Doctor Who: Kill The Moon
October 4, 2014 2:19 PM - Season 8, Episode 7 - Subscribe

The Doctor takes Courtney on a trip to be to be the first woman on the moon, however it turns out the moon is not what it seems.

It's a very strange episode, as it turns out. What it reminds me of most in its out-and-out flaunting of the laws of physics and... well ... everything, is Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics. Not to put too fine a point on it, the moon hatches and flies away, which I suspect will be the most divisive thing in the whole season, unless the have something even more bonkers up their sleeve.

I don't get the whole "specialness" thing, but then I come from an age when low self-esteem was seen more as an educational objective than a problem.
posted by Grangousier (94 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sometimes Doctor Who isn't a family show so much as a show that's not entirely clear who its audience is, and the "moral dilemma" of this episode is a good example. Based on the available information the triumvirate had to hand, killing one lifeform (however young, defenseless and unique) to save billions (plus however many non-humans) would have been a sad but reasonable -- and in many philosophies though not necessarily mine, the more ethical -- decision to make. But you can't write an episode of family-friendly television* in which "killing a baby" is a legitimate ethical choice, so instead you get this weird... patronizing fluff. And the pacing was really off, which killed a lot of the tension anyway.

On the other hand, from the perspective that the plots of series 8 are in and of themselves plot devices to make feelings happen to the characters, I still enjoyed the episode because damn I love the Clara-Doctor drama. I think I said before that the Doctor is outsourcing bits of his Doctorishness onto Clara, and you can see that from his perspective -- remembering that this man left his granddaughter in a post-apocalypse on the grounds that everybody needs to leave the nest sometime -- he was respecting Clara by letting her make the big moral call he would normally take it upon himself to make (see that other spacesuit episode, The Waters of Mars). But it's an awful, condescending way to treat a friend as though they need you to take their training wheels off, especially a friend who's done as much for you as Clara has for the Doctor.

Clara's story obviously isn't done yet, but I wouldn't mind her being absent or not sharing space with the Doctor next episode, to give the separation some real weight. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Courtney -- I like her more every time she shows up, and she feels a great deal better fleshed out than some of the previous child characters we've had.

*Ignoring for a moment that there have been inarguable kids' shows that are far more morally sophisticated than Doctor Who's ever been.
posted by bettafish at 3:34 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm glad we didn't see the "Look, it's laid another egg!" moment actually on screen, because a creature that's just hatched immediately laying an egg the same size as the one it just came out of sounds excruciating.
posted by sobarel at 3:58 PM on October 4, 2014 [16 favorites]


A disturbing and not entirely coherent episode.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:58 PM on October 4, 2014


I will need to watch it again, but I thought it was wholly coherent, but didn't necessarily cohere around the factors that people expect to be at the core of a narrative: this moon is a mythic entity, like the Scarab that pushes the Sun in Egyptian mythology. What happened was impossible, but it happened anyway: they deliberately set out to make a narrative that was, following the laws of the known universe, impossible. They weren't aiming for realism and missing, they were aiming at mythicism. I understand that that may not be everyone's cup of tea.
posted by Grangousier at 4:21 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Onion called it.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:53 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like the ideas and the theme quite a bit and it really does work with regard to the characterization and how these characters are evolving -- which I think is always the most important thing in fictional narratives.

But, gosh, I really wish the ideas and the theme were more knowledgeable and thoughtful. This is true about both the horrendous science and the grossly simplistic ethics. I just don't see why they couldn't put in just that small amount of additional work. Because, as Grangousier says, the Moon hatching is a mythic idea and is very powerful and I can think right off the top of my head ways in which the science could have made sense. And the theme of the ethics of this massive trolley car dilemma is important and interesting and one that the show has admirably explored in the past -- the show repeatedly favors a (simplistic) deontological view over a (simplistic) consequentialist view, which seems right to me, as a first approximation.

And because it's a "family" show that was originally intended to be somewhat educational and still takes some of that responsibility seriously, it seems to me that it does have a responsibility to do a better job both with the science and the ethics, although of course simplified. But "simple" doesn't have to mean "simplistic" or, worse, stupid and wrong. But the show often is egregious about some bad science when it just doesn't have to be. You couldn't blow up the Moon with a hundred nuclear bombs and, if you did, you'd just make the problems worse. But they could have postulated some worldwide effort to produce some fantastical science and technology that avoided those problems. Let's not even discuss the deeply stupid critters and the gained mass.

And, maybe this is just me, but I'd rather they didn't explore the ethics of this from within the very particular and distorting "it's a baby" context. In the past, the Doctor hasn't relied upon this sort of sentimentality for these decisions -- he's been opposed to preemptive, presumptive self-defensive killing when the supposed antagonist has been very far from cute. And that's good, that gets the message across. Calling it a "baby" distorts this and invites some suspect inferences (which I hope weren't implications).

But , all that aside, this is pretty much what I think the show does generally well, what it really shines at -- this combination of awe inspiring ideas and exploration of ethics within the context of the evolving relationship of the Doctor and his companions. I think it hit those notes pretty solidly in this episode.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:03 PM on October 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just to reiterate: I don't think it was intended that the science make sense - it's not a failure of imagination, or ingenuity, or will; I believe it was a deliberate decision to do it in a way such that the science couldn't make sense. It's an audacious thing to do, even given the cosmological violations of Journey's End. Importantly it's not (unlike that episode) that the Doctor or the Tardis are magical, but that the universe itself has magic coiled up in it, waiting to hatch. It feels like a challenge. I'm up for it, but think that I might be unusual in that.
posted by Grangousier at 6:40 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Was that, like, some weird pro-life metaphor? In any event, I'd be delighted if the show would just resolve to not focus on young women and their desire to have babies for a while. I don't think it's something the show does all that well.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:05 PM on October 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


Y'know, I'll happily go along with the moon being a creature in a sort of mythical-conceptual way. That's fine, I've bought stranger concepts. It's the clunky way the story was constructed around that which bothers me.

The shuttle mission makes no sense at all, and that's nothing to do with mythology but just bad writing. There's no reason at all not to have written something vaguely plausible (maybe even with some engaging characters!) so that the audience aren't distracted away from what the episode is supposedly about - namely the ethical dilemma.

But then you get to that part, and literally every human being apparently says "kill it" but Clara, alone, disagrees and that's that. Everything's fine. What's the point. Onwards we go to a contrived Clara leaving scene that would have been powerful in a different context.

(Also: the character-assassinating "tell me I'm special". One of the crew being an imbecile for no apparent reason. The bizarre slo-mo running down the corridor bit. The ponchos in the moonbase. Ponchos.)

