If you aren’t caught up on Who, this is your official warning:
Also, be sure to check out my recap of “Time Heist” and my defense of Danny Pink in “The Caretaker“.
In this week’s episode of Doctor Who, Clara, the Doctor, and Clara’s student, Courtney, head to the moon. Why the moon? Clara confronts the Doctor after learning he told her student, Courtney, she wasn’t special. Clara asks the Doctor to tell Courtney she is, in fact, special. Of course, the Doctor decides that he’d rather just take her to the moon, saying, “First woman on the moon special enough for you?” I guess that’s easier than just saying, “I was wrong, you’re special,” right?
Of course, once they arrive, things aren’t great on the moon. It turns out there is already a team of astronauts on the moon because it is infested with giant, awful, space spiders, and even worse: the moon is actually breaking apart. Why? Well, it turns out the moon is actually an egg incubating a giant space creature that is finally ready to hatch.
So, the decision must be made to either destroy the creature within the moon, keeping the moon in tact, but basically turning it into a giant sarcophagus, or allow the creature to burst out of the moon and see what happens to the earth–Is the planet destroyed without its moon? Does the space creature zoom down and destroy the earth? Or is everything okay, and nothing catastrophic happens?
In a rare move, the Doctor decides to leave the planet, allowing Clara, Courtney, and the surviving member of the astronaut team to decide the fate of the planet and the space creature on their own. Ultimately, Clara decides to save the creature, who is born, flies away happily, and lays another egg in the sky.
Good one, Doctor.
Whew, right? Well, not so much. Clara realizes the Doctor must have known something about the future of mankind and the creature in the moon when he left Clara, Courtney, and the astronaut to their own devices, so she demands the Doctor tells her what he knew.
When he admits he knew the creature would be born safely, and that humanity would be okay, Clara feels a bit betrayed and patronized. The Doctor put her in a position where she had to make an impossible choice, and he left her alone, telling her it was time to take the training wheels off and let her take ownership of her own planet. Yet, all the while, the Doctor knew everything would be okay–he knew Clara would save the creature and earth would survive. He left her alone not because it was a choice she had to make, but because he wanted her to feel like she made it on her own.
In short? Clara felt completely played by the Doctor. She felt, as she said, “lumped in with the rest of the little humans” the Doctor think are so, “tiny and silly and predictable”.
Okay, here’s the thing about the Doctor. First off, he doesn’t think humans are tiny and silly.
In fact, the last time someone said humans must look insignificant to the Doctor, he responded by saying:
Here’s the thing though: Ten said this not too long before he regenerated. In this moment, Ten knew he was reaching either the end of his life, or the end of his tenth regeneration. A few episodes prior to this moment, before he accepted his impending end, the Doctor said this when he did the big time travel no-no and disrupted a fixed point in time:
The Doctor is old. The Doctor is alone. The Doctor is also pretty powerful and very clever. Getting a big head can probably be quite easy for a guy like the Doctor.
I think we never saw Eleven get this big-headed because of what he learned after calling himself “Time Lord Victorious”. In fact, Eleven seemed pretty ready to accept his death when he was at Trenzalore…that is, until the Time Lords let him regenerate. We still aren’t clear if that regeneration was just an extra life, another thirteen regenerations, or an unlimited supply. Regardless, beating one’s inevitable end can make a guy feel a bit bulletproof, and a bit haughty.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Twelve this season, I truly have, but in the transition from Smith to Capaldi, we’ve lost a bit of the silliness and good-nature of the Eleventh Doctor.
And really, that’s okay. Whovians are used to getting a new “type” of Doctor after a regeneration, but more and more over the past few episodes, the Doctor has moved from “rougher around the edges than Eleven” back to the Time Lord Victorious version of the Doctor. Leaving his friend alone to face an impossible choice without his help or support simply because he can? That kind of goes against the basic rules the Doctor bases all of his action upon:
But like I said, the Doctor is old, the Doctor is powerful, and the Doctor is clever. It doesn’t take too much for him to get a dangerously huge sense of himself, which is why he has a companion. Travelling alone is when the Doctor spins out of control, and anyone who knows the Doctor knows how important it is that he has a companion.
After all, Ten declared himself Time Lord Victorious after he was forced to say goodbye to his final companion, Donna. Thankfully, Twelve isn’t alone, which is good because right now, the Doctor’s morality is a bit off kilter. I think he genuinely had himself convinced he was helping Clara by leaving her alone on the moon, and I think he genuinely found no problem with pushing Clara as far as he did. But that’s why he has companions. To smack him back into sense, and to let him know–even if they let him get away with quite a bit for quite a long time like Clara has–that he can’t do whatever he wants whenever he wants.
Ending the episode with this…
…was a heavy way to go, but at the same time, I was proud of Clara for standing up for herself. Her character development this season has been so exciting now that she’s beyond the “Impossible Girl” story line. Sure, she may have been “born to save the Doctor”, but her story is far from finished. The Doctor needs Clara more than ever right now, and we’ve known from the start of the Capaldi era that the Doctor is trying to figure out if he is actually a good man.
We don’t know how much time will pass for the Doctor between Clara telling him to clear off and his next interaction with her. In next week’s episode preview, Clara was noticeably absent. My suspicion is we’ll see her again at the very end of next week’s episode similar to Eleven’s “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” episode, but we’ll see. I highly doubt he’ll be without her for too long, as I’m pretty sure Clara’s words will be buzzing too loudly in his head for him to stay away.
What did you think of “Kill the Moon”? Did you think Clara was out of line or right on the money when she yelled at the Doctor? When do you think we’ll see Clara again? Let me know in the comments!
Finally, here’s the preview for next week’s episode, “Mummy on the Orient Express”, in case you haven’t seen it: