Oxygen was the fifth episode of series 10 of Doctor Who. It was written by Jamie Mathieson, directed by Charles Palmer and featured Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts and Matt Lucas as Nardole.
Most notably, in this episode, saving Bill robs the Doctor of his sight, rendering him, potentially, permanently blind. This shows the risks he often places himself in, in order to save his friends, but also the danger in which he might be leaving Earth, should he not return, alive and in good health. Oxygen represents a tipping point in the St Luke's vault arc, as the Doctor finally faces the consequences of not having taken his vow seriously.
On the outer hull of the space station, Chasm Forge, workers Ivan and Ellie make their way to the top of the space station to make repairs. The two are romantically involved and Ellie attempts to tell Ivan via her comms system that she is now ready to have a child with him, but he can't hear her due to interference with the system. Ellie examines her air tank to discover that she is running low on oxygen and is required to purchase more. From behind two figures start walking toward her, also wearing suits but without their helmets -- the humans wearing the suits are obviously dead. Ellie turns to see them advancing on her and she screams, but Ivan can't hear anything. Just as he finishes his repairs, Ivan turns to look behind him and sees the two figures along with a now dead, helmet-less Ellie advancing on him and he screams.
On Earth, the Doctor is in the middle of a lecture which is supposed to be about crop rotation, but he chooses to speak about space instead. After the lecture, Nardole approaches the Doctor and calls him out on his desire to go back into space. When working on the vault, he voices his concern that the Doctor has plans to take another unauthorised trip, but the Doctor rebuffs that, stating that he is still on Earth guarding the vault. Later in the TARDIS, the Doctor is telling Bill about the possibilities that exist with exploring space; he suggests that Bill select a destination for a trip, but then himself sets course to investigate a distress signal. At this point, Nardole arrives and insists that the Doctor remain on Earth and guard the vault. He presents a fluid link component he took from the TARDIS after one of the Doctor's lectures, under the assumption that it would render the TARDIS immobile. However, this was a lie on the Doctor's part as he then suddenly sets the TARDIS engines in flight, much to Nardole's surprise and chagrin, but to Bill's delight.
The TARDIS materialises in a corridor on the space station and the Doctor, Bill and a very-angry Nardole emerge. The Doctor expands the TARDIS' air shell so that they can explore. Bill is amazed by the depths of space when looking out the space station's window, while Nardole is still moaning about the Doctor breaking his oath again. The trio then discover a man in a suit standing in the middle of the repair bay. Upon examining him, they discover the man to be dead, but Nardole finds his air field is still up, meaning he didn't suffocate. Bill finds it rather distressing that the mechanical suit is keeping the dead man propped upright. The Doctor examines the computer logs and discovers that the station was declared non-profitable after a majority of its workers were killed.
The three proceed further into the station and discover a suit with no operator doing work. Suddenly, a computer (whom Nardole remembers as an ex-girlfriend called Velma) states that there has never been oxygen in the station and the unauthorised oxygen from the TARDIS has been detected and will be expelled. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole race back to the TARDIS when the section starts decompressing the expanded air shell from the it. The Doctor seals the section off using the sonic screwdriver, but this leaves them unable to return to the TARDIS. A comms unit suddenly engages on the computer, and the voice on the other end introduces himself as Tasker. While the Doctor, Bill and Nardole are distracted, the suit propping up the dead man becomes active and starts advancing towards the trio. The Doctor tries to disable it with his sonic screwdriver, but the suit magnetically pulls the instrument from the Doctor's hand. The sonic screwdriver is crushed and the suit is disabled. Nardole looks outside an sees that the deceased workers are being operated by the suits and are advancing on them from the outer hull. The Doctor deduces that the oxygen is contained in the suits, so in order to survive they put on the suits present in the repair bay.
While escaping from the Smartsuits pursuing them, the TARDIS crew are rescued by Tasker, Ivan and other survivors on the station, Abby and Dahh-Ren. The crew tells the Doctor that the suits are property of the company which has turned access to oxygen into profit, and that the suits have received instructions to 'deactivate their organic components'. All other crew were killed by an electric shock to their nerve systems, rendering them zombies. The crew make plans to retreat across the station's hull and escape to an uncompleted section of the station that isn't present in their station's mapping. Suddenly, the suits break into the section where the crew are hiding and kill Tasker with an electric discharge transmitted by touch. The remaining survivors retreat to an airlock at the end of the section, all putting on helmets to protect themselves from the vacuum. During the process of decompression, the suit Bill took from the repair bay begins to malfunction, deactivating Bill's helmet of its own accord. The Doctor attempts to to release Bill's helmet from the suit's grip, but to no avail; he warns Bill that she is about to be exposed to the vacuum and to breathe normally. The airlock opens and Bill loses consciousness when exposed to the vacuum. She briefly reawakens to find herself being walked across the hull by the Doctor, without his helmet, as Ivan and Abby shoot the advancing suits. Bill falls unconscious again.
