The makers of Doctor Who have finally got it right. They started with some interesting and original science fiction ideas that tie into Doctor Who lore very neatly. (Although I have to check the dates for “The Waters of Mars” for that claim to be 100%.) Whoever came up with the moon as an egg deserves a raise. It’s an idea that is just plausible enough to be an easy sell and carries all kinds of interesting applications for Earth. (There is some great fan fiction fodder on that idea alone.) The spider-creatures that are really hyper-advanced bacteria is also a great idea. Who cares if the actual science doesn’t work? They are spectacularly creepy and can be dispensed with a bottle of Mr. Clean. It’s those little details that make “Kill the Moon” work. Sure, there are some missteps–the addition of Courtney to the Tardis is hit and miss–but the important stuff is all there. Even the title, which sounded kind of dumb at the beginning ties wonderfully into the climax of the episode as Clara and Captain Lundvik try to decide whether to kill the creature that is hatching from the moon to save the Earth or take their chances and let it live. If there’s anywhere this episode is weak it’s in the direction, but when the ideas and the design are this good it’s easy to forgive.
More importantly, this is what I wanted from Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Where Tennant and Smith both had their moments of anger and alien otherness, they were, at their core, friendly. They liked people. Capaldi tolerates them. He’s a little bit nasty. He knows he’s the smartest one in the room and has little patience for those who can’t keep up. These are traits that have always been part of The Doctor, but Capaldi has a refreshing edge to his take. At the same time in “Kill the Moon”, he does what The Doctor has always done best, spur those around him to do extraordinary things. This Doctor is not a hand holder, however, he throws Clara off the deep end yet again and leaves her to decide between killing an innocent creature or saving her planet, making her stand on her own two feet and take responsibility. He’s done this before, left her behind, and it’s an interesting dynamic that hasn’t really be seen between Doctor and companion before. There’s always the feeling that this will be the time he doesn’t come back. Even Clara’s anger at his response to the whole situation is something that is interesting to explore. I mean companions have gotten angry at The Doctor before, but never one that has been established as his equal. Of course, association with The Doctor is dangerous–it always has been–but he’s also always given the aura of safety, that he will do whatever is necessary to keep his companions safe. Now the safety net is gone and I like it. It adds an element of uncertainty and danger to the show that it was so desperately needing. Now there is something at stake—our love of The Doctor. Hopefully they follow through, because if they don’t, it will be monumentally disappointing.