Doctor Who – Oxygen

JUST OUT OF TIME (I finished writing just before this week’s ep, but didn’t manage to post it before I watched since PROOFREADING takes time; yes, I proofread these things, yes, I know I have many typos), this week’s rather late review type thing of Doctor Who. Spoiler: I loved it lots. I may repeat this MANY TIMES but in DIFFERENT WAYS. Onwards!

  • SPAAAACE! Also “Space, the final frontier.” OH DOCTOR WHO CHEAP LOLS FTW. This pre-credits sequence is AWESOME. SPACE! I love space, and also base-under-siege, two of my fav Who genres. Also, SPACE HORROR, three genres! Three that I love. I don’t care about this woman who wants to have a baby and then dies, SORRY, this is not a small nifty bit of characterization that makes me care for a character with two minutes screentime. I assume it works for OTHER PEOPLE. I DO LIKE that guy says “still can’t hear you, luv” V BRITISH.
  • The music is winning here. It goes all “wooooOOOOOOOO SPAAAAAAAACE!!!!”
  • And back to HOME BASE aka THE UNIVERSITY. And the Doctor not showing PROPER RESPECT for crop rotation. Which is fucking important. ANYWAY, we also get a lecture about SPAAAAAACE which is (1) interesting and (2) I felt V SMUG cause I KNEW ALL THOSE THINGS. (Admittedly I know them cause I’ve watched Event Horizon a lot BUT STILL. It contained a lot of VERY USEFUL SPACE KNOWLEDGE.)
  • “What do you want from me?” “The truth.” “Don’t be unreasonable.” LIKE. Annoyingly this episode spends a DISTURBING amount of time making Nardole AMUSING and WATCHABLE. I find it very irritating; I’m busy trying to hate on him. The Nardole and Doctor TARDIS banter is SO GOOD. DAMN THEM. “Thought I sent you to Birmingham for packet of crisps.” “Yes, well, I saw through your cunning ruse. “If it’s not crisps you’re sacked.” “That is very untrusting!” AND FLUID LINKS, YAY. Oh, apparently we don’t need them anymore. “Teach you to trust me.” SOD THIS WHOLE SCENE IT’S JUST ALL SMASHING DIALOGUE AND HALF OF IT IS NARDOLE’S. WHATEVER, EPISODE.
  • This is a lot like Ark in Space except, and don’t hurt me here classic Who fans, er, better. NO DON’T THROW THINGS I SAID. It’s just spookier, okay? And less all white, more lived-in. BIZARRE how Warriors gets crap for being massively overlit but we’re TOTALLY COOL with a not dissimilar issue in Ark.
  • Oh, yeah, space. Now, when companions step on alien worlds for the first time, I’m like meh, that’s nice. BUT SPACE. And Bill being yay at space? THAT I sympathise with.
  • I flailed in delight at the conceit these aren’t space zombies, as I’d assumed from the trailer, it’s just dead bodies in suits. STILL CREEPY, but very much more REAL than space zombies. (I don’t mind space zombies, obv, but this is novel.)
  • “Back to the TARDIS.” Lols, if this was a beige Davison story, it’d be the Doctor insisting they all scarper. THANK GOODNESS WE’VE EVOLVED.
  • I appreciate Bill worrying about the niceties of treating bodies after death and that contrasting with the Doctor’s more practical attitude.
  • “The universe shows its true face when it asks for help, we show ours by how we respond.” Yes, fine, very nice. A BIT GRANDIOSE and SELF-AWARE (I don’t mind self-aware, but I prefer self-aware wit to self-aware MISSION STATEMENTS OF THE SHOW.) Anyway, I’m nitpicking, this is all great really, exploring spooky stuff is the best.
  • “Oxygen is available for personal use only at competitive prices.” SO OMINOUS. “Any extra oxygen will be expelled.” OH DEAR GOD. That was a bit of a lovely plot beat there. AND THEN THE SCARY DECOMPRESSION. See? This is totally like Ark episode one, except even better. Or Two Doctors where Six is wandering around the station trying to kill him, except, this is REALLY GOOD. (Sorry, I love The Two Doctors, but, well, it’s hard to argue it’s AMAZINGSAUCE.)
  • “So the TARDIS is on the other side of that.” “I was really hoping someone would state the obvious.” STOP BEING HARRY, NARDOLE. STOP MAKING ME LIKE YOU.
  • Nooooo! Sonic death! Again!
  • “Deactivate your organic component.” THAT’S NOT THE LEAST BIT CREEPY.
  • “Capitalism in space.” I may have cheered at this point; if you’re not familiar with my politics, I’m a wishy-washy socialist, but am reasonably happy with social democrats. So seeing Doctor Who so explicitly engaging with the dangers of unfettered capitalism a mere two weeks after it was charging into racism and class issues is pretty thrilling.
  • “What if you’re wrong?” “Well. We’ll be HORRIBLY MURDERED; let’s say I’m right.” That made me lol.
  • Oh and then the looking outside to see the corpses in suits heading towards them. IT’S LIKE CYBERMEN BUT SCARIER. That’s some nifty keen direction there.
  • These suits are also excellent, the whole deisgn of them, from the foldaway helmets to the way they swoosh on, they look both awesome and practical.
  • “You look like you’re trying to run, would you like some help with that?” 1997 called; it wants its Clippy joke back.
  • I quite like the surivivors; I’d have liked a little MORE characterisation, I don’t feel like I have a great sense of who they are, but what we see I like. Especially how pissed off they are. It feels realistically hostile.
  • I’m a BIT SAD we didn’t get an actual alien (it’s genetic engineering according to a thing I saw on the official Twitters). Blue dude certainly looks super, and I love the eyes. As a rule, I’m against space racism, as it’s generally a cheap ass alternative to engaging with actual racism. HOWEVER, given that we not only had Doctor Who’s best engagement with racism two episodes ago AND we get Bill stating here that she’s normally the victim of racism, I think it’s fine. And also Bill’s reaction is totally normal (I say, as I was also surprised by an unexpected blue person), the direction seems to be trying to make Dahh-ren a surprise, so the audience shared Bill’s reaction, which worked for me.
