Sunday, October 5, 2014

In Which I Review Doctor Who (8x7)

According to Webster's Dictionary, responsibility means "the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone." If there is one theme in this weeks episode, "Kill the Moon," it's how much responsibility does the Doctor have to the planet Earth and its billion plus inhabitants? Is he our savior in our time of need; or is it up to the people who call this blue/green rock home to make decisions, especially when those decisions aren't nice or kind. Secondary to this is trying pick apart what the Doctor gets out of having a travel companion. For the most part, it's is to stave off lonlieness or, as the 11th Doctor said, it's because he has seen it all--the birth and death the universe--and traveling with someone helps him see it through fresh eyes. However, while that is all good and noble and a wee bit sad, I think his motivations are also incredibly egotistical. As of late, the Doctor only travels with modern humans; little people who aren't knowledgeable about time and space and can look at the Doctor with a sort of starry eyed wonder. And I think he gets off on it. He likes that almost god like power. It's an ugly truth, but one that fits in this weeks episode. 

The Doctor put his foot in his mouth and now he's paying for it. This is why we don't tell kids they aren't special or important--sooner or later, they'll want to travel in space with you. I don't have a lot of issues with a random kid, Courtney I suppose, traveling with the Doctor. It was important thematically since the episode had a lot to say about children and innocent lives, I just don't want the Doctor making a habit of taking other people into space when he already has a companion. However, it's very telling that the Doctor would rather show Courtney a neat trick--by letting her be the first woman on the moon--rather than just telling her she is important. This Doctor has problems with the emotional words, doesn't he? He's opposed to hugs and the Doctor couldn't properly express why he didn't like Danny and he can't communicate explicitly why he doesn't like soldiers. And by the end of this episode, he is unable to tell Clara that she is important and special to him, instead couching his criticisms in a patronizing and patriarchal way. And actually, when you stop and think about it, he's been doing this all season. His need to insult Clara in what was a fun big brother, best friend sort of way, have slowly becoming more annoying and mean spirited. I read an analysis of The 12th Doctor and Clara that they have a very abusive relationship. He's the jealous boyfriend who will beat you down with words but apologize and try to make amends when it look like she's about to walk out the door. It might be a bit extreme if in large part because I don't think Moffat is aware that this is how Clara and The Doctor are coming across, but it does carry some weight. In this episode, the Doctor will let Clara feel stupid and in mortal danger for the sake of a lesson. He says it's respect, but it's not how she feels.

The plot of this episode is nothing totally revolutionary, though there are a shocking amount of political sentiments in this episode. Turns out the moon is an egg and thus the mythology of ever civilization ever is proven correct. No seriously, many civilizations considered the moon to be a woman who was pregnant, hence why it waxed and waned. Inside the moon-egg is a dragon--no wait, wrong fandom (A Song of Ice and Fire joke). Inside the moon is a creature, possibly the largest creature in the universe and it's hatching. The moon is breaking apart as a result and it's causing havoc on earth; the tides are so large that they threaten to drown whole cities. But here's the issue, well one of them: we know the moon still exists past 2049 and that humanity is not wiped out. So when Clara just wants to pack up and leave because she knows that the moon is still there in the future and that humanity has spread out amongst the stars, the Doctor corrects her that the future is not for certain and for all he knows, the decision that is made today could change the course of history. So what's the dilemma? Kill the baby or sacrifice the future.

You know, that's fairly weighty for a show that is theoretically geared toward children. It's the pro-life debate only set in space with nuclear bombs. What is more important? An alien baby that "cannot be blamed for kicking" or the future of the human race? Clara and Courtney don't want to kill the innocent creature because it's a baby; the astronaut sent into space to deal with the issue thinks human life is more important. Politically speaking, I am pro-woman's choice and I guess here I am pro-humanity's future, but it's a bleak future if it comes on the back of a dead alien baby. And the Doctor? The Doctor has left the building. I admit, I expected him to come back before time ran out and tell Clara and Courtney that he had found a way to let the alien baby live and save the planet Earth in one fell swoop. And then I remembered that this wasn't the 10th or 11th Doctor. The 12th Doctor's stance is pretty clear: "The earth is not my home, the moon in not my moon. I can't help, sorry." It has to be Clara and Courtney and the astronaut's decision, not his. The Doctor wants no part in it because it doesn't concern him. Troubling, no? It also brings to mind what the 10th Doctor said in his very first episode about the planet Earth: "it is defended," meaning by him. In this case, the 12th Doctor isn't doing much in the way of defense, now is he. The Doctor does come back but only after Clara and Courtney press the button to abort the bomb. He doesn't come back in the nick of time, but a hair's breath after. What if Clara and Courtney hadn't pressed that button? She says she almost didn't and I believe her. Everything is fine, in the end, of course. The creature lives and flies free, laying a new moon in its wake, and humanity sees something that sets them on a course to travel amongst the stars.

But now we come to the really important part of the episode: Clara lets the Doctor have it. Either he tells her what he knew, or she will slap him so hard that he'll regenerate. HA! This might be the biggest fight the Doctor has had with a companion in awhile. The Doctor probably knew all along that the monster would re-lay an egg and the Earth would be fine. He can claim he didn't but I don't believe him, honestly. He removed himself from the equation because he likes sitting back and watching his creatures at work. He's like God in the Clockmaker analogy. God may have created the universe and its creatures but he has no part in their lives now and what choices they make, they make. He won't interfere. The Doctor enjoys sitting back and applauding himself for his cleverness and his ingenuity when the humans do something noble and brave because, in a way, he gets to take credit for it. Clara's right; he's patronizing her. This was a really great moment for Clara. She's never been my favorite; she was written as weak and weepy in her first season and is only now getting a backbone, the kind required to go toe to toe with an egomaniacal man like the Doctor. Props to Jenna Coleman for acting this so well. Clara tells the Doctor, "Don't you lock me with the rest of the humans that you think are tiny and silly and predictable. You walk our Earth, you breathe our air and you can help us when we need it." It's interesting that just after this, the Doctor tells Clara to watch her language; the same thing he told Courtney because she was a child. That's how the Doctor sees Clara; she's a little girl and he's the big important Time Lord and he knows best. She gets a pat on the head for being a clever little human, but in the end, it's all thanks to him. But enough is enough, and Clara tells him to "get in your lonely TARDIS and don't you come back." Now, I know it won't last. Clara will forgive and the Doctor will make amends, but that's what I was saying at the beginning: it's a bit of an abusive relationship. Whether or not Steven Moffat is aware of this, I don't honestly know. He often cuts the emotional stuff off at the knees without exploring it. But I think it's safe to say that Clara has had her eyes opened for real this time and will be wary moving forward. All in all, she kinda had a bad day.

Miscellaneous Notes on Kill The Moon

--This episode didn't really make me laugh, but then I don't think it was supposed to. I did enjoy that the spiders were killed with Windex.

--"No getting sick and no hanky panky, those are the rules."

--"I am a super intelligent alien being who flies in time and space. You going to shoot me?" Funny line but it really drives home the point I was making about the Doctor's ego.

--I know before the season is over, we'll most likely get Danny Pink's background story on why he left the army and what his "really bad day" was but I'm not sure at this point what it is. Did he kill someone accidentally?

--Really surprised we didn't see the dead astronauts with Missy.

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