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Review: Doctor Who – Oxygen

Nardole (MATT LUCAS), Bill (PEARL MACKIE) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Simon Ridgway

With an angry Nardole in tow, the Doctor and Bill follow a distress signal and end up in far more trouble than they bargained for.

Taking a quick trip off world, despite the Doctor’s promises to Nardole, the Doctor, a very peeved Nardole, and Bill land on a deep-space mining station after picking up a distress signal through time and space. The station turns out to be completely devoid of oxygen and the crew live inside “smartsuits” that they are required to buy their air and their lives are counted not in time or distance, but in breaths. A whole new take on the “owing my soul to the company store” in this episode. The “smartsuits” have turned on their wearers when they received a command to “deactivate the organic components”. The Doctor and companions have arrived just as the command was being put into effect and a the few remaining crew had their suits off-line to do repairs. The episode then takes on more of a zombie tale as the rest of the dead crew and their animated suits chase them through the station, proving to be much more than just simplistic AIs.

The Doctor (PETER CAPALDI) – (C) BBC/BBC Worldwide – Photographer: Des Willie

This story has a few truly scary moments and reminds us just how unkind people can be with each other when the human element is removed and it becomes just facts and figures. Man can truly be horrible when it is just about numbers and the human behind the numbers is forgotten. The animated suits dragging along their dead cargo was one of the worst parts of this episode. So just very sad and kind of scary. The thought that you not belonging to yourself, even in death is a scary thought. The horrible moments of thinking Bill would join the mindless army with that horribly cheerful AI was far more terrible than expected. She’s doing well growing into the role of companion to the Doctor.

The shocker at the end was with the Doctor. As flip and cheerful he was, I was not expecting that twist at the end. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the person (most likely Missy) in the vault. It’s interesting he’s staying with this. We know that Time Lords in the past have burned regeneration energy to fix problems (River Song and Simm’s Master, and even the Doctor himself).

The opening words the Doctor spoke “Space the final frontier”, well, you don’t have to be a Star Trek fan to know where that comes from! There were some interesting, not sure if flubs, but nods to Classic Who. The Fluid Link that Nardole removed, didn’t do a thing to stop the TARDIS from flying, but in the first series Hartnell episode The Daleks, the TARDIS was stuck on Skaara after the fluid link was removed and they had to go into the Dalek city to fix it. Also for those wondering just how did the Doctor survive the vacuum of space that long? An oft commented on, but almost forgotten bit of Classic Who trivia, the Doctor has a respiratory bypass system that allows him to hold his breath far longer than a human as shown by the 4th, 6th, and 7th Doctors and he has even used to survive the vacuum of space before in his 5th incarnation. If the quote the Doctor said, “Death, where is thy sting?” seemed familiar it is. it’s from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:55.

It will be interesting how things play out in the next few episodes and with Missy looming on the horizon!



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