Summary: That Air you’re breathing will cost you your life.
Plot: Bill the Doctor and Nardole find themselves on a space station in an era where the company that makes your live support suit charges you by the breath for the air you breathe in the suit. The only problem is that the suits seem to be killing the people wearing them, so cut off from the TARDIS the crew has a choice, die from lack of oxygen or risk being murdered by your life support system.
Writing: Yet another “evils of capitalism” my God that’s been played to death but hitting the concept of leaving cost benefit analysis of life is a great pro-life message that is lost. There are several excellent twists to the story that are worthwhile and the interaction of the characters on the station works very well. The addition of Nardole to the story, particularly his early interactions with the Doctor are great but I think Bill gets a little short shifted by writer Jamie Mathieson in this episode. Or to put it another way, I think it was a well written story but I think it could have used a tad more polish or perhaps a 2nd part as there was more here than they had time to develop.
Acting: The more I see Matt Lucas the more I think of Frank DeKova from F-Troop who managed to steal every scene he was in during that series. To be able to constantly do that with an actor as good as Capaldi is a real feat. I’m presuming he will be leaving with Capaldi and that’s going to be a loss. Pearl Mackie is certainly growing in the role and I think she made the material better but I think other than in spots she was undersold by the script. The supporting cast for the episode deserves a thumbs up as they made the episode better.
Memorable Moments: Fluid links, rescued a racist, fighting a spreadsheet, fined for dying
Doctor Who Flashbacks: Biil’s reaction to Dar Ren vs Sarah Jane’s Reaction to Alpha Centuri (The Monster of Peladon 3rd Doctor) Having to pay for Oxygen harkens to the Sun Makers (4th Doctor) “21 hours a week of unproductivity you will have to do without sleep until the debt is paid.
Oddities: I think the cost benefit solution by the Doctor was excellent.
Pet Peeves: I didn’t buy the “oh the spacesuit is damaged so it won’t kill her properly” business. I think that was a very weak dodge.
Great Quote(s) via chakoteya.net transcripts
The Doctor: So, how does space kill you? I’m glad you asked. The main problem is pressure. There isn’t any. So, don’t hold your breath or your lungs will explode. Blood vessels rupture. Exposed areas swell. Fun fact! The boiling temperature of water is much lower in a vacuum. Which means that your sweat and your saliva will boil, as will the fluid around your eyes. You won’t notice any of this because fifteen seconds in, you’ve passed out as oxygen bubbles formed in your blood. And ninety seconds in, you’re dead. Any questions? ( A student raises her hand.) Yes?
Student: What’s this got to do with crop rotation?
The Doctor: Er, I dunno. But space is great, isn’t it?
The Doctor: Oh, look, Bill, it’s Nardole. What a lovely surprise. I thought I sent you to Birmingham for a packet of crisps.
Nardone: Yeah, I saw through your cunning ruse.
The Doctor: Yes, well, if you will go thinking for yourself. What do you want?
Nardone: I was given strict instructions to keep you at the university.
The Doctor: Who by?
The Doctor: Well, you’re not doing a very good job, are you? I’ll overlook it this once.
The Doctor: What killed the crew of this station?
Life Support Suit: I am unaware of any recent deaths.
The Doctor: What about the oxygen? Where did it all go?
Life Support Suit: There has never been any oxygen in this station.
Nardole: Oh, listen to that. Still saucy after all these years.
The Doctor: Explain.
Life Support Suit: Oxygen is available for personal use only, at competitive prices.
Ivan: They’re nearly through!
The Doctor: Open up. Let’s send them a message. Let’s teach them a lesson they will never forget. If they take our lives, we take their station and every penny they will ever make from it. Die well! It’s the finish line! It’s winning!
Abby: Open it.
Nardone: Doctor! Doctor
The Doctor: What?
Nardone: It’s Bill.
The Doctor: (sotto) Of course it’s Bill. Fate and me, we have a thing. (normal) Hello, suits. Our deaths will be brave and brilliant and unafraid. But above all, suits, our deaths will be expensive! Check your readings. We die, your precious station dies. The whole thing will blow. The company will make the biggest loss in its history. A moment ago, we were too expensive to live. Now we’re more expensive dead. Welcome to the rest of your lives.
Final Verdict: 4 stars but just barely. An above avg episode despite its weaknesses.
Ranking of Season: 2nd of 5 The first episode of the season not better than the previous one.
Top 10 Ranking in the Capaldi Era: n/a This is to my memory the longest steak that a Doctor has had of a 3rd season not having a top 10 episodes in it.
1st The Husbands of River Song
2nd. Last Christmas
3rd. The Caretaker
4th. The Return of Doctor Mysterio
5th. The Girl who Died
6th. The Witch’s Familiar
7th. Hell Bent
8th. Mummy on the Orient Express
9th. Face the Raven
10th. Into the Dalek