Viewers were treated to possibly the best episode so far this season with Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 6, a story which no doubt thrilled fans of haunted houses and zombie flicks.
Aside from, of course, the Doctor's ranting against capitalism in general. That... that was not so exciting.
While the fact that there was no error and that the suits were just doing what they were programmed to do made for a disconcerting twist, it was fairly explicitly stated that the whole system of capitalism was coldly murderous.
It wasn't that there was simply one company that was corrupt, perhaps a corporate executive attempting to skim profits through blatantly immoral and inhumane business practices. Nope.
If you believe the Doctor, it was because capitalism is evil.
They’re not your rescuers. They’re your replacements. The endpoint of capitalism. Bottom line. Where human life has no value at all. We’re fighting an algorithm. A spreadsheet. Like every worker everywhere, we’re fighting the suits!The Doctor
I found the Doctor's anti-corporate diatribe extremely irksome for a number of reasons, especially because the episode is just so good otherwise.
The moralizing came off as condescending and patronizing because it used such a broad brush, using the single incident of horror to paint an entire economic system as utterly callous and unfeeling.
Obviously, there are some businesspeople out there who would do anything to pad the bottom line. But there are also so, so many businesspeople out there who give generously of both their time and money.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, is one of the biggest philanthropic organizations in the world.
Beyond that, the only real complaint I had (and it's a fairly minor one, at that) was the Bill death fake-out. I can't imagine that many people thought they'd actually kill her after only half a season!
Moving onto the good stuff!
The intensity and the drama of this episode were fantastic, and the scoring helped set the stage.
The overly-helpful smartsuit assistant helped add a bit of levity, especially for those of us who remember the notoriously much-hated Microsoft Office assistant, Clippy:
You look like you’re trying to run. Would you like some help with that?Suit Assistant
The smartsuit zombies were heavily reminiscent of the Vashta Nerada that occupied the suits in Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 8 and Episode 9, "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead."
The eerily empty station also evoked that episode, which featured an empty planet.
I absolutely loved the Doctor's lecture on the deadly aspects of space, particularly the pressure problem -- coupled with a really funny Star Trek gag, no less!
Space, the final frontier. ‘Final,’ because it wants to kill us.The Doctor
(It's worth noting that space is not cold. Temperature is a function of the vibration of atoms and molecules. Empty space, is, well, empty. It has no temperature, either hot or cold, and is, in fact, a great insulator!)
The Doctor did not manage to escape this episode unscathed, too, leaving one to wonder whether the back half of the season will be a downhill slide leading to his eventual regeneration.
Nardole made some cutting points about the precariousness of their situation, too, which were only emphasized when the Doctor revealed the permanence of his blindness.
I once again wish to praise Matt Lucas's performance as Nardole; this is his first "proper" adventure aboard the TARDIS this season, and he brings a particular entertaining presence.
While there's definitely an element of comedy to the role, Nardole is at the same time neither stupid nor ignorant, and he is definitely willing to call the Doctor on his bologna.
Though he did fall victim to the old "the Doctor lies" bit early in the episode:
Bill: What’s a fluid link?
Nardole: No idea! But the TARDIS can’t go anywhere without it.
The Doctor: Who told you that?
Nardole: You did!
The Doctor: Exactly [The TARDIS takes off.]
(In case you were curious, the fluid links first came up in the very first season of Doctor Who back in 1963. The Doctor lied about the fluid links then, too!)
We were once again taunted with the mystery of the Vault, and also a few more questions as to Nardole's presence at the Doctor's side.
By the way, this episode was chock-full of some great lines, though many of them fall under the category of "black humor."
Bill: What if you’re wrong?
The Doctor: Well, then we’ll be horribly murdered! So let’s say I’m right!
Check out our Doctor Who quotes page for some of the best bits from this episode!
Don't forget you can watch Doctor Who online! And tune in to BBC America on Saturday, May 16, 2017 at 9/8c for Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 7, "Extremis."
What did you think of "Oxygen"? Were the smartsuit zombies suitably scary, or were they merely a retread of previous antagonists? What's up with that Vault, anyway?
Let us know in the comments section below!