Kill the Moon
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2 June 2015 at 17:02 #40486DenValdron @denvaldron
I have to say, I’m not a science purist, and I’m not especially concerned by science in Doctor Who. My objection to KtM relates to consistency and logic, which I suppose relates to science, but its broader.
I don’t believe that the episode is consistent with its own logic. It sets up its rules, and then it breaks them. That’s just bad storytelling.
Purofilion has described the episode as a fairy tale, but I don’t think that frees it from the demands of logic.
Let’s take a fairy tale as an example: ‘Three bears.’ – Goldilocks encounters a house in the woods owned by bears. Well, that’s hardly scientific. But the story establishes a logic, a premise. Bears have houses – ie, bears have essentially humanlike qualities. Goldilocks then proceeds through the house, she finds porridge and beds, this follows the story logic. The porridge comes in threes, and of different qualities. The beds follow this logic, three beds and of different kinds.
That doesn’t happen at all in KtM. Premises are established to drive a narrative drama, and then abandoned. The story goes on at great length to establish that these are catastrophic events. Obviously, if the Moon’s gravity increases multif0ld enough to capture an atmosphere out of nowhere, then that’s going to be devastating for Earth. And characters show up to say ‘Hey, this has been devastating for earth.’
The notion of the moon breaking apart leaves the risk of Earth being bombarded by mountain sized chunks of rock. This is not nerd science. This is pretty conventional wisdom. Within our culture, we’ve assigned an asteroid impact to the extinction of the Dinosaurs for the last few decades. There have been several high profile movies about big rocks hitting the planet with very bad outcomes. There was that Russian bollide incident a few years back. There’s pretty regular articles about tracking space rocks. This isn’t high tech science, this is on the order of common sense. Big rocks in space => Hitting us => Bad things. And in fact, characters who show up on a shuttle are saying exactly that. There’s nothing in the script to suggest otherwise. The Doctor says ‘oh yeah, that could happen, or something else might.’
The reality of these stakes are emphasized by the commitment of the supporting characters. They flew a space shuttle all the way to the moon to crash and possibly die in a quest to save the Earth. They do die, some of them, and in pretty awful ways.
But in the end, this is all waved away. It’s as if, in the story of Goldilocks, she drowns because it turns out that bears live underwater all along. The premises of the story are abandoned in favour of an altogether magical solution for which the story makes no allowance. The magic space butterfly waves away all that space debris from its birth somehow? And magically craps out a new moon which looks and masses and is in all respects identical to the old one. Its’ not being nit picky to go ‘hold on a second there.’ What this is a ‘deus ex machina’ – literally a God From the Machine, and Deus Ex Machina is simply bad writing. It means you’ve created a situation that you’ve no way out of, and now you’re just making crap up. Might as well have just said ‘it was all a dream.’
Throw us a bone. Explain how this is supposed to happen. If you’re going to do that, set it up in the script. But I don’t see it being set up. I don’t think that there’s any plausible way it could be set up. In the end, it’s just a ‘shut up! that’s why’ situation of contempt for the story and for the audience.
I’m not rigorous. I appreciate surrealism. To use an example, Lexx was often surrealist rather than sci fi, as often concerned with images and moods rather than linear logic. But even surrealism follows its internal premises. Even illogic maintains its own logic. El Topo or Magic Mountain, Un Chien Andalou or Discreet Charm of the Bourgeousie… they’re all surreal, but they also embrace their own internal logic, their premises. Look at the McCoy era of Doctor Who, when most of McCoy’s oevre abandoned conventional sci fi to embrace deliberate absurdism. I find absurdism hard to take, personally, you have to be in the right frame of mind for it, and I really dislike McCoy’s absurdist adventures. But I can appreciate that that’s what’s going on, and I respect the integrity of the absurdism, even for disliking.
But I don’t see this integrity in KtM.
Now, it’s entirely arguable that KtM is doing something else. That the apparent story conceals a subtext or underlying story which is really what it’s all about. Yes. Symbolism, metaphor, subtext, parables, allegory. I know all that stuff. I get it. So let’s assume that’s what’s going on here. In fact, it’s pretty much a guarantee. The over-story is such a butcher job that they have to be doing something else.
But I have two problems in this case. The first is that the over-story is over-sold, they put way too much into setting up their story and concepts and then simply abandon them – they make an investment and they work hard to convince the audience. Having a metaphor doesn’t actually get you off the hook. What would people have thought of Alien if, at the end of the episode, Ripley strips down to her skivvies and discovers that the xenomorph was actually Jesus all along. You can’t sell one kind of story, and then just switch and tell us its another kind of story.
The larger problem though is that even if we go with ‘it’s another kind of story being told’ then really it still makes no sense. Is this an abortion parable? On the information given – we can’t distinguish the life form in the moon from a fetus or a cancer. We’re told its not just a possible threat to its mother… it could well murder everyone in the room, in the city, in the world. In the case of abortion, we are all agreed that what’s coming out of the womb will be a potential human. We don’t get that here, we don’t get to know anything about what’s coming, except that it’s shedding murderous spiders that kill people and it may destroy the world. If we go with an abortion metaphor, it seems childishly ham handed. The decision and decision making process prioritizes magical thinking, or non-thinking. The characters are given X information, they have to take Y risk, and they decide … ponies! It doesn’t happen that way in the real world. There are good reasons for that. When people go for that magical thinking – that’s five year olds running into traffic, or 12 year olds jumping off roofs because they figure a towel on their back is a cape and that they’ll be able to fly, its phony cancer cures. People suffer and die. But here it’s all magic, so people make the worst possible decision and it turns out to be the right one, and somehow everything is magically put right.
I don’t believe the metaphorical story, the allegorical story works any better, or is any more coherent than the overstory. I’ve read the arguments for them. But its not persuasive to me.
Finally, I don’t see the Doctor’s conduct as being consistent with the character. I’ll acknowledge arguments the other way. But I’m not persuaded. The Doctor’s conduct appears to be entirely inconsistent with everything we’ve ever seen of him or know of him, and this is regardless of whether we consider the entire history, or simply Capaldi’s version. The arguments that it is seem to rely on one of two points: 1) The Doctor is an alien, so he does alien stuff and he doesn’t get people. Well, sorry, no. The Doctor’s alien-ness is well defined at this point, it’s not a perpetual get out of jail free card. 2) All we need to do is simply infer a whole bunch of things we’re not shown or told -again, sorry but no. To me, the Doctor’s actions are dictated not by his personality or motivations, but simply because the plot requires him to act in such and such a way.
In the end, the only ‘real’ thing left in the narrative is the blowout/breakdown between the Doctor and Clara at the end. That’s emotionally authentic, to the point of almost being hard to watch. But the problem is that the process which gets us to that point is not honest or authentic, rather, its shabby, manipulative, arbitrary and dishonest. It’s built on a foundation of mush, and because it is so completely unsupported it fails. Yes, it feels authentic in the moment, but if every moment that’s preceded it is false….
Obviously, there are positives in the episode – the production design is quite extraordinary for example, some of the acting is absolutely top rate. But for me, this makes things worse. Gold plating a turd does not make it any less a turd.
To me, this really ranks as the worst. It’s in the same class as Underwater Menace, or the Twin Dilemma, Delta and the Bannermen, Dimensions in Time. It’s an episode that exhibits contempt for its principal cast, and contempt for its supporting cast, for its allegory, its premises and ultimately for the audience. It doesn’t even have the excuses that some of these other productions had.
Now, I appreciate that KtM does have its admirers and followers. That’s fine. I’ve read admiring and positive reviews, listened to the arguments for it, and given it fair consideration. I hold no post against people who like it. I don’t consider such people idiots or morally reprehensible or anything of the sort. It’s a big world, there’s room. Stuff doesn’t have to work for everyone. People all over the world groove on things that leaves other people cold, that happens every day. I’m well prepared to acknowledge the legitimacy of people liking it, even if I disagree with their conclusions or reasoning, or simply don’t get it in the way that they do. I don’t hold to any particular superiority.
But by the same token. I’m not stupid, I’m not an idiot, I’m not morally reprehensible, I’m not inferior and if I say I gave its supporters a fair hearing and continue to disagree that’s just what it is, its not me being stubborn or an ass. My views are as worthy of respect as anyone elses, I have a right to hold them, and I have a right to articulate them. If someone doesn’t like my face, try and punch it, and we’ll see how that turns out. Even if I’m the only person here who despises it, if I’m part of 1% who dislike it, compared to a 99% who think its brilliant. I am entitled to dislike it, I am entitled to say I dislike it, and while I’ll apologize for a lot of things in life, I’m not going to apologize for that.
It’s a big world, which means I get to live in it to.2 June 2015 at 19:22 #40487Barbara Lefty @barbaralefty
Cheers @purofilion @jimthefish et al, and howdy. Good to see the bonkerising continues. Glad you enjoy Sandifer @arbutus 🙂3 June 2015 at 02:33 #40488
This is pretty conventional wisdom.
