The Best and Worst of Doctor Who: Series 8

As seen in a previous post, this is the second in a series of posts regarding the best and worst of Doctor Who. This is on the Series 8.

The Best:

Flatline

Unfortunately, the best episode of the season is the one where Clara ‘becomes’ the Doctor (see Feminist Frequency‘s Ms. Male Character). Of course, she isn’t the first companion to do so in the series: Donna became the DoctorDonna in Journey’s End, which in that case being a transference of all his knowledge that was also simultaneously killing her and her memory of their travels all had to be erased. But in this case, the Doctor is conveniently incapacitated in a TARDIS growing smaller, and smaller, for no discernible reason, while Clara was left to do much of the leg work here.

The reason why this episode ranks so highly is due to the nature of the danger depicted is genuinely real. Throughout the episode the fear of the unknown of who these beings are, how they are doing the things that is resulting in many deaths, and the motivation for why they are doing them (which is never precisely answered) becomes one of the best staples the episode has to offer with a season some utter failures like Robot of Sherwood and In the Forest of the Night.

This episode offers the companion Clara the most agency in the entire series of episodes, yet even the moment she thinks for herself and makes a decision for herself, it is to bring back the Doctor to save her and Rigsy by tricking the ‘Boneless’ into thinking a door really isn’t a door. It is the best this series has to offer, but that certainly isn’t saying much at all.

The Worst:

Kill the Moon

Kill the Moon is an abortion story. It is a subtle and abstract abortion story, but an abortion story none-the-less. I would like to acknowledge that Whovian Feminism doesn’t think this is an abortion story, as it says here:

First of all, I’m very suspicious of the idea that the moral dilemma posed in “Kill the Moon” is somehow analogous to the decision to have an abortion. When we talk about ensuring reproductive rights, particularly the right to an abortion, we’re talking about protecting the bodily autonomy of those who are pregnant. The decision about whether and how to become pregnant, whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, and how to deliver that child should belong only to the pregnant individual. The dilemma presented to us in “Kill the Moon” is very different. The baby space-dragon (which is what I’ve chosen to call the creature) is floating in an egg in space; there is no pregnant creature whose bodily autonomy is potentially being violated. The moral question in “Kill the Moon” isn’t even over bodily autonomy. Essentially, it’s a Trolley Problem; the question is primarily about numbers and uncertainty. Clara isn’t sure it is right to kill the space-dragon, even if its hatching may kill millions more, and is especially uncertain because they simply do not know how many people it could kill.

Admittedly, the episode does rely on a lot of narratives that reflect anti-choice narratives. First, there was the insistence that it was not only morally right to spare the baby space-dragon’s life, but that humanity was made better by allowing it to live. The Doctor tells us that by witnessing the hatching of the space-dragon, humanity was inspired to rekindle it’s exploration of space. This bears some resemblance to anti-choice arguments that a pregnant individual should always carry a pregnancy to term because that potential child could be a world-changing scientist, artist, etc.

What this anti-choice argument fails to consider is the impact a pregnant individual could have on the world if they weren’t forced to cope with an unwanted pregnancy. The analogy in “Kill the Moon” would be the potential impact that the humans on Earth could have if they weren’t potentially killed by the space-dragon. The space-dragon may have inspired humanity to explore space, but what if a piece of its shell accidentally killed Adelaide Brooke’s granddaughter? Does humanity still explore space? “Kill the Moon” didn’t meaningfully address those potential consequences.

In fact, one of my biggest complaints about “Kill the Moon” was that it went out of its way to show that there were absolutely no negative consequences to letting the space-dragon live. I’m not normally one to complain about scientific inaccuracies in a science-fiction show, but the science in “Kill the Moon” was particularly unbelievable. I went along with it for most of the episode because, hey, space-dragons. But the moment when the just-hatched dragon was somehow able to lay an egg the exact same size as the one it just hatched out of was the moment when I completely lost my shit. Frankly, it was a narrative cop-out to avoid any potential consequences to the decision to spare the space-dragon. And it was made all the worse due to the fact that Clara had specifically discussed and accepted some of those potential consequences. In hindsight, it makes any discussion about the potential consequences seem like panicked fear-mongering, rather than something that should be a serious concern. And unfortunately, that reflects an anti-choice narrative that portrays reproductive justice advocates who talk about the potential consequences of a pregnancy on an individual’s health and well-being as fear mongering alarmists.

