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Review: Day of the Moon

Day of the Moon is the second episode in Season Thirty-Two of Doctor Who.

Nothing can live up to too much anticipation – or can it? The first episode of the new season had just about defied logic in living up to the hype but it was helped by the fact that it was the first part of a two-part story and it left a lot of unanswered questions which teased the viewer into believing that there was something even greater on the way for the climax of the story. Unfortunately, the second part doesn’t quite deliver what was implicitly promised – a satisfying conclusion. That’s not to say this was a bad episode; it’s a good episode with a lot of fun moments, great acting all round and more mysteries to keep us all watching.

The mysteries abound in the episode: is Amy pregnant or not (yes, we’re still wondering)? Who is the little girl in the space suit who is seen regenerating at the end of the episode? Is River the Doctor’s wife? Who is River and why was she scared when she realized the kiss she and the Doctor shared was their first kiss? Can they save the future Doctor from getting killed? Who was the woman at the door and why is there a picture of Amy with a child? Why were the Silence on Earth? Is this the end of the Silence?

It’s that last question that really underlines the feeling that this wasn’t a satisfying conclusion. The denouement of the Doctor using the Moon landing to broadcast the Silence’s own subliminal suggestion that the people of Earth should kill them on sight was very good and yet we don’t actually see the Silence being eliminated. So the whole thing is a bit of a let-down.

Neither do we really see what happened to get the team out of the fix they were in at the end of the last episode apart from one very brief flashback. The suddenness of being three months into the future because Team TARDIS has spent the time doing recon on the enemy is jarring. Yes, it allows the story to have the shocking deaths of Amy, Rory and River at the beginning of this episode (mirroring the shocking death of the Doctor in “The Impossible Astronaut” [32-01]) but those do not make up for the whole sweeping under the carpet of the previous cliffhanger.

The Silence themselves at least do improve as monsters in “Day of the Moon,” primarily thanks to the seemingly Batman inspired orphanage visit. The sight of the Silence all hanging from the ceiling like giant bats was exceedingly creepy and very well done. Karen Gillan was brilliant through that entire section, reacting to the creepiness in a way that felt real.

Arthur Darvill also continues to be a great addition to the show as Rory. The scene in which the Doctor and Rory discuss Rory’s 2000 year wait for Amy when he was a plastic Centurion nicely references past events and deals with the issue that Rory has years more experience than the Doctor even though all that experience is limited to safe-guarding Amy in the Pandorica. Darvill makes Rory’s insecurity very sympathetic rather than irritating which is not easy. But please, please, please can we now lose the Amy-Rory-Doctor triangle nonsense? Especially as the Doctor has now been seen to lock lips with River?

The chemistry between River and the Doctor is excellent. Loved the kissing scene (Matt Smith does flaily-hands-don’t-know-where-to-put-them very well). Loved the scene where the Doctor finally faces down the Silence in the lair where he and River spend most of it flirting shamelessly. Interestingly there were a lot of “Silence of the Library/Forest of the Dead” (30-8/9) references in these opening episodes: the Moon, the little girl asking for help, space suits, disembodied voices heard through technology…hopefully this is all going somewhere good and with a better reveal and conclusion than that given to the Silence.

It’s the banter between River and the Doctor – between them all that continues to make this a joy to watch. There are many funny moments sandwiched between the scary and creepy such as River diving off a building and into the swimming pool in the TARDIS, the Doctor getting arrested for doing something to Apollo 11 and the President continually having to pop up to smooth the Doctor’s way and get things done.

The production team do deserve a mention too because everything was brilliantly executed from the costumes (loved River and Rory in 1960s dress) to the special effects (River’s dive, the invisible TARDIS in the prison, and the regeneration sequence) to the make-up (the Doctor with long hair and a beard!) to the direction which ratcheted up the tension in the orphanage scenes to the lighting which was creepy when it needed to be but light and bright in the TARDIS.

Overall, this was another solid outing for the Doctor and his companions. It was a quality episode and it definitely seeded many things that can keep the fans talking for weeks and months to come. If it had only delivered something more in terms of the Silence itself and a more satisfying conclusion to the first half, it could have been great instead of merely good.

Originally posted at GeekSpeak Magazine

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