And that’s a lot of people’s problems with the episode right there, because the underlying premise of the episode?
Everything you think you know is wrong. In this case (as in several previous Series 8 episodes) conventional wisdom is wrong.
The big moon rocks are dealt with, incidentally. One short bit of dialogue, but they are dealt with.
LUNDVIK: It’s not going to just stop being there, because inside the moon, Miss, is a gigantic creature forcing its way out. And when it does, which is going to be pretty damn soon, there are going to be huge chunks of the moon heading right for us, like whatever killed the dinosaurs, only ten thousand times bigger.
CLARA: But the moon isn’t make of rock and stone, is it? It’s made of eggshell.
LUNDVIK: Oh, God. Okay, okay, fine. If, by some miracle, the shell isn’t too thick, or if it disperses, or if it goes into orbit, whatever, there’s still going to be a massive thing there, isn’t there, that just popped out. And what the hell do you imagine that is?
The moon isn’t made of big rocks. It’s made of a baby moon dragon, plus some eggshell. A magical baby moon dragon, because the moon’s mass is increasing instead of decreasing.
You can’t sell one kind of story, and then just switch and tell us its another kind of story.
I think this is what really annoys people. Kill the Moon has space shuttles and nuclear bombs and astronauts – and then there’s a magical baby moon dragon, WTF?
The ‘innocent life’ is mentioned in the teaser (though anyone who’d seen the preview clips probably thought that was Courtney). The fact that something’s wrong with gravity is mentioned in the first bit on the space shuttle. Something really weird is happening when we see cobwebs in a vacuum. And we know that something’s gone seriously wrong with reality when Courtney starts floating. Did anyone think that that made the slightest sense? Even with the Doctor’s technobabble?
The reveal that it’s a baby moon dragon then comes about halfway through the episode – and as soon as we find the Moon is really an egg, we know this episode is in the ‘fantasy’ genre. The Moon isn’t an egg and there are no such things as Baby Moon Dragons. Even if there were, chicks don’t increase the weight of an egg; chicks weigh less than their egg.
But, as I stated in an earlier post, that everyone is wrong, wrong, wrong about what they know has been consistent through the episode. And there have been clues that reality isn’t playing by its normal rules.
[I reserve the right to be completely wrong about Baby Moon Dragons if Europa suddenly bursts open and a dragon flies out – but I’m fairly sure the Moon isn’t an egg.]
It’s a weird thing. People are often quite happy to be told that the fantasy story has a pseudo SF explanation, but they go ballistic when the SF episode has a fantasy explanation. Personally, I’m happy to believe that the writer’s constant harping on people getting stuff wrong was a hint to the audience that they were about to be wrong-footed. This story isn’t in the genre you thought it was (and these are not the droids you are looking for). I also think the writer left that reveal a bit too late – but these things are difficult to judge.
All we need to do is simply infer a whole bunch of things we’re not shown or told -again, sorry but no.
Inferring a whole bunch of things we’re not shown or told is ‘subtext’. In this case, we can infer that there may be a subtext that’s the result of events in previous episodes. The actors would certainly be expected to refer to previous episodes in creating their characterisation and the director of this episode (or the Head Writer) is entitled to ask them to try and play a subtext based on something from a previous episode.
Members of the audience, equally, are entitled to infer that Character X is behaving in that way in Episode Y because of that scene back in Episode C.
To me, the Doctor’s actions are dictated not by his personality or motivations, but simply because the plot requires him to act in such and such a way.
Well, acting is merely my job, so I’ll simply have to disagree with you on that one. Personally, I’d find it difficult to explain to Stephen Moffat why the Doctor abandoning Clara is out of character when his reply is likely to be ‘but the Doctor abandoned her in Deep Breath?’ Another tough sell would be explaining why a man prepared to make the decision to destroy his own planet would be out of character in dumping a tricky decision over her planet onto a companion. Moffat’s reply would probably be something like ‘but the Doctor knows she made the right decision in Day of the Doctor when he didn’t?’
It is always a problem when a well-loved character does something reprehensible, and it’s always very tempting to say that the reprehensible action is ‘out of character’. Unfortunately, in the case of the Doctor, I don’t think it is.
we can’t distinguish the life form in the moon from a fetus or a cancer
We are shown pictures. It’s a fetus. The question over whether it should be born or not is a simple, moral question. Do you destroy an alien child because it may be dangerous? There’s nothing ‘magical thinking’ about it; it’s a theme that Moffat’s been playing with since he took over. Alien children are sometimes (generally quite unintentionally) dangerous to humans; they are also children.
And it is always wrong (in Moffat’s Whoniverse) to deliberately kill a child. Morally wrong. You may have all the reasons in the world why it’s necessary, but it’s always morally wrong. If you want to see much, much more on that topic, there’s a blog…
Clara and Courtney went for the ‘moral’ decision, Lundvik for the ‘necessary’ decision. The story said that the ‘moral’ decision was also the ‘right’ decision by having the dragon fly off – after kindly replacing the rather-important moon it’d seriously buggered up.
If the Moon Dragon had instead destroyed half Earth, even by accident, the story would have said that the ‘necessary’ decision was the ‘right’ decision.
It’s an episode that exhibits contempt for its principal cast, and contempt for its supporting cast, for its allegory, its premises and ultimately for the audience.
I honestly think that’s a bit over the top. Purely from an acting point of view, the fact that I could find a through-line relatively easily for both the Doctor and Clara doesn’t suggest that the writer wasn’t thinking about their characterisations. Additionally, Henry and Duke (functional characters both) are distinguishable from each other and both have some nice lines. There’s stuff to play with.
Lundvik has a consistent characterisation, right up to the denouement of discovering she’s been wrong all along. And her reaction at that discovery is consistent with her early ambitions.
It’s not an episode I like, personally. However, misjudging the point for the reveal that this is a genre-flip story isn’t showing contempt for actors, audience, or anything else. With the best will in the world, sometimes the place the rules say is the right point for a reversal just – isn’t.
I am entitled to dislike it, I am entitled to say I dislike it,
But by the same token, everyone else is entitled to say why they disagree with your reasons for disliking it. I, for example, also have a right to hold my opinions, and I also have the right to articulate them.
It’s a big world, which means we all get to live in it. Whether we agree with each other or not.3 June 2015 at 05:37 #40490janetteB @janetteb
@bluesqueakpip Some excellent points made there. Personally I don’t think the Doctor’s “abandonment” of Clara was reprehensible. It simply was the right thing to do in the circumstance. It was up to the humans to make the decision which affected the fate of their world. The decision is not his to make. We, the viewers, are accustomed to seeing the Doctor make all the decisions, being the arbitrator of what is right and wrong. Here he has to step back and lets others decide because it is their world at stake.
I think you were spot on in saying that viewers objected to the fantasy element but in reality all Dr Who is fantasy dressed up a science. Most Sci fi is as well. I am glad that every so often we are given a story that goes outside of the comfort zone. Some will fail, some will work, such as The Doctor’s Wife, (which incidentally I still have yet to warm to.) Many will divide viewers, as KtM does. I hope that there will be more such stories in the next series and every series.
Janette3 June 2015 at 05:58 #40491
@jimthefish It’s the character arc(s), taking regen shock (at the beginning of a partial re-set to a whole new sequence of future regenerations) seriously enough to use all of S8 to tell that story in an erratic series of very differing episodes, that’s the boldest throw of S8. I admire the audacity, and the achievement (which I think is considerable). Seeing his arc *without* seeing the new Doctor’s negative self — unsympathetic, impatient, irresponsibly impulsive, in some cases (ItFotN) stymied and sidelined, and harshly “utilitarian” — that would have been a cheat and a failure IMO.
I like your interpretation of KtM as a defiant statement of purpose — sci fi to horror to fairy tale to emotional train wreck (and whatever I’ve missed), take-it-or-leave-it, and on that ground too I admire KtM, the cheek of it, the defiance. I admire it, warts and all. Many others despise and dismiss it for those warts. So be it.
@bluesqueakpip Thanks so much for commenting on KtM from an actor’s viewpoint. Whoah, though — is he supposed to be telepathic? How does that work in stories where he is taken by surprise by what others do or say? I’m not sure I can swallow that — or that he expects his companions to be telepathic too. Lapsing into Asperger’s-like obliviousness to emotional cues, though, that makes sense — he reads her distress, but not all of it — or maybe he does read the abandonment issue but dismisses it as unimportant because it’s not important to *him* (he’s been abandoned himself, hasn’t he, and survived okay?); so later he’s stunned when he realizes that yep, it was *crucial* to her. Your final sentence states perfectly the case against scripts that ring hollow on grounds of disappearing through-lines. I’ve never seen it put so succinctly and clearly before.
