Every week Tor Books UK rounds up the thoughts of author and Whovian Paul Cornell on this week’s episode of Doctor Who. This week: 5 brilliant things about “Kill The Moon”
1.) If one allows for dodgy moon loss physics, this was a highly logical classic SF story shape, a story where clever people desperately try to solve one big problem. ’Does Tumblr know where you are?’ shows how far that logical working-through goes. It’s a welcome trait in a show that in the past often thought this sort of plotting was disposable.
2.) Even better, that plot is just a feed for, initially, a human choice, and then, brilliantly, Clara forensically taking the Doctor apart for his paternalism, just as, at the start, she did for his belittling of people. The show’s saying that the things some fans are loudly disliking about the Doctor are a feature of the drama, not an unforeseen flaw of the show itself. ‘That was me protecting you,’ is played so well Capaldi, like he’s suddenly unsure himself, again questioning his own methods, as he was at the start of the season.
3.) There are some extraordinary, numinous moments here, from an examination of fixed points in changing time that takes the logic as far as it can go to Capaldi staring out to sea and actually telling us what he sees as he watches the future changing. It’s hard to imagine what else those acting and directorial choices could indicate, and the effect is awesome. Clara looking at the moon from ordinary present day life at the end has such power to it, pulling the threads together of someone everyday who has impossible adventures.
4.) There’s a wonderful underling that here is a Doctor whose words you can’t take at face value when it turns out putting a DVD in the TARDIS console had the indicated result, and wasn’t, as we might well have thought, a ruse to keep Courtney busy.
5.) Above all it’s a critique of easy, romantic solutions. It’s refreshing to see the human race voting with their lights exactly as they would do. The Doctor didn’t take a democratic vote. He bet only on Clara. She doesn’t think of herself as having a uniquely infallible point of view enough to be comfortable with that.
This article originally appeared on Tor UK.