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Oxygen Recap

The Doctor lectures about how space wants to kill people.

Ivan and his girlfriend Ellie go on a spacewalk outside of their station, Chasm Forge. As her suit registers one oxygen credit remaining, she tells Ivan that she wants to have a baby with him. Her com channel goes dead, sand she realizes that Ivan didn't hear her. As they continue on, Ivan turns around and realizes that he can't hear Ellie, and figures that they can't waste breath as his own suit recorder registers one credit. As he works at the airlock, two figures drop down onto the hull behind Ellie. They're humans in suits without helmets, and they advance on Ellie.

When Ivan opens the airlock, he sees Ellie's helmet drift by. He turns and sees three figures advancing on him... and one is the dead Ellie.

The Doctor is giving a lecture about the different means of dying in space. Billy and Nardole are in the audience watching, and one student finally asks what the Doctor's lecture has to do with crop rotation. Afterward, the Doctor and Nardole go back to the vault and Nardole figures that the Doctor is missing space, and is worried that he wants to take another trip.

That night, the Doctor looks out his office window at the sky.

Later, the Doctor brings Billy to the TARDIS and offers to take her out to space. He suggests that they go somewhere exciting and picks up a distress call. Nardole comes in, having refused to go to Birmingham to get some crisps. He points out that he was given strict instructions to keep the Doctor at the university, and explains that he removed a fluid link from the TARDIS after the Doctor's lecture. Nardole reminds the Doctor that he gave him orders not to leave the vault unguarded, The Doctor starts up the TARDIS without the fluid link and they depart.

The TARDIS rematerializes about Chasm Forge and he points out that there's no oxygen. He expands the air shadow around the TARDIS to fill the station and powers up the lights, and starts exploring. Billy finds an airlock and looks out at space, while a hatch opens to reveal a frozen corpse in a spacesuit, standing up. The Doctor peers curiously at it and determines that the suit is keeping the corpse upright. The oxygen counter shows 9. Billy says that they should turn off the suit, because it's disrespectful. She figures that he suffocated, but Nardole points out that his tank is full and his helmet is keeping in the air.

The Doctor checks the computer and determines that there's records of 36 life signs terminated. On the last log entry, the station was declared non-profitable and terminated. They hear something moving in the distance, and Nardole and the Doctor head back to the TARDIS. However, they realize that the Doctor isn't going, and he figures that there are four survivors. He goes after them and his companions follow.

The trio comes to a spacesuited figure moving crates. The helmet visor is opaque, and the figure doesn't respond to them. The Doctor knocks the helmet off and reveals that the suit is empty and operating on automatic. He turns on the suit's computer and asks what killed the station's crew, and the computer says that it's unaware of any deaths and there has never been any oxygen in the station. Oxygen is available for personal use only at competitive prices, and the Doctor explains that they only have oxygen in the suits. Any excess oxygen is expelled to maintain market value. Billy points out that they just filled the station with air, just as the alarms go off.

The TARDIS door shuts automatically and the station decompresses. The Doctor finally manages to seal the door leading to the decompressed section, and the TARDIS is on the other side. The vents turn on, sucking the remaining oxygen out. A human calls them over the intercom, asking for identification. The man identifies himself as Crew Chief Tasker. As they talk, the corpse in the suit turns toward them.

The Doctor asks Tasker what happened to the station crew. Tasker tells them to get out, as the corpse starts walking toward them. They turn and see the corpse reaching for them. It magnetically pulls the Doctor's sonic out of his hand and it shorts the suit out. The sonic is destroyed as well, and Billy wavers a little. Nardole checks the coding on the suit and confirms that a single line of instruction was sent to all suits: deactivate its organic component.

The Doctor finds three more suits and warns the others that the station will filter out all of the oxygen so it can sell it back to them. He warns that they have to put on the suits if they want to live. The suits the Doctor found are in for repairs and can't receive commands, and Nardole points out that there are 36 corpses walking around the station... and he's seen something moving outside. The smartsuit corpses are marching on the hull, and the trio puts on the suits. The computer informs them that they each have 2,5000 breaths available.

The Doctor calls Tasker, who tells them how to get to him. The corpses enter the station and the Doctor seals the door behind them. The next door is sealed, and more corpses advance on them. Tasker opens the door and they get inside just in time. Four crewmen are waiting for them, and Tasker checks the Doctor's psychic paper. It says that they're from the mythical "Union", and Billy's suit glitching. As Ivan examines it, Billy tells the alien crewman, Dahh-Ren, that she's not racist. Tasker says that none of them have 3,000 breaths, and the Doctor demands answers. Tasker has the remaining crewwoman, Abby, give the Doctor a map.

As Ivan examines Billy's suit, he says that the mute button on her suit isn't working and it's a mess.

Tasker says that someone hacked the network, but they were off-network to make repairs. All of the measurements are in breaths, and Abby says that they were heading to the core because it's the safest place. The Doctor wonders if whoever was responsible planned to murder them, but Dahh-Ren explains that it's the least productive that they've been for months. Tasker warns that their employers are too far away to help, and whoever hacked the suits cut the radio. He boosted a suit radio through the dish to send the distress call.

