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‘Doctor Who’ 10×05 recap: “Oxygen”

Doctor Who 10X05 recap, “Oxygen,” Aired May 13, 2017

The scares keep coming this season on Doctor Who. The latest episode of Who is the most frightening episode so far. Like the last episode, this week’s “Oxygen” featured our protagonists in an isolated space, waiting to get picked off one by one, except this time they’re on a mining craft up in space as opposed to a house infested by space bugs. Let’s talk highlights!


Space… The Final Frontier

“Final because it wants to kill us.” These are the opening lines to the episode. The reference to Star Trek’s title sequence narration is interesting. When Picard and Kirk deliver the line, it’s filled with hope and possibility. When the Doctor delivers the line, it’s a warning, which is odd for a being who regularly calls space his home. But that’s the Doctor for you – always acknowledging the good and the bad. Space, though it inspires wonder, can also be dangerous.


The Doctor Takes On Capitalism

But space isn’t the real villain here; it’s just the scary and scenic backdrop. The true antagonist is capitalism. The miner’s suits decide that it’s too expensive to let them live, so the corporation decides they must die, and the suits make it happen. “Capitalism in space,” the Doctor says with a sneer.

This is the second episode of the season with an overarching political message. The first one came in episode three’s, “Thin Ice,” when the Doctor gave a speech about what defines a group of people. He said, “Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life.” The mining corporation obviously doesn’t place a lot of value on its people. It’s difficult not to draw a parallel to events in our world and the value we and our governments place on the lives of others. The “unimportant” people. But sci-fi is at its best when it holds a mirror to our world and forces us to face the ugly truths of our reality.

Luckily in the Whoverse, they have the Doctor, and we know how much value he places on every life. He’s the type of alien who will sacrifice everything, even his own life, to ensure the safety of others. In this episode however, his act of selflessness might have lasting consequences as he loses his sight after giving his helmet to Bill to save her from the vacuum of space. Might this be the event that leads to this Doctor’s regeneration?


Panic Attack In Space

In one of the more frightening scenes in this episode, Bill finds herself locked in place with the certainty of death looming ahead of her. And this time the Doctor can’t help her; he can’t save her, and he doesn’t have a clever joke to help distract her from her fears. He leaves Bill who, experiencing an overwhelming amount of fear and abandonment, calls out for her mom.

Fortunately for Bill, the Doctor didn’t leave her to die – it was just a clever plan to fool the rest of the suits into thinking that Bill was dead.


The Doctor’s Promise

We learn some important information regarding the Doctor’s promise to stay at his post on Earth to guide the vault. It turns out that the person he made the promise to was himself. Which begs the question, why would the Doctor make a promise to himself – one that he repeatedly breaks? Also, which Doctor was he when he made this promise? Was it the current Doctor making a promise to his past self or his future self?

Also, Nardole’s line about the Doctor needing to be ready if the vault’s door ever does open hints at an enemy who’s perhaps more of a threat than Missy or the Master. Whatever’s in the vault, the synopsis for next week’s episode makes it sound like we’ll finally be getting some answers.


What did you think of “Oxygen?” Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!

(Image: BBC)


Tamar Altebarmakian

Writer, fangirl, and cat-enthusiast. My work has appeared on The Mary Sue, The Portland Review, Ranker, and other websites. My favorite show growing up was Xena – I've tried to emulate the Warrior Princess in every way (see current hairstyle).

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