Doctor Who | Season 11 | Episode : “The Tsuranga Conundrum“
For a quick read, go to Review.
For a complete summary, go to Recap.
[Read time: 5-7 min]
“Well we’ve all hacked into our loved one’s confidential records at one stage or another haven’t we?” Graham O’Brien – Doctor Who
The TARDIS is in a junk galaxy on a junk planet. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions are salvaging for some equipment. Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) finds something with his metal detector. The Doctor finds out it is a sonic bomb. The bomb goes off and the Doctor wakes up in a hospital. The medics are taking care of Yasmin ‘Yaz’ Khan (Mandip Gill). Graham tells her she was the last one to wake up. One of the medics Mabli (Lois Chimimba) asks for their med tags, but none of them has one. The Doctor stumbles out of her bed, still in pain. She tells Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) and the rest of her companions to come with her. The other medic Astos (Brett Goldstein) tells her she should get back in bed. The Doctor explains to him that she needs to get back to the TARDIS, “But my ship is very valuable. It’s also my home – our home, and I’m worried leaving it here, on a junk planet where people come and salvage. I only just got it back.” She and her friends walk down the corridor looking for an exit. They come upon three people talking; General Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer), her little brother Durkas (Doc Brown) and her android consult Ronan (David Shields). General Eve is there because she suffers from Corton Fever. It’s obvious that Durkas doesn’t like the android. The Doctor recognizes Eve; she has a chapter in the Book of Celebrants. Eve asks who the Doctor is, when she says who she is, Eve says she read about her in the book too. The Doctor tries to downplay it saying it’s a common name. When she prepares to leave the room, she stops to say, “I’d say it was more a volume than a chapter.” The Doctor complains about her ecto spleen and the lack of signage showing an exit. They stumble upon another patient, a pregnant man named Yoss (Jack Shalloo). The men in his race can also have babies. He asks where they are going to go if they find an exit. The Doctor begins to realize they aren’t just in a hospital; they are on a hospital ship.
When the Doctor finds out they have been out for four days and that they are heading to Resus One, she panics. With her sonic, she tries to commandeer the ship to take them back to the junk planet. Astos reminds her that she is trying to commandeer his ship, and there are other patients on board who need medical attention at Resus One. The Doctor: “You’re right, of course you are. Sorry. The mine hit me harder than I thought.” Just then, the Doctor sees on the screen that some object from space has hit the ship. The Doctor: “Something is inside the shields.” Astos: “I’m sure it’s nothing.” The Doctor: “Bad liar Astos.” They begin following the creature’s movement on the screens. The Doctor begins telling Astos what they should do. Astos: “I don’t know your name.” The Doctor: “I’m the Doctor.” Astos: “Are you kidding?” The Doctor: “Sometimes. But not right now.” They continue to argue about what to do. They decide to split up, with the Doctor checking on the Life Pod on the portside, while Astos checks on the Life Pod starboard. Astos: “Why am I trusting you, Doctor?” The Doctor: “You might be a bad liar, Astos, but you have excellent instincts.”
Ronan subtly threatens Mabli with her job to get adrenalin blockers for the General. He won’t allow her to check with Astos first. Graham walks in on Durkas and asks what he is doing. Durkas: “I was trying to hack into my sister’s medical record.” Graham: “Well we’ve all hacked into our loved one’s confidential records at one stage or another haven’t we?” He knows that his sister is trying to hide something from him. Graham heard that Eve is a General and war hero, he asks Durkas what he does. Durkas: “Me, I’m an engineer. I fix the things pilots like my sister tend to wreck. She looks down at me for it. She always will.” The Doctor reports to Astos that something jettisoned off the portside Life Pod. She advises Astos not to engage. He doesn’t listen and enters the starboard Life Pod. The door shuts behind him and he realizes his mistake. Knowing he’s probably doomed, he contacts a confused Mabli and gives her this pep talk, “You can do this Mabli. You’re good enough. You have to believe in yourself. I believe in you. I always have.” The Life Pod he’s in jettisons off the ship and explodes. The Doctor tried to run in her injured state but is unable to reach him in time. She meets up with her friends and Mabli and they run into the alien creature causing all this damage. The alien is a cute little creature that reminds me of Stitch in “Lilo and Stitch”. The Doctor tries to get tough with it. The Doctor: “And you. Off this, ship and back into space right now. Else you’ll have me to deal with.” [The creature roars at the Doctor and gobbles a part from the ship]
The Pting gets 'Hangry' like the rest of us ? #doctorwho pic.twitter.com/On3XfIo146
— Doctor Who Official (@bbcdoctorwho) November 5, 2018
Graham: “It just sort of ignored you there Doc.” The Doctor: “Got that. Thanks Graham.” The Doctor walks up to it with her sonic to scan it, it grabs her sonic and swallows it. It spits it back up, but the sonic isn’t working now. They make a hasty retreat.