Much of what is said here will become apparent later on, in support of my assertion that this is most definitely an abortion story.

The teaser opens with this:

Hello, hello. Hello, Earth. We have a terrible decision to make. It’s an uncertain decision, and we don’t have a lot of time. The man who normally helps, he’s gone. Maybe he’s not coming back. In fact, I, I really don’t think he is. We’re on our own. So, an innocent life versus the future of all mankind. We have forty five minutes to decide.”

The Doctor brings Clara and Courtney Woods, to the moon after Clara insists on making up an insult he said to her off-screen. Given what happened in Nightmare in Silver, it doesn’t sound like the best thing to do, but we will simply ignore all of that for now.

After they arrive they discover that something is wrong with the moon as it has “put on weight” and Lundvik, an astronaut they meet, is on a mission to destroy it because it is causing so much havo back on Earth.

Doctor: Gravity test. So, it’ll be very time-consuming and messy, and rather wasteful, because I think I might just possibly be able to help you. You see, I am a super-intelligent alien being who flies in time and space. Are you going to shoot me?
Lundvik: No.
Doctor: Good. Why have you got all these nuclear bombs? No, no, no. Easier question. What’s wrong with my yo-yo?
(Just like the Fourth Doctor did once, he uses a yo-yo to test the gravity.)
Clara: Doctor, it goes up and down.
Doctor: Bingo.
(The penny finally drops.)
Clara: Ah.
Doctor: Ah ha. We should be bouncing about this cabin like little fluffy clouds. But we’re not. What is the matter with the moon?
Lundvik: Nobody knows.
Clara: Do you know what’s wrong with the moon?
Doctor: It’s put on weight.
Lundvik: How can the moon put on weight?
Doctor: Oh, lots of ways. Gravity bombs, axis alignment systems, planet shellers.
Lundvik: So it’s alien.
Doctor: Must be causing chaos on Earth. The tides will be so high that they will drown whole cities.
Lundvik: Yeah.
Doctor: So what are you doing about it?
(Lundvik takes a case from the wall.)
Doctor: This?
Lundvik: That’s what you do with aliens, isn’t it? Blow them up?

Before we discover that the moon is in fact a baby, we find out that the moon has “put on weight,” causing “chaos on Earth,” and that “tides will be so high that they will drown whole cities,” which Lundvik, a female astronaut sent to the moon to destroy it affirms with her response, “Yeah.” This original framing actually, I think, places an idea that Earth is actually pregnant with a baby moon. It’s an abstract idea, but Moffat is well known for utilizing abstract ideas in his writing (River Song’s timeline and conception, the Weeping Angels, and the Vashta Nerada, to name a few). Despite it not being revealed yet that the moon is an egg getting ready to hatch, Lundvik makes this interesting statement “That’s what you with aliens, isn’t it? Blow them up?” establishing that Lundvik is informed enough to abort the baby.

This next piece is also important.

Doctor: They didn’t find anything.
Lundvik: Eh?
Doctor: The Mexicans. They didn’t find any minerals on the moon at all. Nada.
(He looks at photographs of the moon strewn on a table.)
Doctor: Oh.
Clara: Oh?
Doctor: Lines of tectonic stress.
Lundvik: That’s the Mare Fecunditatis. It’s been there since the Apollo days. It’s always been there.
Doctor: No, no, no. These are much, much bigger. Sea of Tranquillity. Sea of Nectar. Sea of Ingenuity. Sea of Crises.
Clara: Meaning?
(The lights flicker.)
Doctor: Meaning, Clara, that the moon, this little planetoid that’s been tagging along beside you for a hundred million years, which gives you light at night and seas to sail on, is in the process of falling to bits.

The Doctor here explains to Clara that has “been tagging along beside you for a hundred million years” and gives “you light at the night and seas to sail on” is “falling to bits.”