(I'd also like to go on record as not liking Capaldi's polka dot shirts this year.)
posted by sobarel at 7:11 PM on October 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would have to counter and say that Capaldi's shirts are the thing I like best this year.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:14 PM on October 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's a damning statement isn't it!
posted by sobarel at 7:17 PM on October 4, 2014


That's a nice shirt. I would wear that shirt! Now that's probably a damning statement.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:18 PM on October 4, 2014


"The ponchos in the moonbase."

Oh, I missed that and I wished I didn't know it now.

"Was that, like, some weird pro-life metaphor? "

That's my fear. Right after I watched the episode and wrote my comment, I figured it was accidental. But I'm now leaning in the other direction. The more I think about it, the more I see how it easily could be a carefully-constructed anti-abortion fable. There's a lot of weird coincidences and dialog choices and, especially, I'm very bothered by the gender dynamics of the whole thing and how it played out in terms of how it looks if this was an abortion analogy.

But I'd like to believe that this is totally off-base and it's really just another "don't kill the alien just because you're afraid" narrative that the show has presented in the past. I like that narrative.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:31 PM on October 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yup, this read as weirdly anti-abortion to me as well.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 8:34 PM on October 4, 2014


Apparently either the US Constitution changed in the intervening time to allow naturalized citizens to become President or Courtney is a natural-born US citizen.

I would like to think an American show set on an abandoned Mexican moonbase would be more culturally sensitive, but it'd probably just make more jokes.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:35 PM on October 4, 2014


I just figured the slo-mo was because it's not that often you get to see three women running around in space doing stuff.* It's usually all guys or maybe one woman in the back. And it was cool, the end.

Either they don't know or don't care how Courtney could become president--that's still a few decades away, we don't actually know where she WAS born, etc. It's not really important.

But anyway, Small Dollar, I think your fears about a Mexican moonbase in a US show are well-grounded.


*(I mean, unless you watch anime.)
posted by wintersweet at 9:23 PM on October 4, 2014


I'm a Whovian and was extremely disappointed in this episode. It really emphasizes how much Clara has really fallen as a character - at one point she was smarter than the Doctor (as soufflé girl), now she's incapable of making choices without handholding.

The choice Clara, the astronaut and the high schooler had to make in this episode was obvious from the Doctor's perspective - sacrifice humanity to save the moon-egg-creature; but he neglected to share a bit of info: humanity would be fine if they decided not to kill the moon-creature. Granted, unless you knew what the Doctor knows, it's perfectly reasonable to save billions of lives.

In the end, the Doctor looks like a hypocrite, and Clara looks weak.
posted by Political Funny Man at 12:37 AM on October 5, 2014


The plot resolution was completely bonkers, and I liked Robot of Sherwood so have a high tolerance. The space bug immediately giving birth to a new moon was too convenient. The egg-moon disintegrating safely was dumb. At least re-use that material to make the new moon.

The Doctor suddenly adhering to the Time Lord prime directive doesn't make any sense. He interferes pretty much every single episode. At least Clara called him out on this.

The only way I can justify Clara's choice in saving the moon-bug was that she has been in 2099 and seen that the Earth survives. So maybe in the back of her mind she knows that this isn't the planet ending disaster the astronaut says it is going to be. Otherwise going against the wishes of billions of humans and sacrificing their lives is monstrous.

Capaldi's still great and the character stuff is still good even when the plot is weak.
posted by Gary at 1:06 AM on October 5, 2014


I loved Clara's confrontation at the end of this episode. Sadly, I didn't love much else. As others have said, the shuttle mission makes no sense. The idea that there would really only be three astronauts coming is just stupid, as well as their apparent lack of communication with earth. The whole bacteria thing was a silly mislead, and actually a waste of time seeing as the episode was about a big moral choice: spend more time on that, rather than wasting it on spiders!

And the fact that Clara just overrides the whole earth? Comes across as plain odd to be honest.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:40 AM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's my fear. Right after I watched the episode and wrote my comment, I figured it was accidental. But I'm now leaning in the other direction. The more I think about it, the more I see how it easily could be a carefully-constructed anti-abortion fable.

I had the same thought, but AFAIK aside from maybe Northern Ireland the abortion debate in the UK isn't much of one -- at least, not compared to the culture wars going on in the US.
posted by bettafish at 5:17 AM on October 5, 2014


Either they don't know or don't care how Courtney could become president

I think it's a bit of both. Remember that this is the same show that once sent the President-Elect of the United States to meet with the Toclafane as if he were the leader of the country at that time.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:22 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The more episodes we get like this one, the more I feel like this season they are trying too hard to make really great TV. Unfortunately, the harder they try, the more stuff goes wrong. Back in previous seasons, you could often surmise from lower production values in earlier episodes that later on in the run was where the money was being spent (cf. the Tinkerbell solution in S3). In this season, it's almost as if we can surmise that the writing talent is being funneled towards later episodes.

This time, the production values were superb and the acting was excellent, but the script overall didn't hang together, and don't even get me started on the ridiculous plot. I got the impression that there was a huge amount of rewriting and fudgery in this episode to try and make it work. "Let's go to the moon," they cried. And then they figured out it was actually quite difficult to make a good moon episode. So we ended up with this.

Let's think, they started with the idea that the moon is actually an egg. (Yes, let's go to the moon! That will look great!) Trouble is, there's no tangible threat with that until the egg hatches and the moon falls into the Earth, so they add in some spooky spiders. Classic Who callback? CHECK! No reason to be there? That's fine, we'll just wave that way with some bacteria line.

Much as I liked the argument scene at the end, I felt it was probably shoehorned in to add to the whatever-they're-going-to-do-with-Clara plot. But that stank. The Doctor lets humans sort it out all the time - a recent example being the negotiations with the Zygons in the 50th special. Oh yeah, wasn't Clara right there? She's been with the Doctor long enough to have seen other examples, or at least heard of them, so getting upset about this now - it's a bit rich.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:47 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


The delivery of the Courtney-becomes-president line made me think the Doctor was joking.
posted by gerryblog at 6:01 AM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had the same thought, but AFAIK aside from maybe Northern Ireland the abortion debate in the UK isn't much of one -- at least, not compared to the culture wars going on in the US.

Yes. While abortion isn't totally uncontroversial here in mainland UK, it's nowhere near as prominent an issue as it seems to be in the US. I'd be very surprised if much of the UK audience read an anti-abortion message into this episode. I assume it's higher-profile in Northern Ireland, where it's illegal without (rare) medical dispensation, but I wouldn't want to guess how they'd interpret it.

While I don't think for a moment that we should actually do it, I'd be fascinated to read versions of these threads tagged with posters' nationalities/cultural backgrounds.
posted by metaBugs at 6:08 AM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


It really emphasizes how much Clara has really fallen as a character - at one point she was smarter than the Doctor (as soufflé girl)

Both Soufflé Girl and the Victorian Clara were so much more interesting than the version we eventually got as the official companion.

