“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.
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
The Doctor, Bill, and Nardole find themselves on a space-station with a zombie problem—albeit a zombie problem with a disturbingly possible explanation.
In premise and execution, “Oxygen” may be the strongest episode of the season, with suspense, some depth, and actual science.
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.
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.
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.
In total, “Oxygen” receives 33/42