We do love our Who around the What’cha Reading offices but this season has two of us (myself and staff writer Julie Hegner) at opposite ends of the spectrum. Julie is a dedicated Capaldi booster whereas I (Chuck) am definitely not on board as of yet. Since I am Editor-in-chief I could of course just write the reviews as I see fit! But that wouldn’t be fair to all you wonderful readers out there. (And Julie would definitely cut me!) So without further ado I’m going to supply you with Julie’s thoughts on the episode and my counter points to them…
Julie: Spoilers so, SO lie ahead, sweetie. Read at your own risk!
First of all, I freaking hate spiders. Let’s get that out of the way first and foremost. I generally watch with the captioning on so that I can write accurately transcribe the text, and words I never want to see again include “skittering” and “pattering.” Gah. I had nightmares about spiders with glowing eyes and sharp teeth last night. I know Moffat didn’t write the episode (cheers to Peter Harness, first time Who writer, for coming up with such a memorable “villain”), but when I woke up at 4AM convinced there was a giant spider outside my window because of the bright moonlight last night, I felt the need to invent the hashtag #thanksmoff. I don’t care if they can’t see you if you don’t move quickly (which basically makes them the moon spider equivalent of the T. Rex in Jurassic Park), spiders the size of badgers are horrifying.
Many of the early interviews I read for season 8 of Doctor Who included Peter Capaldi saying that Twelve was going to be more alien than previous Doctors. We’ve seen little hints of this throughout the season, but “Kill the Moon” made that a central focus of the episode—it gave us a deeper look at his character than we’ve had so far this season. It’s convention at this point that the Doctor will always save the day even if it’s at the last minute, but I can’t ever remember seeing the Doctor act like this in New Who. Even though he left Clara in ”Deep Breath,” he was in the room with her for a while before we were aware of it. This week, he just flat out disappeared for a large chunk of the episode and left all of the decision-making to Clara. I’m also pretty sure that Nine, Ten, and Eleven would never have said “Shoot the little girl first” or speculated about humans tasting like chicken to moon spiders. I really feel like in the end Twelve had humanity’s best interests at heart and was just showing his trust in Clara, but damn can he be chilling and calculating.
Chuck: I agree that The Doctor is definitely coming off more alien in this series but this is a sticking point for me. Through all the Doctors I’ve watched certain things remain consistent, he is a hero, he is nuts, he loves and protect us for some weird reason (many of which he’s mentioned in various episodes). To change that aspect of The Doctor, in my estimation, is the same as changing the number of hearts that beat in his scrawny little alien chest. “Shoot the girl first” and such could have easily been said by Tennant but it would have come off cheeky not like a sociopath.
Julie: I was worried about Courtney “Disruptive Influence” Woods being a main part of this episode, but having a kid on the TARDIS was a great way to highlight the Doctor’s relationships with his companions in a way that Clara can’t. Courtney is basically speaking for everyone the Doctor has ever run across when she says “It’s like you’ve kicked a big hole in the side of my life.” He changes everyone he’s ever come in contact with, whether he means to or not. Going back to what I said about Twelve’s character above, while Clara has a “duty of care” for her students, the Doctor seemingly has no such thing. I don’t believe for a minute that he ever wants anyone to get hurt, but Twelve certainly doesn’t seem as protective of his Impossible Girl as Eleven was.
Chuck: Again let’s re-write every bit of the character while we’re at it. A show that has always taken the protect the children route (even as far back in the reboot as Eccleston) has now decided that meh whatever we need to make The Doctor what, edgier? The recurring theme seems, in my opinion, if there was a value or personality trait you respected or enjoyed in previous Doctors forget it we’ve removed it. And unlike previous incarnations where it seemed like pain or loss had changed the way he felt about the world, this Doctor has nothing to suggest any of those traits still exist.
Julie: I’ve loved seeing the relationship between Clara and Twelve get defined this season, becoming its own separate thing from her relationship with Eleven. Eleven often reminded me of a boy with a boy’s exuberance for life. His approach to relationships was kind of immature, but at heart I thought he meant well. Twelve reminds me of someone with Asperger’s. He still means well, but he doesn’t pick up on the social cues that other people give off. I think he honestly believed he was doing Clara a service by letting her decide the fate of the moon, and really didn’t understand that he wasn’t supporting her by leaving. In Twelve’s mind, he did trust her to make the right decision. In Clara’s mind, he abandoned her. It will be interesting to see where it goes from here, especially since Clara doesn’t appear in the trailer for next week’s “Mummy on the Orient Express.” Is he giving her a breather? Or does she refuse to come with him on this adventure? Or am I just reading way too much into a thirty-second clip?
Chuck: I certainly hope Julie’s right. I’m not seeing that though. I do agree that he thought he was leaving the decision up to Clara but his new-found lack of concern for a whole planet of people just sits wrong with me. I keep hearing it over and over in my head, this is not how a hero acts, and The Doctor is nothing but a cheeky wandering erudite if he loses his heroic streak.
Julie: Moments that I thought were brilliant this week:
Courtney posting her adventure to Tumblr. As teenagers do. Hell, I would do that if I ever met the Doctor.
“I’ve never killed Hitler,” which is a fun nod to season six’s “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
Clara apparently teaching her students about Dickens, which I read as a nod to the first season’s “The Unquiet Dead” even though it was about David Copperfield and not A Christmas Carol.
Danny’s conversation with Clara about why he left the army. Mr. Pink pissed me off last week; this week he made amends by letting us know a little of his backstory. And the line “You’re never finished with anyone, not while they can still make you angry” was brilliant.
Clara hitting the bottle when she got home. Because if a day of facing moon spiders, saving a moon-hatchling, and being pretty much abandoned by the Doctor doesn’t make you want to drink, I don’t know what would.
Chuck: Believe it or not there were bright spots in the episode for me. This is still a great series that I watch on the edge of my seat. This season I’ve just spent a lot of time shouting at the tv while watching. But I digress…
I think Jenna-Louise Coleman’s performance was amazing. The range of emotion she displayed was wonderful. Many co-stars have had emotional speeches but up until now they’ve been very kind of spoiled brat crying jags or outbursts from suffering loss (except Catherine Tate (Donna Noble), she had some great stuff), this week’s episode really let Coleman stretch her legs, and I was glad to see it.
But please don’t ask about the “science” of this episode, that would take another whole article to get into, sheesh.