Last week’s episode was very good, with lots of character conflict and drama. So where can the show go after that high point? Why, to the Moon!
The episode begins with Clara looking out of the screen, talking directly to the people of earth. There is a terrible decision to make: One innocent life vs all mankind. It sounds like the Doctor is gone. Clara isn’t sure he’ll return. Oh, and we see a quick shot of a timer, counting down. We have 45 minutes to decide. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to need more information before I decide. I hate vague opinion surveys.
Now we’re back at Coal Hill School with the Doctor and Clara. It doesn’t give us any sense of time, but I’m going to guess this would be “Previously”. Clara has a problem: Courtney Woods, the girl from the last episode, has been acting out ever since the Doctor told her she wasn’t special. We’ve seen before that this incarnation of the Doctor has a mouth on him and tends towards the unthinkingly cruel in his remarks, so this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. He needs to apologize to Courtney. Ha! Like that’s going to happen. Instead, the Doctor offers to let Courtney be the first woman on the Moon. Would that be special enough? Courtney seems to think so.
The TARDIS lands, but it isn’t the Moon. They were supposed to land on the Moon in 2049, but instead of a desolate moonscape we see a cluttered metal bay, with large black cylinders in racks all along the walls. The three of them walk out of the TARDIS in spacesuits and look around. The Doctor identifies it as a Space Shuttle, and the black cylinders are nuclear warheads. It must have landed on the moon. He takes a look out the window and corrects himself. It’s landing on the Moon right now. Wait, no, it’s crashing!
They manage to make it through the rough landing unscathed, as do the nukes. Whew!
Three astronauts enter the bay from the front of the ship. They want to know who their stowaways are and how they got there. The Doctor introduces himself as a super-intelligent alien who can help them with their problem. It’d be easier to take him seriously if he wasn’t jumping up and down and twirling around. Apparently he’s checking the gravity. The Doctor pulls out a yo-yo. What’s wrong with it? It’s working fine, that’s what’s wrong with it. The moon is supposed to have a gravity 1/6th the strength of Earth’s, so why does it suddenly have Earth-normal gravity?
The moon has put on weight. The Doctor realizes that the tides on Earth must be terrible, if the gravity on the moon has increased. The tides would be drowning cities. Wonder if the surfing would be any good, though…
There would be more effects than just the tides, I’m pretty sure. Tell you what: take an orange and poke a few little holes in it with a toothpick. Take the orange and gently squeeze it all around. See all that juice leaking out of the holes? Now imagine the orange is earth, and the squeezing is the higher-gravity Moon tugging on the crust. The holes represent volcanoes, and the juice is lava. Speaking as a someone who lives in the Ring of Fire, right in the middle of three (mostly) dormant volcanoes, I think I’d have bigger problems than just the tides. But enough about that.
The astronauts are here to find out why the Moon increased in gravity, and if at all possible, blow up whatever is causing it. That’s what all of those nukes are for. They lower the ramp and head outside to explore. Courtney gets to be the first one out, making her the first (young) woman on the Moon! They head to a moon-base that was set up by a Mexican mineral prospecting mission, and find it covered in cobwebs. Pretty sure that’s not normal moon decor.
The leader of the astronauts, a woman named Lundvik, sends one of the other astronauts off the arm the nukes. It’s a little worrisome that he has to ask for directions on how to do that. You traveled hundreds of thousands of miles to get here, and you never knew how to operate them? If this was the A-team, what was the B-team like?
The rest of the team explores the moon-base. Courtney discovers a spacesuit wrapped in cobwebs. She finds it quite disturbing. Time-travel isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, kiddo. You’re going to have to get used to stuff like this if you want ot travel with the Doctor.
One of the astronauts, Duke, heads further into the base to turn on the power. Wait, so let me get this straight: You see someone wrapped in cobwebs, dead, and your first thought is “Welp, better head out all by myself through the dark and mysterious base in which anything could be hiding!” You’re going to die, Duke. You are going to die, and I won’t feel sorry for you when you do. Have you never seen this show before?
He apparently gets the power back on, though, because the lights and air come back on. The Doctor looks through the info on the base computer. The previous occupants hadn’t found any minerals. Instead, they found lots of large cracks and faults running through the craters and seas of the Moon. It appears that the Moon may be cracking apart. It’s dying.
The astronaut sent to arm the bombs is walking along outside. I’m not sure if he’s still trying to get to the nukes or to get back to his team. He’s got to be pretty tired, considering astronauts suits are designed for use in less than Earth’s gravity. Walking in that has got to be like wearing 200 extra pounds.
He seems to hear skittering sounds from within a crevice on the Moon’s surface, which is odd, considering that sound does not propagate within a vacuum and that there’s no air on the Moon! He stops to take a look, peering into the darkness inside. Hey, buddy, remember what I said about your teammate a few paragraphs ago? That goes double for you. Oh, look, something jumped out at him from the crevice. See? This is why you stick to the task at hand!
Back inside the Moon-base, the team begins to hear screeching and skittering sounds, and the lights begin to flicker, and then go out. Everyone is instantly on alert, trying to find the source of the sound. The Doctor spots it first.
