After last week’s fun-but-filler episode, Kill the Moon was another exceptional episode for Capaldi’s Doctor. In fact, I would even throw this week’s episode up there with Listen as a contender for Capaldi’s best.
It was a whirlwind effort by Capaldi, Moffat and Coleman that took viewers to the surface of the moon that, in a classical but absurd Who twist, has “put on a bit of weight”.
Doctor Who, Season 8, Episode 7, ‘Kill The Moon’ Review
WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD
Given his successful ventures with a number of the series tropes and archetypes thus far, it was exciting to see Capaldi take his gruff and unbound Time Lord to ‘isolated space adventure’ territory with Kill the Moon.
Early parts of the episode struck a great balance between pacing and exposition. I liked how the episode threw its’ monster into the mix so quickly, going through all the motions of a classic Who story, before tipping its hand and revealing the endgame.Though they do play second-fiddle to the hatching Moon towards the episode’s conclusion, there’s an undeniable scare-quality to giant spiders and I’m kinda surprised the series hasn’t really used them before.
It was pretty predictable to spot the impending doom of the astronaut team that split up to investigate the space station – but, like Listen, the episode ended up spurning these expectations and turning the episode itself into a more complex exploration of mankind’s nature and destiny.
After her debut last week, it was neat to see the return of Courtney ‘Disruptive Influence’ Woods. Although she was a standout part of The Caretaker, I didn’t actually expect her to throw her into the fold quite so quickly. Though the episode did have some close-to-cringeworthy dialogue involving her desire to be told she’s special at the start, her presence in the episode more than justified itself with her hilarious Tumblr gag later down the line.
For all the little fun details, Kill The Moon really came down to its big, dark and emotional climax. Whether or not you choose to read into the episode’s subtext as an abortion metaphor, it was still impressive to watch the fate of the moon come down to a three-way debate between a teenager, a schoolteacher and an astronaut.
Kill The Moon also revived and re-examined the Doctor’s relationship with the much-debated notion of ‘fixed-points’ in time – perhaps suggesting that the reason he can’t just kill Hitler has less to do with quantum-mechanics and more to do with his own commitment to letting mankind find their own destiny.
In perhaps a Tenant or Smith Era episode, this would be enough. Doctor Who’s idealist highlighting of mankind’s virtues and potential has always been a staple capstone for more than a few good episodes but in a bold move Kill The Moon chose to overturn the Doctor’s self-righteous proclamations.
In short, Clara called him on his bullshit and it was one of her most compelling scenes to date. This major confrontation was one of Coleman’s best performances and saw her boldly walk away from being a companion. It did a great job of addressing some of the (many) storytelling mistakes and criticisms that have been leveraged towards the show during Moffat time with it and it was great to see these mistakes addressed rather than simply forgotten.