Series Issues: Doctor Who breaths in some Oxygen

Spoilers might come up for air.

(Source: BBC One)

Doctor Who starts with a lecture on space, but this week’s episode ended up a cautionary tale about corporate greed more than anything else. Yes, that’s Oxygen in a nutshell. The idea of paying for air sounds laughable, then again the fact that it’s a precious commodity to the point that the air bubble from the TARDIS is considered unauthorized was fitting. Make it all about profit and what sounds ridiculous turns plausible.

The twist on the zombie genre was clever too. It’s the suit that wants to move around, the host is dead inside. But it does look and feel like zombies are after you. The dread comes via touch. As soon as they can grab your suit and join it back to the network, the suit will kill its living host. Actually, that is left a bit intentionally vague for Bill’s “death”. The suits even mentions it out loud: “shutting your main nervous system.” Seems the others died from a extended lack of oxygen or for going out on space walks or… Let’s face it, the plot called for it to be so and there had to be an exception for Bill.

And perhaps that was the only time in which I felt that everything was going to be ok. Once that Bill “died” it was obvious the show was not fooling anybody. Any atmosphere of fear that the episode had going for it was gone, and now we had to wait for the storyline to give us Bill back.

The Doctor going blind was… Well, seems like if there was a point to that, it didn’t hit its mark squarely. And what it really means for him to stay that way for now might have consequences. According to Nardole, the inhabitant of the vault can sense weakness in the Doctor.

Overall, I did like the episode and I saw an improvement from last week. There are a few things that missed its mark.

Highs/Lows/BreatheInTheAir:

  • I would’ve passed on the obvious Star Trek reference at the beginning. Then again, if not done somebody would’ve thought they should’ve. Ah, decisions.
  • The show missed a chance of giving us a space walk where the suits + corpses are closing in on the remaining survivors. That would have been a great scene, but they wanted to play up the Doctor sacrificing his sight to save Bill. Although I did love Bill’s reaction to learning this, it felt underwhelming.
  • For the sake of overusing the drama license, Bill’s suit malfunctions in the worst possible way every few minutes. Nobody else’s does.
  • The deal with the blue man is never explained and thus he’s just there to bring in two cheap jokes: Bill has never seen a blue man and Nardole has friends that are blue-ish. Sorry, but that wasn’t clever at all. The fact that the blue man doesn’t get why Bill might be discriminated against didn’t sit well with me either. If you want to address a racial issue don’t go halfway in just for a joke. The whole thing felt like a missed chance at something.
  • Wasn’t Nardole a android? I guess he’s a cyborg that still needs to breathe. It would’ve been funny for him to the awkward person who didn’t need to breathe and had him walk around in space without a suit.
  • Yes, corporate greed is bad. We get it.
  • The Doctor’s blindness is going to have an impact on the next episode, and possible the rest of the season. You kind of wonder if he’s going to hide the fact that his blindness is permanent from Bill. I expect that it means major developments for the vault storyline.

That will do for now.

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