That looks like a spider. A very, VERY big spider. The thing looks about half the size of a human. So imagine a Frodo-sized spider, and you’re pretty much there.
The Doctor tells everyone to freeze: The spider-thing senses movement. He wants them to very slowly head for the door. Unfortunately, Duke enters the room, coming back from turning on the power and lights (Great job on that, by the way!). The spider immediately jumps and attacks him. Rather trying to help him, the Doctor chooses a simpler plan: Run away!
Lundvik, the Doctor, and Clara all make it through the door before it closes, but Courtney is trapped on the other side. Way to look after your companions, Doctor. It’s supposed to be women and children first, not Doctors! Courtney is trapped in the room with the spider, who seems to have lost interest in Duke, which means he’s probably dead. The Doctor and Clara can’t get the door open, so they take the glass out of the window. That seems like a pretty big design flaw in a pressurized moon-base It won’t help having airlocks if the vacuum of space could just suck out the glass in your doors. Why have glass windows in your doors anyway?
Huh. Now the gravity seems to have disappeared from the room Courtney is in, but not the room everyone else is in. She’s floating in the center of the room, unable to move. Is this something the Moon is doing? Or is it the spider-thing? What’s going on?!?
The Doctor takes this event in stride, and flings the end of his yo-yo to Courtney so he can pull her through the window. She grabs it, and the gravity suddenly returns. Courtney belly-flops straight onto the floor from about eight feet up. Ouch. She’s a little stunned by the impact, But recovers quickly. This is a good thing, because the spider-thing attacks her. Courtney screams and whips out—a spray bottle? Boy, this episode is full of odd.
She sprays the spider-thing repeatedly, and it doesn’t like it at all. Bad Spider-thing! Bad! It’s smoking and screeching, but she doesn’t stop until it stops moving. I like her. We need more Companions who can hold their own against monster mooks.
Now that the danger has passed, the Doctor, Clara, and Lundvik are able to get the door open and rejoin Courtney. Oh, NOW you guys can open the door.
The Doctor immediately begins studying the remains of the spider-thing. It’s a unicellular organism—a germ! A germ that apparently can melt through plastic and cloth, given what it did to Duke. I didn’t know germs could get that big. This does explain why it died from repeated spritzing: Courtney’s spray bottle is filled with disinfectant, and as those commercials remind us, it kills 99.9% of germs! (Hopefully they don’t run into that .1% of germs while they’re here.) I’m going to guess Courtney picked the bottle up from the caretaker’s shop before she left. I’m not going to ask why. There are too many questions here already.
Courtney is understandably freaked out by all this. She wants to go home. She just body-slammed the ground and fought off an arachnophobic’s nightmare: anybody would want to go home after that.
The Doctor is reluctant to take her back, but Clara puts her foot down. They trek back to the Shuttle and let Courtney into the TARDIS. They aren’t leaving, though. The Doctor says that this is one of the points in time he can’t see. It’s a gray area, and the decisions made here affect the future. Clara points out that they know the Moon doesn’t explode because they’ve been farther in the future than this and the Moon was still there. The Doctor point out that it could have been a hologram, or something else. Just because they saw a Moon, doesn’t mean it was this Moon. They have to stay and find out what why is happening.
The three of them head out to investigate the crevices that are forming on the Moon, leaving Courtney safe inside the TARDIS. I hope she knows not to touch anything.
They find the other astronaut, lying dead next to the crevice he was looking at, his helmet faceplate melted and bubbled. The Doctor looks into the cave, too and is also jumped by a spider. He manages to fight it off, and remarks that it doesn’t seem to like sunlight. Clara points out the sun is the ultimate disinfectant. I think she’s referring to UV radiation, not just visible light. Regardless, the sun was shining on the other astronaut, and it didn’t help him! Maybe the Doctor just tastes bad. They shine a light into the crevice. Yikes. That is a LOT of spiders. A seething, roiling mass of spiders. Okay, time to go now! They inspect another hole, and the Doctor lets down his yo-yo into the hole, pulling it up and finding traces of amniotic fluid on it. You do mean amniotic crystals, right, Doctor? Because even though the Moon has Earth-like gravity, it’s still in a vacuum. There is no liquid in a vacuum.
The Doctor tells Lundvik to get back to the shuttle and Clara to get back to the TARDIS. He’s going to be back. And with that, he jumps into the hole to investigate the amniotic fluid.
Clara and Lundvik head back to the Shuttle, but there’s now a large crevasse in the way. The Moon is getting worse. As they watch, the Shuttle falls into the crevice, carrying the nukes and the TARDIS with it. Courtney should be fine, the TARDIS has survived worse. Clara and Lundvik head back to the Moon-base and wait for the Doctor. Lundvik still has the remote for the nukes, and she begins arming it, just in case.
The Doctor returns, giddy with excitement. They explain about the TARDIS and the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to establish contact with Courtney in the TARDIS. She’s fine, but bored. The Doctor explains to them what he found out: the spider-things are bacteria, living on something big. The Moon isn’t a moon…the Moon is an egg. He shows them a hologram of the creature inside the Moon, based on seismic readings. It’s beginning to hatch, and will break free of the Moon in about an hour and a half.
