Take a deep breath. Hold onto your helmets. Try not to let your suit kill you. This is my initial thoughts on episode five or Series 10, Oxygen.
Like last weeks Initial Thoughts article, this week I’m going to be focussing on a few things that stood out to me; and by a few things, I mean one thing. The Doctor’s blindness. I was tempted to talk about the political aspect of the story, however after seeing comments from writer Jamie Mathieson about his fears that the story could have been interpreted as “too political”, I think it’s best if I don’t talk about it (yet).
Actually, before I go into the Doctor and his lack of sight, I’m going to talk about another aspect of this episode that I fear will go overlooked due to the huge revelation at the end. Let’s talk about Nardole. On paper, I shouldn’t love Nardole as a character; I shouldn’t even like him. On screen though, flanked by Peter Capaldi’s Doctor and Pearl Mackie’s Bill, Matt Lucas absolutely excels at being a Doctor Who companion. It’s taken us a month of teasing, but this Saturday just gone, we got a whole episode featuring Nardole. I’m going to say something that could be considered controversial too, Nardole may have had my favourite line from the series so far in “I have a friend who is Blueish”, apparently it’s a line that Lucas come up with on the day. Everything about that line was perfect, from the out-of-the-blueness (pardon the pun) to the delivery. A lot of people, myself included, were sceptical about why Nardole was needed in Series 10. I think it’s safe to say that he’s proved his worth already.
Now onto the Doctor’s blindness. I’m going to be honest and say I’ve not planned this section at all; I’m just going to splurge my thoughts through my fingers and onto my keyboard. Now you’re reading the results of my splurging. Are you enjoying it? Anyway, the Doctor going blind has the potential to be one of the most cataclysmic events in the Doctor’s life on screen so far. Nearly 54 years since it first aired, we’re still getting new takes on the Time Lord. Having a Doctor who can’t trust what he can see is a great new angle; and, even though it’s probably only going to last a few episodes, it’s going to pose a big challenge for the Doctor.
Personally, I think that the Twelfth Doctor is the best incarnation of the Time Lord to be blinded that we’ve had so far; adding this “vulnerability” to an incarnation that is known in the public for being spiky and difficult might make general audiences be more willing to give him a shot, as we’re likely to see a slightly softer side to Twelve. It also poses a different challenge for Capaldi when he’s acting, especially because he himself is not blind. Actors love to be challenged, and this is exactly the kind of thing that I expect Capaldi to thrive with.
Then there’s the matter of it being an inclusion for people who have visual impairment. Having one of the most heroic role models on TV be blind is a great way to show that the disability doesn’t have to be a hinderance. You can still be brilliant if you can’t see. Imagine if you’re a young partially sighted or blind child who enjoys Doctor Who, and now your hero is the same as you. How amazing would that be?
Now, that’s all I can think of to talk about in regards to the Doctor’s blindness, but I’m sure that over the coming weeks, I’ll add more thoughts into my Initial Thoughts articles too. The main thing is, what did you think of Oxygen? Let me know by tweeting me @GallifreyRchive.
Thanks to Stuart Manning for allowing me to use his poster at the top of this article; if you want to see more of Stuart’s amazing work, click here.