Doctor Who series 8, episode 7, “Kill the Moon,” by Peter Harness, is tough to review. I’m convinced by now that I don’t like Clara (Jenna Coleman), and probably never will. The last two episodes are good, but focused on Clara especially. She can’t withstand such scrutiny.
Throughout this review I have included my interpretation of how Clara must have explained her adventure to Danny (Samuel Anderson). I hope this helps my thoughts about the end of the episode and her decision to leave the Doctor (Peter Capaldi).
The Doctor is great in this episode. I’ve said before that Capaldi’s Doctor is a jerk and at least a bit cowardly. I still think this, and it has made the character much more interesting.
Clara: I cannot stand him! The Doctor has gone…just…too far!
Danny: What did he do? Tell me what happened, I can help.
Clara: He insulted Courtney, and when I tried to make him apologize and tell her she’s special, he took her to the moon instead.
Danny: I guess she feels special now.
Clara: And we get there, in 2049, and land with astronauts who are hauling nuclear bombs to blow it up. And there are giant spiders, and dead Mexicans-
Danny: That’s racist.
Clara: How is that racist?
Danny: It feels racist. What were there names?
Clara: Who remembers? And the astronauts died so fast I barely had time to shame them for the bombs!
This has been an issue throughout Doctor Who’s entire run: extras do not matter. All but one of the astronauts die early, and there is a team of pre-dead folks waiting on the moon. They don’t matter. The astronauts aren’t on the moon because of them. They’re just on the moon. Dead.
Danny: Sorry, there were spiders with human teeth, but they weren’t really spiders they were bacteria? And people wanted to blow it all up, because gravity?
Clara: Turns out the moon is an egg.
Clara: And everyone wanted to blow it up. The Doctor said he didn’t know what happened next, and we had to decide without him. I didn’t know what to do, so I told the earth to vote. I could only see, like, Australia, but close enough. And they all voted to kill the creature hatching out of the moon.
Danny: This has some pretty heavy moral implications.
Clara: Eh, I stopped Captain Lundvik (Hermione Norris) at the last moment. The Doctor reappeared and patronized me-
Courtney Woods (Ellis George): At least he had something to say.
Clara: Get out of here!
Courtney: Seriously, the last ten minutes was just this one, crying her eyes out like a little kid who got lost in a shop.
Clara: So help me, I will take you on another “class trip” if you don’t shut it. You got lucky. The last kids I took didn’t get to hang out safely in the TARDIS. They almost got murdered by robots.
Is there any lesson that endangers enough people that Clara might actually learn something from it? I’m referring to “Nightmare in Silver,” of series 7.
The Doctor refuses when Clara asks to leave. We know about fixed points in time as the limit of what the Doctor can achieve. However many lives he saves, he can’t save everyone. And we see that despite his knowledge of most of time and space, the Doctor often gets into trouble. The series’ tension is introduced when the Companion asks how they can die in the past or future. The Doctor says that time is in flux. He usually doesn’t say more, but in this episode he elaborated.
Danny: This immortal, time-traveling space alien can see all of reality. But he travels to times and places he’s actually vulnerable, seemingly at random. And he’s just arrogant enough to believe he can solve whatever problem he finds.
Danny: Why did he leave you to make the call? Maybe what happened was important in a way we haven’t considered yet?
Clara: Of course! I fell out with the Doctor, and I don’t trust him now, even though he trusts me more than ever. Or did. I guess our argument probably changed his mind.
Danny: I meant something of actual emotional weight, that wasn’t forced in because of “The Caretaker.” Any resolution about Moon Child? Humanity deciding on some weird version of abortion/infanticide? The Doctor’s decision to leave our fate to ourselves and maybe force us to grow up a bit and acknowledge our wider universe? The bizarre reality of his life as a near-omniscient god who is, just sometimes, nearsighted?
Clara: He tried to make a point, but I was crying.
It doesn’t take a supervillain or an apocalypse to threaten people; the universe is dangerous. Sometimes the Doctor does not know the answer. Clara’s reaction shows a lot about the character, but it doesn’t feel Clara-specific. Courtney has almost the same reaction. It seems like anyone could have stood in Clara’s place and said her lines and the episode would have been the same. Clara may grow up, or learn, or become interesting. But with no plot device to tie her to after the end of series 7, and no real personality except her relationship to Danny and the Doctor, Clara’s just… there.
The rest of the episode is great, go watch it. If you ignore the personal drama, and pay close attention to the Moon Child, you’ll find a hell of a story.
Original Images © BBC Wordwide. Poster by Radio Times. Courtney meme via ComicMix.
– ed: Hannah Givens, I think you will appreciate Will’s take on this. Do give it a read when you have a sec. 🙂