Much as I liked the argument scene at the end, I felt it was probably shoehorned in to add to the whatever-they're-going-to-do-with-Clara plot.

Having given her nothing to do last season (other than fulfilling her role as plot macguffin) they've clearly now thought of something and, by gum, they're going to go for it regardless of whether it makes any sense!
posted by sobarel at 6:18 AM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'd be very surprised if much of the UK audience read an anti-abortion message into this episode.

They make a point of Clara saying she wants children (and making that 'not punishing a baby for kicking' comment) and Lundvik saying, a little disdainfully, that she never did. So, there was definitely a maternal theme going on, and since it comes down to - essentially - these two women arguing over whether or not to destroy an unborn life I think a link to abortion is inescapable. Even if, as you rightly say, abortion isn't that significant an issue here in the UK for the most part.
posted by sobarel at 6:28 AM on October 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


This was a perfectly good episode through the first half, but the second half was really weak. Even apart from the abortion-related politics, the interpersonal drama and the Doctor's decision to leave the decision to the earthwomen was handled terribly. I couldn't help but compare this to the crucial scene of Genesis of the Daleks, which is equally heavy-handed in its own way but a classic of the series, and find last night's episode terribly wanting. Even moreso since the decision to do "the right thing" had no cost or weight but magically worked out to make everything okay. My husband also compared it to The Beast Below, one of the really weak episodes of Matt Smith's tenure, with a similar dilemma. They could have alluded to that one to make this one a little more interesting and/or provide insight into why the Doctor might not want to make a kill-one-to-save-many decision.

The soap opera drama with Clara telling the Doctor to go away (which they're probably going to undo after next week) was lame. I'm annoyed that the show spent the time it did on that, particularly when I don't think it'll stick. The Doctor was a jerk, Danny's appearance at the end continues to make him look like a manipulative jerk (he's all about Clara doing what's best for her, which coincidentally happens to be what advances her relationship with him and and isolates her from her other close friend--Clara doesn't really seem to have other friends and boy does she need them), and Clara is weak and needs handholding.

I'm really hoping next weeks apparently Clara-less episode is plotty and fun and we don't even look in on Clara. That plot arc has worn out its welcome.

Minor props to Moffat for putting the women at the center of an episode, even if it's a stupid one. I guess he is hearing the complaints about his writing of women, though solving it by writing an episode that seems to be all about maternity probably doesn't do that much to advance him with the people who detest him most for his weak handling of female characters.
posted by immlass at 8:57 AM on October 5, 2014


"While abortion isn't totally uncontroversial here in mainland UK, it's nowhere near as prominent an issue as it seems to be in the US. I'd be very surprised if much of the UK audience read an anti-abortion message into this episode."

Yes, the politics are different but the cultural attitudes are not that different. Surveys of European attitudes about abortion show that it's roughly the same as in the US ... there's quite a bit of anti-abortion sentiment in Europe, including the UK. It's just that it's not a political issue.

And, anyway, the implicit message in the episode isn't political. It's just anti-abortion -- as others have pointed out, there's a lot of weird maternal stuff that can't be a coincidence. The astronaut isn't a mother and she's the one who is hasty and emotional and upset, Clara is maternal and is the one who stops the detonation, and the Doctor is a man who ostensibly leaves the decision to the women involved (very ostentatiously) and yet he makes it clear that he is the one who is ethically correct and not, um, hysterically reacting out of fear of the unknown. And he expects to be thanked later for his good advice. There's all sorts of terrible and all-too-common messages in this and, more to the point, it's a typical male view about abortion (and the default one seen in film and television). I can guess that Moffat thought he was somehow being non-sexist with the whole leaving-it-up-to-the-women thing, but all the implicit messaging just underscores how hollow that gesture was. Which is so typically Moffat with regard to women.

"It really emphasizes how much Clara has really fallen as a character - at one point she was smarter than the Doctor (as soufflé girl), now she's incapable of making choices without handholding."

That's superficially what their argument was about, but I don't think that's at all what she was actually upset about. She gets at what really bothered her. His patronizing attitude. It's not that she needed hand-holding, it's that he treated her as if he was doing her a favor by so ostentatiously refusing to help, as if she normally she's needed hand-holding. That tells Clara a lot about how the Doctor sees her and she's right to be upset by it.

I think this is an important theme for the show to deal with. The Doctor has always had this patronizing attitude toward humans and his companions have not been exempt. They think they're his friends, but in some sense they're pets. In the modern show, different companions have been variously sensitive to this and have reacted to it differently. Rose and Amy were sort of oblivious to it, happy to mostly just love the Doctor. Donna bristled at it and more than anyone insisted on a relationship where she was respected. Martha is the type that should have had a problem with it, but I think she hero-worshipped the Doctor so much that she ignored it. Clara is different than all the rest in some important respects, though, not the least because she was the Impossible Girl. Clara has maintained her own life and although she's young, like Amy, she seems more intent on being a mature, independent adult in general and particularly with regard to her relationship with the Doctor. I think she's not quite admitted to herself in the past that he patronizes her and now, as often happens, when her eyes are opened to it she has a lot of accumulated frustration and anger about it. I think this is an honest character development, not the regression you see it as.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:05 AM on October 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


I can guess that Moffat thought he was somehow being non-sexist with the whole leaving-it-up-to-the-women thing, but all the implicit messaging just underscores how hollow that gesture was. Which is so typically Moffat with regard to women.

I don't think Steven Moffatt wrote this one. Although obviously he's going to have been involved
posted by dng at 12:06 PM on October 5, 2014


Ah, I agree with Ivan Fyodorovich's interpretation of Clara's feelings. In terms of the Doctor, I wonder if he's not freaking out over having an unknown number of regenerations at this point. His sort of fit in the shuttle where he taunted Lundvik about shooting him, and yelled something about maybe having infinite regenerations, was the first acknowledgment we've had of his new regeneration status (right?). So I wonder if he's reconsidering how he engages with humans at this point.
posted by wintersweet at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2014


Although I've enjoyed reading all of the comments so far, in real time I found this the first episode this season that I actually enjoyed. I thought the special effects were quite good, especially for Dr. Who. It has some pleasantly creepy moments. I didn't think of the abortion angle until it was brought up here. I also thought the doctor was joking about Courtney as President. I'm less interested in the Clara/Danny Pink romance than a lot of the rest of you; I just don't buy it though I can't put my finger on why.

Anyway, next week mummies in space. Who can resist that? We already saw dinosaurs on a spaceship...
posted by wittgenstein at 12:25 PM on October 5, 2014


Ivan Fyodorovich: There's all sorts of terrible and all-too-common messages in this and, more to the point, it's a typical male view about abortion (and the default one seen in film and television).