It’s that feeling of the actor doing more than his/her fair share of the work, his own job, and the writers’ (undone) job as well, because that’s part of the contract. Maybe it always is (it’s up to the actors to save the writers vv). Maybe Capaldi’s work has such conviction and focus that we just believe he’s found that through-line, so trust him enough to find our own versions of it. After all, one thing he’s not doing this work for is big money — I read somewhere that he was earning more on The Musketeers. This is a dream job for him; so maybe it’s thematically Moffatesque — love conquers all, except for the viewers who are absolutely not conquered, who are choking on warts and spitting them out in disgust.
@denvaldron So where are we? In personal terms, I found overriding satisfaction. You found overriding dissatisfaction. What this means to me is not that you’re mistaken, or that I’m mistaken, but that we agree on the only clear point that everyone agrees on: whatever else each of us may think of KtM, it is deeply *divisive*. So people will be arguing over it, changing positions or sticking to them, for a long time to come. The energy in that, to me, is the energy of art that resonates into the future. I also find satisfaction in that, and hope others can too.3 June 2015 at 06:35 #40492
Personally I don’t think the Doctor’s “abandonment” of Clara was reprehensible. It simply was the right thing to do in the circumstance. It was up to the humans to make the decision which affected the fate of their world. The decision is not his to make.
I think the leaving such a huge decision about Earth’s (possible) fate to not just Clara but, quite deliberately, to three *women* of various ages was kind of thrilling, actually; and that it’s the abrupt and irritable way in which he did this that puts him in a bad light. His manner, shall we say, left much to be desired . . . and that too was part of this episode’s being a stage in this arc of wobbly-wobbly, fearful, and emotionally pretty raw self-discovery that CapDoc went through in S8.
Me, I usually like being kicked out of my comfort zone — until I experience that as being kicked too hard, too far, or by accident, and then I object as loudly as anyone else. In this case I enjoyed the experience. KtM didn’t push any of my eject-buttons (or, as @denvaldron put it, nothing like an unfortunate camera angle or an intrusive sound boom yanked me out of the story).3 June 2015 at 10:32 #40493Anonymous @
“But by the same token. I’m not stupid, I’m not an idiot, I’m not morally reprehensible, I’m not inferior and if I say I gave its supporters a fair hearing and continue to disagree that’s just what it is, its not me being stubborn or an ass. My views are as worthy of respect as anyone elses, I have a right to hold them, and I have a right to articulate them. If someone doesn’t like my face, try and punch it, and we’ll see how that turns out. Even if I’m the only person here who despises it, if I’m part of 1% who dislike it, compared to a 99% who think its brilliant. I am entitled to dislike it, I am entitled to say I dislike it, and while I’ll apologize for a lot of things in life, I’m not going to apologize for that.”
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. That’s either Dickens, Apophasis…or…
” “What this is a ‘deus ex machina’ ”
Nope, it wasn’t.3 June 2015 at 10:43 #40494Anonymous @
When I read your last few lines “I’m not going to apologise for that,” I started thinking, ‘what song reminds me of that?’
Turns out it scans as: “But I won’t do that“.
The one and only…3 June 2015 at 11:58 #40496
@ichabod, @bluesqueakpip @denvaldron–
I don’t believe that the episode is consistent with its own logic. It sets up its rules, and then it breaks them. That’s just bad storytelling.
No, it isn’t. Not in this instance. First off, Peter Harness is a seriously established writer who knows what the hell he’s doing. He’s got several episodes of the Branagh Wallander — which I rate highly and often above the Swedish original — under his belt and currently Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. He’s also doing two episodes of s9, so you might want to brace yourself.
What he is doing here is something slightly out of the ordinary. It’s a story about a perceptual shift in just about everyone in the story. And that includes the viewer. As Pip points out:
I think this is what really annoys people. Kill the Moon has space shuttles and nuclear bombs and astronauts – and then there’s a magical baby moon dragon, WTF?
The story makes it abundantly clear that it’s going to a different place about halfway through the episode and that it expects the viewer to get on board with that. This is not ‘breaking its own rules’. it’s saying ‘we’re changing those rules now’, or to put it another way ‘everything you think you know is wrong, just like very other character in this episode’. The viewer is put in exactly the same position as the psychological space as the Doctor or Clara and that makes this a bold episode, experimental even. You might not like that experiment but it can’t just be waved away as ‘bad writing’.
The Doctor’s conduct appears to be entirely inconsistent with everything we’ve ever seen of him or know of him
Tell that to Susan. Or Jo in The Claws of Axos. Or Sarah-Jane. Or Tegan. Or Peri. The Doc has a long history of form in companion-dumping, often at WTF moments. And as Pip points out, we’ve already see him do it in Deep Breath and if he could let his whole planet burn, it’s really not a stretch to think he might do this. Especially in the light of this from @ichabod:
It’s the character arc(s), taking regen shock (at the beginning of a partial re-set to a whole new sequence of future regenerations) seriously enough to use all of S8 to tell that story in an erratic series of very differing episodes, that’s the boldest throw of S8
Put very roughly, we start off with ‘Am I a good man? to ‘I am the Doctor’ in Flatline but he’s still not there yet (as Smith’s Doctor pointed out the name of the Doctor is not the point). It’s not until Death in Heaven that Capaldi’s doc finally gets it:
Thank you. Thank you so much. I really didn’t know. I wasn’t sure. You lose sight sometimes. Thank you! I am not a good man! And I’m not a bad man. I am not a hero. And I’m definitely not a president. And, no, I’m not an officer. Do you know what I am? I… am… an idiot, with a box and a screwdriver
That is the arc of s8 and it takes the Doctor all its episodes to get there. It’s the regeneration crisis Colin Baker wanted done properly. But in order for the Doctor to rise, to reach this self-realisation, he has to fall first. Kill the Moon is that fall, probably the deepest example of it. And let’s not forget, as ichabod’s quote above suggests, this is not just any old regeneration for the Doctor. This is something new. This is almost like a birth.
I am entitled to dislike it, I am entitled to say I dislike it
Absolutely right and as far as I can see, no one is disputing that. We’re just exercising our right to disagree and articulating the reasons why, which is kind of what we do here. But don’t mistake disagreement for personal attack. Because it’s not.
I’m not stupid, I’m not an idiot
No, I daresay you’re not. But neither are many other people on this site. As I’ve said before, there are lots of seriously big brains here. Chances are they know a Shakespeare quote when they see one or what a deus ex machina is (for the record, Pip has written a whole blog on its use in Who). They really don’t need lectured at. It’s a good rule of thumb on here to assume that everyone you talk to is at least as smart as you are and quite possibly more so. If nothing else, it helps us all get along.
I find it slightly odd to be singing the praises of this episode so highly because of all the ones in s8 it’s one that left me the most cold, or at least took me a while to really ‘get’. On first viewing, I probably had many of the same reactions that Den had. And as ichabod said on the TV thread, this is definitely a season that requires a couple of viewings for it to really gel and it’s easy to underestimate just how ambitious this season is. It’s not the instant, kinetic rush of s5. It’s one of those season where the whole show is given a jolt — it’s the equivalent of BG s7 or s18. Kill The Moon is a difficult episode but it’s not a bad one — in the Boom Town/Fear her/Love and Monsters sense of the word. It’s not even the worst episode of s8 — for me I think that might well be Death in Heaven or Time Heist, both of which feel as if they belong at least a couple of years in the show’s past.4 June 2015 at 00:32 #40497
Agreed. The Baby Moon Dragon creating a new moon (and the old moon disintegrating harmlessly) isn’t a deus ex machina.
Quoting from my own blog (somebody has to), a deus ex machina requires:
1. A seemingly unsolvable problem WHICH HAS
2. A sudden and abrupt resolution BY
3. A previously unknown character, character ability, object or event.
1. The disintegrating moon isn’t seemingly unsolvable. The second part of the episode is taking up with arguing over two suggested solutions. Solution one: assume the baby and remaining eggshell will be reasonably harmless and let nature take its course. Solution two: assume the alien monster and remaining moon rock will be an earth-destroying disaster, and nuke the thing.
2. The resolution isn’t sudden and abrupt. When some of the characters have spent half the episode arguing that the Baby Moon Dragon may be harmless, don’t be surprised when said BMD turns out to be harmless. Even the replacement moon has had its very own Chekhov’s Gun.
3a. It could be possible to argue that the Really New Moon is a previously unknown object – except that there’s the aforesaid Chekhov’s Gun.
CLARA: Because I’ve been in the future, and the moon is still there.
DOCTOR: Maybe it’s a completely different moon.
The writer warned us that the ‘Moon’ we see in the future may be a different moon to the one we see in the present. So Really New Moon isn’t ‘previously unknown’; it’s been foreshadowed.
3b. It’s also possible to argue that the ability to lay moons is a previously unknown ability of Baby Moon Dragons. However, since a) the old moon is destroyed, and b) Clara has seen a moon in the future, it’s apparent that something had to be able to replace the moon.
