Doctor Who: Kill the Moon
(1 episode, s08e07, 2014)
An innocent life versus the future of all mankind.
Do you remember Courtney Woods? It seems that she’s been quite the troublemaker after meeting the Doctor. She’s been using the psychic paper to sneak into clubs and stowing away in the TARDIS, and it’s all been since the Doctor told her that she wasn’t special. It damaged her psyche.
The Doctor and Clara find Courtney in the console room and the Time Lord offers to make the student the first woman on the Moon. The TARDIS lands in the cargo bay of a shuttle approaching the Moon, and after the landing, the travelers meet the crew who want to know what’s going on. The cargo bay is full of bombs, and the Doctor distracts the human crew with tales of infinite regenerations while conducting a Fourth Doctor gravity test with a yo-yo.
The Moon’s gravity is too strong and no one knows why. The Doctor presumes that it has somehow increased in mass. A Mexican mining outpost has gone missing and this crew is an after-thought in a third-rate spacecraft. The travelers and the crew venture onto the lunar surface to investigate, finding the outpost and a lot of organic webbing.
Inside the mining outpost, the team finds a corpse. They restore power and oxygen and the Doctor discovers that the Moon is slowly disintegrating. Crewman Henry explores a nearby cave and gets eaten by a spider. Another spider enters the base kills crewman Duke and sets its sights on the rest of the team. Courtney gets separated from the team and ends up killing the spider with a cleaner that she brought along, leading the Doctor to conclude that the spider is a germ. Gravity is also shifting as the internal mass of the Moon is moving.
Courtney would really like to go home so the team returns to the TARDIS. Clara wonders why they don’t just leave but the Doctor isn’t sure that the Moon doesn’t survive this adventure. He isn’t sure what happens beyond this point, but he knows that he must remain here to see that this problem is resolved. It is a fluxed point in time. Meanwhile, crewman Lundvik begins prepping her nuclear arsenal.
The team investigates the site where Henry died and finds the cave to be full of germ spiders that are afraid of the sunlight. The Doctor finds evidence of amniotic fluid in a crater and dives in to investigate. Left behind, Clara and Lundvik head back to the TARDIS as Courtney posts about her adventure on Tumblr. Unfortunately, the shuttle is swallowed by a crevasse.
The Doctor returns and takes the team back to the mining base. He has figured out that the Moon is an egg, and the spiders are bacteria living inside it. If they destroy the Moon with nuclear bombs, they will have to explain why they killed a creature that is the last of its kind. On the other hand, the lunar disruptions are taking a toll on the Earth. While the Doctor and Clara debate with Lundvik, the Doctor gives Courtney instructions to bring the TARDIS to him.
He then decides to let the humans sort it out. Not being from Earth or the Moon, the Doctor chooses not to interfere, insisting that only humans can decide the future of their planet. He boards the TARDIS and leaves.
The team discusses the risks of eliminating the Moon. Lundvik decides to activate the bomb timer but Courtney and Clara suggest that the people of Earth take a poll. Between “kill” and “don’t kill”, the planet chooses “kill”. Lundvik decides to detonate the explosives but Clara presses the abort command first just as the Doctor returns.
The team descends to a beach on Earth’s surface as the creature hatches. As the Doctor monologues, the butterfly-like being flies into the stars, leaving another egg behind that becomes a new Moon. From this point, humanity expands into space and endures to the end of the universe because they chose not to kill. Lundvik is left to find her way to NASA while the Doctor takes Clara and Courtney home.
As Courtney leaves the TARDIS, Clara confronts the Doctor about what he knew. He explains that he knew that the egg was harmless but that it wasn’t his place to choose the fate of humanity. Clara is furious for patronizing her and placing them in danger. As her friend, he left her behind to scrabble with the rest of humanity.
She tells him to go away and not come back.
As the TARDIS fades from sight, Clara returns to her classroom and finds some solace with Danny. He tells her that, because she’s still angry with him, her relationship with the Doctor is not over. She agrees, then heads home for a glass of wine as she stares out at the Moon.
We continue the Doctor’s decline that I noted in The Caretaker. While I appreciate the prickly nature when it comes to no one getting sick and no hanky panky on the TARDIS, I found his decision to leave the humans to fend for themselves… well… anger-inducing.
I get it. I really do. It was important for humans to make this choice for themselves, but he could have offered a bit more warmth and explanation for his choice. He’s helped so many other times, but this one is the one that has to be completely hands-off? Clara had a point about the Twelfth Doctor being patronizing instead of being a counselor, and her anger is completely justified.
Now take this to the next level: Kill the Moon is an analogy for abortion. While the de facto custodians of this new life – Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik, notably all women – have the agency to choose, the Doctor’s role with his vast knowledge of was to guide, counsel, and console. He performed none of those roles, waving the “not my problem” flag and leaving the humans in the mire of making a life-altering decision without a trusted someone to provide support.
Clara’s anger was birthed from frustration and fear, and all of it could have been avoided with the Doctor’s help. Now that trust is broken. Especially because he knew that the egg was (mostly) harmless.
Note that the Ninth Doctor took a similar approach in Aliens of London, but he still remained as an anchor through a difficult moment. The Twelfth Doctor abandoned his companions.
All of that analysis aside, this story has an interesting hook with a Philip Hinchcliffe monster-of-the-week execution and terrible logic. The Moon is really an egg that incubates for millions of years, causes planetary distress upon hatching, and then is replaced by an exact copy to repeat the cycle in another eon?
The concept should have been incubated for much longer.
Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”
UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Mummy on the Orient Express
The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.