Doctor Who has proven in the past that it can be a scary show. Despite its origin as a program for children, the show has evolved significantly over the course of its 51 year history. Series 8’s latest offering, titled Kill The Moon, does everything it can to scare the viewer; however, the end result feels too jam-packed to thrive on its own.
The episode, written by first time Who scribe Peter Harness, has an intriguing premise: The Doctor and Clara crash-land on the moon, only to discover that it is mysteriously breaking apart and is infested by large spiders. If the episode had stuck to this main story, there was a chance it could have become a classic. Unfortunately, Harness becomes so bogged down in sub-plots that the main plot feels disjointed. The spiders themselves are surprisingly terrifying, but they disappear as a threat to the characters midway through the episode. Similarly, supporting characters are quickly thrown aside and rarely mentioned again.
That’s not to say that the episode is a poor effort. Capaldi continues to shine as the Doctor, and although Clara’s meltdown at the end of the episode feels a little half-baked, Jenna Coleman continues to do a commendable job. As aforementioned, the spiders are legitimately frightening, and the episode has a very neat twist and an interesting ending. The dilemma of whether or not to destroy the creature hatching from the moon could easily be seen as an abortion metaphor, which is a rather mature topic for a show like Doctor Who to be tackling. It’s encouraging to see that the show is consistently trying to innovate its subject material.
The major flaws in the episode lie in the unnecessary additions. For example, Clara’s student Courtney is completely extraneous and adds nothing to the plot, other than to set up a couple of poorly written jokes. Clara’s scolding of the Doctor at the end feels unearned, even if the Doctor’s actions in the episode seem rather unfair. The episode also includes some strange scenes that end up going nowhere, such as when Clara asks the Earth to “vote” on what to do with the moon, only to ignore them completely.
Overall, Kill The Moon had an incredible amount of potential to be one of the scariest episodes in Doctor Who, and it certainly has its moments throughout. Unfortunately, Harness doesn’t know when to stop, and ends up producing a script that tries to do way too much. The episode certainly isn’t bad, but it feels disappointing to see so much potential squandered. Fortunately enough, it’s only a slight hiccup in what has been a stellar series of Doctor Who, so far.
Photo: The AV Club