On the Proper Application of Handwavium: More Series 8 Blatheration

So, continuing on my hitting the high points (and in this case, especially the low points) of Series 8 of Doctor Who.  In the middle part of the series the arc began to evolve from its previous episodic stories (though linked by some thematic elements and motifs), toward the climax.

The evolution starts with “The Caretaker.”    Danny finally finds out about Clara’s other life, and that sets the stage for the conflicts that play out in the rest of the series.

There were a lot of good character moments, and some not-so-good ones, in the episode itself.  For instance, the Doctor’s keeping Clara completely out of the loop.  I get what it was about thematically; mirroring the Clara’s lying to Danny, and setting up for the next episode’s profound shaking of Clara’s trust in the Doctor.   But it didn’t make sense; Clara would have been much more helpful if she knew what was going on.

Danny’s assessment of the Doctor hit uncomfortably close to home.  The Doctor fought in the Time War, and given both his status as a member of the hereditary nobility, and his skills honed by lifetimes of survival, it’s almost certain that the Time Lords gave him some kind of leadership role in the defense of Gallifrey.

It wouldn’t be a proper series of Doctor Who if there wasn’t at least one cringeworthy episode.  This time, it’s “Kill the Moon,” which takes what should be an emotional turning point for the story and wraps it in facepalm-inducingly bad science.

This isn’t just ordinary, run-of-the-mill bad science.  This is “Evolution of the Daleks” infusing-Time-Lord-DNA-by-lightning-strike bad science.  Except that this is baked into the premise, like a collapsing soufflé of Science Fail.

Eggs do not get heavier.  I googled this.  They get lighter, actually, as liquid is pushed out through the shell while the fetus develops.  In order for the moon to get heavier, it would have to be getting more matter.  That matter would have to come from somewhere.  The logical source is solar energy, so I guess we could fanwank that.

But of course, just killing the alien wouldn’t make the weight go back to previous, so the tidal forces would still be in play.  Nothing would be solved, they’re just hoping things wouldn’t get worse…

The sad thing is, the great confrontation at the end didn’t have to be attached to such a scientifically inept story.  With just a little thought and a liberal application of Handwavium (a necessary element for a lot of Doctor Who stories) it could have been, okay not great, but less faily.

With a little thought, I came up with something that would leave the story mostly intact, but 95% less headdesk-inducing.

Instead of always being there, it’s new.  The creature’s mother replaced the moon only recently.  It chose the location because it needed the sun to provide energy for the growing “chick” to use as it grows (therefore making the source of the extra mass explicit) and it needs the gravity from the Earth to develop properly.  So the mother disguised its egg as the moon, and pushed the real moon “out of phase.”

Doctor: Like a cuckoo in the nest.

(Bonus points; he could mention how the Master did the same thing to his TARDIS, once.)

This could make killing it an actual, clear solution, rather than just a hope that things won’t get worse.

Clara: So if we kill it, the real Moon will just… pop back into place?  And everything will go back to normal?

It’s not 100% Hard SF, but at least it gives a nod to logic and physics in passing as it heads on its merry way.

Because the heart of the story, Doctor’s betrayal of Clara and her completely justified anger at him, deserved to be in a better story than the one it was in.

Though Clara one million percent done with the Doctor, in “The Mummy on the though, Clara is back with the Doctor, for one last trip.  Though by the end, she’s figured out that it’s an addiction.  She’s willing to lie to Danny about it (and I have to wonder why she thinks it’s necessary; Danny might not like the Doctor, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of controlling guy who would forbid her to go.)

“Hatred is too strong an emotion to waste on someone you don’t like,” sounds like a description of the Doctor and the Master’s relationship.

“Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones” is a pretty good description of this series as a whole.

Clara has been acting more and more Doctorish as the series has gone on, and “Flatline” gave her a companion of her own.  Though she was still getting advice from the Doctor, she was the leader.  She had to make the decisions in the moment.  Clara has been growing more heroic, and in this episode, she was the Hero.

Like the Doctor, she was also lying.  To Danny, to the very people she was trying to save.

“In the Forest of the Night” was impressive, visually, even though it didn’t make all that much sense.  (How do the trees grow overnight?  We’re actually supposed to believe the Doctor is afraid of wolves?  The sister was just randomly hiding in the plants?)  It’s less obnoxiously bad than “Kill the Moon” because it’s clearly trying for a fairy tale feel, rather than SF.  But there are still plot holes you could drive the Dalek mothership through.

Clara, of course, got caught in her lies.  It was pretty much inevitable.  The Doctor is the only one who gets to lie and get away with it.