Yeah, the more I've had time to mull over the episode, the more I agree with you and Grangousier, especially on this point. It doesn't strike me as a coherent anti-abortion fable so much as multiple dudes (Moffat okayed the script, but Peter Harness wrote it) being inured in privilege and not seeing the implications of their work. At least, I hope it's that, as opposed to the alternative.

I do think Moffat is making a conscious effort to be more mindful of how he writes/oversees the writing of female characters this series, but while he's made a lot of progress in many areas he still defaults to framing people's behavior in terms of a male-female binary.

On companions facing up to the Doctor's god complex: I was talking with friends last night about the similarities between Martha's and Clara's arcs so far, to the point where it's tempting to think Moffat's deliberately trying to redo Martha's arc his own way. Aside from them being defined by their vocations more than the other lead companions (vocations which set them up as foils to or successors of the Doctor), they both start out calling him on his crap and gradually get sucked into enabling him because of their hero worship. If Martha's more gentle in calling him out at the end it's because she's had a lot more time to think about it -- she's enough past the anger to be done with him, as Danny put it, whereas Clara's still in the flush of betrayal. And while I criticized Ten on his horrible treatment of Martha only last week, he never deliberately manipulated her the way Twelve has Clara, repeatedly.

I forgot to mention this earlier, but yeesh, for a guy who only kept from re-making the worst mistake of his lives and killing billions of people because Clara butted in, he has a lot of nerve leaving her in the lurch the way he did.
posted by bettafish at 1:03 PM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm finding it utterly baffling that the majority of this episode is being seen as a pro-life screed. To me (a pro-choice woman), the mentions of hatching, or anything baby-related were just one-offs in terms of talking about aliens and potential scary aliens doing potentially scary alien things. It registered more as a weird silly bones of a plot that led to an incredible last five minutes w/Clara telling the Doctor exactly what I think so many critics of NuWho have been thinking all along. (Shepherd and I think that the only other Doctors who would have done this would be Hartnell, Colin Baker, late McCoy, perhaps Eccleston.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:01 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, guys, "THE MOON IS ACTUALLY AN EGG" has been a Sci-Fi trope for-freakin-EVER and that includes the terrible Transformers Beast Wars CGI cartoon from an era that proves that I am old. I don't think it's a super-secret pro-life masterstroke.

It's a goofy-assed half-assed SF plot device to buttress the real point of the episode, which is a much-needed calling-out of the Doctor as somebody who is, at best, HALF a patronizing Space Shitheel. I'm not a big Moffat fan, but I laud his willingness to at least entertain plots that question the entire premise of the show as Benevolent Time Magic Man Who Helps Us, And Also: Cuddles.
posted by Shepherd at 2:11 PM on October 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm in no rush to watch this one again, but am idly curious if I'd get anything more from it the second time through (aside from those few lines I couldn't understand, if Amazon has captions for it now). I've watched all the other Series 8 episodes twice--aside from the Robin Hood one--and felt like they rewarded a second watch, but I'm not sure that this one would.

That said, I liked it that Clara finally called the Doctor out on his patronizing attitude and his verbal abuse.
posted by johnofjack at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]



Apparently either the US Constitution changed in the intervening time to allow naturalized citizens to become President or Courtney is a natural-born US citizen.


Didn't she swipe the psychic paper? Instant US birth certificate, right there.
posted by goshling at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Maybe she stages a coup
posted by dng at 2:58 PM on October 5, 2014


America's second black President and the conspiracy loonies are *still* pulling the old 'fake birth certificate/illegal alien' crap.
posted by merelyglib at 3:32 PM on October 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


On an entirely different note, I just found this fic based off a thowaway line in the episode and it is delightful:
After the first two days, the giant otters of River Sararahelkos take pity on the floppy-furred pink thing. Clearly it is inadequate relative to otters — a poor disposition, clawless paws, no waterproof skin, although the flawlessly groomed fur on the top of its head is entertaining to bat about — and the otters begin to fear it may not be capable of feeding itself.
posted by bettafish at 3:56 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm a dedicated Who fan with capital F Feelings for Hartnell and many of the other classic Doctors. And I liked the sound of the plan for Capaldi's era: no more twee boyfriend Doctor, darker, thornier... But now that I'm seeing the actual product, I don't care if it costs me Whovian cred or not... I'd rather have my silly haired lad Doctor back.

I'm probably not the only parent who is bummed to have to put the kibosh on Who watching as a family activity. Even had the appropriate range for the show not abruptly ratcheted up by a half dozen years, the more "adult" relationship and ethics convos would put the single digit age bracket to sleep.

And from my p.o.v., Capaldi is doing his best but this run is muddled and markedly less fun.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


the majority of this episode is being seen as a pro-life screed.

I didn't see it as a pro-life screed but once the issue was raised, it was kind of hard to un-see it, whether it was meant that way or not. And yes, the moon is an egg, but the thing that got me was all these female characters and the "we have 45 minutes to decide whether to destroy an innocent life" and how it related to women and maternity. It was probably as coincidental as the abortion reading, but it hit me all wrong.

And I'm going to withdraw "Clara is weak" which doesn't really hit the point I wanted to make there. She's strong enough to give the Doctor a telling-off, which he has heartily deserved more than once, but I hate how the question of what Clara wants is cast in the show as a decision about two men. It makes Danny look like an emotionally abusive jerk, which I'm sure is not the intention, and it's come a lot closer to justifying the hate-on people have for Moffat's writing of women to me than anything else he's done. I'd really been enjoying Clara this season, and the last two episodes have been a real setback for her in my opinion. We gave up on the (pseudo) love life crap and here it is again. Like the bad penny, it just won't go away.
posted by immlass at 4:43 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would have liked this episode if all it consisted of was from the moment Clara shooed Courtney off to double geography onward.

I think that's how I'll pretend it went.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:01 PM on October 5, 2014


... whether it was meant that way or not ... which I'm sure is not the intention ...

That's the problem isn't it? I don't get the impression the writers are sure about what their point is - or have the courage in their convictions to follow through when they do - so you end up being unsure as a viewer what's an intentional inference you should be picking up on or what's just dodgy writing.
posted by sobarel at 5:16 PM on October 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the cute otter fanfic link, bettafish!

In addition to the Tumblr reference this week, there was speculation that the otter bit (wasn't that last week? am I nuts?) was a reference to a running joke at Gallifrey One that got pretty out of hand (fan art, Twitter nonsense, etc.). And that's not totally inconceivable; one reason I love the convention is because the industry people seem to have such a great time at it.
posted by wintersweet at 5:18 PM on October 5, 2014


A. V. Club review.

I don't know, I kind of love this one unreservedly for its B-movie sensibilities. Whatever problems the episode has it took a certain level of chutzpah to produce a story that mostly worked despite being so totally preposterous. The increasingly massive moon produces high tides that wipe out cities yet the Doctor parks the TARDIS on a pristine beach to watch the moon hatch. The pristine beach makes no sense given what was earlier established but I can just hear the director saying "Hey, we've got a really pretty beach. Let's film the last scene there and call it a day."

