Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum

"Whole worlds pivot on acts of imagination."

I don’t know how I feel about this one, which is unfortunate because I’m about to write down my feelings about this one.

There was something a little off about this episode. It wasn’t really about the Doctor or her companions, but it also wasn’t not about them either. We got just as much time with the secondary characters, and there were a lot of them. We even got some time with Pting, and he was an overly cute CGI monster akin to Stitch. So I honestly don’t know what to make of the plot, was there one? We seem to have the same issue again and again, where the character work is very strong, but the plots are almost nonexistent, just a series of scenes strung together loosely by an antagonist, common struggle, or catastrophic event… or in the case of this episode, all three.

To try to break it down, we started with a mistake on a junk planet. Graham uncovered a sonic mine, which went off. The team woke up on a strange ship, rescued by a rather benevolent species that goes around like an interplanetary search and rescue. On this ship, we have a general with a debilitating but secretive disease, her brother and android servant, a pregnant man, the two members of the crew, and of course Graham, Yaz, Ryan and the Doctor.

The Doctor gets up too quickly, and due to her unusual physiology, she hasn’t fully healed. She ends up struggling throughout the episode to move as quickly as she needs. Which was interesting, instead of having her run around and take charge; she did step aside for Astos who did an admirable job being in charge for the first half of the episode, at least until the Pting killed him. Mabli didn’t even try to step up, leaving the Doctor in command.

With the status quo re-established, the Doctor quickly started to figure out the Pting, its motives and needs. So we go through the usual hijinks in an attempt to save the ship, not only from the little gremlin trying to eat it, but from the organization that runs the ship remotely. Which inevitably means a lot of running around, scanning things with the sonic, and generally the Doctor being smarter than everyone else; also, there’s usually at least one person making a sacrifice (sometimes a fatal one). To say this was a quintessential Doctor Who middle of the road episode would be an understatement.

Yet there were some moments of brilliance, like the Doctor talking about the anti-matter drive evolution like an iPhone, and how she marveled at its beauty. Actually, the Doctor continues to be a highlight for me, as well as the companions, although poor Yaz is still essentially a glorified extra at this point. Graham and Ryan got a few more nice scenes, and I really liked how they helped the pregnant guy find his courage and take on the role of father. Ryan giving the best advice I think you can give to an expecting parent, it doesn’t matter so much if you make mistakes, as long as you’re there for your child.

Bits:.

Pting might've been too cute to be menacing. They kind of reminded me of the creatures from 'Partners in Crime' in Doctor Who Series 4.

The bridge of the starship looked a bit like an Apple store or maybe the bridge of the Kelvin timeline Enterprise.

I didn’t really mention the General and her brother, my only real comment is the exchange where the Doctor recognized her, and in turn she had heard of the Doctor.

Quotes:

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."

Computer: "Condensed advice: Never engage with Pting. Risk to life: Ultimate."
The Doctor: "On the plus side, I now feel very well informed."

Computer: "Item Seven Alpha Cubed: Pting."
The Doctor: "Pting?"
Computer: "Pting. Threat level: Chalice."
Ryan Sinclair: "Is that bad?"
Mabli: "Worst one. One up from Beetroot."

Astos: "Why am I trusting you, Doctor?"
The Doctor: "You might be a bad liar, Astos, but you have excellent instincts."

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."

Not bad, not great, kinda meh.

2 out of 4 Cute aliens who eat starships

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

4 comments:

Nonei said...

Completely agree. I wanted to like this episode, but I found it a bit tedious. I felt like I could see everything mapped out from the beginning, which is sometimes fine... but it didn't work this time. Take-charge person that challenges/rallies the doctor dead in first encounter? check. General that has a secretive condition and looks down on her brother dying in climax after acknowledging brother's importance? check. Pregnant person that doesn't think they can handle a baby changing their mind because of support from our friends? check.
That last one I wouldn't have minded as much if the others weren't so blatant, since at least it dovetailed nicely with the discussion about the letter from his father last episode.
I was surprised the android didn't have to sacrifice himself to get the Pting out of the ship, but I guess then we wouldn't get to find out he was imminently to be decommissioned due to the death of the general. (I was expecting the brother to offer to keep him around, but if he did I missed it)
I don't know, just a very meh episode.

Billie Doux said...

This is exactly the sort of Who episode I usually like, which is the set in space sort. But sigh. I again liked a lot of the character stuff, but the plot was meh. I hope things pick up soon.

TheShadowKnows said...

My wife's first reaction to the Pting was to squeal, "It's so cute! It has a little tail." So it's safe to say she wasn't terrified.

Nonei said...

I should say my kids loved the episode, especially the Pting. Their reaction was, "Awww, it's a cross between Stitch and the adipose babies!" - it's funny that you saw the exact same resemblance, JD.