Friday, October 10, 2014

Kill the Moon - "No, that was me allowing you to make a choice about your own future. That was me respecting you."

Kill the Moon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Series 8, Story 7 (Overall Series Story #252) | Previous - Next | Index

Actually, Courtney, if you could keep it up ... 
Last time out, I wondered if a white cop rousting a couple black kids had the same vibe overseas as it did here in Home of the Brave. This time, I didn't have to look very far to see if folks here in the Land of the Free, and abroad, were going to see this through the lens of the debate over a women's right to make her own choices with regard to reproduction. If we're going to try to fit this story into a position in the debate over reproductive freedom and autonomy of body, then the Doctor clearing off and leaving the choice whether to nuke the moon egg to the ladies reads like an endorsement of the pro-choice position. However, the Doctor clearly sees one choice as wrong and the other as right, so when Clara aborts the detonation, his (and the show's) position could be read as approving of the (so-called) pro-life position. I'm just not convinced either of these readings is at the heart of what this story is about.

Not to say it's not an interesting discussion, nor that it wasn't necessarily what the writer (first timer Peter Harness) may have meant for people to be reading into his script. The more compelling line of inquiry here, to me at least, is the one that looks at what's become of NASA and our space program, and questions whether we haven't stifled our spirit of exploration.

The other way I've seen this story bagged is for how it makes a hash out of its science. I've dinged stories for getting science wrong plenty before, so I've got some explaining to do about how I'm not overly concerned about the preposterous premise of the moon being an egg, nor of it being replaced by another moon egg, tribble-style. (An egg bigger, apparently, than the creature that laid it.) We've got to go to pretty fantastical lengths to get around how this story runs roughshod over conservation of mass and the biology of unicellular organisms. But, I read an article not long before "Kill the Moon" aired about how the melting of the polar ice cap is affecting the Earth's gravitational field, so even though the depiction of gravity on the moon going from Earth-normal to less than actual moon-normal because a space dragon shifted its position is in no way realistic, it at least feels like crazy leap from something I can point to as sounding fantastic, but is happening right now in the real world.  It's hokum, but it's not the worst sort of hokum. This isn't Doctor Who trying to be an educational show and getting it wrong -- it's just being fabulous.

For this story to really have won me over, it needed to a better job sticking to it's principles though. The Doctor saying 'this is humanity's decision, not mine,' worked for me. But, it felt like a cheat that he inserted Courtney and Clara into Lundvik's dilemma. Lundvik was the astronaut sent to do the job, she was the only person who properly belonged there, in the moment when the decision had to be made. It's a stronger statement, in my mind, if they all talk about it, leave her to make the final decision, then go back to get her once it's made.

If the decision whether to kill the creature or not is strictly about it being unique, and magnificent, and potentially dangerous to life on Earth, it's a cleaner, more theoretical, dilemma than the one ended up with. Courtney and Clara pointedly calling it a baby makes it about the other, real-world debate in a way that feels clumsy.

Stray Thoughts:

Courtney is going to be President of the United States when she grows up? Hmmm.

Danny's only in it for a few minutes, but his character is well served in that time. The line about getting to be so wise by having a really bad day, and his observation that you're not done with someone if they can still make you angry, make him sympathetic, and continue to point to some revelation pending about what exactly made him leave the army.

The Mexican surveyors really brought a poncho? That was remniscent of the kind broad stereotyping we saw in Troughton era.

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