“I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate!”
Like Listen before it, Kill the Moon is certainly a love it or hate it kind of episode. In fact that’s the overall feeling of the series a whole – it’s the Marmite season. While I have enjoyed every episode of the series so far, I know people that have hated them to the same degree. And those people aren’t going to change their minds after watching Kill The Moon.
So, first things first. Remember Courtney? That annoying school girl who briefly popped up in the last episode? Well she’s back and she’s back in a bigger role than anyone ever wanted her in. Due to some slightly bullshit reasoning The Doctor agrees to take her along on this adventure so she feels special, or something. Child actors are not Doctor Who’s strongest suit, Nightmare in Silver is the best evidence of that, but luckily Courtney isn’t that bad. She still has some annoying points and she still has too much importance to the plot, but she is better than I was initially expecting. Although I still couldn’t help but roll my eyes when in a crucial life or death moment she mocks Clara and Danny’s relationship. But overall she was better than many of the other child characters the show has had over the years, and the actress her self was better than many other child actors the show has had. The rest of the characters were solid though and as always, Capaldi was brilliant. His version of the Doctor is a grumpy old man, and he tries to teach lessons the hard way. Leaving Clara to make the important decision herself was a new side to him and a gave the Doctor a completely new, dark dimension. Unfortunately this backfires on him during this episode with Clara walking out of the TARDIS after a brilliant argument between the two of them. I think it’s safe to say, regardless of you’re opinion on this series of episodes, everyone has to be a fan of Peter Capaldi. After the previous over-long run of Matt Smith, Capaldi is a breath of fresh air. The direction of this episode was also solid, something this whole series seems to be doing well. From a cool POV shot from one of the doomed astronauts to a creepy shot of a man being attacked by a spider, shown entirely through shadow. Hopefully this high level of interesting direction can continue throughout the rest of the series.
The episode did suffer however, due to it’s running time and pacing. I’m not saying that the story would have been better suited to an old fashioned two-parter but certain parts didn’t get enough screen time due to cramming it all into 45 minutes. I mean, how awesome were those spiders? Great monsters, brilliant special effects, cool death scene potential, just a shame we only had a few scenes with them. These scenes were definite highlights but I would have liked more. The ham fisted pro life/pro choice theme that was arguably behind the episode was slightly distracting but I do like Doctor Who having some more grown up themes to it, making it feel like proper science fiction. The scene when the earth decided the monster should be killed yet Clara went against that decision did irk me; the people had spoken she should’ve listened to them. Regardless of the fact that her decision did ultimately have a contrived ‘everything is fine’ type ending, she didn’t know it at the time, she didn’t know what would happen if she let the moon thing live. And while the whole ‘the moon is a egg’ thing didn’t bother me – the sudden appearance of a second moon did. It all felt a bit too convenient and too well wrapped up. Again though, a longer running time or a two parter could have perhaps fixed this.
Overall, Kill The Moon was a relatively solid episode with some cool effects, great performances, brilliant direction and a nice grown up debate at the heart of it. It wasn’t as fun or as memorable as some of the others in the series so far but it was far from the worst. More time could have been spent on the monsters perhaps but what we did get was awesome. Not the best or the worst episode, Kill The Moon was an episode with problems but was overall just very fun. And when it comes to Doctor Who, what’s more important?