Doctor Who: 8.07 Kill The Moon
In my review of The Caretaker last week I noted that despite the high quality of series eight, I was still looking for that instant classic; the episode fans would remember and want to watch time and time again. This week Doctor Who finally nailed it, delivering a tense episode filled with mystery, horror, a gripping moral dilemma and a great alien story.
Steven Moffat asked asked writer Peter Harness to 'Hinchcliffe' the hell out of the first half' and Hinchcliffe he does. From the moment the Doctor, Clara and Courtney land on the moon we are treated to a great sci-fi mystery - the disappearance of a mining expedition - laden with plenty of Gothic horror and suspense. Cobwebs hanging from the corridors of the space bunker, dark moody lightning and Murray Gold delivering an understated, chilling score - this was Doctor Who at its very best, all under Paul Wilmshurst's taught, masterful direction. Add in the use of Lanzorate to recreate the landscape of the moon (turns out it wasn't Sarn) and we have one of the most visually stunning episodes of series eight too.
The arrival of the first spider is a thrilling moment (very alien), as is the disappearance of the second crewman on the surface of the moon. The picking off of characters one by one is Hinchcliffe at its best and it leaves with four core characters that knock it out of the park, delivering riveting performances for the remainder of this gripping episode.
Hermione Norris is the same calm, collected ice queen that she played so well as Ros in Spooks, a woman driven to desperation (blowing up the moon) in order to save the people of Earth below. She carries the weight of humanity on her shoulders and you genuinely feel for her, even when her choices are wrong.
Ellis George's Courtney is surprisingly good too, proving that she can be much more than a bratty teenager that speaks her mind. She provides Clara with a companion to nuture but also acts with surprisingly maturity and reason when the fate of the moon - and the alien within - is debated. Needless to say, she acts in a way that meets the Doctor's high standards.
The Doctor is back to ruthless mode this week but now it's a personality trait that Peter Capaldi has down to a tee. He continues to be an overwhelming presence; none of the big personalities overshadow him, though Jenna Coleman gives it a damn good go. Week on week I've praised Clara's relationship with the Doctor and this week it finally came to a head with a powerful scene which had Clara seemingly turn her back on the TARDIS for good.
Coleman is brilliant here. It was interesting to see her grow quieter as the Doctor returned them all to Earth and marvelled over the glory of the alien hatching within the moon / egg. The Doctor has shaken her, putting her and Courtney in danger all because he 'expects' her to make the right decision. It was a bold move to see his praise of her come crashing down in that wonderful final scene between them in the TARDIS. My only gripe - and it is a small gripe - is that this comes so quickly after Danny warned her to be careful of the Doctor pushing her too far last week. It was painfully obvious that we were going to get to this point but I would have liked at least one week of the Doctor and Clara on an adventure together before Danny's warnings wore true.
There was so much to love in this episode. An ingenious alien plot - who would have thought the moon was an egg? The spiders being bacteria rather than the alien that resided within the moon. The drama of humanity choosing to kill the moon by turning off the lights. It was great to see that humanity didn't do the right thing at the last moment and that it was the Doctor appearing at the eleventh hour to save the creature.
It made him the hero - and Clara for pressing the button - though it was good to see that it wasn't all doom and gloom for Earth. The idea that the alien's birth was the turning point in humanity reaching out to the stars was great idea. You had the feeling that everything that happened (particularly during the RTD years) had made humanity afraid of what was out there in space and that it took the alien living close to them to see that it wasn't all death and destruction.
I would give this episode 10/10 if it wasn't for the feeling that Clara's decision to leave the Doctor came so fast after The Caretaker. It's also an episode that will compared to the fantastic Waters Of Mars and that still remains a better episode.
But it is good to see that we finally have that classic we've been looking for. And next week's Mummy On The Orient Express looks to be a corker - if a little too frightening for the kiddies perhaps. For now, series eight of Doctor Who has nailed it. The best run since Matt Smith's debut series? Perhaps. Kill The Moon has been the highlight so far. Let's see if anything else can beat it.