Doctor Who: Oxygen
May 13, 2017 10:08 PM - Season 10, Episode 5 - Subscribe

"Space... the final frontier. Final because it wants to kill us. Sometimes we forget that, start taking it all for granted — the suits, the ships, the little bubbles of safety — as they protect us from the void. But the void is always waiting." - The Doctor

Official Episode Summary
Trapped on a space station with no oxygen, the Doctor, Bill and Nardole are horrified to discover the automated spacesuits keeping them alive are also trying to kill them!

* The student who questions the Doctor at the end of his lecture was played by Lauren Pate, one of Doctor Who’s Assistant Directors.
* Oxygen writer Jamie Mathieson said his brief from Steven Moffat was to "make outer space dangerous again."
* Oxygen was directed by Charles Palmer who previously helmed Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Human Nature and The Family of Blood. He’s the son of Geoffrey Palmer who appeared in Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Mutants and Voyage of the Damned.
* Background on The Suits. ("Ganymede Systems would like to reassure customers that a number of isolated incidents recently reported have no basis in fact and employee deaths whilst working with series twelve smartsuits are purely coincidental."
* When she’s in the TARDIS, we see Bill reading a book on Leonardo da Vinci. In City of Death we discovered the Doctor and Leonardo were friends

Bill: "What happens if I throw up in my helmet?"
Nardole: “You know what’s at stake here. You need to be here and ready if that door ever opens.”
The Doctor: “The universe is your crustacean.”
The Doctor: "I’ve got no sonic, no Tardis, about 10 minutes of oxygen left, and now I’m blind. Can you imagine how unbearable I’m going to be when I pull this off?"
Nardole: "Haven't seen my true face for years. Swapped it for this one on the run."
Dahh-ren: "Great, we’ve rescued a racist."
The Doctor: "That is my theme tune... otherwise known as a distress call."
Bill: "You like distress calls?"
The Doctor: "You only really see the true face of the universe when it’s asking for your help."
posted by zarq (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The chemistry between the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole is just amazing.

I read a theory that the Doctor is regenerating and this season is his Tennant farewell tour. This episode made me think that is a credible theory.
posted by Ruki at 10:43 PM on May 13, 2017 [5 favorites]

A story about miners on Ganymede was a bit odd after this season of The Expanse. I haven't read the books yet so I'm choosing to believe the rebellion mentioned was the formation of the OPA.
posted by Gary at 10:46 PM on May 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's episodes like this make me wish I owned a sofa to hide behind.
posted by Coaticass at 12:37 AM on May 14, 2017 [2 favorites]

The psychic paper said he was from the union, right?

The emphasis on the boots sucked me into thinking this was another Cybermen beginning.
posted by hawthorne at 4:26 AM on May 14, 2017 [1 favorite]

There were some more nice call-backs to Classic Who in this episode, including one that goes right back to the second serial ever aired, in which the First Doctor removed a fluid link from the TARDIS as a pretext for investigating the what proved to be the Dalek City on Skaro. Also - although it wasn't referred to as such - the Doctor once again survived thanks to the Time Lords' 'respiratory bypass system'.

I'm awaiting the "BBC rams Marxist propaganda down our childrens' throats" headlines from the Daily Mail and Daily Express, but it's hardly the first time the show has been overtly political.
posted by Major Clanger at 9:51 AM on May 14, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yeah, loved it. Watched most of it with knuckle in mouth, which I haven't done in ever so long. One thing which occurred to me in the first section is that Clara and the Doctor were forever egging each other on. Whereas Bill and Nardole are explicit that this is a bad idea, and They Are Right. (well, probably).