The next piece two scenes is also quite important. This is the first one:

Doctor: Did you say germs? Oh, God, this is incredible. Look at the size of it. It’s the size of a badger.
Clara: Doctor
Doctor: It’s a prokaryotic unicellular life form, with non-chromosomal DNA. Which, as you and me know. Well, not you and me. Well, you, certainly not. You and me, yes, scientists know, this is a germ. You flew because that one point three billion tonnes shifted. It moved. It’s an unstable mass.
Courtney: I’m scared, Miss.
Clara: Okay.
(Lundvik has looked at what is left of Duke.)
Lundvik: He’d just had a grand-daughter. Elina. She was his first. He was my teacher. He taught me how to fly. We were both given the sack on the same day.
Doctor: Which way to the Mare Fecunditatis?
Courtney: Please can I go home now? I’m really. I’m really sorry, but I’d like to go home.

Noting the loss of Henry, Lundvik states he just “had a grand-daughter, Elina,” that he was her “teacher,” and taught her “how to fly.” For Lundvik, we are continuing to note the dangers of what is happening with the moon is enough to destroy it out of self-defense.

Doctor: Get in.
Clara: Why are you shutting her in? We don’t need to stay, do we?
Doctor: Eh?
Clara: It’s obvious, isn’t it? The moon doesn’t break up.
Doctor: How do you know?
Clara: Because I’ve been in the future, and the moon is still there. I think. You know the moon is still there, right?
Doctor: Maybe it isn’t the moon. Maybe it’s a hologram or a big painting, or a special effect. Maybe it’s a completely different moon.
Clara: But you would know.
Doctor: I would?
Clara: If the moon fell to bits in 2049, somebody would’ve mentioned it. It would have come up in conversation. So it doesn’t break up. So the world doesn’t end. So, let’s just get in the Tardis and go.
Doctor: Clara, there are some moments in time that I simply can’t see. Little eye-blinks. They don’t look the same as other things. They’re not clear. They’re fuzzy, they’re grey. Little moments in which big things are decided. And this is one of them. Just now, I can’t tell what happens to the moon, because whatever happens to the moon hasn’t been decided yet. And it’s going to be decided here and now. Which very much sounds as though it’s up to us.
Lundvik: Neither of you are going anywhere. I’ve lost my crew. We were the last astronauts. This is the last shuttle, these are the last nuclear bombs. We’re the last chance for Earth, and you’re staying to help me.
Doctor: Decision made.
Clara: Yeah.

Again, in this scene, we are shown the losses Lundvik has experienced relative to the story: “I’ve lost my crew. We were the last astronauts. This is the last shuttle, these are the last nuclear bombs. We’re the last chance for Earth…”

It’s important to acknowledge that, ironically, that for the Doctor  “some moments I simply can’t see,” as in this episode. This is often the atmosphere by which those who are considering an abortion take, knowing there is no way to know, which is part of what makes it such a difficult decision to have one or not.

As revealed here later in the episode, the moon turns out to be a baby-something hatching out of an egg, that is the moon:

