In last week”s episode, Mr. Pink came face to face with the other man in Clara”s life…and he did not like what he saw. The show is finally dealing with how the Doctor takes on human companions who intrinsically trust him, even to the detriment of their own life. And how unhealthy that is. While “The Caretaker” was the Doctor in name, Moffat appears to be setting up Danny to care for Clara when Twelve finally pushes her too far.
But what will be the final straw? Maybe we”ll find out this week when the Doctor and Clara “Kill the Moon.”
After Danny finally learned the truth about Clara and the Doctor, I thought perhaps he”d tag along for the next outing. If nothing else, perhaps he would want to see if he can trust the Doctor not to put Clara in danger. What I didn”t expect was to see Courtney Woods again. But here she is, in Intergalactic Orange, standing by as Clara pleads with the people of Earth to make a decision. And not just any decision, but one upon which hinges the fate of all mankind. Will the humans sacrifice one life to save billions? They have 45 minutes to decide and the Doctor is somehow incapacitated and cannot assist.
Wait, really? This is the premise upon which the episode rests? If ending one life to save countless other lives is worth it? Here, let me help. Yes. Yes it is. Episode over.
But no, instead we”re popped back in time a bit to figure out how Clara and Courtney got into this mess in the first place. Clara is at school, berating the Doctor for messing up Miss Woods pretty bad. Somehow the kid has stolen Twelve”s psychic paper and is generally being a disgruntled youth, all because the Doctor told Courtney she wasn”t special.
The Doctor is uncharacteristically unperturbed by this turn of events: he seems completely cool with a teenage human stealing from him and also breaking into the TARDIS. Though how Courtney managed to break into said TARDIS is a mystery for another day, I suppose. But nevertheless, Miss Woods is waiting to be taken on another adventure. She even brought anti-nausea pills because she thinks ahead.
Instead of just humoring Clara and telling the girl that everyone is special in their own way, or some other tripe, the Doctor decides the best way to prove to a wayward teen that she matters is to let her be the first woman to walk on the moon. Okay, sure. But since Twelve can”t drive, the TARDIS lands inside a space shuttle instead of on the moon proper. A space shuttle full to bursting with about hundred nuclear war heads.
Kill the moon, indeed.
Killing the moon might have the unintended side effect of killing our main characters too, because this space shuttle is about to crash into the lunar surface. But instead of hopping back into the TARDIS, the Doctor merely shouts for everyone to brace themselves…and pray the nukes don”t go off, I guess? Like any family outing, this mini-vacation has quickly spiraled out of control.
Enter Hermione Norris, playing the hard-as-nails NASA astronaut Lundvik and her two Red Shirts who”s names I won”t bother to learn because they”re obviously here to die. Godspeed, nameless men who are about to give their lives to whatever is making the moon heavy enough to have Earth-like gravity.
Lundvik brings her no-nonsense attitude and hefty bit of exposition. We”re in the year 2049, and the moon has put on significant mass. This has upset the symbiotic nature it has with Earth, resulting in untold deaths as the tides become unpredictable and sea levels rise, drowning whole cities. Lundvik and her men have been sent to the moon to figure out what is going on and, should the need arise, nuke the ever-living hell out of the source.
America, hell yeah!
Once the astronauts realize their stowaways are here to help (by the way, the Doctor”s slightly panicky rant about shooting him last because he”s “not entirely sure I won”t keep regenerating forever,” was heart-breaking), everyone suits back up and Courtney Woods is indeed the first woman on the moon…that we know of.
As they walk, Lundvik keeps dishing out backstory. Apparently Mexico sent a privately funded mining survey crew but no one knows what happened to them. The four miners went missing. Of course, the Mexicans did send back a final transmission that was nothing but screaming. So obviously, no one went to check it out because we”ve all seen this movie. Also, America had gotten pretty bored with space travel and didn”t have any shuttles to send (the one they”re on now is a museum piece rigged to work). But now, the Doctor and company must brave certain doom to find out if the survey team discovered any useful information.
The shuttle landed close to the survey base camp, and the astronauts are hoping it will give them some clues as to why the moon has gone wonky. Instead it gives them cobwebs. Which, I”m not entirely sure the moon is capable of forming cobwebs? So I”m going to tentatively guess the Red Shirts will die via LUNAR SPIDERS.
