TV Review: ‘Doctor Who: Oxygen’ (Series 10, Episode 4)

Posted Sunday, May 14th, 2017 06:00 pm GMT -4 by

Doctor Who Oxygen

After last week’s “scary” story, ‘Knock Knock,’ would the creative team behind ‘Doctor Who’ work to lighten things up a bit this week?  Well… not really, as we’re treated another menacing story, this time set in outer space – and yes, Nardole is along for the ride as well!  Let’s jump in and talk all about it.

WARNING: Spoilers for this episode of ‘Doctor Who’ lie ahead, obviously.  If you haven’t seen the episode and don’t wish for any of its content to be spoiled for you, the time to turn back is NOW!

RECAP: Bill’s ready to do some outer-space traipsing-around, and so, it seems, is the Doctor, despite the constant admonitions from Nardole about leaving “the vault” unguarded.  Regardless of Nardole’s sabotage attempt, the trio set off in the TARDIS; originally, the Doctor lets Bill pick the destination at random, but when they receive a distress call from a space station (in the future!), they divert their temporal course to assist.

Thanks to this episode’s intro, we know that the space station our heroes are about to visit most definitely is in distress; somehow, space-suited zombies are meandering around both the inside and the outside of the station, instantly killing any of the remaining station crew that they touch.  As the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole discover upon their arrival, the station is ran by a corporation that actually charges their workers – the station inhabitants – for the air they use to live and breathe in their suits.  Something has gone wrong, though, and the “smart suits” are now sending instructions that instruct the suits to kill their “organic component” – and the message is being passed by physical contact from suit to suit.

After a few close run-ins, including the apparent death of Bill and the Doctor going temporarily blind, the good guys do eventually win the day, by way of the Doctor’s ingenuity in tying their lives to the operation of the space station.  You see, it’s the company that sent the “kill order” to the suits, as the existing crew’s productivity had fallen below corporate-accepted levels, and the only way to save the remaining lives of friends and crew was to have it cost more for the station to blow up if they die rather than simply let them live.

The episode closes with our trio safely back on Earth, with Nardole speaking once again to the Doctor about the dangers of the vault, but there appears to be a bigger issue: the Doctor’s temporary space-blindness, which was thought fixed, may not be as temporary as once thought…

OBSERVATIONS:

  • It doesn’t take a sci-fi genius to hear that the opening words of the episode, “Space, the final frontier…” is a direct nod to the credits-opening scene from weekly episodes of ‘Star Trek’ series dating back to the 1960s.  From one ’60s outer-space show to another – this was a fun connection.
  • Reanimated corpses are definitely no stranger to the Doctor – he’s been fighting them pretty much since the beginning of the run of this series.  In particular from the “modern” era, however, fans will likely remember reanimated corpses from 2014′s introduction to Missy, “Death in Heaven,” the Vashta Nerada from the 2008 tale “Silence in the Library” (more dead bodies in space suits, no less!), and back in 2005′s first and only season with the Ninth Doctor, ‘The Unquiet Dead.”
  • Nardole’s attempt at sabotaging the TARDIS surrounded his removal of the “fluid link.”  While this may at first sound like a random bit of sci-fi jargon, the fluid link actually has roots in classic Who, even though it hasn’t been referenced in a long while.  Back in the 1960s, the First and Second Doctor routinely had issues with the fluid links on the TARDIS, including the First Doctor intentionally removing it himself in order to stay on the Dalek homeworld of Skaro and explore it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS: Could the Doctor’s not-as-temporary-as-thought blindness be a precursor to his regeneration, potentially even sooner than we thought?  As true fans know, the only way for a Time Lord to heavily heal their damaged body is through regeneration.  I’m not sure if the Doctor will spend the rest of the season blind… or if something else will be happening sooner rather than later.  And let’s not forget the whole issue with who or what is behind the door of the vault…

PRINCIPAL CAST FEATURED IN THIS EPISODE:

Peter Capaldi as the Doctor

Bill Mackie as Pearl

Matt Lucas as Nardole

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Tony Schaab rolls his eyes when he hears kids reference a screen-cap of the original NES Super Mario game as a “Minecraft Mario” – you damn kids, get off my lawn!  A lover of most things sci-fi and horror, Tony is an author by day and a DJ by night. Come hang out with Tony on Twitter or follow him on Facebook to hear him spew semi-funny nonsense and get your opportunity to finally put him in his place.

  • st381183

    So where is the review part of the review?

    • The Recap, Observations, and Closing Thoughts all collectively make up the review – simply broken down a bit for easier flow. Thanks for stopping by to read!