Visually, this is an amazing episode – especially the moonscapes and the ultimate ‘hatching’ effect. Watch it with the sound down and it is as beautiful and flawless as… well, as an egg. But start listening to the plot, and some fairly major cracks begin to appear, as a turkey threatens to hatch out. Does the story have enough emotional nukes to kill the tur— okay, I’m probably taking this a bit far…
I did think this was pretty, I did enjoy more Courtney Woods, I did like the way Clara reacted to being pushed into taking responsibility for civilisation (“I’ll smack you so hard you’ll regenerate”), but… I fell into these cracks while I was watching:
- The threat to Earth was established as being the additional mass of the moon. But the reveal, when it came, didn’t explain where this mass came from (did it?) Also, would the moon continue to orbit around the Earth if both bodies have the same mass (which I’m inferring from the fact they have the same gravity)?
- The organism that was the moon: millions of years to hatch, then it reaches maturity in a few seconds to be able to lay a new egg. What did it feed on (i.e. where did the mass come from for the new egg, see crack #1)
- The lights going out on Earth: so many problems, but let’s just settle for – just half the world’s population, is that fair?
- Firing enough nukes into the moon to kill the…thing. That wouldn’t blow the ‘moon’ apart, then? I mean, is that not even enough of a possibility to be worth discussing?
Also I’m not keen on 2049. It’s not a worry that it contradicts The Moonbase (which I haven’t seen to know if whether it could be consistent with being on an egg). I just don’t like near-future stories. I’ll be in my 70s, if I live that long (“My Gran used to put things on Tumblr”) and I hope to still be watching Doctor Who and yet at the same time not being washed away by super-tides. But that’ll be one more thing for the next-show-runner-but-nine to fix (more cracks in time, Time War II?)
I won’t get too worked up about ‘fuzzy moments in time’ which we apparently had to contend with along with the fixed points, because I think the Doctor was lying.
Actually the main problem was the lack of emotional investment in The Choice. I think it’s essentiality trying to pull the same plot trick as Children of Earth but it fails to represent a real dilemma.
“Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. But imagine if a man each day should have to try to kill the sun? We were born lucky; he thought.”
At the time I was thinking how we don’t know if this super-bug species is even sentient. In retrospect I realise that’s not relevant, when it’s a foetus and we’re talking about an abortion. Meanwhile, on Earth, there are presumably hundreds of thousands of human babies and children dying every 12 hours, everywhere on the planet. Why are we hesitating here? How is this a problem for anyone but either the extreme conservations or most zealous pro-lifers (who anyway tend to be chauvinist when it comes to species).
“But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.”
It doesn’t help, either, that the plight of humanity is being told to us (tell, don’t show?); fed into the dialogue alongside the distinctly dodgy biology and physics – that’s why those distractions are such devastating fault lines in the emotional narrative of the story.
Actually, I don’t think episode was a turkey. I think Courtney was right, it’s a chicken1. Though given that it is a pivotal episode in the development of the Clara/Doctor relationship which has still to play out, it maybe that it will look different in hindsight once we’ve seen that run to its conclusion.
Apologies for the gratuitous Hemingway.
I like chickens. I also like turkeys come to think of it. ↩