Kill the Moon

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    Arbutus @arbutus


    Interesting point about showrunners keeping everyone happy. I think that Whedon has had an easier time, in that Buffy et al were his creations. Doing Marvel, he would open himself up to the same kind of ARSE that we see with Who fans all the time. I think in some ways, Moffat has had fewer problems with Sherlock, because although that is obviously based on source material, it is enough of a re-imagining that it is almost an original creation. When people have been upset with him, it hasn’t been as much because he changed it from the original, as that he handled his own characters in ways that some people didn’t like (probably like Whedon and the Buffyverse). I seem to remember that Moffat’s Tintin upset some old-school fans as well (although I loved it).


    nerys @nerys

    @arbutus It’s true that Courtney barely knew the Doctor. Yet (and correct me if I’m misremembering this) wasn’t she spying on him? I’m not sure how long that had been going on, but as I recall she was keeping tabs on his comings and goings. And then, to have the Tardis revealed to her, and to get a sense of what the Doctor was capable of … well, maybe it wasn’t so much about her knowing him, but her idea of him as some sort of idol. The Doctor was surely the most powerful being to enter her life, and she sensed that at some level. So getting reassurance from him would be special.

    @purofilion You expanded on Clara’s reaction, and plausible reasons behind it, far better than I. Thank you.

    @arbutus But I completely agree with you about Clara. I enjoy her as a character, but I would loathe such a personality type in real life.

    lisa @lisa

    @arbutus I agree with your Courtney assessment @nerys. We all saw in Courtney
    a very bright girl in dire need of some positive reinforcement as apposed to the consistent
    negative reinforcement she constantly got from everyone else in her life. So apparently
    she was hanging around the Tardis. She observed the Doctor. She knew he was an outsider
    and identified with feeling that way. She got a peek inside the Tardis and then got
    really lucky and got to go on a trip -thank you Clara. That was life changing for her.
    It made it possible to see beyond her local life. It expanded and re-designed her perspective.
    That is what made the episode for me. It made it a very decent modern fairy tale.

    Anonymous @

    @lisa I love this:

    She got a peek inside the Tardis and then got
    really lucky and got to go on a trip -thank you Clara. That was life changing for her.  It made it possible to see beyond her local life. It expanded and re-designed her perspective. That is what made the episode for me. It made it a very decent modern fairy tale.

    Interesting that I’ve found something remarkable about this little controversial story: or should I say big story? I like your point, @nerys,  about young Courtney seeing the Doctor as a powerful influence: he’s that on my life! And he’s fictional. I  hope his mantra: “never cruel or cowardly, never give in, never give up,” continues to act as a very motivating idea for me, personally.

    I can see that if Courtney’s somewhat lonely, keeping tabs on the Doctor and his strange machine provides an involuntary re-take on her day. Perhaps life is not profitable, lucrative or particularly interesting: school is tedious and people generally use rough manners around her, so the fact that the Doctor deploys his typical “go away, you human” line, wouldn’t deter Courtney at all. She’d just motor on!

    “But I completely agree with you about Clara. I enjoy her as a character, but I would loathe such a personality type in real life”

    This is interesting too. I entirely agree. We’re sympathetic, we love her courage and even her erratic behaviour is forgiven but her need for the last word, her chattiness (common to this age group, perhaps?) at a hundred miles an hour is all noise and light; unintelligible blather, colour without form, a babble of detached, confusing molecules: the claricles all mixed up to create Clara Prime.

    But would a calmer, less profuse character be as interesting for the long haul? As a companion? All the companions, AG, have been rather loud. Martha for one. And even though I came to love Donna Noble, I was actually horrified at first!

    After repeated viewings, I’ve decided I like Kill the Moon -I don’t adore it, but I don’t dislike it. The talk and the discussion, even the vitriol and outrage that it’s sparked, created a verbal feast which acts as legacy



    Arbutus @arbutus

    @purofilion   This is exactly how I feel about it. There is lots to enjoy there, but for various reasons, it is low down the list for me. To be sure, since I felt that most of Series 8 was absolutely fabulous, that is not that big a strike, really!  🙂

    @nerys @lisa   I’m glad that others were able to find these things convincing, and love the episode. It means that Moffat and Co. were completely justified in the episode, because as long as some people love it, then it wasn’t wrong. Not everyone will be perfectly happy every week (although some people seem to be rarely happy, and I really do wonder why they bother to watch). This one was less for me, while heists in time and the Orient Express in space were clearly written in the spirit of “What would make Arbutus really, really happy?”  🙂

    Oh, and Puro, I was interested in your remark that you always saw Matt Smith in Time Heist. Was it because of the type of story, or the dialogue, or something else? Because I didn’t get that at all. I can’t imagine Eleven being so dismissive of people dying, or making dry remarks like the bolthole joke or “Team Not Dead”. Mind you, I will have to go back and watch some Eleventh Doctor episodes after the coming series is done, because I find it hard to bring a lot of it to mind right now!