The Doctor wonders if the suit AIs can learn and evolve, He suggests that the suits might have gotten tired of carrying humans around, but tasker informs him that they only have limited problem-solving abilities. When the Doctor wonders what he's missing, Abby says that they're missing oxygen and should focus on that.

On the corpses, the suit scanners identify their unmoving hearts as a system fault. One of them jams its fingers into the door panel.

Inside, an alarm goes off and Tasker warns that the suits are fixing the lock. They head for the core down an open corridor, but when Tasker opens a door, more corpses are waiting. One of them electrocutes Ivan, turning them into another corpse. The others head for the nearby airlock, and everyone puts on their helmets because the forcefields aren't strong enough for a vacuum. As they initiate the airlock decompression, Billy's helmet malfunctions and the suit AI removes it. The cycle is automated, and the Doctor and Nardole tell her how to survive as long as possible in a vacuum. The airlock door opens and Billy runs out of breath.

later, Billy's suit walks across the hull. She watches as the crew blasts the pursuing corpses off into space. Later, she wakes up and is surprised to discover that she's alive. There are corpses down the hallway, and the suit AI tells Billy that it's offline for diagnostics purposes. Ivan and Nardole come over and explain that the Doctor hacked her suit and had it walk Billy out. The two men explain that they're in a new area of the ship not on the suit's mapping system and can't come there without a floorplan. Nardole tells Billy that the Doctor gave Billy his helmet so she'd survive, and barely stayed alive. The Doctor walked in vacuum for five minutes but paid a pressure. When Nardole says that the Doctor is in Section 12, one of the suits hears him and tries to find it on the floorplans.

Billy and Nardole go to the Doctor, and Billy realizes that he's blind. he tells her that it's temporary and once he gets back to the TARDIS he can heal the damage. The Doctor assures Billy that it won't slow him down, and Dahh-Ren explains that they've been trying to repair a radio and the Doctor has been thinking. When the Doctor trips over a wrench and Billy goes to help him, Nardole stops her and says that the Doctor doesn't like help.

A transponder goes off and Abby realizes that a ship is nearby. Meanwhile, Billy asks the Doctor if he's okay. He jokes about it and she tells him not to do it. Nardole comes over and says that a rescue ship is on the way. The Doctor points out that the transponder shows a ship is already there. Abby points out that Tasker trusted the Doctor and now he's dead, and draws a gun on hm.

The AIs find Section 12 and move the suits forward. They kill Dahh-Ren, and the others head for the core.. As they head out, Billy's suit locks up and Ivan determines that it needs a reboot. When they try to pick her up, the boot maglocks activate, freezing her in place because it's illegal to move her. The AI controls the release clamps so they can't take her out, and the Doctor realizes that it's just business as usual. He tells Billy that he'll have to leave her there, and says that she won't die but she will go through hell. He assures her that she will come through it and he'll be waiting on the other side. the survivors have no choice but to leave, and one of the corpses electrocutes Billy and she dies. After a moment, her suit marches along with the others.

When the corpse spacesuits reach the sealed core door, they find a welder and Billy's suit starts cutting through.

Inside the core, Nardole realizes that the Doctor is performing electrolysis on the water in the reactor core. He points out that it will only give them five minutes of oxygen, and the core will overheat and blow. He assure the Doctor that he couldn't have saved Billy and it wasn't his fault. The Doctor says that it's all his fault and that Billy is no more dead than anyone else on the station. He has Nardole take him to a keyboard and tells Ivan that they only have one plan left. The Doctor wires the suits to the core: if they die then the core will blow and destroy the station. Ivan tries to override the system, and discovers that the Doctor has locked them out.

The Doctor tells them to open the doors so they can have a good death. When Abby insists that the rescue ship is on the way, the Doctor tells them that there never was a rescue ship and no hack. The suits are doing what they were designed to do: save the oxygen that the crew are wasting. They've become inefficient, and tells them to access the log. Ivan does so and confirms that the ship set off before the distress call. The Doctor explains that they're not rescuers: they're replacements. The end point of capitalism is that human life has no value at all. He says that they can die well and show the company what they're worth, and Abby tells Ivan to open the doors.

The spacesuit corpses march in and advance on the Doctor. He tells them that if they die then it will be expensive. The suits stop and the Doctor tells them to check their readings. They confirm that the suits are wired to the core, and they're now too expensive to die. The Doctor recharges Billy's suit, saying that it was too low on power to fully kill her. The other suits advance and give them their remaining oxygen to keep them alive. Ivan thanks Ellie, and Billy hugs the Doctor. After a moment, Nardole join in.

Later in the TARDIS, Nardole examines the Doctor's eyes. The Doctor explains that the suits would have heard him if he told them his plan. Abby and Ivan are there, and Abby thanks the Doctor for helping them. He offers to take them anywhere, and she asks him to take them to the head office so that they can make a complaint.

Back on Earth, Billy asks the Doctor if making a complaint to the head office works. He doesn't know, but remembers that there's a successful revolution six months later and then the human race makes another mistake. Once she leaves, Nardole comes in and complains to the Doctor that he risked his life. If they don't return than whatever's in the vault could destroy Earth. He tells the Doctor to look at him, and the Doctor says that he can't... and finally admits that he's still blind.

Written by Gadfly on May 14, 2017

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