Two deaths, but neither person went to the Nethersphere this week.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't see it as a pro-life screed but once the issue was raised, it was kind of hard to un-see it, whether it was meant that way or not. And yes, the moon is an egg, but the thing that got me was all these female characters and the "we have 45 minutes to decide whether to destroy an innocent life" and how it related to women and maternity. It was probably as coincidental as the abortion reading, but it hit me all wrong.


And the thing for me was that I didn't see it at all, which is why I am doing the Confused Dog Head Tilt at it being seen this way. I dismissed it because again, I was viewing it was Big Scary Alien Bad Thing, and not at all as something that had anything to do with ladyparts.

I'm legitimately starting to wonder if it's because Moffat is such shit with women in his fiction that we're all starting to see him as a Boogeyman in any script, whether or not he penned it. I mean, yeah, he's a showrunner, so he has the last say, but nonetheless, pretty ballsy to let that last five minutes happen as it's a near perfect excoriation of what is precisely wrong with his work.
posted by Kitteh at 6:00 PM on October 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would like to add that I am in no way trying to dismiss anyone who saw the episode in that fashion. It may very well be that I am a complete numpty.
posted by Kitteh at 6:08 PM on October 5, 2014


I think the reason Doctor Who fandom tends to be so critical is because the show has been through so many changes and phases that each fan expects a particular something out of it, what makes them love the show. But like a long-term fan of a sports team, you have to suffer through the off years. Unlike a sports team, what is one fan's off year may be a championship season for someone else.

Over the last year, in the course of introducing my son to the show, I've watched (or rewatched) more than half of the Classic Who serials and all of the new ones (except Love & Monsters). It was really interesting to see how the show cycles back and forth between being more for younger viewers or for older, caring about decent science or being more of a fairy-tale, emphasizing the Doctor's humanity or alien-ness, having liberated women characters or weak ones, having competent special effects or terrible ones, having more conversation or more running through corridors.

I always find something to love about the show (though there wasn't much to love about the Peri/Colin Baker years, to be honest). What's clear to me is that Steven Moffat is doing nothing new this season. He's playing with tropes that have been part of Doctor Who since the beginning. I understand the problems some of you have with this season's episodes, but I love love love this season and its overall flavor. Because the last two seasons with their interminable interlocking puzzle plots didn't feel like Doctor Who to me. They felt overstuffed, and Matt Smith was beginning to feel precious. And that was okay for a while. It's a show that has to constantly reinvent itself and try different stuff. But this season it seems like a more familiar version of itself.
posted by rikschell at 6:29 PM on October 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


if it's because Moffat is such shit with women in his fiction

That was why it was so odd for me to go "oh three women and a baby": I am normally much more tolerant of Moffat's writing foibles where women are concerned than many other fans. For me as a viewer, Danny has also been terribly served, so the characterization problems are not just with the women.

Also rikschell's points resonate with me on preview (I've been watching since the 70s and am also engaged in a long-term rewatch of the classic series).
posted by immlass at 6:35 PM on October 5, 2014


Yeah I absolutely don't see the episode as a pro-life thing. I don't read the doctor as being uncaring about the earth, but rather that this is so important to Earth, it's a big decision, so he doesn't have the moral authority. The talking about how the president of America hasn't been into space and therefore she can't know what to do - this is paralleling the pro-choice point of "my body, my choice." It's against heavy-handed interference from those who think they know best (and of course the Doctor as an aristo white guy is an obvious stand in for legislators)

Not that I'm saying in-story, the Doctor was right to do it - but that as a narrative, that's the message I got from it right away.

I loved this episode. It was delightfully weird, I completely agree with the mythic discussion that people had above. Which is an integral part of classic Who - the moon as an egg fits right in with like Web Planet and the Land of Fiction. The Doctor has literally stopped a charging unicorn by saying it doesn't exist, thereby turning it into a uniform! But oh no, the moon as an egg is just unreasonable.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:48 PM on October 5, 2014


"Yeah I absolutely don't see the episode as a pro-life thing. I don't read the doctor as being uncaring about the earth, but rather that this is so important to Earth, it's a big decision, so he doesn't have the moral authority. The talking about how the president of America hasn't been into space and therefore she can't know what to do - this is paralleling the pro-choice point of "my body, my choice." It's against heavy-handed interference from those who think they know best (and of course the Doctor as an aristo white guy is an obvious stand in for legislators)"

But that's the problem. It's only superficially pro-choice because the "right" decision is not to kill the "innocent life" (which is a baby) and, again, it's the woman who isn't a mother who is hasty and reflexive and wants to kill it while it's the woman who wants to have children and is a teacher who doesn't kill it ... and all of this is in the context of the Doctor saying what he thinks the right thing to do is (not killing it) and leaving the decision to them but his choice from the show's viewpoint was clearly the right one and he even asks to be thanked for his good advice later. So, if you do see this as an analogy to abortion at all, as you seem to in your argument, then although it's pro-choice in that it says that it's the women's decision, it also is clearly anti-abortion and implies that the man knows best. To me, that's in some ways worse than the more explicit anti-choice argument you say the show isn't making and, also, it's basically what a whole lot of men think about abortion. To them, technically it's the woman's choice, but they think they know better, regardless.

And, per immlass's criticisms, this is of a piece with other things the show is doing and generally with regard to Moffat's stewardship. Danny knows best, too. While it's certainly true that there's something inherent in the Doctor that's patronizing, it's also true that a common thread in all of Moffat's era with regard to the women in the show is that the show is patronizing to them and it presents them as pretty two-dimensional gender cliches.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:11 PM on October 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I didn't see this episode as pro-life, but as others have said, once it's raised I do see how they saw it. I think people are reading too much into this, seeing polarising politicial issues in what is essentially a sci-fi TV series trying to tell a fun story that scares kiddies.

I liked the episode a lot. I thought the choice was an interesting one and I enjoyed the outcome. Then I went away and got on with my life. Can't wait for next week.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:38 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


- I really like Capaldi's grumpy, patronising doctor, and Clara's reaction to it. It makes a refreshing change from the whole companion/Doctor crush/semi-romance. Not every previous companion has been like that (mainly just Rose and Clara IIRC) but I don't remember such an antagonistic pairing before. The Doctor finally feels like he is actually 900 years old.