“Whole worlds pivot on acts of imagination.” The Doctor – Doctor Who
Mabli uses her ocular recorder to look up what they just faced. It is called a Pting, it eats inorganic material, but not organic. Graham: “It won’t eat us, but it’ll eat the ship we’re on.” No one has been able to keep one in captivity. It has toxic skin, and seems indestructible. The report advises to avoid the Pting if possible. Mabli is a new medic so the Doctor works on building up her confidence. The Doctor tells them to gather the other patients for a group meeting while she takes about seven minutes to come up with a plan. General Eve, Durkas, and Ronan are together. Durkas tells his sister she can’t take adrenalin blockers for her condition. Ryan and Yaz find Yoss, the pregnant man. He plans to give up his son [males have boys, females have girls] because he can barely take care of himself. Ryan tells Yaz when they’re alone that he couldn’t imagine having a kid now either. He realizes Yoss is around his age, and his father was around their age when he was born. Since they are on the subject, Yaz asks some questions about his father. Ryan’s mother died when he was 13, he found the body. Ryan: “I never knew life threw that sort of stuff right at you. I never knew that when it does sometimes adults don’t cope either.” His father didn’t handle her death well. Ryan looks like his mom, so he figures that made it harder for his father to be around him. Ryan gets uncomfortable talking about it and wants to change the subject.
The Doctor is with Mabli, trying to figure out what the Pting wants. She is trying to make a diagnosis of the creature, explaining to Mabli like what one does in medicine with a medical problem. The Doctor: “You’re a medic, I’m the Doctor.” Mabli: “A doctor of medicine?” The Doctor: “Well, medicine, science, engineering, candy floss, Lego, philosophy, music, problems, people … hope! Mostly hope.” Mabli: “Well I’m struggling to see much hope here.” The Doctor: “It doesn’t just offer itself up. You have to use your imagination. Imagine the solution and work to make it realty. Whole worlds pivot on acts of imagination.” The ship’s alarms go off; Resus One monitors their ships for any course deviations or any problems aboard the ship. They won’t let one of their ships rendezvous with them if they have a hazard that could harm their patients. If they can’t evacuate the ship, Mabli says, “They destroy the ship.” The Doctor: “So this ship either gets destroyed by this creature or by control from Resus One.” The Pting is busy destroying the ship.
The meeting begins and the Doctor doesn’t sugarcoat what is happening. During the meeting, the Pting gets into the life support system ensuring they will be without oxygen soon. General Eve has dealt with the creatures before, and they are as destructive as advertised. She advises they use some stazers [futuristic Taser] to stun it. To add to their worries, Yoss is ready to deliver. They divide into teams, Mabli, Graham, and Ryan [to act as Yoss’ doulas] will help Yoss deliver the baby. Yaz and Ronan will guard the anti-mater device that powers the ship. General Eve and her brother will go with the Doctor. Before they split, Mabli stops the Doctor. She can’t tell her what Eve’s condition is because of medical confidentiality, but she suggests the Doctor exam the General for herself.
The Doctor stops off with Yaz and Ronan in the anti-matter chamber before she joins the siblings. She explains to Yaz how the anti-matter device works. After she explains its technicalities, she become poetic. The Doctor: “It’s beautiful: Antimatter powering the movement of matter, bringing positrons into existence to move other forms of life across space. I love it — conceptually … and actually.”
The Doctor joins Eve and gives her a quick examination. Because of her great hearing, she heard Eve earlier ask for adrenaline blockers, something you wouldn’t need for Corton Fever. Her other symptoms suggests she has Pilot’s Heart. Durkas walks in and hears this; he knew his sister was hiding something from him. Pilot’s Heart means that if she gets an adrenaline surge through her heart, it will kill her. They need to get out of this asteroid area quickly, they are on an automated ship but they need someone to pilot them out of here. Eve says she is strong enough to do it. Her brother, the engineer will rig up a device so his sister can pilot the ship using a neural interface.
