Doctor Who Season 10 Episode 5 Review

Doctor Who Review: Fighting An Algorithm

Kickin’ things off with the Doctor as a more morbid James T. Kirk was brilliant. Man, Steven Moffat is having a ball this season… isn’t he?

Doctor Who - Oxygen
Courtesy of BBC America
You got the sense right away that Bill was not going to enjoy this little space romp as much as some of the others. That poor girl, confessing her love while her partner’s comm was down. He didn’t even hear her scream when those zombies appeared out of nowhere. Brings new meaning to the tagline, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” And how did those crew members become zombified? Was it an Alien virus? Well, we were about to find out.

“So how does space kill you?” he asked right away. Can you imagine taking lessons from a Time Lord? This particular lecture was rather dreadful and had zero to do with crop rotation. The amusement with which the Doctor said, “You’re dead” was hilarious and Bill’s expression priceless. Yeah space is great, but how would this latest adventure measure up to the first four?

Doctor Who - Oxygen
Courtesy of BBC America
Mixed in with all the madness, Moffat manages to sneak in these little nuggets of wisdom. “You only really see the true face of the universe when it’s asking for your help” the Doctor told Bill. “We show ours by how we respond” he completed the thought later. It’s safe to say the Doctor’s latest companion is learning life lessons the hard way, by experiencing them first-hand. The tone of this week’s installment was darker than the first batch, though there were plenty of little jokes sprinkled throughout. I keep hearing that Twelve is going to regenerate early this season. Is Moffat starting to ease us into the Time Lord’s demise? Will the second half of the season be told via flashbacks? That would certainly be a twist.

Locating the four survivors took a little longer than it should have. The action was stalling a tad, until the Doctor maxed out our adrenaline. A total sign that Moffat was aware the audience needed a bit of a startle or else we’d start to get bored. I’m aware of Nardole’s connection to River Song, but Matt Lucas’ character just doesn’t work for me. He makes me miss characters like Madame Vastra, Jenny Flint, and Strax. Now those guys were a hoot. Missy can’t pop up soon enough at this point. Let her out of the vault! Think she’s in there?

Anyway, oxygen was only available in the space suits. The station decompressing the Tardis’ air supply put our heroes in a bit of a pickle. This forced them into the deadly suits, naturally. Would Nardole be the first to go? Would his suit deactivate its organic component? Fingers crossed. I couldn’t believe that stupid Walker broke the Doctor’s fancy new screwdriver. Ugh!

If you’re a fan of Syfy’s The Expanse, did you catch the mention of Ganymede? There are no deadly suits on that show, but the mysterious protomolecule does turn human hosts into “vomit zombies.” Seriously, if you’re not watching The Expanse and love good sci-fi you’re missing out. So back to Doctor Who, our heroes locked themselves into the suit with Nardole advising Bill to, “Relax or die.” “The scareder you are the faster you suffocate” he continued. Bill was trying hard to keep her spirits up, but that sparkle in her eye was gone this week. I’m not saying the episode wasn’t entertaining, it was just more of a downer. I did laugh when the blue guy, Dahh-Ren, called Bill a racist though.

Doctor Who - Oxygen
Courtesy of BBC America
Halfway through the installment the Doctor, Bill and Nardole caught up with the surviving crew and that’s where the real fun began. It took me a while to place Ivan (Kieran Bew), until I realized he played the nasty Duke Alphonso of Calabria on Da Vinci’s Demons. While I’m looking forward to Syfy’s new show Krypton, boy did David S. Goyer drop the ball on Da Vinci. I’ll be forever pissed about that one.

Who would be the first death? Certainly Bill was safe, right? Her helmet malfunction was not reassuring, plus getting zapped later didn’t help. Yeah, I didn’t like that bit at all. You harm Pearl Mackie and the Whoniverse will riot, Moffat. Let’s not go back to putting Clara a companion in danger each week. Been there, done that. Everything measured in “breaths” was insane, wasn’t it? It took me some time, but I finally realized the dead crew weren’t “zombies” simply moving along thanks to the suit’s A.I. “Please remain calm while your central nervous system is disabled” Velma warned. Bye bye Tasker (Justin Salinger), nice knowin’ ya. HAL 9000’s got nothing on these malfunctioning space suits, damn.

Doctor Who - Oxygen
Courtesy of BBC America
The Doctor being in Section 12 certainly didn’t sound good and the Ganymede Systems computer picked up on it. Anyone else notice the running theme this year? Emojibots killing people who weren’t happy in Episode 2 “Smile.” As with Black Mirror, Doctor Who just revisited the technology running amok killing its creators trope. Is Moffat hinting that Twelve gets done in by some type of glitch? Unfortunately, Dahh-Ren met his maker next rather than join the Doctor on another adventure. Wouldn’t it have been cool to see that character in more than one episode? Ah well. We’ve still got Nardole (that’s sarcasm kids).

In the end, the Doctor figured out everything going on was “business as usual.” However, the station as one very big boom didn’t sound good. Had the Doctor gone completely mad? Talking about a really good death clearly foreshadows his regeneration. Capaldi is going out in an epic way, no doubt… but not just yet. How would fighting the suits (or corporate sponsors) bring Bill back? Were all the zombies in some state of suspended animation? Blowing up the station was merely a bluff to make the loss more expensive to the company than the loss of human lives. Pretty ingenious, but a highly risky plan because if the system had been hacked, it would have been game over. How did he bring Bill back? Her suit battery was low, not enough for a lethal dose to shut down her central nervous system? That was risky as hell too. The Doctor kept his promise and saved the day, as the dead handed over their remaining oxygen supply.

Closing thoughts…

This fifth hour of Doctor Who Season 10 wasn’t my favorite, but it definitely had its wild moments. Personally, I don’t enjoy it when the Doctor’s companion’s lives are threatened. I realize it makes for great drama, but it gets old quick. That’s my biggest gripe about Clara’s final season, as she was in danger every damn episode. Back on Earth, Nardole scolded the Doctor and before he uttered the words, “Stop talking now” I was thinking the same thing. The character is terribly irritating. He made whatever is behind the door seem monumentally dangerous. Therefore, I doubt it’s Missy as she’s been a nuisance sure, but the threat level seems to grand. Could it be John Simm’s Master? Combine that villain with Missy and you’ve got one helluva menace. How long will Twelve be blind? With the new screwdriver broken, I can only hope the shades the Doctor sports in the next hour aren’t sonic. Episode 6 “Extremis” looks like a good one, right?


Doctor Who airs Saturdays at 9/8c followed by Class on BBC America.