Kill the Moon, the 7th episode of the 8th season of Doctor Who, has apparently become extremely divisive. Some people think it’s amazing, and one of the best episodes of the whole series, while others just can’t get past the ludicrous science involved. Well, the science is indeed ludicrous, but the episode is nonetheless a good one – imaginatively conceived, well directed, genuinely scary, and brilliantly acted by the two leads. I’m not a big fan of Courtney Wells as a character, but I loved the interaction between the Doctor and Clara, and I was particularly impressed by their confrontation at the end, where Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman basically knocked it out of the park.
But it’s hard to get past that science stuff, isn’t it? At least, it is for some. I don’t have a real problem with it, although I can understand people’s issues in this case. I’m not really going to try to argue my point here. I liked Kill the Moon, some people didn’t, such is life. But I was thinking about the objections that others have brought up from a logical stand point, and I thought — is there any way to explain this stuff? And I thought that given enough imagination, sure there is! Now, I don’t expect any of these ideas to change anyone’s mind about the show or it’s implausibilities, but I wanted to share them.
So here we go: a creative apologist’s take on Kill the Moon. How can it be made to make sense? An objection is mentioned first, followed by my explanation. All of these objections are things I’ve actually read online. Spoilers, of course.
The Moon is an egg, and nobody in Doctor Who-land ever noticed this before?
Answer: Sure! Why not? The Doctor only notices on this occasion because of the strange issue of the increased mass. Why would we think he’d ever have identified such a thing in the past? I mean, who in the world scans each planet he lands on to find out if it’s really a big egg?
But what about all the other explanations the show has given for the moon’s origin? How can we tolerate a situation where the show actually contradicts its own internal continuity?
Answer: Of course, first we have to get past the “internal contradiction” thing. I mean, have you ever tried to read one of those Doctor Who chronologies? They are full of all sorts of creative gymnastics in order to try to make sense of the series’ story. Doctor Who has been contradicting its internal continuity for decades. Was Atlantis destroyed by Azal or by Kronos? Are the Time Lords high-and-mighty demi-gods, or backstabbing political sycophants? What year did all the UNIT stories take place in? When did the Doctor first learn of / meet the Daleks? Getting uptight as to whether the moon has contradictory origin stories in the series seems a little picky, to say the least.
But given all that, my quick research indicates that the only reference to the moon’s origins to be found on televised Doctor Who was from Doctor Who and the Silurians, where it was stated that the appearance of the moon drove the Silurians underground. Other than the proposed dates, that story doesn’t contradict what we saw in Kill the Moon at all. In fact, it could explain how the moon turned up just when it did.
Somehow, the moon is gaining mass as it’s getting closer to hatching?
Answer: OK, here I’m moving into the zone of pure speculation. Actually, not actually speculation – just pure, creative, wacky imagination–or “Crazy Talk”. Look, I know I’m talking nonsense here, but as I said before, my intent here is to weave a story which makes sense of the absurdities we see in the story.
So here’s my thought: the creature “inside” the moon is multidimensional, and is drawing mass from another dimension. That’s how it’s growing, and getting bigger. More on this below.
But the moon remained more or less the same mass for millions of years, and has only begun to gain mass in the last couple of years?
Answer: Well, those aliens can have strange life cycles. Did you see Alien? Or ever read Speaker for the Dead?
Actually, I think this is easily explained by the whole “multi-dimensional” thing mentioned above. The Moon Baby’s mass has been slowly growing in that other dimension for millennia, but in the last few years before the story, it’s been shifting that mass into our dimension in preparation for its birth.
Somehow, there are giant one-celled bacteria that look and act just like spiders on the moon?
Answer: Um, they are multi-dimensional giant bacteria?
OK, I admit it, this is a tough one. In fact, this is the part of the story I found the most random. Why would the bacteria be giant just because they are on a giant thing? I’m pretty sure that bacteria found in a human aren’t considerably larger than bacteria found on a flea.
But actually, the multi-dimensional thing does work here. As the Moon-Baby drew its mass from the other dimension, it also brought in the giant bacteria contained within (cause that’s what bacteria look like over there). And as that Moon-Baby begins to take steps to hatch, those bacteria make their way to the surface, much to the regret of the Mexicans and Duke’s granddaughter.
The moon hatches…but that doesn’t wreck massive havoc on the earth?
Answer: Sure it does, but then there was massive havoc already effecting the earth. The destruction caused when the moon was destroyed (utterly disintegrated, in fact, meaning that any meteorite moon-rocks were easily burnt up in the atmosphere) would have been much worse if not for the replacement moon showing up at the exact instant that the first moon was destroyed–see below.