Since Aristotle’s dictum is that the solution to the plot should arise out of the plot itself, it becomes apparent that the classical method of resolving the ‘replacement moon problem’ would in fact be the Baby Moon Dragon. It’s the only creature in the story which has NO previously known abilities. In fact, the lack of knowledge about its abilities is a major plot point.
Again, if some of the characters have spent half the episode saying ‘we don’t know anything about this creature’, don’t be surprised if it turns out to have previously unknown abilities.
So. The solution has been discussed (at length), the resolution arises out of foreshadowed events and the unknown nature of Moon Dragons is pretty much the Inciting Incident.
The Baby Moon Dragon isn’t a D.E.M.5 June 2015 at 19:31 #40521
bluesqueakpip I reserve the right to be completely wrong about Baby Moon Dragons if Europa suddenly bursts open and a dragon flies out – but I’m fairly sure the Moon isn’t an egg.
“Fairly sure” represents a nicely open mind that the true scientist ought to appreciate. 🙂
@purofilion Yay, Meatloaf!! 🙂
Seriously, I’ve been following this conversation with great interest. It’s not a favourite episode of mine either, but unlike @denvaldron, my reasons are less well articulated. Also, unlike DV, I really enjoyed Series 8, for the most part, and pretty much instantly adopted CapaldiDoc as my favourite AG Doctor.
@bluesqueakpip, excellent point tying the issue of decision making to Day of the Doctor, and Clara making the judgement that Gallifrey should not be destroyed. This makes it less a “Twelfth Doctor character” issue, and something that is fundamental to the whole Doctor/Clara relationship. Which is in turn a good reminder that, although Eleven’s arc (and in fact the whole “Doctor as destroyer of his people” arc) is finished, Clara’s is not.
And this: And it is always wrong (in Moffat’s Whoniverse) to deliberately kill a child. Morally wrong.
Because it seems to me that this relates to something we were told quite clearly at the very start of Moffat’s tenure, with Eleven’s second story, about the Star-Whale. That was a similar moral dilemma, and again, we were show through the Doctor’s attitude what the correct answer ought to be.5 June 2015 at 19:38 #40522
@ichabod Maybe Capaldi’s work has such conviction and focus that we just believe he’s found that through-line, so trust him enough to find our own versions of it. It seems to me that with Capaldi’s and Moffat’s take on the character, we have returned to an older style of Doctor, where we were left with more blanks to fill in regarding his motivations, because he wears his heart less on his sleeve than did Ten and Eleven. Personally, I prefer this! It makes him a little less knowable, more alien.
@jimthefish I find it slightly odd to be singing the praises of this episode so highly because of all the ones in s8 it’s one that left me the most cold, or at least took me a while to really ‘get’. Yes, I know what you mean. The extensive “rethinking” going on here, and also what people wrote at the time of airing, has helped me to appreciate this story’s place in the Series 8 arc. But personally, my overall enjoyment of a story isn’t usually arc-related. I have to appreciate a story as a standalone for it to end up on my favourites list, and KtM as a single episode didn’t really amuse or delight me consistently enough. I’m about to start on my first proper, ordered rewatch of Series 8, and then I will have a better sense of which are my favourites, and hopefully, why!5 June 2015 at 19:59 #40523DenValdron @denvaldron
@arbutus Just a really quick note. I didn’t dislike Season 8 entirely, I found it deeply flawed. There were unquestionable gems. In general sense, I felt that series 8 floundered and lacked overall coherence. I haven’t really voiced an organized opinion on season 8, and this isn’t the occasion as, among other things, I try to be thorough in my exploration of ideas, and that’s not brief.
But then again, that might have been a deliberate decision. If you look at the marketing side of it, Doctor Who season 8 appears to have expanded its international marketing considerably, penetrating new venues in Latin America and elsewhere. They probably wouldn’t have done that if they’d gone with a more continuity laden, focused, overarching storyline. So I can’t really voice an opinion as to whether season 8 represents a series of dubious artistic choices, or very canny strategic marketing, which in and of itself, I suppose is a defendable creative choice.
With respect to the overall discussion, I do want to apologize for not participating in this discussion in more detail, as I believe I have been referenced a few times. This is not disrespect or disinterest on my part, but rather, limitations on time. I’m self employed, the nature of self employment means erratic schedules. The ends and beginnings of months tend to be frantic times, I need to get accounts done and out, to ensure that I will make my rents. There’s limited available time, I have to make choices as to where to throw that time. Which meant finishing reviews on Shakedown, et al. I will try and respond back, when my next window of time opens, and hope to contribute to a courteous and positive discussion.5 June 2015 at 20:05 #40524
. . . he wears his heart less on his sleeve than did Ten and Eleven. Personally, I prefer this! It makes him a little less knowable, more alien.
I like more mysterious conduct, myself; but for me, Capaldi kinda wears his heart on his face, because that face is so mobile and expressive — and wasn’t always so; I think he had to grow into it. I watched The Crow Road last week, in which his face is pretty still, under an enormous cloud of hair that’s probably sprayed to within an inch of its life to keep it from entirely upstaging the man beneath its shadow. He was much younger then, of course, so neither the face nor the man was as developed in terms of acting skills, or maybe he was trying to look enigmatic and grave, as befits a ghost (not a spoiler — he’s a ghost from the get-go, visiting the protagonist and talking to him).
But yes, there are still plenty of moments of deliberate emotional concealment in this Doctor. I was so ready for that after too much Heathcliff (as I read Tennant, as much of him as I could take anyway) and Dancing Jack.6 June 2015 at 05:41 #40527Anonymous @
“And this: And it is always wrong (in Moffat’s Whoniverse) to deliberately kill a child. Morally wrong.
Because it seems to me that this relates to something we were told quite clearly at the very start of Moffat’s tenure, with Eleven’s second story, about the Star-Whale. That was a similar moral dilemma, and again…”
Interesting you should say this.
@phaseshift pointed out that the star-whale ep was considered an outlier. I just read that response yesterday.
In fact, there’s a lot I’d love to talk about but for various reasons I can only lurk -terrific in its own way -lots of insightful discussions.
@denvaldron I understand that you must be busy (self employment is extremely tiresome at times) but I think you’ve contributed a lot to the Kill the Moon discussion. I’ve read a lot of @bluesqueakpip , @jimthefish ‘ and @ichabod writings on the matter as well as one @mtgradwell who approached it from a scientifically premised position and this certainly was one approach.
Kindest, puro.6 June 2015 at 12:39 #40528
@purofilion (and others)
To be fair, I think that response was more to do with the idea that Clara and Amy were very similar by using an extract from Beast Below. The reason it was considered an outlier was that Amy seems to have a view of the Doctor that doesn’t really follow the flow of her story from the Eleventh Hour. It’s too soon for Amy to have the insights she does, and I think that’s the part that SM wishes he could revisit.
I think it’s fair to say that the plight of the Space Whale, and the Pertwee Serial The Silurians both show that the Doctor struggles when presented with situations where questions of Morality (and the right to exist) are in conflict. Both rely on an associate basically solving the story for him. In Beast Below, the sudden intuitive leap of Amy, and in The Silurians the Brigadier takes the decision from the Doctor by blowing up the Silurians. The Doctor likes his foes more mustache twirling or be cast as intergalactic bastards.
What continues to surprise me about this story is the element that continues to see a “Pro-life” sentiment in it, when the aspect of Choice is pretty central to the story. It clearly is an abortion allegory.
Effectively we/The Doctor discover the moon is an egg about to hatch. The Doctor can’t see the future, it’s in flux. Potential futures can be read as (A) this could be the most wonderful thing in the world, or (B) it could be the end of it . It’s an analogy for any woman/couple who find themselves with an unexpected pregnancy. Either way, we have a complex moral question and The Doctor, while having a historic fondness for humans has a care issue in this regeneration (“she cares, so I don’t have to”). He doesn’t have an axe to grind against an unborn creature though.
So he bugs out of the equation. The symbol of Patriarchal Morality (am I right, Sisters?) devolves his decision to three woman, the main one being the person he is personally relying upon to “Care”. @scaryb, @Purofilion and others have mentioned the Fates and Macbeth’s Witches. As archetypes go it’s a good observation. I was thinking of Terry Pratchett’s version of the three witches. The Maiden, the Mother and the ….. other one (One of the strands in his books is that everyone is careful not to call Granny Weatherwax the crone. That sort of behaviour may lead you to live out your life sitting in a pond thinking you are an actual frog. As a convention, it’s useful, because I’m not about to refer to Hermione Norris as a crone). But you have the youthful naivete of Courtney (Maiden), the world weary cynicism of Lundvik (Other One) and Clara, who is really the center of the choice as to whether she gets to birth this baby or not.
And at this time, in these circumstances, and ignoring the wishes of abstract people on the planet who don’t really have to decide and take the action, she makes her decision. It’s a choice. She can make that choice. That’s what choice is. The idea that a parable for a Pro-Choice argument can only end in the Choice being death is a pretty fucked up minddset.