Lundvik: You said you know what the problem is.
Doctor: Yes, yes. It’s a rather big problem.
Clara: Okay,.do you want to share it with the class?
Doctor: Well, I had a little hypothesis. The seismic activity, the surface breaking up, the variable mass, the increase in gravity, the fluid. I scanned what’s down there.
(He moves a mobile console and sonicks it, then creates a 3D projection of the moon.)
Doctor: The moon isn’t breaking apart. Well, actually, it is breaking apart, and rather quickly. We’ve got about an hour and a half. But that isn’t the problem. It’s not infested.
Courtney: What are they, then, those things?
Doctor: Bacteria. Tiny, tiny bacteria living on something very, very big. Something that weighs about one point three billion tonnes. Something that’s living. Something growing.
Clara: Growing?
Doctor: That.
(He sonicks the image to show what looks very like a baby dragon curled up inside the moon.)
Courtney: That lives under the moon?
Doctor: No.
Clara: What?
Doctor: That doesn’t live under the moon. That is the moon.
Lundvik: What the hell are you talking about?
Doctor: The moon isn’t breaking apart. The moon is hatching.
Clara: Huh?
Doctor: The moon’s an egg.
Clara: Has it, er, has it always been an egg?
Doctor: Yes, for a hundred million years or so. Just, just growing. Just getting ready to be born.
Clara: Okay. So the moon has never been the moon?
Doctor: No, no, no, no. It’s never been dead. It’s just taking a long time to come alive.
Courtney: Is it a chicken?
Doctor: No!
Courtney: Cos, for a chicken to have laid an egg that big
Doctor: Courtney, don’t spoil the moment.
Clara: Doctor, what is it?
Doctor: I think that it’s unique. I think that’s the only one of its kind in the universe. I think that that is utterly beautiful.
Lundvik: How do we kill it?
Clara: Why’d you want to kill it?
Courtney: It’s a little baby.
Lundvik: Doctor, how do we kill it?
Doctor: Kill the moon?
(Lundvik nods. He turns off the hologram.)
Doctor: Kill the moon. Well, you have about a hundred of the best man-made nuclear weapons, if they still work. If that’s what you want to do.
Clara: Doctor, wait
Lundvik: Will that do it?
Doctor: A hundred nuclear bombs set off right where we are, right on top of a living, vulnerable creature? It’ll never feel the sun on its back.
Lundvik: And then what? Will the moon still break up? You said, you said we had an hour and a half?
Doctor: Well, there’ll be nothing to make it break up. There will be nothing trying to force its way out. The gravity of the little dead baby will pull all the pieces back together again. Of course, it won’t be very pretty. You’d have an enormous corpse floating in the sky. You might have some very difficult conversations to have with your kids.
Lundvik: I don’t have any kids.
Clara: Stop. Right, listen. This is a, this is a life. I mean, this must be the biggest life in the universe.
Courtney: It’s not even been born.
Lundvik: It is killing people. It is destroying the Earth.
Clara: You cannot blame a baby for kicking.
Lundvik: Let me tell you something. You want to know what I took back from being in space? Look at the edge of the Earth. The atmosphere, that is paper thin. That is the only thing that saves us all from death. Everything else, the stars, the blackness. That’s all dead. Sadly, that is the only life any of us will ever know.
Courtney: There’s life here. There’s life just next door.
Lundvik: Look, when you’ve grown up a bit, you’ll realise that everything doesn’t have to be nice. Some things are just bad. Anyway, you ran away. It’s none of your business.
Courtney: Doctor, I want to come back.
Clara: Courtney, you’ll be safer where you are.

It’s important that in the reveal of the moon being a baby of some kind, the Doctor says that it is “unique,” “the only kind in the universe,” and “utterly beautiful.” Often times, pro-life individuals take this sort of position by saying that all life is “unique” and “beautiful.”

Lundvik immediately states “How do we kill it?” taking the position of the cold-heartless abortionist, suggesting this life isn’t valuable. Clara opposes her by saying “Why’d you want to kill it?” with Courtney supporting both the Doctor’s position, and Clara’s by saying “It’s a little baby,” framing it as innocent. After this, Lundvik repeats by asking again, which he responds “Kill the moon?” and as he explains to Lundvik that a “hundred nuclear bombs” placed “right on top of a living, vulnerable creature.” This is topped off with: “It’ll never feel the sun on it’s back.” This last part firmly establishes that Lundvik is trying to victimize an innocent creature.

As Lundvik poses more questions, the Doctor states that gravity of the “little dead baby” will “pull all the pieces (of the moon) back together again,” but that it won’t “be very pretty” and there would be “an enormous corpse floating in the sky” that might cause you to “have some very difficult conversations to have with your kids.” Lundvik immediately responds with “I don’t have any kids” which would suggest to the viewer she is blindly unaware of the value of having children, and thus, being capable in deciding if this baby should be born.

Clara, again, opposes Lundvik by saying, this “is a life” and must be “the biggest life in the universe,” as Courtney backs her up saying that it has not “even been born.” Lundvik responds with that it is “killing people” and “destroying the Earth” which Clara immediately excuses this with “you cannot blame a baby for kicking.”

Lundvik opposes Clara by framing the human race as victims of the creature stating that at “the edge of the Earth,” the atmosphere is “paper thin,” which is the only thing that “saves us from death.” She says that “everything else, the stars, the blackness” are “all dead” and that “sadly, this is the only life any of us will ever know.” Courtney, again, opposes Lundvik by saying “There’s life here. There’s life just next door.” Lundvik, again, takes on the frame of being the cold-heartless abortionist by lecturing her on her maturity (“when you’ve grown up a bit”), and states “everything doesn’t have to be nice” and “some things are just bad.”