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    SPOILAGE WARNING – I really didn’t like this episode. If you loved it, don’t read this, it can only retrospectively spoil your enjoyment.

    Kill The Moon, how do I hate thee. Let me count the ways…
    (this is therapy) (also it’s going to be long)

    Courtney is just plain annoying. Also, stupid. Steals the Doctor’s psychic paper and uses it as a phony credit card. Then tries to blame her bad behaviour on the Doctor failing to massage her ego. (Like, the Doctor and the rest of the world). And Clara seems to sympathise with her. The stupid, it is catching.
    Courtney is only ‘special’ in the worst way. The idea that the Doctor could be coerced into telling her comforting lies is an affront to the character of this Doctor.

    ‘First woman on the moon’ – in 2049? That’s being a bit bold, it assumes nobody else makes it in the next 30-odd years.

    “Where’s the gravity coming from”. Yeah, lampshade it, where *is* the gravity coming from? The Space Shuttle can’t be ‘flying’ since there’s no air on the moon, so should be in free fall. And then it ‘lands’ – how? It’s a glider and gliders don’t work in a vacuum. Even with normal Moon gravity it should hit like a meteorite. And then we find the Moon’s got Earth-like gravity which just made the Shuttle’s vaporisation-on-impact even more inevitable.

    “How can the moon put on weight?” More lampshading. The Doc suggests a number of sci-fi-ish things (gravity bombs) that might work, if they were the product of an advanced sci-fi-alien tech. But it’s *never* explained.

    And Earth’s solution is to plant about 5000 megatons of nuclear bombs on the Moon (assuming 50 megatons per bomb). For comparison, the Krakatoa eruption in 1883 was equivalent to 200 megatons. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake released 9 gigatons. It is not apparent to me that 5000 Megatons would do anything other than make a large hole. Even if it did crack the Moon, all it would leave would be a Moon-sized pile of chunks in the same orbit with the same tidal effects on Earth. And if it did shatter the Moon enough to actually make a difference, isn’t there a risk that some hefty chunks might lose enough orbital velocity to eventually intersect Earth? Next bright idea?
    Oh, and the Shuttle’s payload could carry – about one bomb. (Thanks BadWulf in the original discussion for that).

    There are flames coming out of the Shuttle. On the airless Moon. “A thingy thing for a thing” – Courtney continues to underwhelm.

    “That’s when the trouble began back on Earth. High tide everywhere at once.” No, not possible. Not simultaneously. Record high tides alternating with record low tides would (probably) cause far more damage anyway. Never mind…

    Okay the Mexican base is adequately creepy.

    “They didn’t find any minerals at all.” Huh? The Moon is made of rock. Rock is made of minerals. Utterly impossible not to find any minerals. Even (jumping ahead) eggshells are made of some mineral. And the spider crabs imply that other heavier elements – if terrestrial, iron for example – must be present.

    Standard nitpick, how can Henry hear the scuttling noises with no air?

    The spiders are certainly creepy enough. Kind of absurd and anticlimactic that Courtney manages to kill one with a domestic cleaner spray – I think this is just wanting-Courtney-to-be-less-useless-than-usual plotting.

    So then Courtney wants to go home and the Doctor leaves her in the Tardis with an instruction to ‘not touch anything’? Has he caught the stupid too?

    Clara is absolutely right to reason that she’s been to the future and the Moon is still there – so what’s the problem. The Doc’s explanation that events are somehow changeable is a bit shaky.

    So now we find the Moon is an egg. Ooookay. This is getting a bit too Discworld-esque for Doctor Who (in my estimation) but oookay.

    Courtney is bored. What a surprise. The Doc is supposed to be a super-intelligent alien and out of a whole school full of potential Clara replacements he chose – Courtney? (Serious question).

    And now we find the Moon is about to hatch. BUT – where is the extra mass coming from? An egg does not change in mass between laying and hatching. An egg is a perfect example of conservation of mass. Why would a Moon-sized egg even *need* to change its mass?

    Oh, and the egg/dragon is the only one of its kind? How did it get there then?

    And then we have a cringe-worthy half-assed pseudo-theological debate about whether to kill the thing, predicated on its hatching might be disastrous for Earth. But – it’s the size of the Moon, would it even notice 2000 Megatons? If it is killed, will its gravity magically return to normal? How? The only line in the whole exchange that I like is when Lundvik says to Courtney “Anyway, you ran away. It’s none of your business.”