“Siobhan Chamberlain with the goal kick for England.” Yaz Khan – Doctor Who
Yoss is delivering the baby with encouragement from Graham and Ryan. Graham tells Yoss he watches “Call the Midwife” and Ryan’s grandmother was a nurse, so they can help. They aren’t that helpful it turns out. The birth bud that relieves pain is out, so he is in incredible pain. The Pting is under the anti-matter chamber floor. When it burst through the floor, Yaz and Ronan use the stazers to stun the creature. Yaz wraps it in a blanket and takes it out in the corridors away from the anti-matter device. Yaz: “Siobhan Chamberlain with the goal kick for England.” She boots it down the corridor. Durkas has the piloting device ready. The Doctor volunteers to pilot the ship, she doesn’t know how to but she believes she can if Eve talks her through it. Eve tells her it takes years to learn how. The Doctor: “Oh I really need to spend more time in the 67th century.” Durkas mentions something about energy and it clicks to her what the Pting wants. The Doctor: “That little creature seeks out and feasts on energy.” The Doctor tells Eve to pilot while she deals with the Pting.
The Doctor’s sonic reboots just in time, allowing her to find the bomb that the people in Resus One plant in their ships to destroy them if needed. Yaz joins the Doctor as she sets the timer on the bomb and sets it out for the Pting. The Doctor: “Think of the Pting as a mouse and the bomb as a piece of cheese.” Yaz: “A very large piece of cheese about to explode and take us all with it!” The Doctor: “It’s not a perfect analogy, I’ll admit.” The Pting shows up and swallows the bomb. It explodes doing no damage to it. The Doctor ejects the creature from the ship as it enjoys its meal.
Meanwhile Yoss is about to deliver his baby. Ryan offers this advice, “Yoss, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be there.” Yoss delivers a baby boy [as we all knew]. When the Doctor rejoins Eve and Durkas, he is piloting the ship and Eve is on the floor dead. Piloting the ship was too big a strain on her heart, so she turned over the piloting duties to Durkas. He succeeds in getting them to Resus One. Yoss decides to keep the baby, the authorities on Resus One will teleport the Doctor and her companions back to the junk planet where the TARDIS awaits them. Durkas who softens on Ronan asks him to do a recant for his sister. Everyone joins him, “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 the next. And all the journeys still to come. For now and evermore.”
Here’s a case file of the Pting.
[Read time: 1-3 minutes]
Team TARDIS is salvaging on a junk planet when they are injured by a sonic bomb. Luckily for them, they are rescued and taken to a hospital ship. Though still injured, the Doctor tries to commandeer the ship so that she can get back to the TARDIS. One of the medics Astos convinces her what she is doing is wrong. Just then a creature gets into the ship’s shield and gets aboard the ship. The creature is called a Pting, it’s cute but extremely dangerous. Other patients on the ship: a war hero, her brother, her android, and a pregnant man. Astos is killed and the junior medic Mabli and the other patients work with Team TARDIS to save the ship and themselves from the Pting.
This episode is what they call a ‘base under seize’ story. The Doctor and her companions end up somewhere with a group of strangers that comes under seize. They all have to band together to defeat the common enemy. The common enemy was a Pting, a creature that looks like it was created to sell plush toys this coming Christmas. The show tried to sell how dangerous it was, but it never felt that dangerous. I kind of thought they might adopt it and make it a pet. They were also under threat of being blown up, trying to navigate in an asteroid field, and having a male patient having a baby. None of it felt like it had any real stakes. The medical ship set looked good. The guest stars were good, but not really memorable. The main cast did a good job as usual. I liked seeing the Doctor try to commandeer the ship. She could have if she wanted too. It shows how powerful and dangerous the Doctor is. It would be nice that sometime this season they present a villain who really pushes and challenges the Doctor. Chris Chibnall said he wouldn’t have any of the past villains on this season. He hasn’t introduced a new one that replaces them. It only makes you miss the Daleks, Cybermen, and Weeping Angels more.
It was a cute story, but not one that I’ll visit again. It wasn’t a dud, but I doubt it will be anyone’s favorite episode from this season. I will remember the Pting and I might pick up one if the toy is on sell.
Here is the promo for next week’s episode, Demons of the Punjab. Does Yaz finally get the spotlight on her?
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