Oxygen, the latest Doctor Who episode just premiered on Saturday, and we need to talk about it. Normally, I try to make these kinds of posts spoiler free, but not this time. Please consider this a friendly and courteous spoiler warning. There is an image right after this paragraph, and then there will be spoilers, so if you have not seen the episode, please stop reading after this paragraph, go and watch the episode, then come back and we can discuss.
Still here? Or maybe you came back. Either way, let’s get down to it. There is a lot to process from this week’s episode, from the political themes (not touching it) to the ending to the preview for next week. Plenty of stuff going on, which makes sense, because we are getting close to the midway point of the series. (Can you believe it?) Let’s start with the ending.
The Big Change to Doctor Who
We have seen a lot of changes to the Doctor’s character over the years, the most obvious are the regenerations of course, but I still felt like this week’s episode caught me by surprise. The Doctor does a lot of really incredible things and always seems to come out alive and unhurt. You begin to think he is invincible. He is almost like a superhero, except he really doesn’t have any super powers, outside of regeneration. This episode reminded us of just how vulnerable he is.
Quick recap in case you forgot, or if you haven’t seen and you don’t mind spoilers. In the episode, the Doctor, Bill and Nardole are visiting a mining facility in space, despite Nardole reminding the Doctor that he shouldn’t leave the vault (more on the vault in a minute). The station is under attack by space suits that have killed their inhabitants and turned them into space zombies.
The three of them find the survivors, and at one point they all have to go outside, but Bill’s space suit takes off her helmet, leaving her exposed to the vacuum of space. To save her, the Doctor gives her his helmet, exposing himself to space. My thought was it was all fine, because obviously the Doctor, a time lord, should be able to withstand it longer. That is probably true. However, as a result of his prolonged exposure, he loses his sight.
The Doctor tells Bill that it will only be temporary, that he has a machine in the TARDIS that can fix just about anything. In the end, however, we learn, as the Doctor is sitting at his desk, in his office with his shades on, that the machine did not repair his eyes. He is now permanently blind, something only he and Nardole know at this point.
What does this change mean?
So the Doctor can’t see, but for how long? Will he eventually recover, or will Peter Capaldi spend the remainder of his time as the Doctor being blind? Only time will tell, really, but this change will be critical for at least the next episode. Personally, I am hoping we see it for the remainder of the series.
Some have theorized that the blindness will lead to an earlier than expected departure for Capaldi, that this will lead to him regenerating before the Christmas special. Personally, I hope not. I really hope that we get as much of 12 as we can, because with each episode he is becoming my favorite.
The big concern for Nardole was that whoever is in the vault will know the Doctor is weakened, and may try to take advantage of that. That seems like a valid concern. Granted at this point, we don’t know who is in the vault, but we get the definite impression that they are bad news for the Doctor, the world, and possibly the whole universe. Which leads me to…
Who is in the vault?
So many theories out there, and they all have merit. The one that seemed to get the most traction over the last couple of weeks was that it was Missy in the vault, because of a picture of her supposedly sitting on a piano. Maybe. Maybe not. Any of the obvious clues that are out there may be intentionally throwing us off. Or maybe they want us to think that.
It could be Missy, and that would be fine with me. If it is Missy, then it looks like we will see the vault open next week. If you missed the “Next Time” trailer for next week, then you need to check it out. Watch it all the way to the end. It looks like Missy makes her series 10 debut in next week’s episode:
What we know about the mystery occupant is that they are dangerous, the Doctor has sworn to guard them, and they like stories about children being eaten. That could be Missy, but it could also be John Simms’s the Master, who was also teased as coming back this series. Could we see the Doctor facing off against two Masters? Maybe. I think the knock that Nardole heard a couple of weeks ago sounded a lot like drums.
Of course it could be someone else entirely. Everything has pointed to one of the Masters being in there, but who knows. The Doctor has been known to lie to us before.
What do you think?
Will the Doctor remain blind until he regenerates, or will it only be for an episode or two? Or, possibly, will he remain blind even after he regenerates? I doubt that, but who knows? What do you think?
Want to learn more?
Fans believing that Missy is in the vault are using this screen grab to support their guess. (from inverse.com)
An allusion to a 350 year old poem may also point to Missy being in the vault.