Doctor Who Review: “Oxygen”

“Space: the final frontier…”

After the cheeky opening, the heaviest episode of the new season (thus far) takes the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole to a station under attack and a shocking twist.

Title: “Oxygen”

Cast and Crew

Director: Charlie Palmer
Writer: Jamie Mathieson

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts
Matt Lucas as Nardole
Kieran Bew as Ivan
Mimi Ndiweni as Abby
Justin Salinger as Tasker
Peter Caulfield as Dahh-Ren
Katie Brayben as Ellie

Premise

The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole find themselves on a space-station with a zombie problem—albeit a zombie problem with a disturbingly possible explanation.

High Point

In premise and execution, “Oxygen” may be the strongest episode of the season, with suspense, some depth, and actual science.

Low Point

The reference to “the Suits” is clever but, overall, the episode handled its allegorical / didactic elements in too heavy-handed a manner, especially towards the conclusion.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 The Doctor stumbles onto a kind of situation familiar to readers of hard SF, though many viewers will more readily think of The Walking Dead.

While the basic premise of astronauts aboard a station/ship under siege is not alien to SF (in movies, it goes back to 1958, at least. In written SF, it is older still). “Oxygen” also recalls, in setting and theme if not premise, “The Sun Makers,” a Doctor Who ep from 1977.

Story: 6/6 The story holds together, and the episode does a good job of preventing the Doctor from waving his sonic screwdriver and pulling out an easy solution like a bunny from a magician’s hat.

Effects: 5/6

Acting: 5/6 The actors are fine; the plot leaves little time for the non-regulars to develop character.

We have already watched the chemistry between the Doctor and Bill; this episode gives significant screen time to Nardole.

Emotional Response: 5/6 “Oxygen” delivers a suspenseful episode with a grim if almost certainly temporary twist.

Production: 5/6

Overall: 5/6

In total, “Oxygen” receives 33/42

3 replies on “Doctor Who Review: “Oxygen””

  1. Knowing they’re regenerating soon, I am not sure the twist is temporary. I think it may stick until the regeneration.

    • zocalo says:

      The thought did occur to me as well, but it seems like it might be bit limiting trying to maintain it for so many episodes, and Nardole did say that the Doctor would recover – so maybe it’s just taking longer than expected because of next week’s episode? Given that appears to contain the literary equivalent of the video in “The Ring”, this week’s twist certainly provides a few potential options for resolving the obvious condundrum that presents that might not have been so apparent otherwise.

      • PuppetSocko says:

        “The brightness of the Galifreyan sun has caused the development of an inner eyelid, which acts as a shield against high-intensity light. Totally instinctive, Doctor. We tend to ignore it, as you ignore your own appendix.”

        At least they didn’t go there.

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