Before long, the Doctor abruptly leaves and a discussion between Lundvik and Clara erupts on what to do about the baby moon:

Doctor: Just stick one into the Tardis console. That’ll bring you to me.
Courtney: Right.
Doctor: And make sure you hang on to the console, otherwise the Tardis will leave you behind.
Clara: So what do we do? Doctor? Huh? Doctor, what do we do?
Doctor: Nothing.
Clara: What?
Doctor: We don’t do anything. I’m sorry, Clara. I can’t help you.
Clara: Of course you can help.
Doctor: The Earth isn’t my home. The moon’s not my moon. Sorry.
Clara: Come on. Hey.
Doctor: Listen, there are moments in every civilisation’s history in which the whole path of that civilisation is decided. The whole future path. Whatever future humanity might have depends upon the choice that is made right here and right now. Now, you’ve got the tools to kill it. You made them. You brought them up here all on your own, with your own ingenuity. You don’t need a Time Lord. Kill it. Or let it live. I can’t make this decision for you.
Clara: Yeah, well, I can’t make it.
Doctor: Well, there’s two of you here.
Clara: Well, yeah. A school teacher and an astronaut.
Doctor: Who’s better qualified?
Clara: I don’t know! The President of America.
Doctor: Oh, take something off his plate. He makes far too many decisions anyway.
Lundvik: She.
Doctor: She. Sorry. She hasn’t even been into space. She hasn’t been to another planet. How would she even know what to do?
Clara: I am asking you for help.
Doctor: 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.
Clara: Okay, don’t you do this to make some kind of point.
Doctor: Sorry. Well, actually, no, I’m not sorry. It’s time to take the stabilisers off your bike. It’s your moon, womankind. It’s your choice.
Clara: And you’re just going to stand there?
Doctor: Absolutely not.
(The Tardis arrives, and Courtney comes out.)
Clara: Doctor?
Doctor: A teenager, an astronaut and a schoolteacher.
Lundvik: Hang on a minute. We can get in there, can’t we? You can sort it out with that thing.
Doctor: No. Some decisions are too important not to make on your own.
Clara: Doctor. Doctor? Doctor!
(The Doctor goes into the Tardis and shuts the door. It dematerialises.)
Lundvik: Oh, what a prat.
(Another moonquake. The germs come flooding onto the surface from new fissures.)
Lundvik: I’m going to detonate the bombs, agreed? Agreed?
(A porthole breaks and the air rushes out.)
Lundvik: Hang on tight, there’s been a breach!
(The vacuum sucks a handy piece of metal over the hole and seals it.)
Clara: If we let it live, what would happen if the moon wasn’t there?
Lundvik: Listen, we haven’t got time for this.
Clara: We’re discussing it! What would happen if the moon wasn’t there?
Courtney: I have a physics book in my bag. There’s this thing on gravity?
Lundvik: Super. Is there a word search?
Clara: Okay, there would be no tides. But we’d survive that, right? They’ve knocked out the satellites. There’s no internet, no mobiles. I’d be fine with that.
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?
Courtney: Loads of things lay eggs.
Lundvik: It’s not a chicken.
Courtney: I’m not saying it’s a chicken. I’m not completely stupid.
Lundvik: It’s an exoparasite.
Courtney: A what?
Lundvik: Like a flea. Or a head louse.
Clara: I’m going to have to be a lot more certain than that if I’m going to kill a baby.
Lundvik: Oh, you want to talk about babies?. You’ve probably got babies down there now. You want to have babies?
Clara: Well, yeah.
Courtney: Mister Pink.
Clara: Shush!
Lundvik: Okay. You imagine you’ve got children down there on Earth now, right? Grandchildren maybe. You want that thing to get out? Kill them all? You want today to be the day life on Earth stopped because you couldn’t make an unfair decision? Listen, I don’t want to do this. All my life I’ve dreamed about coming here. But this is how it has to end.
(Lundvik sets the trigger.)
Courtney: Oi!
Lundvik: I’ve given us an hour. There’s a cut-out here. If anyone has any bright ideas, or if he comes back, that stops it. But once it’s pressed, it stays pressed.
Clara: And if he doesn’t come back?
Lundvik: I didn’t expect to survive anyway.
Courtney: He’s going to come back, though, right? Isn’t he, Miss?
Clara: Hey, why don’t you call me Clara?