- I generally like the shows where they encounter human astronauts in the future, and I thought Hermione Norris was well cast as the lead astronaut (she's in a bunch of British TV dramas & comedy-dramas). She had the right blend of dry wit and weary pissed-off-ness.

- The spiders were a bit rubbish, they showed up as a scary "ooo what happened to the prospectors? Oh no, moon spiders!" and then they had nothing whatsoever to do with the resolution or, really, the main plot. You could have removed them entirely with zero difference to the story. Just have the prospectors killed when a moonquake cracked their hab open and they all suffocated.

- Next episode; ugh, space train. Like an actual steam train flying through space. With a monster. Really? Can't be as bad as the Robin Hood one I guess.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:07 AM on October 6, 2014


Sorry, 1,200 years old. I was thinking of that other wise, old, and grumpy mentor.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:09 AM on October 6, 2014


I'm a new watcher. The husband's a lifelong fan, so after sitting through a some Tennant episodes, some Smith episodes, the Smith -> Capaldi Christmas episode (what in the ever living crap?), and the 50th anniversary (so much I didn't understand there), I figured my best shot of getting in and understanding the show without the 10-50 years of backstory was to begin this season.

Is it possible that something went wrong with this regeneration? This version seems to have a vision problem. I just don't think that all of the jibes at Clara, thinking they are the same age, and guessing that Courtney is 35 not 15 is him negging people. Also, this incarnation of the Doctor has some weird emotional disconnect toward humans, when I thought that he's supposed to really love the humans of earth.

Then again, he did orchestrate the whole trip to the moon to make Courtney feel special, and that was nice.

I didn't see the moon/egg story as an abortion allegory because even though the title was "Kill the Moon" the decision was about saving earth. And we happened to have three strong women from different backgrounds and stages of life figuring out what to do.

What I concluded from the episode is that the Doctor loves happy endings. He loved watching the moon-thing fly away with the sun on its back, he loved seeing the two "teller" aliens last week lumber off together to recreate their kind.

Anyway, be kind to me, I'm new here.
posted by kimberussell at 6:13 AM on October 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


A regeneration error has been my thought since Time of the Doctor. Twelve started out being humorously jerky, but he is quickly turning into an unlikable jerk. That's not a personality that will endear the show to many people over the long haul so I'm assuming solving that mystery is tied in with Missy and that someone, perhaps Missy, is keen on keeping Clara and the Doctor together.
posted by plastic_animals at 7:16 AM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mr. Show did it first.
posted by inturnaround at 7:50 AM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Mr. Show did it first.

Yeah, that was my first reaction to this episode: that we'd reached Peak Pop Culture Reference. When Doctor Who is referencing Mr. Show, the end is clearly nigh. That part amused me.

The rest didn't. Count me in the 'this was a weird abortion story, and I didn't like it' camp.

I figured my best shot of getting in and understanding the show without the 10-50 years of backstory was to begin this season.

It's as good a plan as any. For what it's worth, I've been watching this show since grade school, (where none of the other kids got why 'exterminate' was so funny), and what I can tell you as a lifelong fan is: it never makes a ton more sense. If Star Wars is 'science fantasy,' Dr. Who is 'science fairy tale.' This is part of why I love it: good or bad, I never really know what to expect, and it's fun for a show to actually surprise me. I got through all of two episodes of House 'cause I could tell what the next plot twist was going to be by looking at a clock.

However, some of us have views that are colored by knowing what's up behind the scenes: the current showrunner is on record as an unapologetic misogynist pig, so I tend to assume the worst when something looks funny.

Is it possible that something went wrong with this regeneration?

I thought it was strongly implied in the season premiere. That was a really unusual amount of disorientation, and he has been acting weirder than usual.
posted by mordax at 8:19 AM on October 6, 2014


It's only superficially pro-choice because the "right" decision is not to kill the "innocent life"

I would say that makes it superficially pro-life. Pro-choice is about choice. It doesn't matter if the man thinks he knows best, because who the hell cares what he or anyone else thinks? It matters what people actually do. Which in this case is not interfere with choice by the people who actually are involved. Like suppose the Doctor hadn't left - the show would have then been the entire world voting to "abort", but the Doctor - who, again, is a very good stand-in for "man with privilege on all axes" - knowing better and overruling them. While the women in the room can I guess maybe give advice? Is that less pro-life? It doesn't feel like it to me.

And let's be real - there is never going to be a (good) Doctor Who episode where the answer to "oh look something we don't recognize" is "murder it". Unless you want to call pretty much everything in Doctor Who pro-life, the fact of the "correct" choice being letting something live doesn't mean very much.

the current showrunner is on record as an unapologetic misogynist pig
“I think it’s important that there is a feminist critique of television because things that go unquestioned go unchanged and what goes unchanged becomes institutionalized and what becomes institutionalized becomes your fault. So, it should be questioned. I think some of the criticisms that are aimed at me personally are absurdly over the top and unfair, but then, who said the prosecution has to be fair? And it’s a case that needs to be prosecuted.”
What a weird on-the-recordness.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:44 AM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


The weird abortion metaphor hit for me during the scenes when they went on about, "but it's a baby. The Doctor mentioned once that he thought it might be the only one of its kind, and then that point never came up again (oddly, given how much the show hammered previously on the doctor being the only one of his kind, and the space whale and everything.) Arguments like that it's been around for longer than humanity (like, oh, the lizard people under the earth?) and has a right to its own life cycle never even came up. The argument seemed much more about it being specifically a baby than about being an unknown life form.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:41 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]




I just don't think that all of the jibes at Clara, thinking they are the same age, and guessing that Courtney is 35 not 15 is him negging people.

Mmmmmmm . . . . I think the thing is, is that more than a few incarnations of The Doctor have been sort of . . . vague on the details of humanity, and bemused by our quirks & social expectations and interactions. So in some ways it's entirely in character (and possibly an attempt at a sort of call-back to "classic" Who) for him to still be no good at all at figuring out how old a human is from looking at them. And to just kind of blurt that out - like, he's kind of socially awkward, because even though he's spent a lot of time around us he's still an alien.

But what bugs some of us is that it used to be a very occasional thing, and usually done in a kind of absent-minded way, or if it was meant to sting it was directed at some other dumb human (who was usually doing something either bad or that would lead to bad results), not the person he's specifically chosen to go gallivanting around the universe with.

This season it seems like there's a half dozen of these kind of comments every episode, directed specifically at Clara, and often directed at her appearance, which is a pretty gendered kind of interaction.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:37 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


What a weird on-the-recordness.

He's actually on record saying horrible crap quite a bit. Someone even made a handy compilation. Really, I'm surprised you hadn't heard.