It”s a gambit as to whether someone will be dragged screaming into the darkness of the abandoned moon base or if we”ll get a jump moment. Jump moment it is! Courtney Woods is screaming because there is a dead guy wrapped up in the “cobwebs.” Immediately the Doctor is on the case. Perhaps the alien lunar spiders want to know if humans taste like chicken? Twelve is officially that annoying uncle everyone has. You know, the one who scares the hell out of all the kids at the family reunion.
Life support kicks on when one of the Red Shirts bravely goes off alone to find the power button. It is a testament to the private sector of space travel that they were able to get everything up and running again. But now that the lights are on, things go from creepy to “what the hell is going on?” Turns out that despite surveying the entire moon, the Mexican miners didn”t find traces of any minerals anywhere under the surface. What they did find were a series of fissures cracking ever wider. The moon is falling apart.
Welp, the Red Shirts couldn”t live forever. Like a lost lamb, one has wandered away from the safety of the herd. While the entire group stays in the relative safety of being indoors, Nameless Astronaut #1 heads outside. Using canon fodder sixth sense, he heads directly to the lair of the LUNAR SPIDERS. Don”t look inside the dark hole making spooky noises! Do you want to die? Because this is how you die. And, now you”re dead.
Back inside, one of the monsters makes an eerie shriek and skitters around the room. “What the hell is that?” asks Courtney, because she is a sane person who wants to live. The lunar spider reveals itself, and wow it really is a giant spider. Maybe the moon is a huge nest of space spiders? Great, I just gave myself nightmares.
With Day-Glo orange joints, the giant spider skitters ever nearer to the group, emitting just enough light to show off its terrifying carapace. They panic because LOOK AT IT! Quickly the Doctor realizes the monster spider is like a T-Rex in “Jurassic Park” and can”t see them if they don”t move. So slowly everyone begins to inch towards the door but even those slight movements draw its attention and HOW DID IT EVEN GET IN HERE?
Everyone dives for the door and down goes the other Red Shirt! GAH! The space spider had human teeth! Godspeed Nameless Astronaut #2. I”d like to take this moment to point out that once more this season, the script has killed off every dude that isn”t a Time Lord, leaving the women to save the day. This can”t be a coincidence.
But oh no! Courtney Woods is trapped in the room with the dead Red Shirt and the lunar spider and the rest of the group is on the other side of a steel door of safety. The Doctor tries to save her, but the plot gets all wibbly-wobbly. Courtney momentarily floats because the spider is an unstable mass(??) before a deus ex machina in the form of Windex saves the day. Courtney sprays the giant bug with germ-killing chemicals and it shrivels and dies on the spot.
Well that was…weird.
Courtney is 800% done with this time travel nonsense and wants to go home. Clara seconds the motion. After all, she reasons, the moon is still there. They”ve been all over time and space and surely it would”ve come up in casual conversation if the moon had crumbled to pieces and gone missing. At which point, the Doctor is forced to admit even he can”t see all of time. Little grey moments like this one, where big decisions are made, are hidden from him. Lundvik helpfully points out that her entire crew is dead. She is the last astronaut, on the last space shuttle, with the last nuclear bombs, with one last chance to save Earth. And she demands they help her.
How do you turn down an argument like that?
The adults drop Courtney back in the TARDIS for her own safety, and so Clara can avoid a lawsuit I assume, before heading back into the fray. The Doctor stumbles across liquid but there”s no water on the moon. But there is amniotic fluid. Okay, so the moon is totally an egg right?
But what about the lunar spiders? At the mouth of the cave where the Red Shirt gave his life in the name of plot tension, the group finds the rest of the Mexican miners. And a huge nest of light adverse spiders. But they aren”t spiders. They”re germs. Huge, nightmare inducing germs. Which gives the Doctor an idea. An idea that requires him to tell the ladies he”ll “be right back” before diving headfirst into a huge fissure in the surface…which is probably full to bursting with creepy crawly giant germs.
Back on the TARDIS, Courtney is bored. So she does what any bored teenager does…she gets on Tumblr. And starts posting photos from the moon. Lundvik laughs and shares a memory of how her Granny used to use Tumblr but Clara is more concerned about blowing their time traveler cover. But what no one seems to be focusing on is how cell phones always seem to work with their original time period, no matter where in the time stream they are.
The fissures in the moon kick off an earthquake and the shuttle falls into a chasm. Clara freaks out because Courtney”s parents are definitely going to sue the school if she let their kid die on the moon. But the Doctor appears from nowhere – seriously how they hell did he get back here so fast? – and assures us all the TARDIS will keep Courtney safe and she better not be putting pictures of him on the Internet.
