10.5. Doctor Who - Oxygen

Series 10

  • Writer: Jamie Mathieson
  • Produced by: Nikki Wilson
  • Director: Charles Palmer
  • Music: Murray Gold

10.5. Doctor Who - Oxygen

At the University the Doctor is lecturing about the what would happen to the human body if trapped in space - although this has nothing to do with crop rotations which the lecture should be about. Nardole is concerned the Doctor is planning another trip off world. When the TARDIS detects a distress signal that is exactly what the Doctor does.

The TARDIS materialises on board a seemingly deserted space station. There is no oxygen on board - until the Doctor extends the TARDIS's oxygen bubble to cover the entire space station. As the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole, investigate the space station they fail to spot that the space station has detected unlicensed oxygen.

Inside the repair station they find a man standing in a space suit. The man is dead, and the suit is keeping him stood up. This freaks Bill out and she continually asks the Doctor to turn the suit off so the man lies down. The Doctor is more concerned with what killed the man, as the suit has a full supply of oxygen and the forcefield around the man is working - keeping the oxygen in.

Looking through the computer the Doctor learns the space station is the Mining Station Chasm Forge. The crew complement is 40, and there are 36 terminated life signs reported. So somewhere there four crew still alive. The last report from the station is that it is unprofitable. Nardole is all for returning to the safety of the TARDIS, and Bill agrees. But the Doctor is more concerned for the four crew still on the station - one of whom sent a distress call.

Further in the station they see someone moving boxes around. Only the suit is empty, and is being controlled by an AI unit that Nardole recognises. The Doctor asks the AI about the oxygen, and the AI tells the Doctor that the station has never had oxygen. The AI explains that oxygen is available for personal use at competitive rates. The only oxygen in the station is contained in the suits. The AI then tells them that any unlicensed oxygen will be expelled to protect market prices. This means the oxygen from the TARDIS. As the station starts to decompress the Doctor is able to close a door, but this blocks their access to the TARDIS.

Back in the repair station the Doctor is contacted from another section of the station by Drill Chief Tasker. As the Doctor talks the dead man's suit starts to move. Tasker warns them about the suits, and the Doctor tries to stop the suit with his sonic screwdriver. The suit grabs the sonic screwdriver but discharge deactivates the suit, and destroys the sonic screwdriver. The Doctor hands Nardole a chip from the suit to get a history. Nardole finds an instruction that was sent to all suits: Deactivate your organic component. The 36 people were killed by their own suits.

Inside the repair station there are three empty suits in for repair. As the remaining oxygen is being filtered out - so it can be sold back - the Doctor, Bill, and Nardole, each put on a suit as the oxygen finally runs out. The Doctor reassures Bill that as these suits were off-line they never received the instrunction to deactivate the organinc component. When put on the suits say at a basic level of exertion there are 2,500. Bill would have preferred to know the length of time in minutes, until Nardole explains that more extertion means the oxygen is used up more quickly, and therefore you would have to buy more oxygen sooner.

Nardole tries to get Bill to relax and breathe slower - but when 36 suits containing dead crew start to approach Bill starts to panic as they all flee the suits. They make their way to a control room where the find the remaining crew - one of who (Dahh-Ren) is blue. Bill is taken startled by a blue person leading Dahh-Ren to label her racist.

Using his psychic paper the Doctor convinces the crew they are from the Union. When Bill's suit starts to glitch Ivan leads her off to fix the problem. The Doctor learns that the four crew members were off the network which is why their suits never received the kill command. Abby tells the Doctor they are trying to get to the core at the centre of the station. They can move quicker inside the station, but they may not have enough breaths to make it. Outside would be quicker, but the suits could move quicker out there.

When a suit manages to repair a door and make it through the Doctor, Bill, Nardole, and the crew, run. Ivan opens a door where a suit is waiting. When it touches Ivan's suit it transmits the kill order, and Tasker's suit deactivates its organic component. The only option now is to go outside. Everyone has to put on a helmet as the pressure outside is too great for the forcefield. As they enter an airlock Bill's helmet has a fault, and her suit removes it for her. Decompression of the airlock cannot be locked, and the suit refuses to let go of the helmet.

Bill rapidly becomes disorientated as the Doctor wrestles with the suit. She wakes inside section 12 of the station. The section they are in is an area the other suits don't recognise. As Nardole explains: like when there is a new road a Sat-Nav doesn't know about. Bill asks what happened, and Nardole tells her the Doctor gave her his helmet. The Doctor made it, but he's not quite the same. The oxygen deprevation has led to blindness. 

When Dahh-Ren learns a rescue ship is on the way Abby becomes supspicious of the Doctor - who claimed to be their rescue. As they argue the other suits learn about section 12. When one suit touches Dahh-Ren he is killed. Nardole and Bill help the Doctor towards the reactor core as Ivan and Abby fire at the suits. On the way Bill's suit malfunctions and stops. When the Doctor tries to carry Bill the suit activates its magnetic boots. The Doctor asks Bill to trust him as he says they have to leave her behind. As a suit passes by Bill it transmits the instruction to deactivate the organic component.

Inside the core the Doctor starts wiring his, Nardole, Ivan, and Abby's, suits into the core systems. If they die, the reactor vents coolant and the station would explode. The Doctor asks Ivan to open the doors to let the other suits inside. Ivan wants an explanation, and the Doctor gives one. The station is losing money, and the organic components to the suits (the workers) are deemed to be inefficient, so they have been deactivated. When Ivan checks on the rescue ship he realises it was lauched before the distress signal was sent. The ship does not contain rescuers - it contains replacements.

Ivan opens the doors to let the suits in. The Doctor tells the suits that their deaths - will be expensive. This causes the suits to stop. If they die the station explodes, and that will be expensive for the company. Instead the suits offer them their oxygen tanks to keep them alive. This also applies to Bill. Although the Doctor couldn't tell her in case the suits overheard Bill's suit had not had enough power to fully kill her. But the other crew had been dead too long.

Back inside the TARDIS the Doctor assures Nardole and Bill he can see, and drops Abby and Ivan at the company's headquarters before returning to Earth. In the University the Doctor, wearing his sonic glasses, does not let on to Bill that he is in fact still blind.

Regular Cast

  • Nardole: Matt Lucas
  • Bill Potts: Pearl Mackie

Cast

  • Ivan: Kieran Bew
  • Tasker: Justin Salinger
  • Dahh-Ren: Peter Caulfield
  • Abby: Mimi Ndiweni
  • Ellie: Katie Brayben

Showings on the BBC

First showing

Channel Episode Title Date Viewers Rating
BBC 1 (HD) 5 Oxygen 13 May 2017 19:15 - 20:00 5.27M 83

Repeat showings

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