Courtney and Clara are fascinated by the creature, but Lundvik has just one question: Can they kill it? The Doctor says yes, with the nukes where they are now, deep inside the Moon, that’d certainly kill it. Should they, though? Courtney wants to be a part of the decision, so the Doctor tells her how to make the TARDIS come to him.
Once Courtney arrives, the three of them can’t come to an agreement. Courtney wants it to live, Lundvik wants to kill it to protect the Earth from the chunks of moon that will impact the Earth when it hatches, and Clara wants the Doctor’s advice.
The Doctor is not helping, though. This is a human decision, and he’s not human. It’s time for them to take the training wheels off their bike. He steps into the TARDIS and it takes off, leaving Clara, Courtney, and Lundvik trapped on an unstable Moon. Jerk.
The three of them still can’t come to a decision, and so Lundvik begins a timer on the nukes. She sets it for an hour which will give them time to kill the creature if they can’t think of a better solution.
Suddenly, a monitor springs to life! It’s Ground Control checking in on them. The Moon’s new gravity has been playing havoc with satellite orbits, so who know how long this connection will last. Clara pushes into the conversation. Can they broadcast to Earth? Ground Control is confused to see a stranger on the Moon-base, but confirms. They can send a message to Earth.
Ah, so this is the message we saw at the beginning. The innocent life is the creature. Now I understand. Clara tells Earth that if they want them to kill the creature, to turn their lights off. If they want to let it live, keep their lights on. They can see the night-time lights of Earth from the Moon, so it will signal them the people of Earth’s decision.
They wait, watching the Earth slowly spin into the night. The Moon is getting worse, the surface is starting to come apart. The spider-things, a vast number of them, are charging across the surface, running from the destruction. I really hope they aren’t running to the Moon-base
The three of them get their answer. The Earth is dark, not a light to be seen. The people of Earth have spoken: Kill it.
Lundvik is about to press the detonate button on the remote, but Clara stops her, hitting the abort button instead. No matter what Earth says, Clara has chosen to let the creature live. Just then, the TARDIS arrives, the Doctor ushering them inside. He has something to show them. Was he watching them the whole time?
The TARDIS lands on a beach, under a beautiful blue sky. They all step out of the TARDIS in time to watch the Moon come apart, cracking like…well, an egg. An enormous butterfly-like creature emerges from within the Moon, flapping its ‘wings’. The Moon fragments into dust, no chunks of it will fall on Earth. The butterfly creature flies away into space.
The Doctor tells them that humanity will begin to spread out into space because they looked up and saw something beautiful, something wondrous, and it’s because of the three of them. Probably shouldn’t be telling Lundvik this, you know. Foreknowledge tends to screw things up. Courtney points upwards. The creature laid an egg! There’s a new Moon! Wonderful!
Once they get back, Clara hustles Courtney out into the school. It’s time for geography class. Once she’s gone, she goes back to the Doctor. How much did he know? Clara tells him to tell the truth or she will smack him so hard he’ll regenerate. I’d kinda like to see that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this incarnation of the Doctor, but it’d still be really funny. The Doctor says he didn’t know anything, but he was sure the creature wouldn’t destroy its nest, namely Earth.
Clara is incandescently furious. She found his attitude on the Moon-base patronizing. Never, ever tell her to ‘take the training wheels off her bike’. (She has a point there, Doctor. This is the Impossible Girl, after all. She saved your entire time-line, remember?). The Doctor tries to defend himself, but Clara isn’t interested. She felt betrayed by him. When she needed her friend, he left her, scared. She nearly let Lundvik kill the creature. What if she hadn’t stopped her? She tells him that if he feels he can help by leaving, then leave! She doesn’t want anything to do with him any more. Clara storms out, and the Doctor leaves in the TARDIS.
Clara runs into Danny, who can tell that something’s wrong. Clara tries to pass it off, but Danny’s not fooled. “It happened, didn’t it?” He’s referring to the Doctor pushing her too far. Clara explains everything to him, and says that she is done with the Doctor. Danny gently disagrees. The Doctor still makes her angry. When she’s calm, she can tell the Doctor that she’s done with him, then she can tell Danny that she did it.
Alone in her home, Clara looks out the window at the night sky, and the unhatched Moon hanging there.
Physics flaws aside, this was a fun episode…as long as you don’t think about it too hard. The spiders are appropriately terrifying, but thankfully it didn’t devolve into a ‘run from the monsters’ episode. I’m interested to see what happens between Clara and the Doctor. Her points about the Doctor were valid; I can see what he meant to do, but he neglected to look at it from Clara’s point of view before leaving her stranded on a crumbling Moon. Will he apologize? I doubt it. This Doctor seems to have pride as one of his core attributes.
We’ll see how that works out for him. Next week, it looks like the Doctor will be traveling alone on the Orient Express…in space…with what looks like a mummy on board…
~ K.L. Davis ~
Categories: Channel Surfing