    But then the Doctor brings Courtney back. Worse, the Doctor decides to go AWOL. This is the super-intelligent alien who’s protected the Earth from innumerable hazards over millennia and now he’s leaving it to Lundvik, Clara and Disruptive Influence.
    Clara: “Don’t you do this to make some kind of point”. But he does anyway. Lundvik: “Oh, what a prat”. Yeah.

    So then Clara and Lundvik have more theological argument, with unhelpful interjections from Courtney. There could have been a really tense character-based scene building on the fact that they are going to have to commit suicide to save the Earth, but it all gets swamped by the pseudo-ethical argument and later reduced to Lundvik’s one-liner, “I didn’t expect to survive anyway.” Completely underplays the tension of the moment.

    And then Clara makes a broadcast to Earth asking for advice. “We can kill this creature or we can let it live”. (Earth (in my imagination): Creature? Wot creature? How the hell would we know?) And she expects the half of Earth that she can see (the other half don’t get a vote, nor those under cloud cover) to decide and take unified action in a few minutes flat. And amazingly all of Earth is listening (really?) and does unanimously decide, instead of (as would almost certainly happen) the result being confused and undecided.

    And then Clara does what she wanted to all along anyway.

    At which point the Doc reappears and takes them to Earth to watch this thing hatching. And it’s a dragon that can somehow fly in space. With wings. And the tip of its tail is moving at about one Moon diameter in 2.4 seconds, which is 900 miles per second (mean velocity) or 3.2 million miles an hour. Peak acceleration of 1600 km/sec^2 or 170,000 G – what material is thing made of? And the shell magically disintegrates – like, really? (Then howcome all the samples the Apollo astronauts brought back were made of, like, real rock?)

    So then, somehow, this causes humanity, which had lost interest in space exploration, to start doing it again, for no apparent reason. “It looked out there into the blackness and it saw something beautiful, something wonderful, that for once it didn’t want to destroy.” But it quite clearly and decisively DID want to destroy it! Was the writer not watching his own episode?

    And then somehow, the dragon thing laid another egg the same size as itself. How? Where did the mass come from? Have we never heard of conservation of mass?

    The thing about Courtney becoming first woman President of the US is just icing on the impossible cake. Did Courtney ever show the slightest sign of intelligence or perspicacity? (Umm, okay, Dubya, Donnie, that’s maybe not the most relevant criteria). Did they change the Constitution so non-US-natives could become Prez?

    But then comes the *only* memorably good bit about the episode, the ferocious strip that Clara tears off the Doctor. And which he very richly deserves.

    Oh, and also – for the first time – Danny is actually supportive and not annoyingly trying-to-control Clara. I like him in this.

    So, to sum up: Kill the Moon goes tramping all over the minefield of the abortion debate, which is just plain stupid. It is chock-full of gratuitous scientific impossibilities – most of which could have been avoided. And it does not show the Doctor or Clara in a favourable light.

    I think it probably arose from an idea – “The moon is an egg? Cool!” Along with The Last Space Shuttle, and Clara Broadcasts to Earth. Memo to producers – not every ‘cool’ idea works out in practice.

    I’ll quite happily accept sonic screwdrivers, bigger-on-the-inside, and time travel as sci-fi elements.
    But mundane mechanics had better not be violated without some reason being offered. We know the Moon is made of rock (because the Apollo missions took samples), that Space Shuttles need air to land, that objects cannot magically change their mass. It just gives me incredulity overload.

    Oochillyo @oochillyo

    hey @dentarthurdent I liked the ep but all I can say is Bravo 🙂

    I have seen/heard many problems with this ep though I love how you went all out and though I was laughing quite often with what you say (all correct ofcourse) I like your boldness and I am sorry that the ep really annoyed you.

    Regards – Declan Sargent

    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent


    Hi Declan    Thanks for being so broadminded.    I tried not to get too carried away with my criticisms (though I’m not sure how successful I was there).    Actually I was breaking an unwritten rule of mine which was, don’t get too negative (I hope Craig will forgive this one occasion   🙂     I know Craig founded this site because the Guardian’s comments section was getting too toxic (did I get that right?) and I echo that sentiment.

    As I said, I did like the confrontation at the end between Clara and the Doc.   Is that perverse? – liking a row between two of my favourite characters?   I don’t think so.

    Now I didn’t like the confrontation between Danny and the Doc at the end of The Caretaker.   I thought Danny was being insulting and he had no right to be rude to the Doctor on his own Tardis.    I think the difference between that and Clara’s confrontation at the end of Kill the Moon is, that Clara did have standing.   She has a long history with the Doctor.   What could be more dramatic than a furious confrontation between two people who have done huge things for each other including saving each other’s lives on several occasions?