Why is the Moon-Baby flapping its wings in space?
Answer: Because those are special space-wings that allow the creature to catch the extra-dimensional rays left over from its recent birth into our universe and to get itself going wherever it’s heading.
How does something lay an egg, presumably larger than itself, so quickly?
Answer: This one is my favorite. The answer is obvious: it didn’t.
Instead, the creature flew off, matured, got bigger, and later laid its egg back in time, putting it right where its own egg had been (or very close by), and timing it to appear at more or less the same instant that it itself had hatched.
How and why did it do this? See below.
Hey! The ending is cheap, since it basically resolved the situation in an “Everyone lives!” manner, removing the consequences from the story.
Answer: Umm, except for the part about all those people who died on the earth because of the moon’s abrupt changes. So, no, not really.
I’ll concede the show didn’t really deal at all with the consequences to the people of earth’s decision to “Kill the Moon”…except that it did talk about how the events had a deep impact on the human race as a whole, leading them to once again take to the stars in exploration. If we remember that those same people were the ones who almost killed the Moon-Baby, than that effect becomes even more profound.
The other way to really deal with the effects of not killing the Moon-Baby would have been to either show the earth being devastated and millions of people dying as a result of Clara’s decision, or by having the creature turn and attack the earth itself. Both of those would obviously have been another story all together, and would have certainly required a second part to the episode.
What’s happening at the end? Why does the Doctor leave Clara to sort out the question of whether to kill the moon? What did he know?
Here’s what I’m saying actually happened: the Doctor knew that if Clara or the people of the earth opted to not destroy the Moon-Baby, that it would hatch, and that even if it didn’t turn on the earth and destroy it, our little world was going to be left a gigantic mess caused by the moon disappearing from the sky abruptly: cities destroyed, oceans going crazy, and so on.
So the Doctor, after he leaves Clara behind, he goes off and finds the Moon-Baby. In the future.
There, he avoids finding out anything that has happened to the earth in the meantime (to avoid creating a fixed point in time) and he puts a question to the Moon-Baby–now a Moon-Adult, I guess, at a time when it is ready to reproduce (eg. lay an egg). The Doctor explains how the Moon-Baby’s very birth caused such damage on an innocent planet, a planet that had the opportunity to destroy it, but obviously chose not to. The Doctor tells the creature that though it cannot undo any of that damage, it has the opportunity to minimize the destruction – by laying its egg in the exact time and place (or a very close by place, anyway) that its own egg had existed. Thanks to some clever jiggery-pokery with the Tardis and the creature’s own multi-dimensional powers, it is able to do this. The new egg blinks into existence just as the other one is destroyed, in more or less the same place, and the damage to the earth is kept at a minimum.
Properly chuffed at his success, the Doctor returns to the moon where he picks up Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik, and brings them to earth to watch events play out. As the “gray area” of time resolves itself, the Doctor suddenly becomes aware of how this point has influenced earth’s subsequent history (since he has obviously visited much of those times before). Later, the Doctor is a bit shocked at Clara’s anger, since he thought he was doing well by encouraging humanity’s development while at the same time ensuring their ongoing survival by catching up with the future creature.
So, when he left Clara and the others to make the decision, he didn’t know anything for sure. But when he came back, he knew it all.
Why didn’t this Doctor, one of the meanest ones we have ever had, take the human race to task for choosing to “Kill the Moon”?
Well, on one hand, maybe the Doctor never knew about humanity’s decision. He had actually avoided finding out, to avoid creating that fixed moment in time.
But also, if that’s a bit improbably, perhaps it’s to do with the fact that the Doctor saw that in this case, the Moon-Baby was just as guilty as the human race. It was ready to fly away from the earth without really considering the consequences, until the Doctor found it and convinced it do otherwise.
And also, when the Doctor saw that humanity had learned from its mistake (see above), that may have mitigated his indignation as well.
This episode is further evidence that Steven Moffat is an egomaniac and a control freak!
Wait…what? Huh? Er…he’s…uh…
Seriously. I have no idea how to respond to such a statement. I mean, Steven Moffat might be an egomaniac, he might be a control freak, but I don’t see how this episode helps to demonstrate that. The person that I read who stated this declared that these qualities were “well documented”, as if the man had been the subject of some sort of peer-reviewed university study.
Let’s a get a grip here. Perhaps a more accurate re-writing of that statement might be something like This episode is further evidence that I don’t like Steven Moffat’s style as Doctor Who showrunner.
And I guess there’s no arguing against that.
And so there we go!
Kill the Moon, far from being an illogical, fanciful ball of absurdity, is actually a completely logical cautionary tale which weaves a narrative that goes even deeper than you thought.