Bill awakens alone in an empty section of the station. She looks up the hallway to see the suits outside the open door but not entering. Bill is approached by Nardole and Ivan, who reveal that the suits can't get into the section because it's a new area that isn't in their mapping system. Bill asks about the Doctor -- Nardole tells her that he gave her his helmet and walked her to safety, but it did cost him. He tells her that he is in Section 12, a statement which the suits register and begin trying to locate. Bill finds the Doctor sat alone in the section. He stands to face her and reveals that walking in the vacuum unprotected has blinded him. He ensures her that the condition is temporary and that his sight can be restored on his return to the TARDIS. The crew regroup and the Doctor makes plans on how to get them out alive, but Abby doesn't believe him due to his inability to save Tasker and threatens him. At that point, the suits log Section 12 into their mapping system and come in, killing Dahh-Ren. Abby attempts to hold them off, but the crew end up fleeing.
Just before making it to the next section, Bill's suit malfunctions again, magnetising itself to the floor and rendering her immobile. Know that there is no way of getting Bill to the next section, the Doctor leaves her behind while the others escape and the suits approach her. Bill makes an appeal to her mum while the suits deliver the electrical discharge and seemingly kill her. The remaining survivors arrive at the station's power room, where the Doctor highlights on the suits operation being heavily established by a capitalist attitude. The Doctor claims that he is attempting to redirect the flow of water cooling the generators to convert it into oxygen, but instead connects the generators to their suit's life signs, meaning that if they die, the generators will overheat and explode. The Doctor insists that the suits be let in, seemingly as a grand statement about the inevitable downfall of capitalism, and Ivan reluctantly complies. As the suits advance and are about to kill them, the Doctor declares that their deaths would be expensive and the suits stop. The suits analyse the generators and conclude that the would be a greater loss for the company if the crew were to die and the station were to explode, so the suits remove their oxygen tanks and give them to the survivors. The Doctor also re-engages Bill's oxygen tank and Bill revives, her suit's battery having too weak an electric charge to prove fatal.
Back onboard the TARDIS, Nardole restores the Doctor's eyesight, and the Doctor gives Abby and Ivan the option of what they wish to do. They wish to be taken to head office to make a complaint about the company and the events that transpired on Chasm Forge, to which the Doctor complies. Later, back at the university, the Doctor tells Bill that the after effects of Abby and Ivan's complaint was the catalyst for the eventual downfall of space capitalism. After Bill leaves, Nardole emerges from the TARDIS, still furious at the Doctor's reckless behaviour. He berates the Doctor for endangering himself in a selfish gesture and points out that he knows the stakes of leaving the vault unattended -- if the Doctor were ever injured, or sick, or dead, there would be no-one left to guard the vault effectively. The Doctor refuses to look at him, and as Nardole continues to berate him, he rises and removes his glasses, claiming he 'can't look at anything, ever again'.
He's still blind...
- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Bill - Pearl Mackie
- Nardole - Matt Lucas
- Ivan - Kieran Bew
- Tasker - Justin Salinger
- Dahh-Ren - Peter Caulfield
- Abby - Mimi Ndiweni
- Ellie - Katie Brayben
|Executive Producers Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin|
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- The Doctor gives a lecture about space, while the audience was expecting a lecture about crop rotation.
- The boiling point of water is much lower in a vacuum.
- Electrolysis is splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Nardole assumes this is the Doctor's plan, to produce more oxygen which would last 5 minutes.
- Nardole mentions that he hasn't seen his true face for years. He swapped it for his current one on the run.
- The Doctor intentionally "maxes out" his companions' adrenaline: "Fear keeps you fast. Fast is good."
- When the suits kill the crew, they deactivate the organic component and disable the central nervous system.
- Bill wonders what happens if she were to throw up in the space helmet.
- After having been exposed to the vacuum of space, Bill suffers from oxygen deprivation.
- The Doctor says he has spare eyes in the TARDIS, though they're from lizards.
- The space helmets experience an error on the Radio Com Channel.
- The Doctor calls distress calls "[his] theme tune", and emphasises that "You only see the true face of the universe when it's asking for your help."
- Chasm Forge uses artificial gravity.
- The Doctor is happy that the "space doors", as Nardole calls them, are of a classic design. They have pressure seals and hinges. He and Nardole disagree on whether space doors should go "shuck shuck" or or groan like these do.
