Steven Moffat is the finest writer in British television. There – we said what you were already thinking. His episodes of Doctor Who are as densely packed as Imelda Marcos’s holiday shoebox, each story brimming with inspiration, emotion and an endless stream of moments so mind-boggling it feels as though your head is exploding like Louis Del Grande’s in Scanners, your guts are bursting outwards like John Hurt’s in Alien and your heart is spiralling wildly around like a TARDIS with Maureen from Driving School at the controls. The only thing that Moffat doesn’t always give you is closure – and ‘Day Of The Moon’ is no exception.
It’s imperative, then, in spite of the sensory overload being administered by the Machiavellian Moff, that one follows the plot and the breathless dialogue that drives it as closely as is humanly possible. If your attention strays for a second, the effect is akin to turning your back on a Silent: you’ll miss something extremely important and the few, precious moments of explanation will be lost.
Instead of resolving the cliffhanger from the end of ‘The Impossible Astronaut’, ‘Day Of The Moon’ heads directly into another cliffhanger before the opening credits have even rolled (one that is, in fact, so much better than its predecessor one wonders precisely why it was held over for Part 2) and the pace remains relentless from thereon in. The TARDIS crew travel through the 51 states of America, to the moon (almost) and through various spaceships before their adventure reaches a climax with the Doctor and River Song engaging the Silents in a pyrotechnic battle which demonstrates that the injection of dollars from BBC America (earning them that ridiculously oversized logo in the credits) hasn’t just been spent on trips to Utah, Arizona, Nevada and New York.
There’s even time amid the madness for the Doctor to inadvertently start the Watergate scandal and shave off his newly-grown beard without mentioning where it came from or why. That’s the thing about closure again – or the lack of it. There are some answers in this episode, but perhaps not quite enough. It seems as though we’re edging towards some universal truths, but at times they feel further away than ever, which may frustrate the casual viewer. However, despite the prolonging of the mysteries, there’s no disenchantment or disappointment at the end of the episode; there’s simply not room amid the jaw-dropping-like-a-Silent-opening-its-maw amazement. In three incendiary instances at the conclusion, Steven Moffat changes both the series and the show itself, perhaps utterly and forever. One moment in particular (and the way the Doctor responds to it) will have fans raving – although whether in anger or delight, it’s impossible to say.
Indeed, it’s impossible to say anything else without spoiling the story, suffice to point out that this episode isn’t game-changing; it’s sport-changing, moving onto an entirely different field of play altogether. To quote the Doctor himself: ‘This is a revolution – and today, the battle begins.’
Airs at 6pm on Saturday 30th April 2011 on BBC One.