The Vashta Narada vs. The Empty Child [Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Monster Tournament – 4.2]

Doctor Who has generated lots of frightening monsters and creatures over its many years of existence. But out of all the writers who have ever contributed to the series, no one has invented quite so many such baddies as Steven Moffat…for the simple reason that nobody else has written as many stories (although to be fair, other writers have written more episodes).

(Daily Doctor Who #217)

We are now entering Round 4 of this series, in which for no other reason but that it’s fun, we’re going to figure out which of Moffat’s many monstrous creations is the very best, according to a strict scientific process of having a few people vote on them.

The winner of each bout will be decided on a best of seven votes, according to whatever standard that they want (though in general, it’s a contest about which one is more popular or well liked, not which one would win in a fight). The judges, like last time will be Ben McClure (myself), Johanna McClure (my 16 year old daughter), Laurelle McClure (my 14 year old daughter), Joshua McDonald (my friend from college) and Jeremiah McDonald (Josh’s brother–see his website here).

You can read a bit more about each of us in the post for the first bout of this competition, here.

The last two votes will be drawn from a poll I will / have put upon Facebook. The monster which gets the most votes on that poll will be awarded two points.

So…

The Steven Moffat Monstrous Creation Tournament – Round 4, Bout 2

The way I am “seeding” this fourth round of the competition is listing all of the winners in the order of what percentage of the vote they took in their most recently Facebook poll during round 3. If there was a tie, then I looked at the percentage of votes that they took in the Poll before that. Then I will put the top vote-getter against the lowest vote-getter, and so on. There were 4 winners in Round 4, so we’re now with in the final big battles..

The contestants this time:

The Vashta Narada

(Introduced in Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead, from Season Four)

Percentage taken in the Facebook vote in Round 1: a 97% victory over The Shoal of the Winter Harmony from The Husbands of River Song and The Return of Dr. Mysterio. As the highest ranked Facebook poll from Round 1, they got to skip Round 2 entirely. In Round 3, they had a 100% victory over the Whisper Men.

The Vashta Narada are carnivorous microscopic creatures that existed on many worlds, but usually in harmless numbers. But when they swarmed together in great numbers they could devour a person in an instant. They would use their resemblance to a shadow as a way of getting close to their prey, and could be slowed down by light, but only barely. According to the Doctor, there was no real defense against the Vashta Narada–nothing to do but just run.

The Empty Child

(From The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances, from Season One)

Technically, these are the Chula Nanogenes, or at least the creature that they created in their attempts to heal / resurrect the young boy Jamie, who had been killed in a London bombing in World War II. Young Jamie had been mistakenly created with a gas mask as part of his face, with no real consciousness except for a desire to identify his mummy. He was virtually unstoppable and would spread his physical and mental condition like a plague to anyone who touched him.

Percentage taken in the Facebook vote in Round 1: a 91% victory over The Testimony. In Round 2, they had 88% of the vote when they went up against the Veil. In Round 3, they had a 90% victory over the Clockwork Droids.

OK, Ready, Steady…go!

Ben’s vote:

The Empty Child

The Vashta Narada are a terrifying idea and they are in an a story which I ultimately think is the better one. But they are in some ways the weakest part of their episode. It’s like the show didn’t really know how to handle them without dumbing them down a bit. The Empty Child, on the other hand, has been argued that it’s not really a monster because it was in the end not actually malevolent. Of course, it was clearly positioned in the story as a monster, so it comes into this tournament. And it’s such an awesomely creepy and confusingly disturbing concept that is so well-used in its story, that it gets the vote from me.

Josh’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comment: Okay, Empty Child vs. Vashta Narada. These represent two sides of one of Moffat’s great talents: taking something mundane and making it creepy. A kid in a gas mask looking for his mummy; or dark shadows. The Vashta Nareda are ultimately the more primordial horror–taking a vague fear of dark spaces and making it viscerally real. But it also concludes with one of my least favorite NewWho concepts: the Doctor basically wins out on his reputation without actually doing anything. The Empty Child gives us a more satisfying conclusion (and nobody dies!) so in this case the edge goes to the Empty Child.

Jeremiah’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comments: The iconic look and catchphrase win again.

Johanna’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comments: As terrifying as shadows that will eat you are, the design of the Empty Child is so good, so effective–a kid with a gas mask who will turn you into one of them. And you can’t see the Vashta Narada, so while that’s freaky, it’s not as scary. Regardless of how silly the concept of the Empty Child is, I just have to vote or it.

Laurelle’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comments: The Vashta Narada were very cool, but only until they went into a spacesuit and become a lumbering bad guy. The interesting part of the story was the whole thing with the Library, and the simulation, and the question of which side was real. The Empty Child was super scary, and the episode was great. I like the Empty Child (the creature) more than the Vashta Narada, even though I think I like Silence in the Library better as an episode.

The Facebook Poll:

The Vashta Narada (29 votes) over The Empty Child (6 votes)

Comments: The Vashta Narada. One commenter said made it clear they liked the Vashta Narada better because the Empty Child wasn’t actually trying to kill anyone.

The Winner

The Empty Child

Interestingly, all five of the individual votes were for the Empty Child, but Facebook was overwhelmingly for the Vashta Narada. But it wasn’t enough to secure a victory! And now…on to the Final!

Next up: The Weeping Angels vs. The Empty Child

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