Aired 4 October 2014
Throughout the past several episodes, there have been several instances where the Doctor has been, to put it mildly, not the nicest towards Clara. It’s been hard to say if this is just the new Doctor being more alien and formidable than his predecessor or if it has been a deliberate attempt to create a bit of a divide as was discussed back in ‘Deep Breath.’ Regardless, Danny had warned Clara not to let the Doctor push her too far, and ‘Kill the Moon’ provides what develops into the point of no return. Tired of being used and treated as less than equal, Clara finally snaps and stands up to the Doctor, telling him just exactly what the last few weeks have been like for her. Jenna Coleman has proven masterful at portraying a more confident Clara as time progresses, and the raw emotion in these final minutes is exemplary. Where this leaves their relationship and how they continue going forward will be a fascinating pathway to explore. However, as with ‘Listen’ before it, putting all of the focus on the ending would be doing ‘Kill the Moon’ a disservice as new Doctor Who writer Peter Harness crafts a very good story from beginning to end.
‘Kill the Moon’ takes the familiar base under siege premise and puts a clever spin on it to make it something totally unique. The Doctor is gone and Clara sends a distress call stating that there are forty-five minutes to decide the future of mankind, a future where an innocent life may need to be sacrificed. That potential sacrifice, as it turns out, is a creature within the moon, the moon being a giant egg that is about to hatch. The creature may destroy everything on Earth if allowed to hatch; the Earth may be destroyed anyway if the humans decide to kill the creature with a handy supply of nuclear bombs. This is a momentous decision, and one that would normally feature the Doctor prevalently. However, he essentially sets this as a task for Clara and Hermione Norris’s Lundvik, disappearing at the critical juncture after saying he does not know what is supposed to happen. It is this situation that sets in motion the afore-mentioned confrontation, but not before a remarkable sequence with the lightbulbs on Earth takes place.
In a story that has a lot to get through, Harness and director Paul WIlmshurst do allow some scenes to play out at a slower pace to deliver added effect, a prime example being a rather heated exchange between the Doctor and Clara as he calls the accompanying Coal Hill pupil Courtney not special. The standout visual scene is undoubtedly when Courtney is alone and under attack from a giant space spider- space bacteria in this case. Playing on the innate fear of spiders so prevalent in many people, Wilmshurst uses darkness, flashes of lighting, a sense of claustrophobia, and a few well-timed close-ups to successfully raise the tension and fear. The entire episode is dripping in atmosphere and incredibly cinematic in scope, and the mostly exceptional production values and score only enhance the experience.
There is ultimately no connection to Missy or Seb, but it’s hardly worth noting since the overall experience is so very good. This is science fiction at its finest, offering a strong moral dilemma with tangible consequences. Hermione Norris is superb in support and Lundvik, and she and Clara together form a great double act even as the Doctor mysteriously disappears. ‘Kill the Moon’ continues the overall trend of putting the focus on Clara, surely a controversial move to some, but Jenna Coleman continues to deliver knockout performances and truly sets the scene for the fallout of her overdue confrontation with the Doctor.