  • LITTLE BIT sad I wasn’t buying the “AI evolving, decides to kill all humans” or the robbery suggestion even a little; I blame the delight at the captalism theme and how OF COURSE it wouldn’t be an AI thing, it’s the company, they’re the bad guys. They killed their workers for being unproftable. Basically, I was disappoint BECAUSE I HAD FAITH THE SHOW WOULDN’T LET ME DOWN WITH THE WRONG ANSWER.
  • This is SOOO ALIEN/ALIENS. The circling round to look at the map and decide where to go and what to do. The feel and design of the base; the distant, ominous employers. The people caught up in it being so ANGRY about the shit they find themselves in. The yarg at realising the aliens/suits are doing CLEVER THINGS.
  • Gees and those are NASTY DEATHS. Like really viscerally painful stuff. That’s not new for Doctor Who – ask me how I feel about melting faces – but I don’t feel like we see a lot of that kind of death in New Who. And the fact we have to KEEP LOOKING AT THE CORPSES cause they’re still in the suits just ramps it up further.
  • THE AIRLOCK SCENE. OH. This is one of my fav bits. The music and direction are awesome, the reveal of the helmets is very cool. The tension as the suits are closing in, and Bill is nervous, offset by Nardole (DAMN YOU) taking a moment to amusingly clean his helmet. Also, being unable to stop the airlock opening and someone being stuck without protection from vaccuum IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN EVENT HORIZON A SCARY SCARY HORROR MOVIE NOT FOR CHILDREN. So seeing it here was YARG, but in a good way. OMG, HOW WILL BILL SURVIVE? (The companion peril in this ep is EXCELLENT, twice Bill is in extreme danger and both times it feels FUCKING DANGEROUS, which is quite an achievement given that there is peril every week. But this is an ep where it is PARTIC IMPORTANT we are afraid for our dudes.) And then we watch Bill slowly freeze which is suitable horrifying, and they SPACEWALK and there are LASERS and it is GREAT.
  • Nice unease as Bill wakes and the revelation that the Doctor has paid a price for his awesome heroism I found a genuine shock. And the way it’s played with the Doctor making jokes and putting up all the defense and Bill like being like, no, I’m not stupid, this isn’t good, AND THE HUG. And, like, the Doctor IS vulnerable here, and vulnerable in a way he isn’t the least bit used. It is bloody terrifying to be suddenly unable to do something you took for granted, and I like that we see the Doctor coping as well as anyone could ask, but also we see that he is, if not scared, deeply disconcerted.
  • “Fined for dying…what if there was never a hack, what if this is just business?” DOCTOR I WORKED THAT OUT TWENTY MINUTES AGO WHY SO SLOW?
  • The Doctor leaving Bill DEAR GOD. THIS SCENE HURTS. It is STUPIDLY powerful given they’ve only been together for five eps, but it feels completely genuine and OH BILL CALLS FOR HER MUM THIS IS THE WORST. Okay, I maybe teared up this time, argh.
  • “You know what the problem with this universe it? Everyone says it’s not their fault, well, yes, it is. It’s all your fault, so what are you goign to do about it?” Okay that is a well-phrased mission statement I can get behind.
  • I mean, obv, he’s not going to blow everyone up, so I just ho-hummed at his “one last option: dying well”. If you die, you will cost money, WE GET IT. STOP +GRANDSTANDING WHEN I KNOW IT’S ALL TOSH. I am not at one with New Who Doctors grandstanding. “Are you out of your mind?” “ Yes, completely , but that’s not a recent thing.” I liked that bit though.
  • “There never was a rescue ship.” I sort of wish that was more chilling, but FAIR ENOUGH. “The end of of capitalism, the end point where human life has no value at all…we’re fighting the suits.“ Lols! But also, god, yes, unregulated capitalism is a fucking monster that has no compassion, no mercy, no respect for the dignity of human life, and it should be opposed. I like my telly show agreeing with me. (It is also the most successful economic system in human history, lifting millions, relatively and absolutely more people than at any point in human history, out of absolute poverty, but to believe it should not be regulated or that there is no better system we should strive for, seems to me both cruel and naive.)
  • OH. The dude thanking his dead partner is just a bit lovely, if creepy, but lovely.
  • “I try never to tell the enemy my secret plan.” There really is a disturbingly quotable amount of lines this ep, well played.
  • I am a bit dubious about the life expectency of these people going to head office. I mean, guys, they were happy to kill you. You think turning up at head office is going to make that ANY LESS LIKELY?
  • Hurrah, capitalism is defeated! “And then the human race finds whole new mistakes.” Of course.
  • And we’re back home and everything is dandy again, but no! The Doctor is still blind. The fact he is paying an actual price for saving Bill is quite something. I like it’s being more than a one episode shock/gimmick.
  • Nardole’s anger about the Doctor leaving and the danger we were in…DAMN, it feels right. Because it DID feel so close, they DID almost really properly die.
  • I shall give that NINE out of ten corpses in spacesuits. WELL DONE.

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