Should Doctor Who tackle stuff like this? Is it relevant? Well – that’s the debatable point. It is an internationally show now, and the morality of abortion isn’t a settled issue even in the UK or territories like the US and the Republic of Ireland. Sections of out current Governing Party would dearly like to role back the availability and extension of choice, so on the whole, yes. Having the traditional voice of moral authority back out of trying to influence the decision and trusting those involved is a good message. He’s Pro-Choice.
Back later, with some observations on Science and where the hell Gallifrey might be!6 June 2015 at 13:38 #40529
He was much younger then, of course, so neither the face nor the man was as developed in terms of acting skills, or maybe he was trying to look enigmatic and grave
I think it’s definitely true that Capaldi who’s definitely been learning his trade as he went along and he definitely hit his stride in his later Tucker/Frobisher/Hour years and that his more lined, dare I say haggard, features give him some gravitas. However, I wouldn’t discount his work on Crow Road. It’s a rather subtle performance. As you say, he’s already a ghost but he’s also the ghost of a man perenially beaten and disappointed by life even before he was killed. I think Capaldi is very clever in the way he conveys that.
(Although I do wonder that as this is a production that was essentially made by and for Scots and the dialogue and tone seems to me to convey that — it’s one of the annoyingly rare examples of TV that shows Scots talking to each other the way that they actually do in real life — whether it might lose something to viewers beyond its borders.)
I have to say that scene with Rory and Prentiss at the standing stones was the first time I stopped and said ‘blimey, he would be an amazing Doctor’. I had envisaged a slightly different one to what we’ve got now but it’s all to the good.6 June 2015 at 18:13 #40534
@phaseshift I like this analysis of KtM’s central choice. And the shout-out to, ah, the other one! Now I want to go back and start re-reading Pratchett (but there are all these library books here . . . gotta read). And you’re quite right that for Clara’s decision to be a choice, it has to be acceptable either way she chooses, which is a good reminder for pro-choice people (I’m one) who, in defense against pretty much ceaseless attack from the hard Right, do have a tendency to settle on abortion as the “better” choice. As for taking up the subject, no matter how tangentially, this is a way of keeping DW tethered to the present, through its live issues — not bad, for a 50 year old show. Especially when it’s the Doctor who is, as you say, pro-choice — having, for once, the option of stepping back — “This isn’t my deal, it’s yours, so have at it, I’m outta here.”
It’s a pretty big step. No wonder the Doctor is so tetchy and abrupt, if you look at it in that light. Parent yields the field of choice to child (those training wheels); age yields the field to youth; male yields authority to female and *not* in a situation of either rebellion or women using “feminine wiles” to get it.
Later, in ItFotN, the fate of Earth is a problem he accepts — but as acceptance of loss, since he can’t “fix” it, and Clara refuses his help on a personal level:”Okay, you can say it’s your deal this time and thanks for that thought, but helpful as you’ve been in the past, you’re still a only tourist here.” He doesn’t get to include himself in this crisis. She excludes him.6 June 2015 at 18:16 #40535
@jimthefish Gonna answer over on the Capaldi re-watch thread, Crow Road thread.6 June 2015 at 20:19 #40536
Oops, guess not — the official re-watch hasn’t started over there, so maybe I’ll just leave that, to avoid spoilers. But yes, I do think that the full extent of Rory’s defeat didn’t get across to me as a viewer; and that standing stones scene let him give Rory room to flourish a bit. I wouldn’t have thought of him as Doctor material, though — he was cast around that time as an angel in something I caught a glimpse of once, so what with a ghost and and angel, he’d already struck that “unearthly” vein early on.7 June 2015 at 07:40 #40545
As you may guess from my final “is it valid” comments I’m Pro-choice as well. When I considered all the “Pro-life” critiques on the episode during a rewatch I came away with the thought that the writer, Harness, wanted to provoke that reaction because it is an easy trap for us to fall into, I think. We are Pro-Choice, and not Pro-Death. It’s why I think Harness is a good fit for the show. He’s provocative.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the works of Dennis Potter? A bit of a legendary script/play writer. Named the cancer that killed him “Rupert” in honour of Mr. Murdoch. You’d like his style. He was pretty provocative himself and after his death an award was set up for writers in his honour. Peter Harness won it, and I think I can see why now.7 June 2015 at 07:47 #40546
One of the wonderful things about the Universe of Doctor Who is that it comes up with a concept as bonkers as “the moon is an egg”, you get the story, and then it leaves it open for interpretation.
While some people obviously see this as an unforgivable flaw, I can say that, as a long standing Science Fiction fan and practising scientist (I’ll get there in the end if I keep practising), that the alternative most shows take is just to jab a load of technobabble and handwavium into the script.
I can come up with my own handwavium technobabble, thank you very much.*
I can’t remember who it was who suggested that buggering about with dimensions seemed to be a theme of this season (Big, big Dinosaur, little people in a Dalek, 2D creatures becoming 3D, etc) but you can easily treat Kill the Moon like that as well.
The moon has gained mass, but it’s fluctuating creating gravity pockets. So this could be a transdimensional creature joining our Universe with the focal point of it’s birth being the physical manifestation in the moon. After it hatches it’s visibly much bigger than the moon and conveniently leaves a replacement egg. Which contains another transdimentional creature, containing an egg, with another transdimentional creature containing ….. you get the idea.
This is at once ludicrous, but mirrors the Doctors TARDIS which is bigger on the inside and contains more mass than is apparent. As the Doctor says in Flatline:
“If the TARDIS landed on Earth with its true weight it would fracture it”.
Because of course, the TARDIS is not only very big but contains the mass of a collapsed supernova held in balance between explosion and implosion to form a black hole. As massive things go, pretty big.
You also have to imagine that creatures like space dragons and star whales must have a means of navigation and control. You obviously have the pressure of the solar wind on leaving the solar system, but generally they must use gravity and therefore have the means to use the universal weakest (but longest reaching) force in some way.
Again you could call this the kind of bad science that old JNT Script editor Christopher H Bidmead lambasted the show for a while ago. Except that he created the Tractators in the Davison serial Frontios who had the natural power to manipulate gravity. It can’t be bad science if Bidmead thought of it, can it? (That serial also saw an artron energy firing hatstand – the Bidmead is a pot-kettle-black prosecution rests its case). So we could say the birth trauma of developing in this dimension with it’s natural gravity affecting abilities could cause all sorts of odd effects.
So – fun idea. Missy basically says that Gallifrey is in another dimension, but if he goes to the old coordinates he’ll find it returned. He goes, and its not there.
Now – as a Master fan I can say the Master never usually directly lies to the Doctor. He thinks the Doctor is a bit of a slughead, wants to show off, and sets him little puzzles. Think of The Five Doctors and “It’s a easy as pie/pi”. So Dimension. Pocket Dimensions. If he goes there he will find it.
What if Gallifrey is in the TARDIS? A convenient Pocket Dimension that was available thirteen times when they surrounded Gallifrey to rescue it? An unforeseen side effect. The Mass of one single planet compared to the size of its power source? The TARDIS would barely notice she’s put on a little weight. If the Doctor goes to the old coordinates it will be there? Of course it will. He’s taking it. He’s just not looking in the right Dimension. The past of Gallifrey could be accessible (as with Listen) but the future could lie safe inside an old museum piece. Gallifrey communicating through a crack in ToTD? Well the Cracks were centred on the TARDIS and the last time we saw one was in the fabric of the crashed Tardis in Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS.
I actually really like this thought. When the Doctor says to someone “This is the TARDIS. It’s my home” He could be speaking more truth than he knows.
* Having said all that, I’d like to assure any passing DW writer that bespoke Handwavium Technobabble to order is available from me at very competitive rates. Contact me via PM.7 June 2015 at 09:43 #40548Nick @nick
I just had to write that I really like your idea and your description of the egg.7 June 2015 at 11:48 #40549
@phaseshift — I love that Gallifrey idea. And I think there’s probably something to it — as you say, I don’t think it’s likely that Missy would tell an outright lie to the Doctor.
The egg theory is nicely elegant too but as I said above I don’t think you need it. Like I said, I think the ‘moon is an egg’ thing is a bit of open defiance on the show’s part. It knows it’s a ludicrous idea — it just doesn’t give a toss. To me, this episode is a potent reminder that Who isn’t really a SF show and it never was. It’s a fantasy show that is sometimes set on other planets and time periods. I’m reminded of this from The Girl in the Fireplace:
DOCTOR: I also said this ship was generating enough power to punch a hole in the universe. I think we just found the hole. Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink.
MICKEY: What’s that?
DOCTOR: No idea. Just made it up. Didn’t want to say magic door.
