TV Recap: Doctor Who – Day of the Moon

Season 6, Episode 2

By Edwin Davies

September 3, 2012

Those tattoos were a really bad idea.

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As soon as “Day of the Moon”, the second half of this season's opening two-parter, finished, my gut reaction was one of giddy excitement. That's partly due to the final moments of the episode, which I'll discuss later, but mainly because of the fun involved in watching Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston and Mark Sheppard barrelling through a typically convoluted Steven Moffat story. I enjoyed the hell out of this episode of Doctor Who.

But then, within about an hour, I felt my enthusiasm...not waning, exactly, but certainly dimming as I tried to think what this episode was actually about.

I've got the basics, I think; The Silence, the race of Edvard Munch-looking motherfuckers that were properly introduced in “The Impossible Astronaut” after being alluded to for all of last series, have the ability to edit themselves out of the memories of anyone who encounters them as soon as people break eye contact with them. Using this, they have been able to manipulate the development of humanity for millennia through a form of post-hypnotic suggestion.


Since this power makes it almost impossible for The Doctor and co. to fight The Silence - how can you fight an enemy if you forget that they exist as soon as you stop looking at them? - they have taken to making marks on their skin as reminders that they have made contact. This image makes for two particularly striking moments in the episode; the pre-credits opening, in which Canton Delaware (Sheppard) appears to be chasing down and killing the various members of the cast, all of whom are covered with marks that make them seem like members of a cult; and towards the middle of the episode, when Amy walks into a room in an orphanage, sees her reflection in the window, and is instantly covered with the marks.

One of the less commented on aspects of Moffat's work on Doctor Who, both before and after taking over as showrunner, is his knack for using incredibly lo-fi effects to create moments of eerie creepiness. Think of “The Empty Child” wandering around London in a gas mask and asking for his mummy, the hollow skulls in space suits of “Silence in the Library”, or the fact that The Weeping Angels are nothing other than statues or people dressed as statues. They're all physical, practical effects that play on very primal fears that we carry from childhood, and they’re all very effective as a result.

Though, in the case of The Silence, it may be playing on adult fears of losing your mind and memory, as evidenced by the caretaker of the creepy orphanage that Canton and Amy visit; he's spent so long being exposed to The Silence that he can't remember what year it is - he thinks it's 1967 when it's actually 1969 - and he repeats the same phrases over and over in a sad and confused manner. He even fails to understand the terrifying graffiti written all over the orphanage, which he thinks the (non-existent) children wrote when it's clearly a series of warnings he has written to warn others.

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