Welcome to the Living Authors’ Society Doctor Who Discussions, where the arguments are made up and the scores don’t matter. Join J.A. Prentice and Jaden C. Kilmer in our look at the latest Doctor Who episode: Oxygen by Jamie Mathieson.
There are SPOILERS past this point. And believe me, this episode had a big one, so consider yourselves warned.
JA Either we’re going to extremely agree or disagree because I had a strong opinion.
Jaden Oooooh should be fun. I’m gonna guess you loved it and I’m gonna be supplying the negatives again
JA I did love it. Another #NerdFight?
Jaden Not really. I liked it quite a bit. Probably my favorite of the series so far, but have bones to pick.
Jaden Let me start by saying to Sarah Dollard that that’s how you do an anti-capitalism message in a doctor who story without shoving it down our throats through lazy sermons disguised as plot
JA Whereas the Doctor outright attacking capitalism in dialogue was so much subtler.
Jaden Haha OK I’m slightly stretching it but it was worked into the plot so much more naturally outside of some of the early dialogue.
JA I thought it was worked into the plot in both, but it was a cleverer idea here.
The oxygen concept was great Doctor Who: scary, clever, and creative.
Jaden Coincidentally that is everything that the last episode wasn’t. (Just trying to get in the arguments early since I don’t actually have that many complaints and this may be a short one.)
JA Well, it was about time we agreed again.
Jaden Someone fixed the hive mind machine. At least mostly.
JA Now we’re a schizoid hive mind.
Jaden Now watch you actually agree with my main gripe and ruin the conversation
JA The “buying oxygen” thing was a great concept. Even if I worked out the twist early on.
But it didn’t feel like it was built around the twist, so it worked.
Jaden I coulda used a little more explanation or time spent on how the moneymaking scheme worked. I only have a vague idea of it
JA Oxygen is a product. They sell oxygen to people in limited quantities for a profit.
Jaden I meant why did the suits kill their occupants again? Just their way of getting rid of ineffective products?
JA The workers were inefficient. They weren’t making a profit. To save operation costs, the corporation tried to kill them all and replace them.
Jaden I guess that works well enough. Felt a bit rushed still. Not my main issue at all though
JA And what is your main issue?
Jaden You know that scene where the Doctor heads out into space to save Bill and bring her back inside just before the vacuum could kill her and nearly sacrificed himself to do it?
Jaden That’s weird because I don’t. It happened off screen between commercial breaks.
Too bad, sounded like a great scene.
JA Oh, right. It was just quick flashes and then Nardole saying what happened.
JA I thought it was fine as it was.
We were seeing as Bill would have.
Jaden I feel like it sucked some intensity out of it. Especially watching in America with commercials between the dark as hell shot of her freezing and then waking up pretty much OK.
JA There was an in-between bit, wasn’t there?
With them moving through the vacuum. All blurry and recreating Bill’s POV.
Jaden I can’t remember if it cut to break before or after that, but either way I’d have rathered them have shown the rescue. I think they were worried the production team wouldn’t have pulled it off.
JA I think it was more that they want to recreate Bill’s confusion. I don’t know if it would be stronger or not to show it.
Jaden I think the thing that suffered most because of how that scene unfolded (or didn’t unfold) was the Doctor’s weakness after. I think I would’ve felt that way harder had it been different.
JA Maybe. I can see it going either way.
Jaden Speaking of… holy mother of god that ending
I did not see that coming.
Jaden Neither did the Doctor
JA A gif from one of the greatest movies of all time.
Jaden Gonna have to take your word for that.
JA Or you could watch it.
And all our followers should watch it.
(Editor’s Note: Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists in the UK, Pirates! Band of Misfits in the US. Great in both countries. Watch it.)
Jaden Apparently not even Mathieson saw it coming. He originally had him be cured and Moffat told him to keep it
JA Wow. That’s a great decision on Moffat’s part.
Jaden I’m sure he was giddy after that decision knowing he had Extremis to write next
JA I like how the week after we were bitching about Doctor Who not taking enough risks, they blinded the Doctor.
Jaden I think you called it. Didn’t you say you were thinking the first half of the season would be easing the new audience into things, and then kick things into high gear in the second half?
JA I did indeed. Apparently I was right. I think it’s a good strategy.
