‘Kill the Moon’ is problematic.
The science is unusually bad, even for Doctor Who, but that’s not the worst of it. The character stuff is just weird. The whole adventure is launched because Courtney for some reason cares deeply about what the Doctor thinks of her. This is odd because they have no relationship: he’s not her dad, he’s not her teacher, he’s just a random guy on staff who showed her some weird space stuff. Plus she’s fifteen and a rebel, so even if he did hurt her feelings, I don’t imagine she’d give him the slightest hint that she cared. Then Clara tries to force him to be nice to her, which makes no sense at all. This isn’t Eleven; this Doctor would refuse her demands just to be contrary, whether he meant what he said or not.
Off on the wrong foot to start.
The trip to the moon itself is cool. “What’s wrong with my yoyo?” is a lovely and hilarious scene. I did wonder why no one at any point asked how they got there. And I wish they’d come up with an explanation for the moon’s increasing mass that actually worked.
The exploration and adventure part of the story is just fine, but the conflict is a major problem. No one’s behavior makes sense. Why does Clara suddenly give over everything to the Doctor? She’s never had trouble taking charge before. Why does he bail when there’s a life at stake? Does he really have so much faith in Clara? Why do they think that asking the people of Earth – at least those experiencing night in the visible portion of the hemisphere – to vote makes any sense at all? First of all, how many people are even going to get the communication in the limited delivery time? Then, how many of them are going to bother to respond? And how is there any chance at all that every one of them would agree? The whole idea is a mess.
If the Doctor knew that the moon dragon was harmless, obviously he should have said, but as I pointed out above, this is not Eleven. He’s not kind, he’s not reliable, he operates according to his whim and doesn’t concern himself with his companion’s feelings. If he didn’t know, it’s uncharacteristic of him not to stay and find out. The choice of destroy or not destroy is too simple for Doctor Who; in nearly every bad-choice scenario, he comes up with a third way, or at least stays in the fight to the messy end. ‘The Satan Pit’ is a good example: faced with two bad choices, the Doctor acts on faith and is rewarded with the TARDIS. Here the Doctor walks away, leaving the choice to someone else – and don’t think he wouldn’t punish her cruelly if she happened to choose wrong. “I knew you’d make the right choice” is as patronizing as he’s ever been.
Not that that’s out of character for this Doctor. He’s kind of a jerk.
Still, Clara’s reaction seems out of proportion. Maybe because she should know by now that’s how he is. Maybe because it’s unlike her to be so helpless. There are a hundred more plausible ways she could have operated in this story. Of course, none of them would have led to a dramatic breakup scene; if that’s what they were going for, maybe this was the best they could do.
There’s good stuff in here for sure. “My gran used to put things on Tumblr.” Moon dragon. Captain Lundvik is a great character, and she and Jenna get some wonderful acting to do. But in the end I don’t understand why Harness gets a two-parter in S9 while Mathieson – of ‘Mummy’ – gets only a double bill with the Moff.
Of course, maybe for this fanboy, it’s an honor. What do I know.