Monday, November 5, 2018

Doctor Who 11x05 Recap: “The Tsuranga Conundrum” (A Very Bad Alien Baby) [Guest Poster: Stephanie Coats]

“The Tsuranga Conundrum”
Original Airdate: November 4, 2018

Where would you want to go after agreeing to travel in time and space with an alien in a bigger-on-the-inside blue box? How about a very exciting... junkyard?! That’s where Team TARDIS is at the start of the episode. To be fair, their dialogue suggests they’ve had other adventures since we last saw them but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re in a junkyard now, scavenging with metal detectors. Sadly, the only thing they find is a sonic bomb, which goes off and blasts them all.


Not to worry, though! All four awake in a medical unit, well-attended to by medics Astos and Mabli. The Doctor is the last to come to, and she’s still very dizzy and in pain. The medics explain they were pulled from the debris and fixed up. Worried about leaving the TARDIS on a junk planet, the Doctor stumbles around looking for the exit, only to eventually realize they aren’t on the planet at all. They’re on the Tsuranga, a medical transport unit, four days away from the planet with the TARDIS.

Obviously distressed both for her TARDIS and ability to keep her companions safe without the ship, the Doctor uses the sonic to override the ship’s system with the intention of turning them around. Astos intervenes, however. He impresses upon her that there are other patients aboard, ones that need to receive proper treatment at their destination. If the Doctor turns them around, she’s being selfish and thoughtless. Humbled, she backs off... just in time for the ship to register a breach in the shields. Something has come aboard mid-flight.

A new passenger might not be such a bad thing — if it didn’t immediately start attacking the life pods that is. Astos convinces the Doctor, who is still in visible pain, to let him check the pod. He should’ve known better. He’s immediately tricked into getting into the pod, is locked inside, and the pod is ejected into space, where it blows up. Everyone comes running to see what’s going on and they all spy a small, aggressive, baby-like alien chomping on parts of the ship. It even snatches the sonic screwdriver and gnaws on it before spitting it out and scurrying off.


Using the ship’s database, the Doctor learns the creature is a P’ting. It doesn’t eat people, but it is toxic to the touch and basically unkillable. It poses a significant threat to everyone on board, including a pregnant alien man named Yoss, a highly decorated pilot named General Eve Cicero, and her brother — a mechanic named Durkas. The siblings are fighting for a number of reasons, but mainly because Durkas is convinced Eve is hiding a medical condition from him, aided and abetted by her android assistant, Ronan. He pressures Mabli to give Eve more medication. Meanwhile, Yoss shows off ultrasound pictures to Yaz and Ryan but tells them he doesn’t plan to keep the baby because he’s not ready to be a dad. This, of course, brings up Ryan’s complicated feelings about his own father.

The Doctor discovers the P’ting has re-routed them towards an asteroid field. She’s still unclear what the creature wants, though. An alert comes through asking if there are any problems on board, which poses a conundrum. If they’re honest, the ship will explode in space to prevent the P’ting from reaching the planet. If they say no and can’t get rid of the P’ting themselves, they’re endangering a lot more people. The Doctor takes that chance and responds with an a-okay.

In an all-hands briefing, she reassures everyone that she’ll get them safely to the planet. Eve has experience with a P’ting and knows it’s dangerous. They deduce it will head toward the anti-matter drive because it has the most energy on the ship. If it’s destroyed, they’ll be dead in space. Ronan and Yaz are left to guard the drive while Graham and Ryan help Mabli deliver Yoss’ baby (Graham has seen Call the Midwife, after all).

To guide them through the asteroid field and to a safe landing, Durkas rigs up a Pacific Rim, Jaeger-style piloting interface for Eve. But there’s a major problem. Eve reveals she has Pilot’s Heart, a condition that means if her adrenaline surges too high, she’ll die. That’s why she’s been using adrenaline blockers and, indeed, has used all the ones on board. She is still determined to do her part.


Ronan and Yaz manage to stun the P’ting, wrap it up, and dropkick it down the hall to buy them all some time. The Doctor removes the built-in bomb from the ship and plans to set it off safely. She lures the P’ting towards it. Once the creature, swallows the bomb, it goes off and the Doctor ejects the P’ting from the ship. Eve flies magnificently but her heart can’t take the strain. She hands over control to Durkas and collapses, dead. Yoss gives birth to a boy and decides to keep him after all.

Everyone gathers around Eve’s body to memorialize her with an incantation: “May the saints of all the stars and constellations bring you hope, as they guide you out of the dark and into the light. On this voyage and in the next. And all the journeys still to come. For now, and evermore.”

Final Thoughts: 

  • We’re five episodes in and we haven’t seen the villain of any episode face actual consequences for their villainy. Where is the justice for the people these bad guys/creatures/aliens killed or caused to be killed? 
  • I am having the hardest time hearing or remembering the names of any new character in each episode. Is it the Southern English accents throwing me off? Or is it that there are like 4+ new characters in every episode that we meet and learn about and I just can’t keep them straight? 
  • Graham has seen every episode of Call the Midwife, though he looked away at the squeamish parts. The Doctor has seen all 900 casts of Hamilton.


Post a Comment