the origin of oxygen
So Steven emailed me asking for an idea about space. I emailed him one back. An hour later, he said yes and we began the long and winding process that lead to the episode itself. Would you like to read what I sent him? Of course you would. Interesting to see how different the original idea was:
By Jamie Mathieson
The Tardis materialises in an elephant's graveyard for spaceships in the middle of nowhere. All floating, tumbling inert in a loose cluster. All drawn there by the same distress call and then drained of energy. The crews are being picked off by creatures stalking through the wrecks, leaping through the vacuum between ships, heard scrabbling and scratching on the hull.
The survivors are also forced to leap from ship to ship, trying to keep one step ahead of the creatures. Really play up the 'space can kill you' angle. The only currency that matters now is oxygen and it's running out. That's our ticking clock. It's down to maths; how many bottles divided by how many people. And there isn't enough to go round. Which ratchets up the tension and leads to backstabbing as self interest comes to the fore, with the Doctor as Ref.
We could also have races usually at war to add more colour. A forced truce in the face of a bigger threat.
The creatures I picture as large crystalline space parasites, a cross between Geiger's Alien and tardigrades, acting on pure instinct. But they could be Siren/mind control variants. If they get you in a direct line of sight, there's a strong chance you'll open an airlock and let them in, all the while justifying to yourself and others why this course of action makes perfect sense. This is another reason for survivors to turn on each other, suspecting each other of being hypnotised by these creatures. Very 'The Thing' in terms of claustrophobia and mistrust.
The eventual solution would centre around the question of how the ships were drained of power. Some sort of queen creature nested in a nearby asteroid that they have to locate and destroy to free the ships and escape. I think explaining this ability is an easier sell if the creatures are silicon based life, crystalline, almost like glass. Also explains where the distress signal came from – the queen's body is like huge radio antenna, with a mynah bird like mimic ability to produce the distress call. She doesn't even know what it means, just that it brings food.
Potential debate about killing it, but we could always have hot headed other survivors pull the trigger.