Warning: This blog post contains both personal opinions and especially SPOILERS about the Series 8 episode of Doctor Who “The Caretaker”. Reading beyond this point guarantees that you will encounter information regarding the episode that will ruin any and all of its surprises for you. Spoilers…
Is it just me, or is Doctor Who getting really dark, really fast? I saw a Facebook post that asked “Is Doctor Who getting too dark to be considered ‘family friendly’?” to which my answer is getting closer to Yes. I think this episode “Kill the Moon” tackles an extremely dark and serious issue and quite literally makes us face the topic of abortion. You read that right… this episode is about abortion.
I feel ridiculous even typing that out. It’s Doctor Who… and the biggest things we worry about is whether or not the characters are going to make it out alive. We generally do not question who or what may need to be killed for the sake of humanity. Why? Because it’s for the sake of humanity. But this? This is heavy. This episode involves a moon, our moon… which isn’t even a moon. No, it’s an egg and it’s alive. This forces us to remember that we are killing other beings. This makes us accountable as fans for our positive reactions to The Doctor “saving the day” and killing dozens of different life forms for the sake of our safety as humans.
This “foe” isn’t really a foe at all. It’s simply an egg. It’s been growing and waiting to be born for millions of years and now it’s tearing apart and causing life-threatening problems for Earth. Do we kill it? If it’s born, the moon may shatter and penetrate the already far too thin atmosphere of our planet. But if we kill this defenseless creature that never asked to be born and isn’t harming us intentionally, what does that say about us as a species? That’s what this episode calls into question – our humanity.
Clara does not like this one bit. She’s already angry that The Doctor has whisked her and a troubled student (Courtney Woods) away to the moon. Sure, his scare tactics seemingly work on the student who now feels “special” having been the first woman to take a step on the moon and sure, she’ll be apart of a great decision this making her important. But Clara is angry… extremely cross because The Doctor is constantly exerting a “Fine, I’ll just do this without thought of the consequence and you can just thank me later” attitude.
A quick note here: Like last week’s episode, there’s more to the episode than we need to really talk about. Once again, I feel like some things were just sort of there in order to help drive the real story along. To make the story really happen, the TARDIS has to land on a space shuttle that is going to the moon. They have to meet and loose the majority of a crew. I’m sort of amused by these sort of spiders on the moon, which apparently are bacteria. Did Courtney seriously just spray one with Windex? But yes, all of this is to make the episode move and give the real problems a leg to stand on.
He leaves them. Seriously, The Doctor flies off in the TARDIS without Clara, Courtney and a proper space woman specifically from that time period (we’re only in 2049). He leaves them to decide the fate of the Earth – a school teacher, a child and an astronaut. The astronaut is pro-killing the moon. It’s her time period and she believes that the moon needs destroyed otherwise it will harm the planet. Courtney is very pro-life (I feel crazy typing this y’all) and repeatedly mentions “It’s just a little baby”. Clara is on the fence. On the one hand, she feels very much as Courtney does and she doesn’t want to kill this creature. But the Earth is in harms way… her grandchildren, great-grandchildren… they may never be born because of this.
In a literal last-second effort, Clara shuts down the bomb meant to destroy the moon (how a bomb was to make things any better, I do not know). The Doctor returns and congratulates them by showing them what their decision meant. The moon hatches and a beautiful… something comes out. It’s “shell” disintegrates and it leaves behind a brand new moon / egg. No harm, no foul.
We reach this moment where I don’t know if I am angry at Clara or if I feel really bad for her. On the one hand, I’m angry because she speaks to The Doctor in such a horrible, disrespectful manner. She’s questioning whether or not he knew what would happen… realizing that he forced her to make a seemingly impossible choice. And he did. He knew what would happen either way but told her that this moment and this choice would literally define the future of Earth.
“Tell me what you knew Doctor, or else I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate.” – Clara
I can’t decide if that was uncalled for or if she was rightfully upset. She wasn’t ready for making this decision nor handling the responsibility. This Doctor isn’t just mean… he’s often cruel. He doesn’t know how to act around humans and he comes off as being a mean old man often. It’s hard to remember the nice Doctor who saved us so many times out of the love he claimed to have for us. In a way, he’s playing god with our lives.
Now that I have typed that out. I hate this episode. I hate everything it represents and what it’s forcing me to think about. I am not watching Doctor Who so I can have some deep thought about the meaning of life. I’m watching it for the adventure. Where’s the time travel to fun and distant lands? Why aren’t we back in time with pirates, women in fireplaces, shadows living in books, stone angels feeding off of time? I don’t like this new Doctor Who and with each episode, I find myself cringing at the thought of writing these blog posts.
Clara is so angry about all of it too. Her best friend… and he’s forcing these terrible things on her. She’s slowly choosing a life away from him and in fact tells him to leave and go away forever at the end of the episode. We all know she’s not really done with him yet but angry? Absolutely.
How did you feel about this episode? Is it getting too dark for you?