Thursday, October 9, 2014

Doctor Who: Moon Spiders from.. the... moon.

There's spoilers on the dark side of the moon.

     I am so very, very torn over this episode. So instead of addressing the big conflict, I'm going to start with something else. Courtney Woods, aka Disruptive Influence, has returned. I've stated before that I really like her character, and how she could fit into future stories, and this episode is clear evidence of that happening. She gets some solid development, wrenching her out of one-dimensional bully kid territory and into the realm of fleshed out character that obviously has home issues, self-esteem problems, and compensates by being a troublemaker. The Doctor, who once went out of his way to tell somebody that everybody was important (while the world was being eaten by The Langoliers scarier cousins), told her she wasn't special, and now she's doing everything she can to get his validation. And, after being nearly eaten by spiders (more on those later), she had an honest, realistic response. She got scared. She wanted to go home. And once she was out of immediate danger, she realized just how badly she wanted to see more. I am seriously pushing for Disruptive Influence to take Clara's place when she goes.

The rest of the episode really is a mixed bag. The digital artists were on their A game in this episode, as everything looked good, from the Moon Spiders to the giant space butterfly to the moon itself. Especially the moon itself. It may be, as Erin suggested, just a color corrected desert, but that is one damn crisp and fine looking color corrected desert. The moon spiders themselves were icky and terrifying, and moved in a convincingly arthropidic manner, but there is no way those are 'single-celled organisms', let alone bacteria. Biology simply doesn't work that way. You don't form complex structures like legs and teeth in mono-cellular life. The idea of the moon being an egg is neat, and I can kind of work out how they think it works, but.. no. This is on the level of a gold arrow being shot into the hull of a space ship boosting the engines. And I can see what they were going for. The moon is 'laid' and is a mostly solid chunk of material, with a small life gestating in it. The life grows, consuming the interior of the moon for sustenance, but how does that increase the mass of the moon, causing the weather problems on Earth? This is bad science, and bad science that even I can't rationalize. And anyway, isn't the moon already 80 billion+ tons anyway? What difference is 1.2 billion tons going to make? And how's it supposed to just collapse into dust after hatching? 

And how many suits did he nick from Sanctuary Base? Courtesy BBC
The other major issue is the Doctor's behaviour. Analyze the episode. Really look at it. The Doctor contributes sweet eff all to the resolution of the story. He realizes the moon is pregnant and then buggers off like a deadbeat dad. He jumps in a hole, says a few rude things, and comes back at the end to act all smug.

Which I really think works. There comes a time in every Doctor's life when you realize that you're not always safe when you're around him. That time came early for Twelve. Hot on the heels of the Everybody Lives moment of Time Heist, he manages to lose all but one of the guest cast, and righteously anger Clara by leaving her, and by proxy the human race, responsible for something he knew the proper outcome of. Clara very well could have been responsible for an extinction-level event, and that shook her badly. And he just swoops back in the end, acting all smug, like he's done a hundred times before, but Clara's just not having it. I hate the way he acts in this episode, and I love that it makes me hate it. Because he's such a dick, but he's not an out-of-character dick. It still feels like him, it's just that aspect of him that we want to overlook because he's the Doctor, and he'll always save the day... right?

A few other things I liked: The rather severe British woman leading the charge to the moon on the antique Space Shuttle (those things are seriously so pretty. I cried when they retired them) played by yet another returning Spooks/MI5 cast member. That apparently, by 2039, Mexico has a commercial space program. That Africa has enough of an electrical grid to be seen from space. The Doctor vehemently objects to his pictures being posted on Tumbr. That we saw how we went from where we are now, with a languishing space program to where we see ourselves in the future, as building a far-reaching galactic empire. Danny's words to Clara, and a hint at his 'really bad day.'

I do feel bad for Captain Lundvik, having to walk who knows how far in a space-suit to get back to NASA.

Next time: I'm hoping this is better than Titanic In Space was.

Addendum: There may be a rogue "T" floating around in this article. The formatting got ballsed up when I added the pictures, and I can't find it now. I've an official Marvel No-Prize for anyone who finds it.

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