As the eighth season of Doctor Who pushes on and Capaldi makes the role his own, tensions grow and the tempers flare. Just when you thought they couldn’t get any rougher than the new power threesome (The Doctor, Danny Pink and Clara) exploding last week in “The Caretaker,” “Kill The Moon” proves us wrong.
It starts out with the Doctor’s newest traveling companion, Courtney Woods, enraged because once again the insensitive new Doctor said something hurtful. This time though he wounded a child; a young, developing teenager. And he brushes it off like nonsense. This is the new paradigm with the Doctor as he races to a new adventure without any thought to endangering a minor he has no responsibility for. But, is it insensitivity or is the Doctor actually trying to make things right? After watching the whole episode, I’m still not for sure.
What Courtney said at the beginning is paramount. It’s what many a companion has thought when marginalized by the almighty Time Lord. His arrogance and constant interference is what comes under scrutiny in this episode.
“You can’t just take me away like that. It’s like you kicked a big hole in the side of my life.
You really think it? I’m nothing? Not special?”
The Doctor answers by evading the issue and flipping the switch and going on an adventure. His answer for everything, right? But is he avoiding or is he fixing things? I’ll let you be the judge.
Once again the adventure is a back drop for just who this new Doctor is and what his presences does to those around him. This episode is an amazing answer to the last decade of the Doctor. For three previous generations, he’s been a traveling priest peddling his own personal god, namely himself. That may sound a bit rough, but think about it. Sure, he’s a good man, but he’s almost always made the decisions along the way. They were right ones, but the fact was he didn’t trust the human race to ever get it right or anybody for that matter. So he sped around the universe to right wrongs and punish bad guys.
He started out this series by rambling about making things right; fixing the wrongs he’d done. As far as his companions have always seen, he’s always right. He sweeps into a situation like the white knight. So what’s all of this about wrongs? Could it be that the Doctor is finally coming to grips with what he does when he lands the Tardis on Earth and sweeps an individual away? Maybe this is the Doctor learning about the effects his decisions have had on time itself. Everywhere he goes, he imposes himself into it. So, that brings us to the moon and one of those pivotal moments in Earth’s history.
And much like every adventure this wonky new Doctor goes on, it starts with a crash landing….onto the moon.
“Why didn’t you just tell her you didn’t mean it?”
But didn’t he? Still not sure…
So, after getting their bearings and finding out there are spiders there, he automatically puts the minor in danger again. Luckily enough she has germ killing antiseptic with her that just happens to kill moon spiders… Still it works and gives Courtney a comedic moment worth sitting through.
In the process of trying to get the minor to safety, he proves he doesn’t have a clue about humans and their life spans. “What are you 35?” to which Courtney answers “15” and Clara answers with a disapproving shake of the head. You can tell that she’s losing it with the Doctor, even now. He claims to care for the humans SO much, but doesn’t care enough to know anything about the way they act, think or grow. He doesn’t even tread lightly on anyone’s emotions. He’s been trashing through Clara’s since day one of the current regeneration. The Doctor is used to the grown up, strong ones that have a stiff upper lip and go on. They’ve taken his dismissal of all things not him for a while. But now we run into someone not desensitized by the world yet.
“Clara, there are some moments in time that I simply can’t see!”
From that moment on, Clara looks at the Doctor differently. It’s a combination of hurt and anger bubbling up inside. He knowingly thrust them into a situation that he personally cannot see. ‘It’s fuzzy’ he says. Clara understands that he has endangered them all in the most careless of ways. It’s not long before he’s beginning to piece it all together. He happily plummets into the unknown without a care for the others around him. Only to reappear at the moment of the most danger to announce, “Today’s the day, humankind!”
And he really means that. For the unimaginable decision that has to be made will, for once, not be made by the Time Lord. No, it’s a hazy, pivotal moment for Earth that must rest with the Earthlings. The Doctor suddenly goes clinical and declares that the decision is not his. After all of the judgments he’s declared upon a myriad of races. After imposing his opinion in every discussion, the Doctor decides that this is not his battle. Once again we get that stunned, hurt, angry look from Clara as she realizes who the man is she’s been flying around with all this time.
“You don’t need a Time Lord.”
Really? And, all this time, we thought his input was indispensable. We came to the conclusion that the universe needed the Doctor. That, without him, we could never make it. And, now, he leaves it up to us.
“It’s time to take the stabilizers off your bike”
The Doctor steps back to allow the humans the right to make their own decisions. And, to be fair, he’s right. “Some decisions are too important not to make on your own.” Maybe he knew without Courtney and, especially, Clara involved that there was no way mankind would make the right choice. This becomes obvious by the makeshift astronaut and the blackout vote on Earth. They would have ‘killed the moon’. But Clara changes everything. He allows her to interfere in her own future and save the moon; changing everything.
I believe this was more for her than anybody. This may have been the Doctor’s way of telling her that she’s all grown up and doesn’t need him anymore. Though he could have just taken Clara and Courtney away and left the astronaut to make the dread decision. But he didn’t. Clara needed to be there for her chance to grow up (which she will soon) and Courtney had life to take a few stomps at her naive psyche.
What we get next is an excellent discussion about what to do. As the Doctor rockets off in the Tardis, he leaves the three humans behind to weigh all of the options. Clara’s asked if she wants to have children. Obviously, she does. The astronaut sets the mass of nuclear warheads in motion and Clara gets a chance to ask the whole of the Earth for help. But, as soon as we think mankind has made a horrible decision, Clara steps in and makes it for them. “You can’t risk it all to be nice.” The astronaut says. Well, apparently you can.
“You made your choice. Humanity made its choice.” The Doctor
“No, we ignored humanity.” Astronaut.
“Well, there you go.” The Doctor
When asked what happens next, the Doctor gives an amazing account which brings us back to the testimony of the Dalek in episode 2, life endures.
In the end, the stabilizers come off and Clara grows up. She confronts the man she once idolized and, like a fledgling from the nest, she begins to see life as it is. She sees her ‘Father’ with all of the scathing reality she can stand. Falling back on his old nature and trying to dodge a confrontation with another adventure, he’s cut short by his progeny. She feels patronized and belittled and he finds that his best efforts are not good enough.
“That was me allowing you to make a choice about your own future. That was me…respecting you.”
To which Clara responded, “Well, respected is not how I feel.”
I’ve went on longer than usual because this was a special episode. Clara is seeing the Doctor as he is. He hasn’t changed. He’s still inserting himself into awkward moments in time that change everything. Just, this time, he did it through Clara. He treated her and mankind as he always has, like a Father does a child. But, when that child comes of age, it’s time for a different treatment. And, THAT is what this Doctor is going to have to come to grips with.
I could go on, but I’ll leave you to chew on that. Pop me a statement or question over at Jackeduptales on Facebook and look for more speculation on this, the new Flash television show as well as comics and movies over at jackeduptales.com