- The smartsuits employed at Chasm Forge uses gyro stabilisers, magnetic boots and gloves, and has on-board computers. According to the Doctor, it can run, jump and update one's Facebook. They also have force fields to keep the air in, and oxygen tanks for air supply.
- The Smartsuits have unfolding helmets.
- To send the distress call, the miners boosted a smartsuit through the dish.
- Nardole relates the smartsuits' nav system to "when your satnav doesn't know a new road".
- The Smartsuits uses a Powercell to get into the Power Core.
- The Doctor hacks into the Coolant System.
- The Doctor claims he has "stuff in [the TARDIS] that'll cure anything".
- The Doctor once told Nardole that the TARDIS can't go anywhere without the fluid link K57. However, he reveals this to be untrue (or, at least, no longer true).
- The air shell room in the TARDIS can provide oxygen to enough of the space station for them to stroll around.
- The Doctor is familiar enough with the layout of the console room that, despite apparently being blind, he is able to hide this and control the TARDIS as though he still had sight, including, it is implied, accurately piloting her both to Ganymede's head office and back to the university.
- The Doctor compares going to outer space to camping, and refers to tents and campsites.
- Bill asks if there are reviews for space locations, like there are online for restaurants.
Units of measurement
- The Doctor sent Nardole to Birmingham for a packet of crisps.
- Chasm Forge is a mining station in outer space. It has a crew of 40.
- The TARDIS crew gets trapped in the repair station.
- The surviving workers ask the Doctor to drop them off at head office.
Business and economics
- The smartsuits are made by Ganymede Systems.
- Ganymede provides oxygen for personal use only, charging credits for air, and making breathing into a capitalist endeavour. Unauthorised oxygen is automatically expelled, to protect market value.
- The Doctor sees the endpoint of capitalism as "a bottom line where human life has no value at all".
- According to the psychic paper, TARDIS crew is from the Union.
- He remarks that, "like every worker everywhere, we're fighting the suits."
- The Chasm Forge crew has to pay oxygen credits to stay alive.
- Chasm Forge is a station for mining copper ore.
- The managers of Chasm Forge are seeking a bottom line for oxygen usage, and are seemingly prepared to kill off and replace workers if they're using too much of it.
Foods and beverages
- The Doctor says that in five whole minutes, "we could boil the hell out of an egg."
- Bill mentions lasagna when giving examples of what a restaurant review is.
- The Doctor sent Nardole out for crisps.
- The Doctor tells Dahh-Ren he sent him out for a latté.
- The Doctor says the phrase "the universe is your crustacean".
- Nardole recognises Bill's smartsuit's interface voice as his ex Velma, and remembers her as a "nice girl, actress. Bit orange, left me for an AI at a call centre."
- As a result of saving Bill from dying through exposure to the vacuum, the Doctor has now become blind. An attempt to return his vision was made, but only the colour in his eyes returned.
- Time Lords can survive in the vacuum of space longer than humans can. In the Doctor's case here, he survived but lost his sight.
- The Doctor says, "Death, where is thy sting?", quoting the First Epistle to the Corinthians in the New Testament.
- Bill reads a book called Leonardo, on Leonardo da Vinci. This book has the image of the Mona Lisa on its back cover.
- The Doctor uses the phrase "fun fact!" in his lecture.
- The Doctor mentions, amongst other things the smartsuits can do, updating Facebook.
- Dahh-Ren cannot understand why Bill would experience racism herself. He suspects her to be racist because of her reactions to his blue skin.
- Nardole says that "some of my best friends are bluish".
- The Doctor insinuates that the purpose of jokes, in general, is to distract people from whatever's about to kill them.
- The Doctor jokes that "too many rescue ships" is a "first-world problem".
- The Doctor quips that he thought he was just tweeting, rather than locking the crew out of the subroutine.
- Bill wonders whether the (missing) man in the working suit has "his tunes on", when he doesn't respond.
- Two scenes of the blind Doctor were featured in an early teaser shown at the end of The Return of Doctor Mysterio, except his eyes weren't cloudy in order to not to spoil this plot point.
- On The Fan Show, Jamie Mathieson worried that this episode would turn out "too political", due to its blatant anti-capitalist themes.
- The read-through for Oxygen took place on 12 October 2016 (immediately after Capaldi and Mackie returned from promoting series 10 at the 2016 New York Comic Con and in Toronto, Ont.), and filming on the episode took place between 17 October and 18 November.
- This is the first time since Face the Raven that the Twelfth Doctor wears his navy blue Crombie coat seen in most of the past two series. The style he wears in this episode (a navy blue Crombie coat with a hoodie and holey jumper) has been previously worn in Last Christmas, Under the Lake, Before the Flood, The Woman Who Lived, The Zygon Invasion, The Zygon Inversion, and Sleep No More.
