HomeTelevisionTV Recap: Doctor Who, 'Kill the Moon'

TV Recap: Doctor Who, ‘Kill the Moon’

Photo Credit: Ray Burmiston, ©BBC/BBC WORLDWIDE 2014
Photo Credit: Ray Burmiston, ©BBC/BBC WORLDWIDE 2014

Strike what I said about “Listen” a few weeks back. THIS was something special.

There’s always room for praise when Doctor Who brings on a new writer who hits it out of the park with his first try. Much like series 7 did with Neil Cross (his first commissioned Story “Hide” not the first aired “Rings of Akhaten”) new writer Peter Harness has delivered quite a whopper with “Kill the Moon.” This dim, sometimes funny but often atmospheric thrill ride is the essence of what makes Doctor Who a balanced show when it wants to be. There’s a little something for everyone here but what matters most is the outcome that will no doubt alter The Doctor’s relationship with not just Clara but any companion he has till the end of time.

Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014
Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

As these episodes tend to go the set-up is rather straight and narrow; The Doctor, Clara, and Coal Hill pupil Courtney land on the moon in the midst of a major life or death mission for a team of astronauts. Something has gone terribly wrong with the Moon with it losing its weightlessness after somehow gaining 1.3 billion tons of weight. Armed with 100 nuclear bombs they are tasked with finding out the cause and blowing up the moon but for Team TARDIS this isn’t a simple decision because as The Doctor always does he must find out the cause of the its current state.

So the moon is an egg? Yes, it sounds absurd and it sounds just as absurd to the rest of the supporting players who aren’t an alien time traveller but the show has always been good at delivering an idea so absurd that its brilliant. The filming in the Spanish island of Lanzarote really paid off because the moon just has a gorgeous landscape that isn’t all just craters bouncing around. The director this week really took his time in making sure there was a balance of light and dark moments. The deserted moon base is claustrophobic and eerie and composer Murray Gold helps along the way by composing a gorgeous score that is equal parts epic and terrifying.

We are also offered another brilliant monster this season with the bacteria driven moon spiders which sounds so simple but yet is executed so perfectly. The pitter patter of eight feet in the dark was creepy enough but the design, straight out of Alien or Predator (or both) is stunning and frightening to boot. However, they aren’t the big issue at hand because “Kill the Moon” focuses on familiar DW ground with the idea of fixed points in time. Now, I have taken issues with this over the years because sometimes it makes sense (“The Waters of Mars”) and sometimes it defies logic and purpose (“Angels Take Manhattan”) but here not only does it take on possible religious and moral connotations it is the basis of the biggest conflict between the Doctor and Clara.

Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014
Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

I shuttered to think that Doctor Who would decide to focus on the moral high ground of the conception and killing of life but you couldn’t help but see to it that way. The idea of the Moon being an egg hatching and the decision whether to kill it before it kills is interesting ground to tread but the logical and ultimate decision on what to do with it feeds more into the character’s relations than it does feed into the episode’s path. All of this wouldn’t have come to fruition without the emotionally driven performances of our leads with special kudos going once more to Jenna Coleman. Not only does she provide the frustration of the show’s moral dilemma but she executes with mouth a gasp the final moments of the episode that really takes you back.

Clara sees in spades what Danny had warned her about last week, the Doctor pushing her too far. The Officer that is the last of the Timelords forces Clara unknowingly to make the choice of whether the Moon lives or dies. Yes there is heroism instilled but at the cost of being tricked by her best friend. He has basically manipulated her to make a choice as if humanity is once more a play thing to this 2,000 year old alien. This isn’t the first time we have seen this but I think people may tend to believe this is a first because of this older and darker Doctor but the fact is we have seen this in the past with all our favorite Doctors. The Doctor often manipulates people for his own sake and I wonder if sometimes he just doesn’t understand why it’s a problem.

You can see the genuine shock and hurt on his face when Clara just riddles him with emotional ammunition and rightfully so. It makes the viewer uncomfortable just watching it but it couldn’t convey any better the sense of betrayal Clara feels. The Doctor sees it has helping and it’s more than possible the Doctor genuinely doesn’t get it but only time will tell. The Doctor himself needs a pair of stabilizers because he is still learning what means to be compassionate in this new body. Clara will most likely find a way to forgive but never forget and I think her conversation with Danny brings a lot of clarity to the situation.

Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014
Photo Credit: Adrian Rogers, © BBC/BBC Worldwide 2014

This is hopefully something that will make the Doctor think in the long run and I am curious to see if we get the Doctor flying solo next week in the awesome looking “Mummy on the Orient Express” or if this is just a ruse. Regardless there must be ramifications to the Doctor’s actions that may alter the rest of the season but for now Series 8 has continued a solid run of episodes and “Kill the Moon” may now be the highlight that people will remember dearly for years to come of this particular run.


Jason Stives is the resident Anglophile and Pop-Break representative for BBC America conducting weekly reviews of Doctor Who and Orphan Black. He is currently a contributing writer for PropertyofZack.com and a freelance creative consultant for fundraising and marketing campaigns in New Jersey’s various art communities. He is a graduate of Rutgers University’s class of 2010 with a bachelors in Journalism and Media Studies. When he isn’t attending concerts or writing the great American novel he moonlights as lounge crooner J.M Heavyhart turning the works of Dokken and Dio into Sinatra-esque standards (or at least he would like to be). Follow his constant retweets and occasionally witty banter on Twitter at @jaystives.




  1. Everything I liked about this episode was undercut by a badly thought out plot. Obviously somone had this awesome idea about the moon being an egg and then spent zero time trying to make it plausible. It’s Dr. Who, I’ll accept nearly any explanation. Just make it work within the logic of the show.

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