Who often hides its fantasy core behind the trappings of SF, not unlike the TARDIS with its Chameleon Circuit. You could argue that KtM is an overly clumsy exposure of that disguise but I don’t buy it. Harness is too skilled and experienced a writer for that and the fact that he’s been asked back for an other two episodes suggests that he’s in no way considered to have ‘messed up’ with this episode.
I didn’t know that about him winning the Dennis Potter award. That makes me like him even more. (What an episode Potter might have made!) And what with him exec producing Jonathan Strange, he might even be limbering up to be a candidate for next showrunner in two years’ time.7 June 2015 at 13:25 #40550Nick @nick
re Fantasy – the best I can do is to quote a master:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
[or paraphrased any person from a sufficiently advanced society is indistinguishable from a magician]
I would argue the best single “label” might be Science Fantasy in any case.7 June 2015 at 13:46 #405517 June 2015 at 17:24 #40552
@phaseshift I really like your ‘where’s Galifrey’ idea a lot! Here I was thinking that
it was stuck possibly in a status cube [maybe one that looks a bit like a snow globe]
and hanging out in the under gallery for safe keeping? I don’t know where I’m getting
that from but it seems to me one can find everything else there. Maybe some future Doctor
finds it in the Tardis and decides to deposit it in that under galery? Could it have been
the TomDoc that we met at the end of DotD? I also wonder since it took all thirteen doctors
to hide Galifrey then wont it take at least that many to bring it back again?7 June 2015 at 18:43 #40555
Crikey, everybody, I feel as if I’m watching Advanced Acrobatics (any contortion sufficiently advanced — ) at a Cirque du Soleil performance! Love it. And now I want that snow globe, please. Best of all, the reminder — always welcome and always needed, IMO — that yes, this DW is science *fantasy* and will always be too far into fantasy for viewers who prefer scientific consistency. “Magic door”? The whole show is a series of “magic doors”.
@phaseshift Yes, I know Potter’s name — “Singing Detective”? Now, that one was a bit too outré for *me*, at the time, and I didn’t stay with it; sometime, I’ll take another crack at it. I didn’t know about the award, so maybe it needs more publicity — or is it well-known in the UK?
@lisa Oh, lovely — ” — All thirteen!” Now, that would be a fine trick to pull off. A question, though — I’ve read in some places that if G. is returned to “normal” space, the Time War takes up where it left off and G. is destroyed; and in others that the plan was for all the enemies converging on G. and attacking it were supposed to wipe each other out with their cross-fire through empty space where G. used to be, so G. would return to a cessation of hostilities because the enemies are now, if not wiped out, at least seriously depleted by having shot each other up after G. vanished. ???7 June 2015 at 20:38 #40556
@ichabod – the Doctors’ plan was that Gallifrey would vanish and the majority of the Daleks (i.e. those not sent off as part of the emergency survival plan) would die in the crossfire.
This would then match the original timeline, where the destruction of Gallifrey also destroyed the Daleks surrounding the planet. Match in the sense of ‘the Daleks all died and Gallifrey was missing presumed blown into little bits’. 😉
The Doctors’ plan couldn’t change the fact that some Daleks survived (sent off as emergency survival plan, etc. etc.), but it could change Gallifrey’s status from ‘definitely destroyed’ to ‘mistakenly presumed destroyed’.
Since the surviving Daleks were able to rebuild lots of little Daleks, who then grew up into lots of big Daleks, the return of Gallifrey-and-the-Time-Lords would (again, presumably) restart the Time War. The Time Lords want to destroy the Daleks, the Daleks want to destroy the Time Lords – and the Time War had reached a point where neither side could surrender, because the other side wanted to wipe them out.
The suggestion is that either the Daleks or the Time Lords (or both) have to change in some way. Otherwise, they’ll just continue tearing the universe apart in their efforts to destroy the other. Right now, most of the peoples of the universe are just as terrified of the Time Lords as they are of the Daleks.
Myself, I think Into The Dalek was pointing the way forward for the series. Having written themselves into a bit of a hole, the only way forward for the writers and producers of the future is to modify our favourite tin pepperpots very slightly – by making their fixed evil a matter of engineering, not part of their basic nature.8 June 2015 at 02:33 #40557Anonymous @
@nick welcome back, mate, and good to see you.
Dennis Potter -I personally loved The Singing Detective -it aired at a time in the ’80s when there was little of substance in Oz TV.
I recall that Stephen Poliakof was a recipient of the Potter Award but it was the family who reminded me of Harold Pinter’s BAFTA in 1965??
Potter had that difficult condition combining arthritic psoriasis & spondylitis.
@bluesqueakpip “Mistakenly presumed destroyed: (MPD) is now a ‘thing’ as is @phaseshift‘s Handwavium Technobabble (HwT) 🙂
Phase: I’ve always liked the moon as an egg idea, or the notion, specifically mentioned by others including yourself & Blue, that ‘nothing in this series, is as it appears [ed]’ to be. One had to Take a Deep Breath before Listen[ing] or put a hand into Dark Water.
As you said, Dinosaurs seem bigger than we thought; 3D creatures are entirely new and now named by the Doctor. He himself had to discover they were 2D creatures first attempting contact and then wanting to conquer. You have the miniaturisation concept from Into The Dalek as well as the Mummy so miniaturised that it only appears to the victim, and in their final minutes.
Time has taken a lurch: we have blackboards and chalk. We’ve the Doctor meditating upon time and its influence ‘on top of the Tardis’, in space. The Doctor must call upon large reserves of memory to focus on what will happen to the earth and how earth’s vision is influenced following Lundvik’s Moon Mission. We have children’s tales becoming reality in Sherwood, and trees overgrowing the earth, depositing the young girl’s sister amongst the hydrangeas (a changing plant if ever I saw one -and one I grow and fiddle with, in order to change the blossom’s colour -quite the experiment).
It seems to me that the entire recent season fiddles with concepts of what is real or not, just as the Doctor is taking himself out for a ‘run’ whilst simultaneously figuring out who he really is. And don’t we all do that? When faced with what we assume to be wisdom, what we believe is our final, totally ‘cooked’ selves, we discover we’re limitless beings with improvable capacities (as Todd from the wonderful new series, ‘Re-design Your Brain’, has announced), adaptable and never fully defined (@JanetteB have you watched this series?).
Just like the Doctor and certainly like Kill the Moon -I don’t think we can really define it as a parable, a fantasy, a sci-fi episode or anything else. It just is. And I like that. @denvaldron, I’m not sure I said “it was a parable.” I believe I suggested it reminded me of one, or a person could view it that way? However, I could be wrong. Wiser minds than I tremble on the brink of discovery here!
Kindest, puro.8 June 2015 at 17:02 #40562
Just a brief comment on the off-topic topic: I have fond memories of the Singing Detective. I watched it with my grandmother, who was then in her eighties and found it delightful. My granny was delightful– open-minded and also predisposed to like anything that came out the UK. But when I think of that show, I picture watching it with her, in the little den of the big old house that she had lived in since long before I was born, and which she sold not long afterward.
Back to the on-topic topic, @purofilion, I remember we talked about the prevalence of mythology in the series back during its run. I suppose this episode could be seen as forward-looking mythology, the balancing of the backward-looking Robin Hood story. This is makes sense in a show that moves forward and backward in time.8 June 2015 at 21:29 #40568
@purofilion Yes, the blackboards and chalk — lovely, that. And I do like the S8 Doctor “taking himself out for a run” — several runs, dotted all over time and space — to find out what he is, show Clara, and us, who he is so we can decide whether we’re going along for the ride or not.
@arbutus I like that, too — KtM as a forward balance for the backward-looking Robot of Sherwood. S8, I think, was a landmark series that will be widely recognized, in time, as a stand-out classic, glitches and all. A bracelet of charms, a carousel of wildly varying animals, it looks to me now like one wildly varied and unexpectedly deep interior adventure, exactly what was needed to anchor a whole new surprise series of incarnations for the Doctor. As for KtM in particular, the fact that discussion of that episode is still alive here (and, to my surprise, on reddit) suggests that it’s a crucial link in the whole ring of S8 stories.
An S9 of madcap adventure and flying wisecracks would seal the unique, interior character of S8; I can’t imagine how else they could follow S8, in fact.8 June 2015 at 22:35 #40569Anonymous @
@arbutus The Ah-hah moment. The beginnings of a new mythology: the creation of something entirely different thru this episode:
“I remember we talked about the prevalence of mythology in the series back during its run. I suppose this episode could be seen as forward-looking mythology, the balancing of the backward-looking Robin Hood story. This is makes sense in a show that moves forward and backward in time.”
I like that a lot.9 June 2015 at 01:54 #40570
@purofilion In following our ‘super scientist man’ thru the series 8 arc- yes, it has tons of
myths and tales but interestingly in every episode the Doctor always uses scientific methods
to resolve all the issues. Also, all the episodes were all related to the evolution of the Doctor
discovering his cosmic destiny right up thru the last episode where he figures himself out. But
so far, if the series 9 episode titles are any hint I think there could be a shift into more
metaphysical situations where there will be things that cant be known or solved by the use of
scientific methods. So I wonder if we will be moving on from the more ‘physical world experiences’
into spirit and dream worlds and shaman guides? We haven’t had a lot of that kind of story.