    And for the first time, I liked Danny Pink in this episode.   Instead of being demanding and trying to control Clara like last week, this time he was understanding and perceptive – and not judgmental.

    So for me, this ep ended a lot better than it started.

    janetteB @janetteb

    @dentarthurdent  I enjoyed your review. Contructive criticism is never a problem. And I agree with pretty much everything you have said. This episode was an absolute fail in all regards. The characters were acting “out of character” the “mechanics” were just absurd and sadly it turned viewers away from the series. For most of us one poor episode is more than compensated for by good aspects, the quality of the writing, the interaction of the characters, but there is nothing in this episode that works for me. Unlike you I really disliked the arguement between Clara and the Doctor at the end. It felt contrived perhaps beause the events leading up to it were so unconvincing.



    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb Thanks! Interestingly, I didn’t feel that argument was contrived, I felt it was inevitable (given the admittedly unlikely events of the episode), I would have been disconcerted if it hadn’t happened. That seemed to be the only in-character part of the episode, to me.
    Even the start of Mummy on the Orient Express felt false to me, until it turned out to be (presumably) some time later when Clara’s fury had cooled down to something less than white hot, and the outing was intended to be a farewell event.


    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    Well, I just re-watched Kill The Moon, in case it seemed better to me second time around.   Sometimes this happens – I felt a bit more positive about The Caretaker – but with KTM, suffice to say it didn’t.   I ended up writing a lengthy screed which was remarkably close to what I posted a year and a half ago.   Either my subconscious remembered exactly what I wrote (which seems unlikely) or, given the exact same input, I ‘processed’ it very consistently.   I’m not sure that’s a good thing.   Anyway I won’t post another chunk of negativity, I’ll just pretend my rant from six posts back is current (which it pretty much is).

    I just noticed two more quibbles – first, the spiders are NOT “a prokaryotic unicellular life form, with non-chromosomal DNA.” And I know this how? Because a thing that looks like a giant spider crab is absolutely not, and never could be, ‘unicellular.’ Did the writers get that out of a science dictionary or something.   They were so desperate to call them ‘germs’.   But why?   The crabs could fulfil the functions of bacteria (germs) without being biologically identical.   Never heard of convergent evolution?

    And the other thing that struck me as odd, “Listen, we went to dinner in Berlin in 1937, right? We didn’t nip out after pudding and kill Hitler. I’ve never killed Hitler. And you wouldn’t expect me to kill Hitler. The future is no more malleable than the past.” What? That sounds like a reference to ‘Lets Kill Hitler’ but that wasn’t Clara, that was Amy and River. Or is this a reference to something the Doctor and Clara are supposed to have done offscreen? I’m confused.


    janetteB @janetteb

    @dentarthurdent you are braver than me. Agreed many episodes improve on second watch. I did not particularly like Time Heist the first time I watched it but now really enjoy it. I have no intention of ever giving Kill the Moon a second chance however. I don’t think it has a single redeeming quality.

    Regarding subconscious memory, I often find that something I have just written i had already wrote almost word for word a year or two before which leads to the editing nightmare of “which version is best”.



    Dentarthurdent @dentarthurdent

    @janetteb    I don’t think you’re missing anything (not watching KTM again, that is).   Never mind, Mummy on the Orient Express next.

    I know the feeling of ‘which version is best’, it plagues me too.

    I think you’re right about subconscious memory.   Prompting it (by re-watching the same thing) probably evokes very similar thoughts and reactions and that, I think, may trigger the subconscious memory to produce the same phrasing.

    In the 1980’s I had a cassette tape of Pussycat (a Dutch group) that was a favourite of ours.   Then I lost the tape and never heard them again till I tripped over them last month on Youtube, so I downloaded a couple of their songs and stuck them on my MP3 player.   Now I could not have remembered *any* of the words of those songs, if asked.   But yesterday I was out walking (with headphones) when one of them came up – first time I’d heard it in 30 years – and I found that I knew exactly what the next few words were going to be a few seconds in advance, right through the song.   The music was prompting my long-faded memory.

    In a similar vein, I’ve read that often divers, when they surface, can’t remember what they observed ‘down below’.   They dive again and it all comes back to them.   I’ve done this frequently – (not diving but) I decide to fetch something from the basement, trot downstairs and can’t remember what I was looking for.   So I just trudge back upstairs to repeat exactly what I was doing and then I remember what I went to fetch.   I think this is probably how hypnosis works in recovering ‘forgotten’ memories – or it is said to, I’ve never tried it.

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