By Nivea Serrao
Courtney Woods is back! And this week our young companion-in-training is out to prove that she’s more than a “disruptive influence.” But of course that’s not all that happened on this week’s “Doctor Who.”
Lately the series seems preoccupied with consequences, and that’s exactly what Clara makes the Doctor face when she brings up how he told Courtney “she’s not special.” As we’ve seen recently, Capaldi’s Doc has a much more callous way with words than any of his predecessors have – especially when it comes to talking about Clara. But while his companion tolerates his digs at her own appearance, she won’t let him affect a young girl’s self worth, forcing him to confront Courtney and see how his words have affected her.
But instead of apologizing, the Doctor sets about “making” Courtney special, by ensuring she’s the “first woman on the moon.” For all his introspection about what kind of man he is, Twelve seems adamant not to have any kind of deeper conversation with Clara, preferring to go time and space travelling instead.
And of course he overshoots the year, taking them into a future and galaxy not so far, far away (the moon in 2049). This introduces us to the wacky problem of the episode – the moon is actually an egg. However, the issues this brings up are quite real, namely: Kill the moon?
Of course it’s no coincidence that the three people making this big decision – Clara, Courtney and Lundvik, an astronaut they run into – are all women. After all, who better to make this choice about killing an egg before it’s been hatched?
But as we see, even among three women of varying ages, this isn’t an easy decision. Lundvik leans towards killing the moon before it hatches – effectively saving the world. But Clara reasons that you can’t “blame a baby” for simply being born. Lundvik counters with what the creature’s birth will mean for posterity. At a stalemate, Clara throws the decision out to Earth at large, asking them to choose whether they want to keep the creature alive.
Here’s where it gets dicey. The people of Earth choose to kill the moon, but at the last second neither Clara nor Courtney can let that happen. “Ignoring humanity,” they allow the baby to live. That’s when the Doctor returns to show them the consequences of their actions and it turns out Lundvik worries were for naught – the egg disintegrates as the creature flies off, laying an egg in its place.
While this is a happy ending of sorts, the themes dealt with can’t as easily be wrapped up in a bow. This show asks these characters to make a huge decision, and even though Clara fields it out to the world at large, it still comes down to whether she wants to make it. It’s telling that it falls into the hands of the one who’s most of childbearing age – not to mention the one most likely to have a child any time soon.
What’s more telling is that the episode only involves the Doctor when it comes to the initial discovery of the moon. However when it comes to the moment of truth, he heads into the TARDIS and takes off, leaving “womankind” to deal with the choice. Usually, the doctor would have a much larger say in the decision, but as Twelve notes, “It wasn’t [his] decision to make.”
Obviously a woman’s right to choose is a divisive topic, but eventually it comes down to the individual woman. And on that front, writer Peter Harness nails it. But what he doesn’t do is provide a compelling enough argument for both sides. What if Lundvik is right? What if the creature within the moon is the reason the Earth gets destroyed and humans have to move into space? Sure, as the Doctor shows us, there’s a happy ending. But what if there hadn’t been?
The episode portrays Lundvik’s desire to “kill the moon” as evil and wrong – not that “Doctor Who” as a show could ever say otherwise. Yet, it’s worth noting that at the very least her point of view could have been filled in with more shades of grey. Why not give your viewers a tough choice as well?
In any case, Clara’s eventual choice comes with consequences that the Doctor must face as well. This season opened with Clara unsure of where she fits into this Doctor’s world. Now, seven episodes in, she calls him out about abandoning her just when she needed him the most, making her the first companion in recent history to do so.
All said and done, I couldn’t love Clara any more. A companion is supposed to have as much of an effect on the Doctor as he has on them. And this season is finally allowing her to do that. It will be interesting to see how her telling the Doctor to leave her alone will play out – especially since it doesn’t look like she’ll be in next week’s episode.
Do you think “Doctor Who” made the right choice in how it handled the issue? Did you root for Clara when she told the Doctor off? Sound off in the comments!
Nivea Serrao is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.