Not sure but it sounds like fun and I’m looking forward to seeing what shakes out!9 June 2015 at 02:26 #40571
@Purofilion – I should have explained that what my feelings about series 8 was that these
were all episodes where there were physical solid real places even Robin Hood in spite of
the myth context.. I’m just wondering in the quest to continue discovering his cosmic destiny
stuff that maybe we will have to move on to shamans- like the sisters of Karn perhaps?
I think there could be a shift in the myths and tales type of visions we get.9 June 2015 at 03:59 #40573
@ichabod So your notion about what is real or not in series 8 while the
Doctor figures out his destiny. Aren’t we being asked to ‘believe’ that these are
real situations and/or places? But I also wonder what the next step is now? It has to be
something more than fiddling with our notions of what is real.
In KtM we are required to believe the moon creature is a real thing like the
forests that appear from no where and a Dalek with a conscious no less etc. But these were
all physical journeys for the Doctor in all the episodes. The Tardis dropped him off in
every location of each episode. even at the 3W place. So I’m voting real. I’ve adapted! Now
where do we go on from this? Now that the seeds of new reality has been planted. I’m wondering
the same thing and isn’t that so enticing!9 June 2015 at 05:23 #40574Anonymous @
yep. I’ve probably explained myself ineffectually. The Doctor (and for that matter, us) is experiencing real things: the moon is an egg; they are going into the Dalek and Robin of Sherwood is a real dude. But within that, is an expression of how each episode suggests its own mythology. For example, the Australian indigenous peoples explain how Uluru (Ayres Rock) was created: this is their mythology. Perhaps the moon as egg is a new mythology: or, better, a metaphor for something bigger and unknown. I could also say that the stories within KtM were parable-like: we have the Fates; the 3 generations of women; we have the Doctor, man, alien, magician, TL, god-figure, stepping out of the picture and leaving the decision to his apprentice.
And yes, if it’s on telly -it’s on the page and thus it happened. Though we know there are no Daleks, the moon isn’t an egg and Robin’s a legend. So’s the Doctor.
To me, it’s our mythology. Or, better, I see it as our cultural heritage. I think we can safely say that about the Doctor and the show itself. The Doctor speaks to us as our better ‘angel’. I would hope his demons don’t shout down his better angels (A. Sorkin)! Maybe S8 was the process of him finding ‘himself’? I guess each episode acted as a layer of an onion; peeling away his concept of himself and helping Clara, and ourselves, explore and define his new incarnation.
In a way, it showed us an image of our own true selves. As @ichabod stated, this thread has probably caused the biggest stir and this fact alone means it’s had a huge resonance. People seem to want to debate this. And that can only be good (never mind the possibility of fisticuffs) as that says as much about us as it does about the episode itself. Even people’s reactions to Deep Breath and their concern over this new, wacky doctor-persona, together with the eponymous abandonment of Clara caused ructions. Anyway, all my opinion only and I’m starting to lecture….oops.13 June 2015 at 13:36 #40619
@nick @jimthefish @lisa @purofilion
Ha! Many thanks for the kind words on the Gallifrey theory. I’m guessing this is an undercurrent of SMs arc about where Gallifrey is, and I do like the thought.
@nick – especially glad to see you about. Hope you have resolved the medical issues.
@jimthefish – Oh, I agree an explanation isn’t really necessary, but I quite like coming up with them every now and again. I find the different approaches shows take to the science part of fiction/fantasy to be interesting, and I’m quite glad Doctor Who doesn’t really go there these days.
is now a ‘thing’ as is @phaseshift‘s Handwavium Technobabble (HwT)
Yes, The Phaseshift advanced school of Spurious Chemistry does a short course in the “Unlikely Periodic Table” which features all those ultra rare elements that regularly crop up in Science Fiction to get over problems.
Handwavium (Hw) is one of the Ignoble elements and has an extremely short half life. So short it Narratively can only be invoked once before disappearing into another Universe. So, for example, this possible scene from ST:TNG invokes the Handwavium isotope called Chlorium.
Mr Worf: “Captain, Engineering have confirmed our supplies of Chlorium Hydroxide have been filtered to remove the presence of tachyon particles. Our artificial gravity systems should now be stable for the next 7 series.”
Captain Picard: “Excellent Mr. Worf. I shall note in my log that the writers need not attempt to explain how we have artificial gravity ever again.”
Lots of other Narratively suspect elements exist (we are on six at the moment) but my favourite is
Neinsteinium (Nn), the element of the Alkali Earth-or-Earth-Like-Planet Metals that exists solely to say “Nein” to Einstein, and get past his pesky speed limit for the universe. Want to travel Faster than Light, enter Hyperspace, Warp Space or Build a Stargate for Wormholes? Then you need new and improved Neinsteinium. Accept no substitutes! 😀13 June 2015 at 14:31 #40622Anonymous @
So, for example, this possible scene from ST:TNG invokes the Handwavium isotope called Chlorium.
Ooh, schoolboy error there – scientists in the Uncharted Territories have proven beyond doubt that Chlorium is actually an isotope of Trillium* and not, as previously thought, Handwavium 😉
In order to prepare @Purofilion for when she gets round to watching Farscape, due to its numbing effects, Chlorium is one of the ‘Six Forbidden Cargoes’ that Leviathans are, erm, forbidden from transporting.
*Trillium is, in reality, a genus of perennial shrubs native to North America and Asia – I knew that Horticulture Diploma would come in handy one day 😉13 June 2015 at 23:25 #40635Anonymous @
“Neinsteinium (Nn), the element of the Alkali Earth-or-Earth-Like-Planet Metals that exists solely to say “Nein” to Einstein, and get past his pesky speed limit for the universe. Want to travel Faster than Light, enter Hyperspace, Warp Space or Build a Stargate for Wormholes? Then you need new and improved Neinsteinium. Accept no substitutes”
Oh, this is delightful. You must have a blog on this: the Nein (isms), the HwT etc….
I cannot visit my local JB Hi-Fi today to find Farscape but will soon. I couldn’t yesterday as I managed to garden. By now, it’s about 2 months late to pop in all the petunias, pansies and phlox that bloom very well through Winter: but herbs, veges and lots and lots and lots of lettuces are in. But then the latter invites the snails!! I find parsley extremely good as it seems to discourage the bad wormy things. Though if I were to discover a wormhole I would be very excited: I could find myself in a French Renaissance garden or a terraformed planet from Firefly. Possibly, on an egg moon. With an egg man.13 June 2015 at 23:31 #40636Anonymous @
this trillium is not dissimilar to the naughty stuff which Saffron laced her mouth with in order to flatten out Cap’n Big Mal in F’fly? Or possibly, as some would have it (but not I!), the ‘weed’ writers used in order to piece together Kill the Moon -and to get it past the production execs? A little like that Spell from Harry Potter not permitted by any wizard/witch which virtually hypnotises the receiver.
Onwards!8 September 2015 at 22:46 #42448
This was never a favourite of mine, but not for any reasons connected to dodgy science/moon is an egg issues. There were some key aspects to the story that did bother me, though.
I disliked the whole premise for taking Courtney on board the TARDIS. The Doctor told her she wasn’t special? Seriously? She hadn’t known the Doctor long enough or well enough to care what he might think of her, as far as I could see. And the idea that Clara would be there demanding that the Doctor cave in and just say, “Okay, Courtney, you’re special,” implied that she felt that a) the Doctor was likely to care at all how Courtney felt, and b) Courtney would be dumb enough to believe that his sudden about-face at Clara’s urging had any meaning at all. Thus the whole thing started out on the wrong foot for me.
Also, Clara’s anger at the end (although Coleman performed it so well and believably) felt really excessive. I frankly thought that the Doctor was absolutely right not to influence their decision. If it was a critical moment in Earth’s development, and he had no way to know for sure that his desired path would lead to a positive outcome, then it was absolutely not his place to make that call. I could understand better that she might decide not to travel with him anymore because of the weight of those kinds of choices, but the anger seemed misplaced and unfair.
However, between the opening and closing, there were some elements that I really enjoyed. I liked the astronaut character, she was very calm and matter-of-fact. She didn’t waste more than a couple of minutes threatening to kill the unexpected intruders before accepting the Doctor’s help, and her whole wry attitude throughout was enjoyable. I also liked her very humble thank you to Clara at the end. I really loved the Doctor’s sheer wonder and delight when he discovered that the moon was an egg, a unique life form. Capaldi portrayed this so well, this really crucial aspect of the Doctor’s character. His speech about the future on the beach at the end was also a lovely, lovely moment.
