DOCTOR WHO Review: “Oxygen”

DOCTOR WHO proves the corporate world is scarier than zombies.

This week’s episode of Doctor Who brought plenty of creepiness with an anti-corporate statement just underneath its surface. With a few life-impacting events that occur to the Doctor and one or two lessons for Bill, we were given yet another cool episode to add to the season’s already great list. 

The aptly named, “Oxygen,” takes the Doctor, Bill and (finally) Nardole to the future to help out with a distress call on the Chasm Forge Mining Station. There they discover that the completely oxygen starved station’s crew is predominantly deceased and that their Ganymede space suits have taken on a life of their own, still walking around with the crew’s corpses inside of them. 

Gotta love that nod to Greek mythology with the whole, Ganymede thing. One of the best things about Doctor Who has always been the titles writers come up with for the Whovian world. Ganymede being a mortal youth so beautiful, he was taken by the gods to be a cupbearer eventually inventing mead. I’m a sucker for Greek myths and this inclusion may have singled-handedly furthered my appreciation for the episode. 

You gotta love an episode that starts off looking like it could be called "Night of the Living Space Zombies" and takes a turn to be something with a pertinent message about our current society. The episode starts off keeping the bigger message as subtext, allowing for some spooky fun in space, but eventually hits you with some pretty hilariously on-the-nose analogies. The Doctor brilliantly comes up with a plan to make the remaining crew's deaths a cash loss for the company. By combining the crew’s life support to the facilities nuclear core, he creates a stalemate. Since greed wins out in the corporate world, their lives are spared and even looked after. 

I loved the entire skewer of the corporate mindset. In an ultimate takedown of that greedy world, the Doctor explains how life basically means nothing past dollar amounts and even straight up talks about taking the fight to “the suits.” This is the first time that Doctor Who has achieved such a blatant level of satire on the rich, but they do it perfectly here all wrapped up in a severely cool story.  

This was the first episode of the season that had Nardole finally leave campus. Since we are dealing with a comedian on the level of Matt Lucas I was expecting a lot more of the funnies. Instead, he gets sidelined quite a bit in the story. His only real purpose in going on the adventure this time seems to be his ability to speak as and for a mostly cynical fan base. I’m a fan of Lucas and I like the chemistry between himself, the Doctor and Bill. I’m hoping we get to see a more of his comic stylings in future episodes.

In last week’s episode, we found that the Doctor has been opening the vault with whatever is inside, to share stories and help move furniture around. In this episode, we can’t help but feel that the Doctor wants whatever is trapped in the vault to make an escape. Again, he disobeys Nardole’s wishes and goes as far as taking Narodole with him, leaving the vault completely unguarded. 

To make vault matters worse, the Doctor comes back totally blind after saving Bill from the vacuum of space. I take it as a severely bad sign that his eyesight wasn’t healed once aboard the T.A.R.D.I.S., since it is capable of regeneration. Even more worrisome, whatever is in the vault might sense his weakness and attempt to kick the Doctor while he is down. Things are getting tense, you guys.