Tonight’s episode of Doctor Who was breath taking, in more ways than one.
The opening sequence, complete with a “Space, the final frontier . . . “ voice over from the Doctor, brought a smile to my face. Instead of continuing with the words Gene Roddenberry wrote for Star Trek, in 1966, the Doctor frightens his audience with a warning on how deadly the vacuum can be. “. . . Final because it wants to kill us.”
Before the opening credits we see the death of one space station bound astronaut, her cybernetic space suit has taken control, and things don’t look too good for a second.
At this point, having deliberately avoided anything about Series 10, I was convinced that Oxygen would mark the return of the original Mondasian Cybermen from the First Doctor story The Tenth Planet. Who, else, would be behind such a dastardly plot? But I was wrong.
Post credits we see the Doctor being all doctorish as he continues his lecture on space in what should have been a talk about crop rotation, a mesmerized Bill listens from the audience.
Back in the TARDIS the Doctor is getting a lecture from Nardole about staying on Earth and facing up to his responsibilities to guard whoever it is in the cabinet, while he receives a distress call. The Doctor’s description, at this point, of the signal as his theme tune is inspired writing from Jamie Mathieson, who also scripted Series 9 episode The Girl Who Died. I can safely say I preferred this script. I particularly liked Nadole’s reference, in this scene, to his having removed the TARDIS fluid link to prevent take-off. The Doctor lost a TARDIS fluid link in the original Dalek story with the First Doctor.
Upon arrival at the space station 36 of the 40 crew are dead, killed by their berserker space suits, but where are they other four and how can the Doctor, Bill and Nardole help?
This might be my favourite episode of the series, so far, thanks to the Mathieson’s deft script and the chemistry between the new TARDIS trio. It feels like they have arrived. The Doctor, once again devoted to saving others, his fussy sidekick Nardole, and Bill, who is learning what it is to gallivant around the galaxy.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve arrived at the fifth episode of the series.
Next time, things will spice up further with the return of Missy/The Master. But what about those Cybermen?