Previously on Doctor Who, ‘The Caretaker’
In “Kill the Moon,” the Doctor whisks Clara and disruptive influence Courtney Williams to 2049 where the moon has developed a weight problem: it seems it weighs quite a bit more than it should, and three remaining astronauts in an all but defunct space program are there with a nuclear arsenal in the hopes of solving what’s becoming a growing natural disaster for earth. It starts a man-eating spider monster romp but veers sharply into an even bigger question: What if the moon was never the moon? What if it was an egg? And if that egg was hatching… and if you had all the bombs mankind could spare… and if you asked everyone in the world to vote… and if the Doctor suddenly left you to your own decision with no advice whatsoever, citing “grey areas”… what would you do? The earth gives a gladiatorial thumbs down, but at the literal last second, the Doctor saves the world from itself and the creature hatches, leaving another egg/moon in its place. Without the blot of species murder on its conscience, the world renews its space exploration, ensuring mankind’s survival to the end, Courtney resumes her path to the presidency, the Doctor congratulates himself on a job well done, and Clara… Well, Clara’s angry and tired and she’s not gonna take it anymore.
Five Best Parts of “Kill the Moon”
- The spiders. Creepy as hell with their hissing, skittering, glowing red eyes, face hugging, and Unusual Size status, they’re scary enough to be the Big Bad, especially when the team finds a crack in the moon chock full of writhing eyes. Even better is when they turn out to be astronomically-sized bacteria on an even more astronomically-sized living being. Talk about putting things in perspective.
- The moon! Is an egg! From the pool of amniotic fluid to the growing tectonic fractures as the creature begins the hatching process, the concept is beautifully executed. The debate it inspires is a tricky one: kill a unique “baby” being before it feels the sun in order to mitigate the tidal catastrophes on earth, or give it a chance and potentially end the tides, cell service, satellites, oh and possibly the atmosphere. The idea that it’s merely an egg saves the creature; the Doctor finally points out that hatchlings don’t destroy their nests. The creature only appears onscreen for a moment—a dragon? –its nature is not the pertinent question. But it does leave an egg in its wake, fortunately for mankind, beginning the cycle anew.
- The three women. “It’s your moon, womankind.”— The Doctor
- When the rest of the astronaut team gets picked off, all that remains is Lundvik who’d spent her life dreaming of walking on the moon, only to find she could be the one to kill it. She asks Clara, “You want today to be the day that life on Earth stops because you couldn’t make an unfair decision?” When it’s taken out of humanity’s hands, she protests on its behalf but accepts the positive outcome in stride.
- Courtney essentially grows up on screen in the 40 minute running time, going from school field-tripper posting photos on Tumblr to scared child begging to go home to bold adventurer stepping out of the TARDIS just in time to weigh in on the decision to kill the moon. Hail to the future chief!
- Clara works through the decision process both logically and emotionally as she’s confronted by the Doctor’s abandonment yet again in crisis, only to have him swoop in at the last second and gloat about it. Infuriated, she demands: “Tell me what you know or I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate.” The Doctor is completely taken aback by her refusal to accept that his actions were anything but patronizing and dismissive. When she tells him to go far away and stay there, Clara looks as formidable as 12’s eyebrows. Just as powerful is her return to her apartment, unhampered by a TARDIS blocking the door or the Doctor hiding in her bedroom “just in case,” and she stares out of her darkened window at the moon, the moon that’s an egg, a moment foreshadowing an end to her days of traveling with the Doctor through a universe full of life and its dangerous dilemmas.
- The earth votes. When ground control is able to patch into a TV satellite for just a moment to report that things are spiraling downward on Earth, Clara uses the signal to offer the people of Earth a say: turn off their lights to vote yes on using nuclear bombs on the creature, or leave their lights on to let the creature live. The lights across the earth slowly go dark out of desperation to save what’s left of itself.
- The prophecy. As the three women and the Doctor stand on the beach, watching the hatchling fly away, the Doctor closes his eyes, breaking through the Grey Area, and recites the result: In the mid-21st century humankind creeps into the stars, reaches to the edges of the universe, and it endures until the end of time. This happens because of this moment, when it had just stopped thinking of going into space, when it looked up and saw something amazing, when it stopped thinking of killing. “Not bad for a girl from the Coal Hill School and her teacher,” he says.