You Left Me Behind
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Kill the Moon will be remembered as one of the greatest Doctor Who classics despite its inherent flaws and not just because of the title. Series 8 has suffered a little from not always making sure that the story of the episode truly fits Capaldi’s Doctor. This hour was originally meant for Matt Smith but I earnestly cannot imagine anyone but Capaldi in this role. He is just absolutely magnificent from start to finish. But here he’s completely outshone by Jenna Louise Coleman, whose performance in the climax was one of the most powerful scenes in the entirety of the Doctor Who saga. It’s shcoking, brilliant, and powerfully emotional. If this is writer Peter Harness’s debut, I cannot wait to see what he brings to the table in the future. The visuals are fantastic, the Moon Spiders are great, Murray Gold’s music is brilliant, and the supporting performances from Ellis George (Courtney Woods) and Hermione Norris as Astronaut Lundvik are nuanced.
The Doctor in many ways is at his absolute worst. There are reports of people leaving the franchise because they just don’t like this iteration of the beloved Time Traveler. I can understand how people are rather put off by Capaldi’s Doctor and especially how he treats Clara. But at the same time the character’s purpose isn’t always to be happy and jovial with some dark traits. Down the road, there had to be some iteration of the Doctor who was just downright unpleasant at times. Here he even tells the young Courtney Wood from last week that she’s not that special. That’s a terrible thing to day to a thirteen-year-old girl, especially considering that Courtney is possibly one of the least annoying teenagers on television. But he does make it up to her at the end.
The plot as sometimes Who does is frankly a bit ludicrous. The whole concept of the moon breaking apart and the tides raising is defeated firmly at the end, considering they’re landing on a beach. Those would have been eroded, but whatever. There’s a consistent, palpable tension with discovering what was happening to the moon and the cracks appearing slowly is a nice use of the ticking bomb cliché. The moon spiders being defeated by Lysol is appropriately hilarious and actually manages to become an actual plot point, which is impressive in and of itself. The moon as the egg concept is an intriguing one and written well here, but ultimately kind of is forgettable. It’s a terrifying moral dilemma that drives the plot and for a minute you think Doctor Who is going to go there and make a choice. It doesn’t and everything works out neatly. It’s such an irritating letdown but what follows almost makes up for it.
Where this episode and Harness’s script really shines is when finally confronts this Doctor’s shortcomings and how often he resorts to a pettier, meaner version of himself. Clara’s thunderous outburst is thrilling to watch as no doubt she shares some of the same frustrations that the audience is sharing with how nasty this Doctor’s becoming. Their playful banter becomes patronizing and bitter as Clara hisses her anger.
Doctor: Well, not that it’s any of my business, but I think you did the right thing.
Clara: Yeah, you’re right. It’s none of your business.
Clara: Tell me what you knew, Doctor, or else I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate.
Doctor: Essentially, what I knew was that you would always make the best choice. I have faith that you would always make the right choice.
Clara: Honestly, do you have music playing in your head when you say rubbish like that?
Clara: I don’t know. I don’t know. but if you didn’t do it for her, i mean. but you know what, it was, it was cheap, it was pathetic, no, no no, it was patronizing, that was you, patting us on the back, saying ‘oh you’re big enough to go to the shops by yourself, now go on huddle along.’
Doctor: It was out of respect
Clara: Oh my god, really, was it? Yeah, well respected is not how I feel. I nearly didn’t press that button. I nearly got it wrong. That was you, my friend, making me scared, making me feel like a bloody idiot.
Doctor: Mind your language.
Clara: Oh, don’t you ever tell me to mind my language, don’t you ever tell me to take the stabilizers off my bike, and don’t you dare lump me in with the rest of all the little humans that you think are so tiny and silly and predictable. You walk our Earth, Doctor. You breathe our air. You make us your friend when that is your mood to and you can damned well help us when we need it.
Doctor: I was helping.
Clara: What, by clearing off?
Clara: Yeah, well clear off. Go on! You can clear off. Get back in your lonely … your lonely bloody TARDIS and you don’t come back.
Doctor: Clara. Clara!
Clara: You go away. Okay? You go a long way away.
It’s a tour de force claim and the Doctor is left shaken. Jenna Louise-Coleman nails the scene, thundering what at the Doctor with righteous indignation. Clara isn’t completely ready to abandon the Doctor, as Danny points out that she wouldn’t be angry with him. But it’s a thunderous crack between the two and it will certainly take work to repair it. Until next week.
Great Moments Not Mentioned Above:
+The President is a She
+Whenever there is running in a Who episode, it makes me smile
+Nice Tumblr shootouts
Episode Title: Kill the Moon
Director: Paul Murphy
Image Courtesy: Digital Spy UK