The initial next time trailer for “Kill the Moon” hyped me beyond belief with all the corpses of an other world colony stuck to the walls, eight legged creatures unexpectedly jumping at people’s faces, and the final shot from the trailer showing a completely smooth spider’s head with a horrific set of teeth. It all seemed to be directly influenced by James Cameron’s Aliens. Not to mention when the spider opens its mouth at the end of that trailer and lets out a horrific squeal, it sounded exactly like a Xenomorph.
As a massive fan of anything even closely resembling Alien, my expectations were raised much higher than most for the following drop of disappointment. Regardless of how much I wished to see The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) fighting Xenomorphs on the moon, this episode falls also short in other areas.
The lack of scientific understanding in this episode is just horrifying. For one, a space shuttle could not make it to the moon. It is designed for getting to the International Space Station and back. No further. Even if it did happen to make it there it would not glide down to the surface, it would fall straight down like a bolder, and with all those nuclear weapons on board would blow a massive crater in the side of the moon – killing the episode’s characters before it’s even begun.
The main fault, though, is the understanding of gravity. The Doctor said when they land on the moon, “We should all be bouncing around this cabin,” and demonstrates the fact that the moon now has gravity. Even though it has always had gravity! Later on in the Mexican colony, the power fails and suddenly Courtney Woods (Ellis George) begins floating around the room. On the moon. Even if you ignore the misunderstanding of writer that the moon has zero gravity of its own, in scenes both before and after we see all the characters safely walking around the moon’s surface without the slightest danger of floating away. If you’re going to be wrong, at least stick to your incorrect understanding. Don’t start contradicting yourself. Then you look doubly silly.
The final scientific misunderstanding I would like to raise is this… EGGS DO NOW GROW IN SIZE OR MASS! The whole point of an egg is that everything the embryo will need is already there. All nutrition is passed from the egg to the baby, no additional mass is being added to the structure and then it breaks its way out when growth is completed. It doesn’t outgrow the shell as depicted in this episode.
Clara’s (Jenna Coleman) choice to deactivate the bombs (while admittedly did turn out well in the end) was just wrong. It went against the diplomatic decision of the entire planet and was completely unfounded. She had no idea if the creature was passive or friendly, or even if this massive, never-before-seen creature would impact the planet in some other unintentional way. What is the moral of this story? Don’t listen to the opinion of others even if you yourself are unsure? Always trust your gut, regardless of the information placed in front on you? This is not a heroic decision, this is an optimistic stab in the dark. Why she made the decision is beyond me, but maybe making decisions for the future of a planet should be handled with your gut instinct rather than analysing the facts through a diplomatic communication and voting! I mean, why not? (Note my sarcasm.)
This decision is then followed up by a massive speech from The Doctor, which was without a doubt the weakest point in Capaldi’s portrayal of the character so far. The speech felt like it was trying to be inspiring and motivational to get people to… well… I don’t actually know. Travel into space, I guess? Regardless, the script wasn’t very interesting, the performance unfortunately wasn’t convincing, and the direction and the way it was edited together just removed all potential tension the scene might have had. The episode would have been much better without this scene. Not to mention, the fact that the second moon just seemed to be placed in orbit and grow to half the size of the current moon in a matter of moments, without anyone noticing.
It’s ironic that the scene on the beach was the worst scene of the series so far, because the subsequent scene between Clara and The Doctor in the TARDIS was the strongest. This didn’t feel like a tacked on emotion for our companion as she seemed genuinely peeved off by the Time Lord. Having a character made that angry by The Doctor’s actions has been a long time coming, and was handled well. Both Coleman and Capaldi’s acting was top notch.
Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) once again appeared for a few minutes at the end of the episode, giving comforting advice to poor Clara. This scene really allowed us to recognise how important he is in Clara’s life, therefore doing a much better job of introducing him to the audience than the past six episodes combined.
Most of the choices in the episode seemed to have been made just to make special effects team’s job easier. I know there were some complicated shots for them to pull off, but when the people at MILK effects read through the script, they without a doubt gave a massive sigh of relief when they realised the moon now (conveniently) has the same gravity as the Earth. They didn’t have to come up with any new designs either, as the space ship was a space shuttle, all the space suits are reused, the spiders are… spiders, and the baby creature within the moon was never seen in detail. Not that these are bad things, they are allowed to have simple or recognisable designs – it’s just that next to the bad science and poor scenes the effects felt unimaginative and rushed.
This episode was nothing like Aliens, which did genuinely disappoint me, but I’m over that now. In the end, it had interesting ideas and a few good scenes, but also a completely broken understanding of science and the worst scenes of Series 8 so far. “Kill the Moon” had some redeemable properties, mind you, but overall it failed to engage the viewer and strike any level of fear into their heart. Which is surprising for an episode which features massive Xenomorph-esk spiders on the moon.
Doctor Who airs Saturdays on BBC One and BBC America. Next episode: “Mummy on the Orient Express”