Now, to prevent this from becoming a big derail: that doesn't mean that's all there is to him. He's turned in some absolutely magnificent storytelling. This just happens to color anything questionable for me. Like, if the Doctor were constantly insulting Clara under RTD, my first thought would be 'when will we find out what's wrong with the Doctor?' rather than 'wow, gotta suffer through this to get to the goods, huh?'
posted by mordax at 8:39 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


The thing that really bothers me about this episode is that they didn't even bother to explain away why they can't just tow the moon a safe distance away with the TARDIS. It's such an obvious solution (it's towed whole planets before!) that I expected at least an attempt to explain why it was impossible This Time. I am perfectly capable of and willing to overlook continuity issues, because this is Doctor Who. But I do expect the show to basically play by its own rules. We have established sets of things that each of the items can accomplish (the sonic screw driver isn't about to start sonicing wood), and these items are generally pushed to the limits of their capabilities. So, if we're not going to use them as magic get out of jail free cards, there had better be some hand-waving in the script to excuse it.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:55 PM on October 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can see it as a pro-life metaphor, sure, but if it is its not a very good one, because I was on the grumpy lady's side all the way through. One life over the entire earth? Yeah, sorry, going to pick the earth. The usual heroic story telling way of resolving this kind of problem is finding a third way: this is essentially what the Beast Below did which has a very similar structure. Here we just sort of hope it'll be fine, and it is fine. So it wasn't really a choice at all. In fact the only way to make this a hard choice is to suddenly constrain the doctor so he doesn't know what's going to happen.

Although: it's pretty funny that Clara seems to think that, as we know the moon isn't going to blow up, she can leave. Surely that could apply to several of the adventures she's been on on the earth?
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:56 PM on October 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Talking about the president never having been in space is a call forward to when the Doctor says that Courtney will become president.
posted by rdr at 4:22 AM on October 7, 2014


I think it should have ended with the Earth pooping out a new moon. Would have made some kind of sense that the Earth is mummy (moon = egg, space dragon = larvae, eventually cocoons itself into new planet and starts laying moons). Maybe it needs to be fertilized by a comet...?

As it is, space dragon laying egg bigger than itself makes even less sense unless it's some sort of living Tardis.

Or they could have just shown the new moon as smaller but closer.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:53 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


This incarnation seems to have such disdain for humanity, it makes no sense to me why he's hanging around with us so much. Doesn't he have all of time and space to explore? Why's he mucking around with these humans that he obviously dislikes?
posted by jbickers at 7:01 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


In addition to saying that Courtenay becomes President, the Doctor also says she meets "a man named Blinovitch," presumably the man who discovers the Blinovitch Limitation Effect.

The Doctor says it as though the two things were connected, but for the life of me I don't see the significance. Any guesses?
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:03 AM on October 7, 2014


This incarnation seems to have such disdain for humanity, it makes no sense to me why he's hanging around with us so much.

I wonder whether there Moffat is thinking in terms of some sort of cycle and giving this incarnation some of the qualities of the first incarnation. This struck me in episode 1 of this season when the Doctor was asking why he had turned out as he had, ie older for one.

Separately: I think the anti-abortion interpretation in this thread is projecting American cultural mores onto the product of another culture and I don't think that is particularly fruitful.
posted by biffa at 7:17 AM on October 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree to the point that it's fascinating now to watch how my fellow Americans interpret this show as compared to their UK counterparts. Everything is more political! Everything has hidden meaning to American culture! It's really fascinating. (Not being sarcastic; I'm just noticing it pop up more and more as we discuss this season.)
posted by Kitteh at 10:08 AM on October 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Separately: I think the anti-abortion interpretation in this thread is projecting American cultural mores onto the product of another culture and I don't think that is particularly fruitful."

British cultural attitudes (as opposed to the politics) about abortion are similar to American. The gender politics about how abortion is perceived, discussed, and how decisions are made are basically the same. I watch a fair amount of British television and I have yet to see an abortion decision portrayed any differently than I see it portrayed in American media. Such depictions are invariably anti-abortion on several levels.The politics are much different, abortion rights are not politically threatened in Britain the way they are here; but the underlying cultural attitudes are in many ways just as hostile to abortion.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:20 AM on October 7, 2014


Responses to a poll may indicate people's attitudes to when abortion should and should not be allowed but that does not mean that your second sentence follows from this. I am keen to avoid making any assumptions based on comparative societal perceptions rooted in living in one place and only seeing TV and media from another but my impression is that the discursive space in the UK appears to be far less prone to condemnation of women, there is far less religiosity in the public sphere and far less in the way of publicly espoused belief. If this is the case it would imply very different gender politics, which is partly shaped by the difference in political attitudes you acknowledge but also by many other factors.

However, it is the absence of abortion as a topic of any particular contention in the UK political space and the wider public sphere that leads me to believe that the DW storyline here isn't one that is about (anti-) abortion. It is much more likely to be a product of the far more common DW trope of protection of all life, though I would agree with others above that it seemed to go into somewhat illogical territory by rejecting a more utilitarian approach.

I'm not saying the UK is without problems concerning abortion and the representation of abortion, if anything I'm saying that its availability is so close to being a non-issue in most of the UK that a story protesting it on DW is unlikely.
posted by biffa at 11:53 AM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Neil Gaiman just slammed Doctor Who on his Tumblr. When asked which Who writer he'd most like to hug, he replied:

I would like to hug all the women who have written for Doctor Who since 2008. All of them! I would start with…

What, nobody? That can’t be right…. (goes off, puzzled).

posted by jbickers at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


That is pretty shit. Its a much wider problem in UK TV writing than just DW too.
posted by biffa at 12:24 PM on October 7, 2014


While Americans projecting their cultural mores onto other people is definitely a thing that happens far too often (and something I try hard to work on, living in Europe, but probably don't succeed at as often as I'd like), as far as the specific examples called out on FanFare go, I've seen the same critiques come unprompted from British Who-watching friends -- who, as a group, are just as prone to analyzing the politics and "hidden messages" of the show as I am, if not more so. I was particularly bemused by the claim that only Americans would perceive racist undertones to the Doctor's treatment of Danny Pink when the first person I saw complaining about it after the episode aired was a friend from London (i.e. the setting of the story).

Again, not to say that there aren't cultural differences, just that the nuances are more complex than "Americans see this, British people don't."
posted by bettafish at 1:04 PM on October 7, 2014


Sure, and I do think you have to consider this on a case by case basis, the US and UK do have things in common as well as things that are less similar. some things will hold, but some less so.

Some thing that neither seem to see, all this debate over representation of black characters, yet you would expect to see about twice as many Asian characters as black characters based on UK population, where are they?
posted by biffa at 3:01 PM on October 7, 2014


I love this season. I feel like this show is for me again.
posted by painquale at 4:37 PM on October 7, 2014


Some thing that neither seem to see, all this debate over representation of black characters, yet you would expect to see about twice as many Asian characters as black characters based on UK population, where are they?

