This show is getting really heavy now, isn’t it? I mean, that was one of the biggest, most compelling moral dilemmas the show has ever presented us with, probably surpassed only by the terrible decision the Fourth Doctor was forced to make in Genesis of the Daleks. With (not-so) subtle allusions to the abortion debate, it divided the fans right down the middle, in more ways than one. That’s one way of telling, at least, that the script did its job in portraying the moral dilemma. So what was the right course of action? Although the episode indicates pretty clearly which it thought was the right decision, it does leave the moral question open. Personally I have to admit I’d have been among those who voted to kill the creature. To potentially extinguish all of human life on Earth for the sake of one creature? That’s not a risk I’d have been willing to take. I rather thought Clara was being sentimental. In any case, it was really compelling, absolutely riveting stuff, and it’s thrilling to see Doctor Who wading into uncharted, morally grey waters here that genuinely makes the viewers take time to think. It bodes well for the rest of the Capaldi era.
As for the other great conflict this episode set up—God, wasn’t that a whopper? The feeling I had after watching it the first time was rather like the feeling of being winded after being walloped in the stomach, gasping for breath and completely dazed. Jenna got across stunningly Clara’s high dudgeon at her friend, it was profoundly emotive to watch her, really. And the Doctor was, for once, at a loss for words, honestly unable to comprehend what he’s done wrong. We’re seeing the birthing pains of an entirely new Doctor-companion relationship, and it’s captivating viewing. Well done to the writing team for actually having the boldness to milk the dramatic potential of a Doctor change-up on the lead partnership for all its worth. It’s not clear-cut about who was supposed to be “right”. Originally I took the Doctor’s side and thought Clara was overreacting, but I’ve since come round to sympathise with Clara more. To be entrusted with a terrible, terminal decision like that would have felt petrifying in the extreme, and I think she was rightfully resentful towards the Doctor for abandoning her like that. He could at least have given her help or advice or imparted what he knew, as her friend, after all. But wasn’t it just exhilarating to watch the Doctor’s relationship with his companion challenged to an unprecedented degree like that?
In general this episode was stunningly produced. This is what I like to call “production bling”, an episode that just shamelessly shows off the show’s big, fat budget. The settings of Lanzarote, standing in for the Moon, looked absolutely spectacular, making for one of the most aesthetically impressive episodes of Doctor Who. The first half of the episode was also every bit as claustrophobic and terrifying as it was hyped up to be. I don’t have arachnophobia or any bug-phobia, but I’m still quite uncomfortable around cockroaches and large spiders, and those scenes of the giant spider-germ did nothing to help me with my bug problem. It’s pretty obvious an arachnophobe, or at least someone keenly aware of the fear factor of things with too many legs, directed those scenes. And that beach scene at the end was just a triumph in all departments. It was consummately produced.
As for “the moon is an egg”? I loved it. My face split into a wide grin (that was only slightly incredulous) when the Doctor said those words. If nothing else it was audacious. I know it sent a large portion of the fandom into a spluttering fury, either for its rubbish science or for its just being a ridiculous idea, but Doctor Who is a ridiculous show and I’ve learnt not to take it too seriously and just enjoy the ride. Yes, the science was howlingly awful, but it really doesn’t bother me; it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the show at all. This is a fictional show; it’s about telling stories, not making a documentary, and, as far as I’m concerned, as long as the explanations seem to make sense and don’t resort to magic (although I’m not even averse to the suggestion of the supernatural or the celestial, if done properly, as in The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit), I’m prepared to be pretty generous with the disbelief I’m willing to suspend. It’s worth reminding ourselves, after all, that this is a show about an immortal shape-changing alien who travels through time and space in a 1960s police box. Just for perspective.