At the beginning of this scene, Clara is asking the Doctor for help, but he tells here before leaving “some decisions are too important not to make on your own.” This leaves Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik to sort out the abortion all on their own, but much of it is not surprising, given as I have said already: Their positions are already chosen.

Lundvik decides she wants to “detonate the bombs” trying to get the agreement to do so with Clara and Courtney. Clara asks that “if we let it live, what would happen if the moon wasn’t there?” Lundvik, immediately refuses to discuss it (“Listen, we haven’t got time for this!”), while Clara becomes quite insistent (“We’re discussing it!”). She then says “there’d be no tides,” but “we’d survive that, right?,” that “they’ve knocked out the satellites” meaning “no internet” and “no mobiles” which she would “be fine with that.”

Lundvik again opposes her with “It’s just not going to stop being there,” that “inside the moon” there is a “gigantic creature forcing it’s way out,” and “when it does” “pretty damn soon,” “huge chunks of the moon” will head right for Earth like “whatever killed the dinosaurs,” but “only ten thousand times bigger.” Clara, of course, corrects her by saying that moon isn’t “made of rock and stone,” and is “an eggshell.” Lundvik backs down (“Oh, God. Okay, okay, fine”) on this, but speaks about “if by some miracle” the shell “isn’t too thick,” or it “disperses,” or “goes into orbit,” or “whatever,” there is still “going to be a massive thing there” that “just popped out” before finally saying “what the hell no you imagine that is?”

After slight debate, Lundvik suggests it’s an “exoparasite” like a “flea” or “head louse.” Clara retorts that she is going to “have to be a lot more certain if I’m going to kill a baby.” Notice, again Clara espouses the innocence of the creature without much knowledge about it. Lundvik then asks “you want to talk about babies?” that she “probably got babies down there” before asking “You want to have babies?” Clara answers “Well, yea” establishing that she is trying to take some amount of ownership of this ‘baby.’ Lundvik retorts back that Clara “imagine” she “has children” or “grandchildren” on Earth before asking if she wants “that thing” inside the moon to “get out” and “kill them all.” Does Clara “want today to be the day life on Earth stopped” because she couldn’t make “an unfair decision.” Lundvik insists she “doesn’t want to do this” has “always dreamed of” going to the moon but “this is how it has to end.”

Lundvik then sets the trigger, and says if anyone has any “bright ideas,” if the Doctor “comes back,” that “stops it” but once “its’ pressed, it stays pressed.” Finally, Clara asks what happens if the Doctor doesn’t come back, to which Lundvik answers that she “didn’t expect to survive anyway.” Not only is Lundvik a cold-heartless abortionist in this context, but also is shown to be extreme and dangerous, willing to take the lives of others (Clara and Courtney) with her in a desperate act to save the Earth.

Kill the Moon 18

Clara later decides to use the communications to ask the Earth if they should decide to let this thing live or die with this statement:

Hello, Earth. We have a terrible decision to make. It’s an uncertain decision and we don’t have a lot of time. We can kill this creature or we can let it live. We don’t know what it’s going to do, we don’t know what’s going to happen when it hatches. If it will hurt us, help us, or just leave us alone. We have to decide together. This is the last time we’ll be able to speak to you, but you can send us a message. If you think we should kill the creature, turn your lights off. If you think we should take the chance, let it live, leave your lights on. We’ll be able to see. Goodnight, Earth.”

Earth decides to kill the creature, with all the lights off. As seen here, Clara goes against humanities wish to kill the creature in a desperate act, herself.

Courtney: Night, night.
Clara: Oh, Doctor, where have you gone?
Lundvik: We can’t risk it all just to be nice.
Clara: Okay.
Courtney: Miss?
Lundvik: Nine seconds.
Courtney: You can’t!
Lundvik: Sorry, girls. See you on the other side. Two
(Clara hits the cut-out switch. Detonation aborted.)
Lundvik: Hey!
(The Tardis materialises.)
Doctor: One, two, three, into the Tardis.
Lundvik: What’s happening?
Doctor: Let’s go and have a look, shall we?