Back at the moon base, the Doctor gives Clara and Lundvik the skinny on why the moon is falling apart. It”s because the moon is hatching. It”s a giant egg…with what looks like dragon inside of it. A giant 1.3 billion ton baby dragon with giant spider bacteria on it. One of a kind.
“How do we kill it?” asks Lundvik because that is the right question to ask when faced with a potential planet-killing monster. Which is when all hell breaks loose and this turns into an unplanned pregnancy metaphor. There are two things happening simultaneously for the rest of the episode, so I”ll be breaking from your regularly scheduled recap to dive a little under the surface here.
First off, what”s literally happening. Lundvik, Clara, and Courtney (who is returned safely by the TARDIS) must decide whether or not to use the nukes to destroy the baby alien hatching from the moon. The Doctor says this is humankind”s decision and he refuses to get involved, going so far as to physically leave in the TARDIS…stranding Clara and Courtney. At this point, Earth calls to see if NASA has figured out what”s going on yet, because things on the surface are getting really bad. Clara then broadcasts to Earth, asking the question we heard when the episode first started. If the people of Earth want them to detonate the bombs, they need only turn off their lights in the next 45 minutes. Because humans have self-preservation, they turn off their lights. Just when Lundvik is about to detonate the bombs, Clara stops her because she can”t make an unfair choice. The Doctor returns, congratulates them on making the right decision and they pop off the moon just before the alien dragon hatches.
Okay, now that we”ve got the basics out of the way, let”s peel away the top layer. The Doctor is leaving the fate of the egg up to the women. Which explains why they killed off all the men earlier. They don”t get a voice in this personal autonomy decision. Clara must decide, for all of womankind, whether or not to kill an unknown creature…the fetus. The decision is irreversible and will have far-reaching consequences. Much like an unplanned pregnancy. After blindsiding her with this enormous responsibility, the Doctor flees the scene. Lundvik and Courtney then play shoulder devil and shoulder angel. Lundvik argues there is no way the Earth can survive this, that the alien-dragon is a parasite that must be destroyed before it can destroy billions of lives. Courtney argues the alien-dragon is a baby, an innocent that has done nothing to them and how can you murder a baby!? Clara waffles because the decision is unfair and the choice is too hard and she is afraid of making the wrong choice and ruining her (and everyone else”s) life. After she finally makes her choice, at the last possible second, the Doctor reappears to congratulate Clara for choosing life. This metaphor is ham-fisted as hell.
Of course, because this is a family show, it turns out the alien-dragon doesn”t want to eat all humans. And to top it off, it instantly lays another egg-moon identical to the one Earth lost. And the shell breaks up in the atmosphere, causing no unnecessary deaths.
But there was no way Clara could”ve known everything was going to go better than expected. The Doctor”s smug “you owe someone an apology” to Lundvik – who rightly wanted to nuke it rather than risk it all “to be nice” – sends me into a black out rage.
But right when I”m wondering what the hell the writers were thinking, Clara see Courtney safely get off the TARDIS before rounding on the Doctor with lightning in her eyes. She demands to know what he knew and so help her, she will “smack you so hard you regenerate” if he hedges his answer. He hedges anyway. He knew eggs weren”t bombs and trusted her to make the right choice. You know, instead of just telling her the alien-dragon wouldn”t destroy all humans. Clara is not buying it.
The Doctor says it wasn”t his decision to make and here”s where the unplanned pregnancy metaphor goes from maddening to a brilliant piece of writing. Clara is crying but with anger, because the Doctor abandoned her. He thought he was showing her respect by letting her work it out on her own, but what he actually did was desert her during a terrifying life moment that he helped get her into. By absolving himself of the situation, he transferred all the responsibility and fear and guilt onto Clara. The ultimate decision was hers, but he wasn”t even there to support her.
If the Doctor thought clearing off was the way to help, Clara says he is welcome to clear off permanently. She leaves the TARDIS while a stunned Time Lord helplessly watcher her go.
Back at the school, Danny finally makes an appearance as Clara tries to get herself together. He knows the Doctor pushed her too far because something similar happened in his past. He sits and listens as she word vomits all her hurt and anger on him. Clara says she”s done with the Doctor but Danny knows she”s still mad and you”re never finished with someone while you”re still mad at them. But the talk – and the hug – helped.
Another thing that helps? Wine. The episode concludes with Clara staring at the moon and getting understandable drunk.
So what did you guys think? Was the Doctor out of line? How will he deal with the next adventure with Clara? Exactly how hard is Danny going to punch Twelve in the face eventually?