Doctor Who: Oxygen Recap

Synopsis of 10×5: Looks like someone took a page out of Joss Whedon’s book and decided to fight The Man! Or The Suits, as the Doctor put it. Oxygen takes us back to space, a realm the Doctor has been missing.

Rating:

The episode starts with a bit of Mummy-and-Daddy fighting (aka Nardole and the Doctor, they truly bicker like a married couple). Nardole attempts to keep the Doctor on world, which of course is futile. No one can keep the Doctor from space. They arrive at a ship sending out a distress call, the Doctor’s favorite sound.

What they find are terrifying space zombies. Or at least that’s what it looks like. They’re corporative space suits, selling oxygen to their own employees. SmartSuits, is what they’re called. Since oxygen on the aircraft is hard to come by, the Doctor, Bill, and a stowaway Nardole must step into the suits that are coded to kill them.

Along the way, the Doctor finds what remains of the crew. There are four of them, and one of them just happens to be blue. There’s a funny little bit where Bill is perceived as a racist (“usually I’m on the receiving end did that,” she says). But Darren the Blue Man doesn’t have long to live. Which is too bad, as he was one of my favorite characters of this episode.

The crew make their way slowly to the center, which is believed to be the safest place. Along the way, they lose two crew members and Bill. Bill’s faulty spacesuit keeps getting her and the Doctor into trouble. First, she can’t go into space, as her suit removes her helmet. Instead, the Doctor gives her his space helmet and he becomes blind in the process. (“Don’t worry, it’s only temporary,” he says.)

Then her suit refuses to move its feet and she’s trapped between the safe place and the space zombies. So The Doctor leaves her behind. Wait, what? The Doctor would never leave his companion! Except he does. He leaves her, she gets space zombied and she’s dead. Or so we think!

In true Doctor Who fashion, the deus ex machina arrives. The brilliant (and still blind Doctor) miraculously knows that malfunctioning suit doesn’t have enough power to kill Bill. He also figures out that the corporation who sells the oxygen is also willing to sacrifice its workers to saves on costs. The SmartSuits were always meant to kill their inhabitants, because it was cheaper to send a new crew of people than to continue to maintain the old ones.

This explanations makes no sense to me. Why is it more cost-effective to kill perfectly functioning humans who could buy more oxygen? The people working on the ship aren’t defective. How is it more cost-effective to launch a whole new crew who has to clean up the zombie mess? Is it like when my grandmother would rather buy a whole new car than get the oil changed? This logically doesn’t make sense to me and reminds me not to think too hard about Doctor Who plot holes. I’m just going to move on from this and go watch Duncan Jones’ Moon

Anyway, the Doctor links the crew’s lives to the main engine. If they die, it explodes. The suits, recognizing that somehow an expensive death is not worth it, turn off. And Bill is revived with ease.

While I love a good Base-Under-Siege, this episode seemed a little underwhelming. The characters didn’t stick, the plotholes were gaping, and the ending was a little too easy to accomplish. Maybe this episode will be better on the rewatch.

Once they’ve returned to Earth, the Doctor and Nardole have another serious Mummy-Daddy standoff. Except this time, Daddy has a trump card. The Doctor is still blind!

P. S. not only is the Doctor blind next week, there’s also a flash of Missy in the promo trailer. I’m 90% sure she’s who’s hiding in the vault. But Doctor Who loves its red herrings, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

Highlights:

  • Darren was a joy. I just which he and his snark were around a little bit longer.
  • The Space Zombies were terrifying.
  • Doctor Who taking on social issues is great. Racism, homeless kids, and corporations are all featured this season.