Sunday, 5 October 2014

To the Moon and Back - Doctor Who: Kill the Moon Review

Review by Jack Sutton

Series 8 really is turning out to be a mixed bag isn’t it? It’s had its ups, and its downs…and a few more downs. It’d be safe to say that we’ve been disappointed for the majority of its run so far, but every time we lose hope, it churns out an episode like Kill The Moon. Full spoilers for the episode below.

The Doctor, Clara and Courtney Woods (that student who was in the last one) take a trip to the moon so that the Doctor can make Courtney feel special. As soon as this episode was set up I was tempted to switch over. It’s a story that seemed more suited for the Sarah Jane Adventures than Doctor Who. Funnily enough, the inclusion of a younger character actually worked in the episode’s favour, giving Clara a more maternal role to play, and almost playing as a secondary conscience to the Doctor at times.

Of course, this is Doctor Who, meaning we can’t have a simple trip to the moon and back without SOMETHING going wrong right? It isn’t long before the Doctor is facing off against a cynical astronaut, a crumbling moon, a moral dilemma, and a horde of moon spiders that can only see you when you move.

Interestingly enough, these were probably the most interesting and creepy enemies we’ve seen in a long time (excluding the uber-creepy “Listen”, but that turned out to be nothing, so poo poo on that.). The only thing I’d say is that they aren’t used enough. After a confrontation with one and the reveal that there are more of them, the spiders take a back seat as the aforementioned moral dilemma takes precedence.

So here’s where things get weird. The moon is an egg. Yep. Something is waking up beneath the surface of the moon, and destroying the moon on its way out. A choice must be made – kill the creature and save the moon, and by extension the Earth, or let events run their course and see what happens when the creature busts out.

It deeply tests the Doctor’s sense of empathy, and his willingness to save everyone and everything he can, and in his infinite wisdom he leaves the choice to Clara, Courtney and Captain Lundvig (the astronaut). I was expecting this to lead to more Clara-ness, but it actually worked pretty well. The focus was on Clara of course, with Courtney and Lundvig being the angel and devil on her shoulder. It’s a not-so-subtle metaphor, but it was still pretty good to watch.

All of this added up to some pretty high levels of tension, providing thrills as well as a few genuinely touching moments. The explosive confrontation between the Doctor and Clara in the aftermath was also beautifully done, with Jenna Coleman delivering one of her best performances to date. As a matter of fact everyone was on top form. Capaldi was sarcastic, Hermione Norris was cool as Lundvik, and Ellis George’s Courtney was one of those rare things – a teenage character who isn’t annoying!

Praise should be given to writer Peter Harness, especially considering this is his debut episode. Kill the Moon is a stand out episode on series 8, and shows Doctor Who at the standard it should be, as opposed to the standard we’ve come to expect. A gripping plot, some great visuals and the best performances that we’ve seen in a long time, here we have the best of S8 so far.

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