Other things : unless I missed it, I don't think there were any missing relatives?
-Bill chose somewhere to go, the Doctor ignored it.
-My beloved and I have just had a proper long discussion about who's in the Vault, and I'm still adamant its not Missy/Master. Guessing we'll know by the end of next week!
posted by threetwentytwo at 11:50 AM on May 14, 2017

Bill sobs for her mom right before her central nervous system is deactivated. They show a flashback of her mom's photograph as well as The Doctor's face as he walks away, as that happens.
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on May 14, 2017

I've enjoyed the episodes so far this season, but this is the first one that really grabbed me. I thought it was a very well thought out story.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:50 PM on May 14, 2017

Just. Wow. Pardon the pun, but this show can get incredibly dark and is brave to do it. It's hard to imagine children watching it -- even from behind the sofa.

After last week's "Space lice, so sad, right then, all is well." this one was terrifying, beautiful, unrelenting and visceral to watch. Not sure how the acting could get any better -- or the writing, directing and effects. Even the costume work is incredible.

Yes science flaws (what is an oxygen shell?), but I didn't care. Real peril and real consequences to having a lark in space. The reliance on a "smartsuit" was a clever zombie twist. Distance measured in breaths -- made me start counting my own.

It's too early for superlatives but I'm wondering if it this will be considered the best season ever of the rebooted show.
posted by bluemoonegg at 4:13 PM on May 14, 2017

The diagram the Doctor drew during his lecture on crop rotation turning out to be a close-up of a skull was a nice touch.
posted by Ranucci at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2017

Interesting that you all seem to have liked this episode. I thought it was the worst so far this season. It's as if handwavium gained consciousness. It's not that it was poorly executed, it's just that the story made no sense.

At least the bit at the climax about making it more expensive to kill them than to keep them alive had some logic behind it. The rest, especially Bill somehow being revived didn't. Sucks that this incarnation of the Doctor will be blind for the rest of the series, although I suppose that could make for some interesting twists later on.
posted by wierdo at 2:13 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Really enjoying Nardole as a kind of pseudo-companion. Matt Lucas doing a great job of playing a not-just-comic-relief character.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:17 AM on May 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is the first season where I feel Capaldi is not just the 12th Doctor, he's just The Doctor. The show has rarely been known for its tight plotting, it's more about the mood and throwing concepts around in fun and scary ways. At its best, the show can be more than that, but I'm pretty satisfied that this is the best season we can hope for from Moffat. I've really enjoyed it so far, but I'm afraid he's going to blow it all up when the vault opens, and the back half will be all nonsensical tangled webs of Missy, weeping angels, bootstrap paradoxes, and Moriarity. I don't think Moffat can keep from getting all Moffaty for a whole season
posted by rikschell at 4:52 AM on May 15, 2017

I wasn't in a great mood for this episode, which may have impacted my opinion of it, but, yeah I thought it was the worst Bill episode so far.
I still thought it was a great episode though. Really very pro-bill opinions here.

Still sticking with it being Simm in the vault.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:37 AM on May 15, 2017

In the vault... is a giant terrible Cyber-spider with Handles' head perched atop.

In the vault... is the guy Ashilda gave the other immortality lozenge, but twisted and evil.

In the vault... is a very pissed-off Susan Foreman.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 7:07 AM on May 16, 2017

What I want: The Rani is in there and Missy is going to free her.

What I expect: Missy or some other version The Master.

I'd also be okay with something from the modern Who being pulled out of the dust like if it was his clone/daughter Jenny who has been a naughty little Timelady and had to be locked up. And then joins up with Missy just because. That could be fun.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:55 PM on May 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

I keep thinking it's Omega in the vault. Moffat just can't keep his hands off stuff like that (though he's had a lot of opportunities to play with the Valeyard and never done it. Maybe just because nobody wants to make people go back and rewatch that era.)
posted by rikschell at 8:55 AM on May 17, 2017

Wait, wait, wait ... what if the big scary box with something mysterious in it turns out to actually be a trap FOR the Doctor! And, and, and ... BILL gets in it instead, and then NARDOLE has to protect her for an unfeasibly long period of time before it can be opened again.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 6:02 AM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

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