the almost return of gus
As soon as I found out that Oxygen was due to be a space story I started trying to figure out a way to incorporate the character of Gus.
For those of you not familiar with Gus (and seriously, why are you even reading this piece if you aren't?) he was the homicidal computer in Mummy on the Orient Express. In that episode his origin was left purposefully vague, mainly because explaining the whys and wherefores of the bad guys behind it all would have taken more screentime than we had to play with.
Leaving Gus vague and mysterious saved me five pages of script.
And also, really, once the mummy was out of the way, the audience was subconsciously getting ready to put the kettle on. We were wrapping everything up, which would have made unveiling a shadowy organisation an annoying detour.
But in doing this, we left an irresistible glamour and question mark hanging over the character of Gus. And with Oxygen, surely, I had a chance to fill in the blanks a little.
Having Gus and his corporation revealed as the baddies behind it all would be a nice surprise, but then what? What would be the new angle? What else could I reveal about them?
What I came up with was this: the finale began much as the finished episode - the blind Doctor wiring the survivor's lifesigns to the nuclear core. If they die, the station will blow up. But this information wasn't intended to just teach the suits, it was instead transmitted to the head office. Blackmailing the corporation from afar.
And it worked. The corporation deactivated the suits remotely at the last possible second. An oily fat cat rep of the company called Kline appeared on a monitor. He claimed that the company had been impressed with our heroes' resourcefulness and gall, offering them all stock options and higher paid positions. Attempting to buy them all off, in return for not blowing up their precious station.
But the Doctor turned him down, got everyone inside the Tardis and blew the station up anyway. He instinctively felt Kline couldn't be trusted as even though the Doctor was blind he recognised his voice – as the voice of Gus.
The Doctor revealed that the events of Oxygen occurred decades before the events of Mummy On The Orient Express. The corporation behind Chasm Forge would apparently someday have a section dedicated to analysing and acquiring murderous ancient technology. Kline's fall from grace for fumbling this negotiation would eventually lead to him being fired, only living on after his shameful demotion as voice of the company computer.
Effectively, through his own actions, The Doctor had created Gus...
All of this worked fine in the script, with some lovely exchanges between The Doctor and Kline, but ultimately, it faced the same problem as Mummy. Once the monsters were defeated, we should have been wrapping everything up, not unpacking more story. It was kettle switch time. Steven felt that the monsters were too good. Anything after them would be anti-climactic, and I agreed.
So all references to Gus were cut and the ending changed to the what you see in the finished episode. The only thing that remained was to reword the poster that Bill sees while waiting for her suit to auto-repair. It originally read: 'Ganymede Systems – putting the YOU in User' which hinted at a possible future name for the company:
Ganymede User Systems...