The episode as a whole just didn’t hang together as organically as most. It felt like an episode that had some jobs to do (give Courtney a story, create a falling out between Clara and the Doctor), and was built around those needs rather than having those things arise more naturally out of the situation. The Caretaker, of course, was probably set up the same way: create a situation in which Danny and the Doctor meet. But somehow, in watching it, it could just as easily have been designed to give the Twelfth Doctor his “The Lodger” episode, and the Danny/Doctor situation was just the natural fallout.9 September 2015 at 11:48 #42458Anonymous @
I’ve absolutely enjoyed re-reading your analyses of last year’s episodes in preparation for Sept 19.
Also, I’m quite interested in your opinion about KtM. I must admit I didn’t think about those issues you mentioned. At all. And it seems I should have. So concerned was I about accepting the moon egg but ‘bugger the science,’ I wasn’t watching out for the issues of Clara’s quite considerable over-reaction at the end and Courtney’s belief in the Doctor: “if he says I’m special, then I must be.”
On the latter issue I’m with you too. The students I have taught on occasion like Courtney would be more likely to snigger and say, “Oh, Fark off,” than clap their hands, smile and go “whee-hay.”
I do wonder if this plot development was meant to be a little satirical -but on re-watch it didn’t strike me as that either! Generally that part was clumsy.
With respect to Clara’s over-reaction, I wonder whether, in discussing loss with @TheConsultingDoctor this is Clara’s own particular loss: the realisation that this doctor is different. He isn’t ‘hers,’ yet and wishes desperately for what she perceives is his humanity.
What she fails to realise is that this is precisely what he’s offering her: the right to choose what to do with her own planet. How humanising is that? Certainty this story presented the idea that whilst the Doctor is neither cruel nor cowardly, he certainly changes his personality, significantly, with each regeneration.
All adult decisions come with terror, loss and pain. Without such loss and without standing on the precipice of those decisions, we cannot grow as individuals or, as the Doctor would add, as humans.
It’s an argument about Kant’s categorical imperative as much as anything: how would the Doctor himself like to be treated? At what point do others interfere in decision making that must be placed within your own hands? Without that, we remain immature and thoughtless, flying about the stars, terrified of an endless night and unaware of the unique opportunity.9 September 2015 at 13:15 #42461janetteB @janetteb
@arbutus, like Puro I am really enjoying your reviews of the episodes. I think you really nailed some of the reasons why on recent re-watch I skipped this one. It isn’t just the moon-egg concept which I did have difficulty swallowing but the episode did not hang together and I particularly disliked Clara’s strop at the end. My main discomfort though in watching Kill the Moon was an awareness of how the episode would be received. One year later and I am still finding myself defending it and Moffat as show runner because of it. (Not on here so much as in “real world” discussions, not an easy task given it was my least favourite episode in the series.)
Janette9 September 2015 at 16:57 #42463
Thank you! I’m really enjoying my rewatch as it seems with distance, I am able to be a little more analytical. (I don’t know how professional reviewers do it, actually!) It’s easy to be so excited that I am watching Doctor Who, that I am not always aware of what I like or don’t like.
Puro, I don’t remember particularly noticing these issues the first time round either. As you say, I think that the “moon is an egg” issue may have hijacked the debate fairly quickly. I can no longer remember what people had to say about other aspects of this, and maybe those aspects were overshadowed by the objections that so many people had to the premise. It’s too bad when, as Janette experienced, we find ourselves feeling obliged to defend an episode with which we actually had problems, because a certain group of viewers want to use it as evidence that “the show sucks” or “Moffat has to go”. They are allowed to get it wrong occasionally, and of course, not everyone will agree that they did get this one wrong!
As a parent, I found resonance in the issue of people owning their own choices. My husband and I were just recalling a time when, just over a year ago, our son was faced with having to make a last-minute choice as to whether he would leave the special ed program he had been in for two years. It was really agonizing for him, and I will never forget having to tell him (a la 10th Doctor), “I am so, so sorry, but I cannot make this decision for you. I know it’s hard, but you have to decide for yourself.” And as we realized yesterday in talking about it, that was for the best, hard as it was to say that to him and see his struggle, because I would have made the wrong choice. He chose to leave the program and it was the right choice for him in the end. The Doctor had no certainty that it would be safe to let the creature live, and therefore, no right to make that choice for humanity. But he didn’t articulate that very well at the time. He was condescending before the decision and somewhat self-satisfied after it had all worked out well. By the time he tried to explain himself more thoroughly, she was already fully into her “strop”, so probably unable to listen rationally. He actually did get the message across much more eloquently at the end of Mummy on the Orient Express (which I have just watched and will post about later!).10 September 2015 at 01:13 #42470Anonymous @
Quite right too. We do defend, don’t we? As long as we maintain our humour and don’t descend to their level of sneering ennui, I’m sure we can continue to defend Moffat’s incredibly difficult job: trying, like Joss Whedon to keep everyone happy (although with Marvel, I’m told Whedon was not entirely successful). From the inklings on this Forum, The Magician’s Apprentice shows Moffat at his best: no “ball dropping,” and no perceived “distractions associated with Sherlock.”
I found the Forest Episode a little much and probably my least favourite -I found the acting in KtM much more interesting, edgy and focussed.
I particularly liked the astronaut with her modesty and clarity of thought: there was a hopelessness in her voice, understanding and acceptance in her actions; deliberate, no movement wasted. She’s an understated actor and I find I not only enjoy all her performances but look forward to them with relish.10 September 2015 at 01:33 #42471nerys @nerys
@arbutus I do agree that Clara’s reaction was an overreaction. But I also think her overreaction was justified. She was absolutely terrified at having that kind of power. Strange, too, since she’s a self- and other-described control freak. Yet I think she didn’t realize how terrifying it is to have the Doctor’s peculiar destiny-changing power. She thought she knew … but only when given that power did she realize how staggeringly difficult such choices are. The Doctor gave her that power, I think, so that she could genuinely appreciate what it’s like for him. Clara thought she wanted it, perhaps (as seems to happen with all the various companions) thought she was more capable than he. Then, when backed so perilously close to the edge, Clara realized she wanted no part of it and was furious at the Doctor for putting her in that position. Hence her hissy fit. It’s not reasonable, but then her reaction wasn’t a rational one. It was entirely emotional. So I can roll with it, even if it’s over the top.
I have mixed feelings about Courtney needing to be told she’s special. True, most children couldn’t care less. But as someone who lacked confidence growing up, I was one of those kids who did need to be reassured in that way. Sometimes you just need that special person to boost you up a bit, and then you really see what you’re capable of.10 September 2015 at 02:08 #42472Anonymous @
Ah, I see: Clara realised that the control she had was something easily accepted in its absence. To find that she must exercise it, beyond the abstract however, translated that random terror into unmitigated fury directed at her best friend: for letting her down, for allowing her to use such control independently. Without much advice beyond that of one astronaut and a young, headstrong student.
It was a parallel view into the Doctor’s lonely life, where his decisions regarding control are often made, on the spot, without armour and dedicated plans: relying on moral correctness and kindness (the opposite of cruelty which is part of his personal motivation, his creed, his very definition of that name, Doctor) to guide his last-minute decisions. Which decisions about Gallifrey are fraught and complicated; to witness Clara make a decision where the outcome could be successful -a win/win, so to speak, was nerve wracking but not as complex as the decisions the Doctors made regarding Gallifrey, The Moment and that dreadful day which haunts them still.
Still, to travel with the Doctor is more than excitement and loss: it’s about finding your moral compass and applying a steadfast rule to a planet which depends on that inhabitant’s decision alone. One can be guided and advice issues, but that final decision must be made independently and it’s a lonely position in which to find oneself. If anything goes wrong there’s no-one left to blame.
Indeed: rational strops are based on emotional reactions, otherwise they wouldn’t be irrational or strops:
“her reaction wasn’t a rational one. It was entirely emotional. So I can roll with it, even if it’s over the top.”
Yes, I loved Time Heist but kept seeing Matt Smith in that role. I loved The Mummy on the Orient Express: possibly, along with Flatline, they were my favourite episodes of the past Season.
I am excitedly looking forward to The Magicians’ Apprentice. I haven’t heard any spoilers whatsoever -so it will be startling and new.10 September 2015 at 04:30 #42481Missy @missy
This has nothing to do with the Doctor – well, there were two episodes with Matt Smith – and this seems to be the place to post.
How exciting about the find at Stone Henge. Have all of you read about it?
Missy10 September 2015 at 04:35 #42482
@nerys I think you are probably right about Clara. It just came off as a massively annoying moment, for me. A good example of why, despite how much I enjoy her with the Doctor, I probably wouldn’t want Clara as a friend– she would just drive me nuts. 🙂
Regarding Courtney, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t think she would want/need to be thought special. I think many of us actually feel that way a lot of the time! More that I couldn’t quite see why she would expect this strange man whom she barely knew to think she was special. It also seemed unconvincing to me that she would confront him so directly about it.
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