagonist. Many Pertwee episodes, and later Baker and McCoy, differed because there were more location sequences that gave them the benefit of space to shoot more action oriented scenes. The new series utilizes larger sets which can allow for a greater number of action scenes. Tennant and Smith episodes took advantage of this. Eccelston somewhat less so. Capaldi’s Doctor is meant to be different and I have loved to see how that is used. We will have to agree to disagree on this. So far this is one of the best series I have seen of the show.

        • Charles Marshall

          It reminds me of the tension i got growing up watching the original doctor who episodes.

  • Jolly Roger

    This series is jagged and I love it. This is how a first series for any Doctor should be. This is old school and I love it. Don’t get me wrong Tennant and Smith were great, but their first series followed a bit of a boring and predictable rising arc. Eccelston’s series was closer to what Doctor Who was like in the classic series. I have really missed this. I am really looking forward to the second half of series 8.

    • vlg

      agree!

  • USWhovian

    Very symbolic. The creature came out of its shell and left the nest. Clara does the same. And for those upset with scientific error, it’s sci-fi/fantasy. Time travel is not scientific. Enjoy the escape.

  • vlg

    We finally have a interesting doctor again!

  • Dean Alexander

    Just watched it. I actually thought the Doctor was right and I can’t understand the whole Clara over-reaction thing. Is this supposed to be making her look all feisty?

    This show now has a weird, malevolent feminist vibe to it just for the sake of it and it’s making me very uncomfortable. Even the squaddie is some weird asexual character. They are trying to show how they want life to be rather than what it actually is.

    The president HAS to be female and HAS to be black. Three
    women HAVE to make the (abortion) choice. Very try hard and very creepy left wing agenda.

    Capaldi is great though!

    • Charles Marshall

      kinda think the doctor was right this time. He always makes the decisions and this time it was not his decision to make it was earth’s. Yeah he coulda been a little different but i like the way he did it so i enjoyed it. Been rumored Jenna is leaving around christmas this makes it easy for her i guess. I understand in a way hes acting superior and all but in this case i think maybe it was hard for him to be there since he knew how bad the decision could be,

  • Recapping the episode is not reviewing the episode. #JustSayin

  • SizzleB

    I think this episode had both it’s ups and downs, but Clara’s angry speech was definitely one of the ups. For years the Doctors’ companions have followed them like doughy eyed puppy dogs, never questioning, never even stopping to think that the Doctor might be getting off a little on his superiority complex.
    This is the first time since ever that a companion in my opinion has truly questioned his motives, not only that but she’s opened his eyes to the fact that whether he realises he’s doing it or not, he’s hurting those closest to him: namely her.
    For those who argue that clearly he is superior being a timelord and all the rest I get that, really I do. But I feel that having worlds and universes depending on his actions and decisions has gone to his head a little. Capaldi portrays this brilliantly, allowing us to see that while on the outside he’s showy, on the inside he truly is a little vulnerable and in need of a wake up call. Well done Clara for making the Doctor realise what really makes him tick, the bonds that he’s formed with others, which if he’s not careful, he might just lose.

    • Grok

      Just about every new who companion has questioned the doctors motives betc. It ain’t new.

  • Fabio Empi Bhaktivashya D’Abra

    First Clara says “you can’t blame a baby for kicking” then she blames the Doctor for not helping them. Coherence, where are you. God I HATE Clara in this season. And she doesn’t even know the future can’t be rewritten. Still great episode though. 8/10

    • MoffatsGottaGo

      So you’re comparing the Doctor to a kicking baby? He left alone thinking that if she made the wrong choice it could destroy Earth or the last of a species. That is an impossibly difficult decision and left her alone to deal with it. Worse yet, he knew that the egg hatching wouldn’t destroy Earth! He KNEW it would all work out and didn’t give her that information. That’s traumatizing and cruel! This whole “he let the Earth make the call for once” argument is BS because this time there was a simple answer. When he had to decide to blow up Earth or let the Daleks take over at the end of 9’s time? THAT would’ve been an acceptable let Earth decide moment. Not this. He had the knowledge needed to make the call and he abandoned people who needed him. That is the total opposite of a baby kicking, who causes discomfort and doesn’t have any clue. Clara was absolutely right to be furious.

  • Laurent Mariën

    Sorry, but what a load of bollocks this is. I could not disagree with the author more. While Time Heist was Dr Who as it should be, this episode was filled with so many wrongs. First offence: Courtney. Ugh. Is she UGLY. She should not be on the same screen as Jenna Coleman. Also, she must be the lamest person to ever travel in the TARDIS. And then the plot. “should we kill 1 being or risk ALL OF MANKIND?” Well that’s not even a question is it?? And after all of Earth unites to democratically vote BLOW IT UP, as should be expected, they go around and whimsically ignore that, “for reasons”. Bad, bad writing. And I won’t even mention the stupid generic alien spiders (which are supposedly one celled? No. You can do silly science, but not stupid science.) that are not supposed to be there – EGGS ARE STERILE.

    • Kate Hames

      Courtney ruined this entire episode! Her acting skills are shocking, it was like watching an episode of SJA, not that I dislike SJA, its just not what I want on a Saturday night!