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Doctor Who 'Kill The Moon' [TV-EPISODE REVIEW]

We have crossed the halfway point of Series 8 as we head into Episode 7 titled 'Kill The Moon' (which is an awesome title) written by a newcomer for the series; Peter Harness and we also welcome a new director in Paul Wilmshurst. Are they making their entrance to the show positively or negatively? Time to find out.

The hype for this episode the days before it aired were tremendous because the reviews it had gotten were quite frankly extraordinary. Pretty much perfect ratings across the board so of course a lot of fans sat down with the expectation levels through the roof. Which is why it does not come as a surprise that the episode ended up receiving mixed reactions from the audience to say the least. I was a bit up and down on the episode but ended up liking it for the most part after multiple viewings. The problems are very clear - but the things the episode does well are also very clear and they do outshine the problems for the most part so I do think that as a whole it is a good episode, it is just annoying that it could easily have been so much more (and by "so much more" I mean just as good as the early reactions made it out to be). The real MVPs of the episode are naturally Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman - but also guest star Hermione Norris and the director Paul Wilmshurst so I will start with them.

First off, Paul Wilmshurst is a masterful director here. The episode looks glorious when they are walking around on the surface of the moon, the decision to shoot those scenes in Lanzarote was a stroke of genius and I hope they make use of that location again. Just like Douglas Mackinnon, Wilmshurst knows how tension works. The entire first half plays like an excellent horror/thriller movie that gets the audience on the edge of their seats wanting to find out what is going on. What Series 8 seems to have started doing a lot is getting in real close to the actors faces whenever something dramatic is happening and it has always worked. This was most noticably used in 'Listen', 'Dark Water', 'Last Christmas' and naturally 'Kill The Moon'.

Now second, Hermione Norris is amazing here. It is quite a shame she did not get to be in a much better episode because for a lot of its running time - it is pretty much her show. She finds a perfect balance between being completely calm and just outraged about what is going on and it is very entertaining to watch. Her interactions with Jenna Coleman in the second half makes her one of the best guest actors of this entire season (and yes her character is also another standout guest character of the season) and the best part of all is that the writing for her character is really good. In fact you are more on board with her arguments than Clara's - which also leads into one of the weaker aspects of the episode because we are not really SUPPOSED to be on her side seeing as Clara is our leading lady. It is just a bit hard to emphasize with Clara's opinion on it all because it is not technically her earth down there. Yes of course one day it will be but she currently lives in modern day (around 2014) so she does not really see the situation in the same way that Lundvik (Hermione Norris' character) does. Lundvik LIVES in that time, she has suffered through the chaos that the moon has caused and this is a mission she has trained for.

I shall not talk a lot about the awful science because that has pretty much been beaten to death by everyone else since this episode was first released. Yes not a lot in this episode makes sense from a logical standpoint (although if you are one of those people complaining that the moon dragon cannot lay an egg just as big as he/she is... how the hell do you know what a fictional creature can or cannot do?) but the focus of the episode is not on the logic of it all and how this all makes perfect sense, the focus is on what is right, what and how do we choose? This also plays into the next episode 'Mummy on the Orient Express' were the Doctor says the brilliant line; "sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose" and I think a lot of people miss this when they watch this season.

Naturally Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman are great here... but that final scene between the two was something else. I have not exactly been quiet about my praises for Coleman's performances in these review but this is going to take it to the next level because this scene is possibly one of the BEST performances I have ever seen on the show in its entire 52 year history. The inflections on her face, the vocal delivery, the body language... it was just a stunning performance and Peter Capaldi's face as she is ranting is just perfect because it is exactly how I looked while watching it for the first time; just speechless. Wilmshurst also does a great job of showing the separation between the two as they never even share the screen together when she starts the rant as the camera instead focuses on close ups (as I said earlier) showing the emotions on their faces. It is the best scene of the episode hands down and it is one of the best scenes of the entire season and it is also Jenna Coleman's Oscar moment (I have to say that it is not her ONLY Oscar moment this season but if I were to pick one example of her amazing range as an actress - it would be this scene).

I did not talk much about Courtney but that is honestly because I do not have a lot to say about her. She is a flat line, showed up a couple of times this season - really only to set up her coming along in this episode, but then after this she is never seen or mentioned again. While I am not necessarily complaining that she did not show up after this... it does feel a bit weird that we did not at least get SOMETHING with her (especially considering the events that happen in 'Dark Water'.

Overall, the first half is great and the final 5 minutes are brilliant. The rest kind of suffers from a debate that is not really that difficult to solve ("the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" anyone?) and sadly brings down the episode to being very good when it could easily have been a fantastic highlight of the season considering the initial premise and setting (moon spiders!). I do see some potential in Peter Harness as a writer for 'Doctor Who' and as long as he stays away from attempting some kind of sci-fi or plot heavy stories and focus mainly on the characters involved. Nevertheless, this is still a very good episode.

7/10

- Lucas

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