- Three out of the five guest actors, this episode, had previously voiced roles in Big Finish Doctor Who or Bernice Summerfield. Namely, Kieran Bew was in The Lady of Mercia and The Helm of Awe, Peter Caulfield was in Cold Fusion, and Mimi Ndiweni was in Big Dig.
- On The Fan Show, Jamie Mathieson said that an ongoing joke on set was calling Peter Caulfield "Blue Peter", due to his character being blue. This was a reference to Blue Peter.
- Two references to Star Trek are made:
- While standing with Dahh-Ren, Nardole states that some of his best friends are "bluish". This joke, of calling a blue person "bluish" as if it is their race, was first seen in the 1969 Beatles animated film The Yellow Submarine, where it was used by a Blue Meanie in an attempt to identify if the Beatles were a member of their ranks. The original use was meant as a satire of the then-common phrase "you don't look Jewish", but it was not intended to be derogatory.
- 3.57m (UK overnight)
- 5.27m (UK final)
- St Luke's lecture hall scenes were shot in the Reardon Smith Theatre.
- The Doctor's office was shot on location at Cardiff University.
to be added
- The Doctor wears his sonic sunglasses again. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice - The Husbands of River Song, The Pilot) Their sonic function, however, is not utilised.
- This episode marks the sixth time the Doctor's sonic screwdriver has been destroyed.(TV: The Visitation, COMIC: The Flood, TV: Smith and Jones, The Eleventh Hour, A Christmas Carol)
- Nardole once more stresses the Doctor's oath to stay on Earth to guard the vault. (TV: The Pilot, Smile, Thin Ice, Knock Knock)
- The Doctor once more gives a lecture. (TV: The Pilot)
- Bill wonders if people ever hit the Doctor. (TV: Aliens of London, The Runaway Bride, The Lazarus Experiment, The End of Time, The Big Bang, The Angels Take Manhattan, Into the Dalek, Last Christmas)
- The Doctor and his companions are almost sucked into the vacuum of space. (TV: The Daleks' Master Plan, The Impossible Planet, Voyage of the Damned)
- The Doctor uses his psychic paper. (TV: The End of the World et al.)
- The Doctor refuses to believe he can't save his companion. (TV: Voyage of the Damned, The Snowmen, Hell Bent, et al)
- The Doctor previously faced an enemy that hijacked spacesuits to control them. (TV: Silence in the Library /Forest of the Dead)
- Bill mentions being on the receiving end of racism, (TV: Thin Ice) and is accused of racism herself. Dahh-Ren is surprised by this, unsure of why Bill would be persecuted.
- A picture of Bill's mum appears in Bill's flashback. (TV: The Pilot, Knock Knock)
- The sonic screwdriver is broken. (TV: The Visitation, Smith and Jones, The Eleventh Hour, A Christmas Carol, COMIC: The Tragical History Tour)
- Time Lords can survive in a vacuum for limited periods of time, (TV: Four to Doomsday, The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe, GAME: TARDIS) far longer than humans can.
- The TARDIS extends its airshell so those around the outside of it can breathe (TV: The Runaway Bride, The Beast Below, GAME: TARDIS)
- The Doctor says that fear is good, as it keeps one fast. (TV: The Time of Angels) He previously described it as a superpower (TV: Listen) and as a generator of savagery. (TV: Amy's Choice)
- Nardole removes the Doctor's fluid link in an attempt to keep him grounded on Earth. (TV: The Daleks)
- The Doctor has previously encountered blue humanoids. (TV: The End of the World, A Good Man Goes to War)
- The Doctor says that there's always the last option to be "dying well". He previously didn't think this was possible. (TV: For Tonight We Might Die)
- The Doctor confirms that he is out of his mind, but that it's not a recent thing. His previous incarnation made it a point to identify himself as a "madman with a box". (TV: The Eleventh Hour et al.)
- The Doctor uses the word "expensive" to stop the Smartsuits. He previously used a simple word, "surrender", to stop an enemy, (TV: Mummy on the Orient Express) and the word "one". (TV: Voyage of the Damned)
- The Doctor has previously had an adventure in his ninth incarnation where his sight was altered, though he only ended up short sighted rather than blind. (AUDIO: Retail Therapy)
- The Doctor is back in his office. (TV: The Pilot, Thin Ice)
- The Doctor plays with his yo-yo. (TV: Robot, The Ark in Space, Genesis of the Daleks, Revenge of the Cybermen, The Brain of Morbius, The Seeds of Doom, The Masque of Mandragora, The Robots of Death, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, Kill the Moon, The Girl Who Died)
Home video releases
to be added
to be added
to be added