Big decisions that are potentially Earth-shattering have one HUGE final reaction on this week’s Doctor Who.
Stephen Moffat has been getting dark this season, you guys. Along with Peter Capaldi’s gruffer performance as Twelve, there’s been a general shift in the doctor-companion relationship to show the darker side of things. If last week’s character exploration with an occasional robot monster was the start of a countdown, this week things went boom (in more ways than one).
We got dropped straight into the story this week, trying to figure out exactly why Clara and Courtney were needing to make a big decision in the next 45 minutes and, more importantly, what was wrong with the moon. This all started because the Doctor told Courtney she wasn’t special, and for some reason Clara needed him to take that pronouncement back. This got us to a super-creepy future version of the moon, complete with an empty mining camp1. This was not an episode for arachnophobes – the show managed to Hinchcliffe the shit out of things and bring terror back to the show in a way it hasn’t gone in some time.
And then the Doctor did something I didn’t expect him to – left a big, (literally) Earth-shattering, course-of-history-changing decision in the hands of Clara, Courtney, and one of the remaining astronauts on the moon mission2, and took off while they decided. THE MOON WAS HATCHING AND THE DOCTOR LEFT. Well, I don’t think he actually left, but he hid well enough to force Clara and Courtney to make a tough decision that they shouldn’t have needed to. It all works out in the end (and changes things in a good way for Earth’s future), but this sets in motion something I didn’t expect to happen this early in the season: Clara breaks up with the Doctor.
She’s had it with his patronizing behavior this season, and I don’t blame her. We’ve had a season that’s removed the Rose-colored lenses((pun FULLY intended) from the seeming magic of traveling through time and space and focused entirely on the dysfunction between Clara and the Doctor. I think of Doctor Who as an escapist show, but this more realistic lens has been thrilling, and I don’t see it ending here yet. We still have a good chunk of episodes left this season, and as Danny Pink told Clara this week, you’re never finished with anyone when they can still make you angry.
Next week: Murder on the Orient Express! In Space! With a mummy! It’s like we’re drawing plot points from a hat!