Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Oxygen” *Contains Spoilers*

We have a massive, massive mauve alert after this week’s episode, but I suppose I should go over the details of what happened in this week’s episode first. The Doctor may like to do things in timey-wimey order, but I think my reviews make more sense if I go linearly.

We start off we a lovely little tribute to Star Trek (“Space…the final frontier. It’s final because it’s trying to kill you.”) that probably would have made Kirk and Co. think twice about boldly going where no man has gone before, especially after the Doctor starts lecturing his class on how space kills us when he was supposed to be talking about crop rotation (as an aside, I would love to be in the Doctor’s class). In spite of these uplifting insights of his, he still manages to talk Bill into exploring deep space with him; Nardole tags along mostly out of protest, still upset that the Doctor wants to leave Earth and leave the vault unguarded. But when they arrive at a station with spacesuits that control the oxygen, their “camping trip” becomes more dangerous than ever–so dangerous, in fact, that there are actual consequences that will have lasting ramifications in future episodes. No last-minute saves here, nope. We’ve got actual consequences, people. Actual. Consequences.

What’s the consequence? The Doctor is blind. When Bill’s spacesuit malfuctioned and forced her to remove her helmet, the Doctor gave his helmet to her. But he was exposed to the vacuum of space for too long; although he didn’t suffocate (thanks, no doubt, to his respiratory bypass system), he went blind. I was half-expecting a secret-inner-eyelid save a la Star Trek‘s “Operation: Annihilate!” and was pretty certain that’s what we were going to get when the Doctor said he could fix his eyes in the TARDIS, but then the end came–and he’s still blind! The procedure didn’t work! He’s currently disguising it with the sonic sunglasses! And whoever is in the vault will get very cross if the Doctor’s blindness is revealed because it means the Doctor broke his promise to remain on Earth!

What’s interesting to see is the increase of Nardole’s role as the Doctor’s conscience. In many ways, the companions are supposed to be his conscience, but Nardole really seems determined to hold him accountable. Whatever happened, it certainly made an impact on Nardole. I really don’t know why everyone is hating on Nardole so much; I think his character as grown a lot since “The Husbands of River Song”, and rarely do we see a companion stand up to the Doctor as relentlessly as he does.

Next week, the stakes are higher as the Doctor struggles to conceal his blindness, and we head off the the Vatican in “Extremis”! Have to admit, the Catholic part of me is stoked to be visiting the Eternal City in Doctor Who–two of my favorite things in one (hopefully) glorious episode. Oh, and Missy’s back next week. Sorry, got too fixated on Rome.


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