As Clara wonders where the Doctor has “gone,” Lundvik says that we can’t “risk it all to be nice”  and after Courtney blurts out, “You can’t!”, Lundvik apologizes and says she will see them “on the other side.” Clara aborts the nuclear weapons and then the Doctor miraculously appears to take then to “have a look.”

kill-the-moon-aborted-300x168

During the scene above it’s important to recognize that ‘Aborted’ is front and center when Clara makes the hasty decision. The similarities between ‘Aborted’ and ‘Abortion’ are important. The interesting thing, is that, in this case, aborting the nuclear bombs is meant to preserve the life of the creature, but none-the-less, the presence of this language is noticeable and subtle.

The next scene takes place on Earth. Immediately, Lundvik says “Bloody idiots. Bloody irresponsible idiots” to which the Doctor responds to mind “her language” because “there are children present.” Lundvik wants to apparently be “left” there, to let her “die” “with the universe in front of me” instead of being “crushed to death” on Earth. The Doctor responds to this that “nobody’s going to die.”

Lundvik: Bloody idiots. Bloody irresponsible idiots.
(The Doctor walks over to her.)
Doctor: Mind your language, please, There are children present.
Lundvik: You should have left me there, let me die. I wanted to die up there with the universe in front of me, not being crushed to death on Earth.
Doctor: Nobody’s going to die.
Lundvik: Could you please let us see what’s happening?

The next scene is by far so awful. Let’s take a look:

Courtney: What’s it doing?
(There is a faint image of a giant winged creature in the sky, making noises.)
Doctor: It’s feeling the sun on itself. It’s getting warm. The chick flies away and the eggshell disintegrates. Harmless.
Clara: Did you know?
Doctor: You made your decision. Humanity made its choice.
Lundvik: No, we ignored humanity.
Doctor: Well, there you go.
Lundvik: So what happens now, then? Tell me what happens now.
(The Doctor turns his back on them and closes his eyes briefly.)
Doctor: In the mid-twenty first century humankind starts creeping off into the stars, spreads its way through the galaxy to the very edges of the universe. And it endures till the end of time.
(He turns back to them,)
Doctor: And it does all that because one day in the year 2049, when it had stopped thinking about going to the stars, something occurred that make it look up, not down. It looked out there into the blackness and it saw something beautiful, something wonderful, that for once it didn’t want to destroy. And in that one moment, the whole course of history was changed. Not bad for a girl from Coal Hill School, and her teacher.
Courtney: Oh, my gosh. It laid a new egg. It’s beautiful. Doctor, it’s beautiful.
Doctor: That’s what we call a new moon.
(A blank white round thing in the sky waiting for fresh meteorites to start decorating its surface.)
Courtney: You can be the first woman on that.
Doctor: I think that somebody deserves a thank you.
Lundvik: Yeah, probably. (to Clara) Thank you. Thank you for stopping me. Thank you for giving me the moon back.
Doctor: Okay, Captain. Well, you’ve got a whole new space programme to get together. NASA is er, it’s that way. About two and a half thousand miles. (to Courtney) You still got your vortex manipulators? I’ll give you a run home.

The Doctor explains that the hatching creature is “feeling the sun on itself” (something he said earlier to the prospect at killing the creature) and “getting warm” before the “chick flies away and the eggshell disintegrates” and “harmless.” Clara asks the Doctor if he knew, without giving a real response he says “You made your decision. Humanity made it’s choice.” Lundvik then corrects him, saying “we ignored humanity.” Then Lundvik asks what “happens now” and the Doctor miraculously sees through the “grey area” that somehow, on this one day, humanity was inspired to reach the “edges of the universe” and “endures til the end of time.” All too convenient. Then, just as miraculously, the just-born creature lays a “beautiful” new egg. The Doctor then says to Lundvik that “somebody deserves a thank you” to which she tells Clara “thank you for stopping me” and for “giving me the moon back.” The Doctor then directs Lundvik to NASA, which is “about two and a half thousand miles” in the direction he points (as if the whole ordeal of losses she expressed earlier wasn’t enough), and then the Doctor gives Clara and Courtney a “run home.”

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The final scene does an about-face that essentially paints Clara as actually not capable of making decisions about whether to ‘abort’ or not without the Doctor (a male) present, severely undermining her character, only to have her appear hastily in the next episode, “Mummy on the Orient Express”:

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Two minutes and 14 seconds into “Mummy on the Orient Express,” Clara steps out of the TARDIS, ready for another adventure with the Doctor. Despite the incredibly fraught ending of “Kill the Moon,” where Clara quits as a companion – banishing the Doctor not only from her life, but seemingly from the planet as well – the two are apart for less than four minutes of screen time. “Mummy on the Orient Express” is careful to establish that, for the characters involved, several weeks have elapsed between the two episodes, during which time Clara realized she “hated” and then “liked” the Doctor; however, for the viewer, barely one week has passed. For Clara to reappear so quickly, cheapens the end of “Kill the Moon,” which indicated lasting ramifications for Clara and the Doctor.

