I’ve watched “Oxygen” four times now, and part of me thinks that scriptwriter Jamie Mathieson might be onto something. There are so many essentials in human life that come with a price tag: Oil. Water. Love. Sex. Private health insurance. Can’t keep up on the job? See ya. Is it really much of a stretch that one day future generations will find themselves beholden to an oligarchy that has commodified the very air that we breathe?
Picture it: Mining Station Chasm Forge. Crew of forty. Thirty-six records of life signs terminated. Last log entry, Station declared non-profitable. The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole have responded to a cry for help from outer space. “Four survivors, one distress call. The universe shows its true face when it asks for help. We show ours by how we respond,” The Doctor tells his companions. Except the thirty-six non-survivors are space zombies, and pose a greater threat to their living, breathing co-workers than corporate policy, at first. It turns out that there has never been any oxygen freely available on the station, and what exists is only accessible inside the workers’ space suits. Max out, and it’s literally game over, unless the wearer of the suit buys a refill in the form of credits. Not proving your worth on company time? Please remain calm while your central nervous system is disabled.
On this space station, distance is measured in the quantity of breaths required to travel on foot from Point A to Point B. Which also presumes that one’s space suit is in good repair. Bill draws the short straw with her suit and at the episode’s climax, The Doctor removes his space helmet and gives it to her, saving her life, but the exposure to the vacuum of space costs him his eyesight. Is this the beginning of an early regeneration, or a fake-out? (No.) Will his physical ability to see return before the vault opens? (Nardole, like us, certainly hopes so.)
Rating: 9/10 assertive Nardoles
The Da Vinci Code Extremis. The return of Missy, if the previews are accurate. Oh, and Bill’s foster mother, Moira. Not much of a surprise there, I guess, since Bill needed somewhere to move to at the end of “Knock Knock”….