A very good question. Aside from the Indian Space Agency playing a minor role since Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, I think the last major Asian or Asian-descent character of any importance was Rita in The God Complex, and that episode came out more than three years ago. Am I missing anyone? I hope I'm missing someone.
posted by bettafish at 5:24 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


It has certainly given us lots to talk about!

I wonder how much of the Doctor's jerkish behavior toward Clara is intentional. He believes some outside force has been working hard to keep Clara and him together. He won't be able to figure out what that outside force is, or its motivations, as long as Clara is around. So, the Doctor gets Clara so pissed off that she leaves, making that outside force show its hand as it tries to reunite them.
posted by plastic_animals at 5:35 PM on October 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


A very good question. Aside from the Indian Space Agency playing a minor role since Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, I think the last major Asian or Asian-descent character of any importance was Rita in The God Complex, and that episode came out more than three years ago. Am I missing anyone? I hope I'm missing someone.

Toshiko Sato in Aliens of London. It's a blip in Dr Who but the same character carried over to Torchwood.
posted by nathan_teske at 5:53 PM on October 7, 2014


This incarnation seems to have such disdain for humanity, it makes no sense to me why he's hanging around with us so much.

I wonder whether there Moffat is thinking in terms of some sort of cycle and giving this incarnation some of the qualities of the first incarnation. This struck me in episode 1 of this season when the Doctor was asking why he had turned out as he had, ie older for one.


I, personally, am hoping that at the very least this plus the Clara negging is Moffat's ham-handed attempt at easing up on the romantic tension thing between The Doctor and whichever female companion. Which admittedly has been present at least somewhat during the whole NuWho, but there've been times especially during Moffat's tenure as showrunner that I've thought, "Less soap opera, more space whales plz."
posted by soundguy99 at 7:35 PM on October 7, 2014


There's a rule the BBC have that writers for Dr Who have to have experience, so exceptions had to be made for Neil gaiman for instance. This is part of the difficulty of having more women writing, and to be fair to Moffat, I belive he has upped the number of female directors this season. Still, can and should do better!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:08 AM on October 8, 2014


Toshiko Sato in Aliens of London. It's a blip in Dr Who but the same character carried over to Torchwood.

We (Brits) are using "Asian" in the British sense, meaning someone of "South Asian origin, particularly Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans" (Wikipedia), not the US sense meaning from the area of China/Japan/Korea.
UK is roughly 92% white, 4% Asian (using the British definition), and 2% black.

Meera Syal was on a couple of episodes.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:16 AM on October 8, 2014


nathan_teske, the question was since The God Complex (also, what EndsOfInvention said). There was Nabile, but that seems to be about it. Moffatt has made pains to foreground black characters, at least -- the Maitlands, Danny Pink, Courtney -- but in the UK blacks are just 3% of the population while Asian Britons are close to 7%. It really is quite the omission, especially when you look at how Asians are represented in public life.

To take a couple of random examples, cf. this Claudia O'Doherty sketch where her brother-in-law just happens to be Asian and is portrayed as a stereotypical "Englishman" (in a meta way). Or look at this No voter in Scotland via VICE: "My identity is Britain." And I can't think of a cop show from the UK that I've seen that doesn't have at least one Asian as a patrolman or clerk. It's pretty startling, actually. I really do think there were quite a few Asians, especially when the episodes were set in the present-day UK, when RTD was running the show.
posted by dhartung at 12:31 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Den of Geek has posted again about the science issue. I tend to agree with them overall, since I watch Doctor Who for story rather than science, but I also enjoy it a bit more when the science is less ridiculous.

(Also, "Asian" is a blanket term in the US, including South and East Asian; it's just that people think of East Asia as representative rather than South Asia. The "Asian" demographic category in the US absolutely includes people with Indian etc. ancestry--or at least, it's supposed to. Either way, the omission of these characters is pretty striking. What's Rani Chandra up to these days...?)
posted by wintersweet at 7:56 AM on October 8, 2014


You know I just want to emphasise that while I didn't love this episode, I think this season has been tremendous as a whole, and a great improvement on former series. It almost feels like an answer to the idea that Moffat has been running out of steam. I think the development of Clara has been terrific, and her relationship with the Doctor is just plain good. I also think the episodes have been very ambitious, even when they are a failure.

Thinking more about the whole pro-life thing, it is worth noting that the Earth explicitly does get a choice here. I mean pro-choice doesn't mean always abort, it means having the freedom to make a decision on it. I guess you can argue that saving the life is seen as the "right" decision, but its almost impossible to avoid that conclusion in this kind of show. There's a grand tradition of sacrificing the many to save the few, just because it feels more heroic. That said, I think the episode manages to create a decent amount of sympathy for the notion that maybe we should kill the critter before it murders the earth. I absolutely would turn my light off.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:03 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


At least one per cent of the population would be flicking their lights on and off for annoyance value.
posted by biffa at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, what I noticed is that when the lights are going out, they're going out in large blocks. That's not the little people of the world voting - power's getting turned off at the grid level. The governments of the world are having their say.

I don't think the episode intended that interpretation, but it's the only one that makes sense to me.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:39 AM on October 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


It just occurred to me -- it's also only the half of the world facing the moon voting!
posted by Karmakaze at 5:29 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


The point about the power blocks is really good
posted by stoneweaver at 9:56 AM on October 10, 2014


If large volumes of people turned off power at once it is possible they could take out their national grid and that could happen pretty quickly. National systems in Europe are interconnected so one going down would also contribute to instability in neighbouring systems.

Frankly I am not convinced orders from the prime minister would be particularly quick in shutting down our national system.
posted by biffa at 12:17 PM on October 10, 2014


What Clara actually said at the end of this episode (NSFW language).
posted by jbickers at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought this episode looked great -- those outside shots of the surface were a real high point. And Capaldi is a great Doctor, who delivers every time he opens his mouth.

But every time that kid opened her mouth I kept feeling she was either miscast or just badly written. I'm going to go with badly written.

Which leaves my biggest complaint about the episode. Why couldn't they have used the Racnoss from The Runaway Bride? You've got these things that look a lot like spiders, and in that earlier episode the Doctor goes back to formation of the planet. And I know, the planet formed billions of years before the moon got anywhere near it, but still it's a very easy jump for this show to have some of the Empress' children hanging out inside the moon. It's better that than some unknown physics defying space-fetus.

But I guess Moffatt wanted to give us a terrible abortion metaphor, making this the worst episode of the season so far. (I skipped past the episode when I was showing my SO, because I thought it was only slightly better -- and worse plot-wise -- than the worst nu-Who episode, Vampires In Venice.)
posted by Catblack at 5:34 PM on October 21, 2014


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