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Is This an Abortion Story? Yes. The central decision of this story is whether to “kill the moon/”kill a baby” or let it this “unique”…”only kind in the universe”.. and “utterly beautiful” creature live. Furthermore, the topic of whether someone has, or wants, children is brought up between Lundvik, Clara and Courtney. The narrative establishes that this is adversarial with Lundvik and the Earth on letting it die, and Clara, Courtney and the Doctor letting it live.

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Is This a Mystical Pregnancy? Yes. Immediately, once the Doctor reveals that the moon is actually a hatching egg, both Clara and Courtney speak on the unborn creatures behalf, until Clara makes the sole decision to let it live against everyone’s wishes, and although consequences are suggested, they are not fully-realized in this story. Take the “chaos on Earth”? We never see this in the story, as it only appears as second-hand knowledge. Although Clara speculates that there’d be no “tides,” “internet,” or “mobiles,” after it’s birth, those things too never solidify into a consequence either. When Lundvik speculates that the creature will “kill” the human race, again, it doesn’t happen. What of the nuclear warheads? Just where did they go? Shouldn’t they have rained down on the Earth from the eggshell hatching? The creature miraculously lays a new egg/moon almost immediately after being born providing the story with no consequence with this either. To conclude the lack of consequences even after the final confrontation between Clara and the Doctor in the TARDIS, that doesn’t have any lasting consequences in the following episode, or even the series, makes this the most ambitious abortion story I have ever seen, and a terrible one at that.

JS47593919Is Lundvik a Straw Feminist? I believe Lundvik does fit the profile of a Straw Feminist. First, she is shown to be an ambitious woman who “dreamed” about going to the moon. However, she is shown to be quite a cruel person by being very unkind to Courtney through a lecture (“when you’ve grown up a bit”) and continues to insist that they can’t let it live to be “nice” (“everything doesn’t have to be nice,” and “can’t risk it all to be nice”). Second, despite “dream[ing]” of going to moon, her mission upon getting there was to use the last nuclear warheads to “kill a baby,” as well as, due to the Doctor’s absence, taking herself and Clara and Courtney with her because (as any extremist would, I might add) “wanted” to be “left” on the moon to “die.”

Even more interesting is when she is introduced, she says “That’s what you do with aliens, isn’t it? Blow them up?” in response to what she plans to do about what is “wrong” with the moon. This is often something that men in alien movies are known to do, such as in this clip from Men In Black:

Or in this clip from Independence Day:

Also, again, in this clip also from Independence Day:

This clip from Stargate: Atlantis‘ third season finale, “First Strike,” which as we find out, this mission is lead by Colonel Abe Ellis of the Daedelus-class Apollo.

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Atlantis Commander, Dr. Elizabeth Weir, does not remove their involvement with the mission due to orders from Stargate Command. Weir, however, would pay a hefty price by episodes’ end.

And, finally, this clip from Stargate SG-1‘s series finale, “Unending,” in which they destroy their first Ori Mothership using Asgard Technology.

In all these instances, the individuals, all men, are praised for “blowing up…aliens,” while in this story, this is specifically the worst possible decision to make, and Lundvik thanks Clara for showing her the error of her ways to dealing with the perceived threat.

tumblr_ndawnpVBMk1thxmefo1_500 Another waste of a character.

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Is Courtney Woods also a Straw Feminist? I think so. In The Caretaker, Courtney introduces herself as a “disruptive influence” (shown in the first 10 seconds of the link) before taking her on a brief trip in the TARDIS. Only to, in this episode, still be seen as mainly unintelligent in understanding things (suggesting the moon will hatch into “a chicken”) and irresponsibly putting pictures on Tumblr. The Doctor inexplicably says that she will become “President of the United States someday.”

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Next is the best and worst of Series 7.

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15 thoughts on “The Best and Worst of Doctor Who: Series 8

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