Jaden I’d have rather it be balls out from the start but I guess there’s people other than me in the world that need more time
JA I probably would have also started balls out, but I’m crazy.
Jaden I’m hyped af now for this three parter, so maybe there is some merit to starting slow.
JA Yeah, I think the three parter is going to be insane.
But sadly we are not time travellers and can only discuss this most recent episode
JA I feel like Mathieson really gets how to write for Capaldi, both here and in Mummy.
He writes him as this great mix of compassionate and cold.
Jaden Someone on the internets compared Mathieson’s Capaldi to McCoy
Which isn’t something I get with other takes on the twelth Doctor.
There’s this sense that he really cares, but he’s not human and he’s not always nice. He doesn’t have the time.
Jaden I actually didn’t love his take on Bill, however.
JA Bill felt a little generic.
But on the plus side, Nardole got something to do.
Jaden GOD DAMN IT STOP THAT. We’re supposed to argue
JA Bill was the greatest ever in this episode. Lots of depth. Very distinct.
I did really like the little bit of her jumping to test the gravity.
Jaden I liked that too, sadly. As well as Nardole.
And I never say I like Nardole
JA Nardole was really good in this one. He felt like he had a specific role in the TARDIS team. His reluctance and side comments were great.
Jaden Yeah that’s what I liked. He finally seems to have a purpose in the series besides comic relief to write around
JA I wonder if they were deliberately downplaying him to give Bill more focus.
Jaden I think they were downplaying him because no one could figure out what to do with him
JA Maybe. Apparently they also changed their mind as to how big of a role he was going to have while filming, so maybe he was originally just supposed to be the guy who occasionally mentions the vault and gives comic relief, but now they’re giving him more to do.
Jaden The vault… The most unmysterious series mystery ever…
JA I wonder if they’ll pulm the rug out under all of us and have it be someone else.
Crazy prediction of the week.
Jaden I’ll one up that by stealing an idea I saw from reddit. Moffat is in the vault, it will be revealed in Extremis and the episode will be him staring at the camera and occasionally flipping it off for forty five minutes
JA I almost made that joke last week.
Jaden Well I’m making it this week! Oh I should probably go back to negatives…
JA Are there more negatives?
Jaden The way Bill was saved felt anticlimactic
JA A bit. But I preferred it over what I thought was going to happen, which was that everyone comes back to life.
It also felt very McCoy/Mathieson Twelth Doctor.
Jaden I was dreading seeing everyone else come back, yeah.
Bigger critique: That one woman who didn’t trust the doctor
JA What about her? I felt like her threatening him was bit much.
Jaden She was… not good.
JA She did feel a bit flat.
Jaden Doctor Who writers like to try including a character like that in so many episodes and I think it’s worked maybe once.
Thankfully she was very minor and didn’t come back. Though Blue and Pete are still dead.
JA I think it can work if done well, but the majority of times those characters come across as belligerent and stupid.
Jaden Agreed, and I think I’m all out of straws to grasp.
JA The Doctor’s lectures have been amazing every time they’ve shown them.
I’d watch a whole episode of Capaldi adlibbing lectures.
Jaden This just in: Extremis is apparently just that
I could honestly see him doing it if it was a one parter. Maybe he’s doing a lecture and keeps thinking he hears something that shouldn’t be there but doesn’t want to alarm the students or let the students know he’s blind
JA I genuinely think that would be a great plot for an audio drama.
Get Big Finish and Capaldi on this.
Jaden And seeing how we’re onto big finish audio dramas I think it’s wrap up time
I’ll switch things up by going first
I think we’ve both been Mathieson agnostics since series 8, while the rest of the doctor who world has adored him. I’m not ready to convert yet but this was a really compelling and scary episode. He does dark doctor who so well and while I wish the episode could’ve expanded further on some points, this was the best drama of the year. I keep going back and forth between 8 and 8.5, so I’ll cheat with an 8.25/10
JA I thought the episode had a brilliant concept, clever satire, and some terrifying moments. The Doctor was perfectly written and Nardole was hilarious and finally had something to do. Bill was a little generic than usual and the supporting cast was a bit flat, but overall I would say that this is one of the highlights of this series so far. 8.5/10.
Literally a .25 difference.
Long live the hive mind.
Join the Hive Mind next week for our discussion of Extremis!