It’s incredible how very divisive this season of Doctor Who is becoming. It seems it’s every week now that fan opinions grow more and more divided. What was once a collected agreement known to Whovians aplenty as “perceived fan wisdom,” has now become serious debate for some. Kill the Moon really takes the cake though. After a series of early reviews for the episode being so overwhelmingly positive from the likes of Blogtor Who, IGN, and others, I thought for sure it would have been uncompromisingly good. But then, in equal if not greater measure, the negative backlash from the community had me stunned. After watching the episode a few times, it’s blatantly clear what the inherent issue here is. The episode requires that you suspend disbelief to the fact that (spoilers) the moon is a giant egg and is about to hatch. Unfortunately, if you cannot suspend disbelief that far, the entire plot unravels.
There was a lot of things I really loved about this episode. There were also a few things I actively disliked, albeit only very few. But there are about 1.3 billion tonnes of things I honestly don’t know if I entirely buy, or don’t. And being that I understand fully why so many disliked the episode, and inversely why so many loved it, it’s terribly difficult for me to properly rate and review without being bias in one direction or another. But I’ll try my best to pull on both strings.
To get started, let’s just get the many wonky sci-fantasy ideas laid out. The moon is an egg, and has been for about 100 million years. The gravity and weight of said egg is increasing, causing massive natural disturbances on planet earth below. Many will be quick to note that eggs actually lose weight as they grow their young, but hey – this is a space egg – a space egg that when hatched can immediately lay a new egg, roughly it’s own size. Who are we to say how this species works?! This really didn’t bother me. Yes, this is a total Doctor Who idea, to its core – a theme so barmy it could only be taken seriously on a show like this. Did it work? For me it did, or rather I didn’t let it effect my viewing experience.
What did effect my viewing experience were the unicellular spider-germs. Cells cannot maintain that kind of mass, no matter what environment they’re put into. It totally didn’t need to be written in like that either. Peter Harness obviously had quite a few ideas in mind to write as bananas an episode as possible, and for me this was a step too far in the wrong direction.
But where it all came back to me was the decision the Doctor forced Clara to make on her own. There’s a Pro-Life argument in there just waiting to burst. Brilliant writing. I can honestly believe that the Doctor had entirely good intentions in allowing them to make the necessary choice for humanity on their own, which makes it so much more devastating to note how his assumed kindness was a perceived slight by Clara. And again, it’s one of those things that as a viewer, I can empathize with both sides. The Doctor, despite his good hearts, and bipedal features, is still very much an alien. And Clara is entirely human, and thus flawed. You felt for her case, especially after she laid it all out in the open. What an incredible scene that was too. Jenna Coleman has shattered my record of respect for her as an actress. It gave me chills.
I also have to give credit to young Ellis George for giving such a realistic 15-year old teen performance. Last time the Doctor brought kids into the TARDIS, in the much derided Nightmare in Silver, it was truly a nightmare. But here, Ellis George, playing the disruptive influence Courtney Woods, really does an excellent job. I loved how vocal she was on her opinions, and she did bring levity to the episode. When the astronaut finds out she was posting pictures to Tumblr, we get perhaps the best line in the episode, the near-nostalgic “my grandma used to put things on Tumblr!”
I also found that the year 2049 was exceptionally believable for once. Just 10 years prior to the events in Waters of Mars, I could totally picture the technology involved in this episode being appropriate for the date given.
But one thing we must all agree on was the visual direction of the episode. This to me is the single most beautifully shot episode of the series to date. The color grading done to the sands and rock of Lanzarote, where they filmed the episode on location, created the most realistic moon design I’ve seen on television. It was gorgeous. The special effects were at a level on par to many other modern science fiction programs. When the space shuttle landed on the moon it looked so realistic! And Murray Gold again put out a whopper of a soundtrack. Kudos to director Paul Wilmhurst for this one.
Love it or hate it, this episode will go down as one of the greats for Series 8 in my book of charts and lists (not a real book). It may be of interest to note that this script was originally written for Series 7. I wonder what’s been changed around/rewritten to be retrofitted into this season. Tell me your thoughts below. And yeah, I really don’t want this to spark an abortion debate, so let’s just steer clear of that bit.