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The Tsuranga Conundrum was the fifth episode of series 11 of Doctor Who.

The episode followed the Thirteenth Doctor and her companions caught up on a hospital ship and facing a new threat, the Pting, a creature that only consumes non-organic matter. The story also expanded on Ryan's family backstory regarding losing his mother.

Synopsis Edit

As the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends end up stranded without the TARDIS on a hospital ship in space, with a strange and potentially deadly intruder on board, it is up to them, the crew, and the patients to figure out what it is, what it wants, and how to stop it before the creature tears the ship apart.

Plot Edit

On Seffilun 27 in a junk galaxy, the Thirteenth Doctor, Ryan, Yasmin, and Graham are using modified metal detectors look for spare parts for the TARDIS. When asked what they are looking for, the Doctor holds up an extra part for her friends to see. She mentions that the last time she was there, she was able to find at least six of them. However, she then takes back her claim, wondering if she had instead been searching on Seffilun 59. The Doctor adds that's the problem with junk galaxies; the seffiluns all look the same. Graham asks which one they currently on, to which the Doctor explains is very far away from the one she mentioned. Graham voices annoyance, only for the Doctor to counter she did take them all for rainbathing on upward tropics of Kinstarno. Graham quickly changes his tune, explaining the "needle in a haystack" search is aggregating.

Ryan calls over to the group, explaining that his detector has found something. Everyone races over to help uncover what Ryan has found. Its a round device, which starts beeping. The Doctor tells her companions to hold very still; she takes out the sonic, clearly meaning the device is dangerous. When asked what it is, the Doctor explains that it's sonic mine; she wonders if its somebody's idea of a bad joke. She attempts to put the device in stasis, but fails. She gives a countdown to when it will detonate, and everything goes white at detonation.

The Doctor begins regaining consciousness, hearing two different voices from her friends. She sees a man, who helps her sit up and tests her eye's response to light; she's currently in a medical facility. A woman takes his place, asking about her medtag. The Doctor ignores her, watching the man notice something off on a monitor. The Doctor continues to stabilize, as Ryan tells the female nurse that the quartet don't have medtags. She explains that all patients must have them, so they can know how to take care of them; the male nurse explains that it gives them every last scrap of data on a person's biology, to avoid killing them. The Doctor asks where they are, to which Graham explains she is the last of them to be woken up. Its been four days since the sonic mine went off; they were lucky that scavenger bots found them and brought them to Tsuranga. The Doctor notes that the name is familiar, but immediately fears for the safety of her TARDIS; if its left behind on a junk planet, it could be scavenged.

Astos

Astos demanding the Doctor to return to her room for recovery

Despite the nurses' insistence that she remain seated until she finishes stabilizing, the Doctor gets up and proceeds out the door, with her reluctant companions following her. The male nurse follows after her, prompting the Doctor to ask for his name; it's Astos, and the woman is Mabli. He asks for her to return to the assessment area, only for the Doctor to ignore him and walk into the next door she sees in the hopes of getting back to her beloved ship and home. However, she ends up in another patient's room. To the Doctor's amazement, the patient is Eve Cicero, who is mentioned in the Book of Celebrants; accompanying Eve are her brother Durkas Cicero and her android consort Ronan. After mentioning her name, the Doctor is recognized by Eve as someone who has a whole chapter dedicated to them in the book, but the Doctor brushes it off as due to "Doctor" being a common name. She and her companions leave, but she pokes her head back in to tell Eve that it was "more of volume than a chapter".

Back in the hall, the Doctor continues her trek, despite Astos' insistance. She sonics a nearby interface for information, before heading into another room by accident. It contains a man named Yoss Inkl, whom Ryan and Yaz attempt pleasant conversation with to make up for the Doctor's rudeness. Yoss reveals that he's pregnant, due to a "typical mistake", much to the humans' confusion. The Doctor explains that Yoss is a Gifftan; their species has both genders give birth, but only to the same gender. Astos again asks the Doctor to return to her room, but the Doctor loses her balance and suddenly realizes why Tsuranga sounded familiar. Its a ship, not a hospital.

Ignoring Astos again, the Doctor begins trying to find the bridge to find a way off the ship. Ryan, Yaz and Graham decide to return to their room. Reaching the control room, the Doctor finds no crew. Astos explains the ship runs on auto-pilot. The Doctor attempts to sonic the controls to get back to Seffilun 27, but Astos explains the ship will register any kind of hacking as a hostile takeover and will signal Resus One to destroy the ship. Having a moment to calm down, the Doctor realizes she's been acting selfish. However, she then remembers Astos being concerned about something when she woke up, which he attempts to cover up; she knows he's a bad liar. Relenting, Astos reveals the ship has been placed in an asteroid field too close to Constant Division, disputed territory. Suddenly an alarm goes off, warning of a hull break, which the ship seals. The Doctor notices that something is moving quickly from the port side life-pod to the starboard side, deciding to investigate. Astos gives the Doctor a com-link to stay in touch with him, but on a different channel than Mabli's; its only her second time out, so she's very nervous.

Durkas Cicero

Durkas confides in Graham that he is worried that his sister is hiding a medical condition from him.

In the meantime, Durkas has arrived at the assessment area, and is trying to hack into Eve's medical records. Graham arrives, joking that he can either walk away and pretend to have not seen this, or they can talk about why Durkas is doing this. Graham explains that sometimes, people keep secrets about themselves that could hurt their families. Drukas explains how his sister is keeping him at a distance, even showing him disrespect for being a mechanic, instead of a great pilot like her. And now she's being treated for Corden Fever, which is an easily treated disease; her distance makes him think there is something else wrong with her.

In the hall, Ronan asks Mabli for more Adrenaline blockers for Eve. When Mabli protests that they only have a limited supply of them, Ronan subtly threatens to have her fired from her job by reporting to her superiors that she was not providing adequate care for her patient. Recognizing Ronan's threat, Mabli agrees.

In the meantime, the Doctor and Astos each approach a life-pod, with the Doctor checking the port side. When she gets there, she finds the power mostly off. Worse, she finds the life-pod missing. Astos finds the life-pod on his side still there, hearing something moving around above it. Despite the Doctor warning him not to enter the pod, Astos makes the rookie mistake of not listening to the warning and gets trapped inside of it. The damage the unknown creature has done to the pod has it begin ejecting from the ship; however, the damage it caused will make it explode due to the pod being unstable. Astos gives an encouraging farewell message to Mabli before meeting his fate. The explosion shakes the ship.

The Doctor heads over to other side of the ship to find out what caused Astos' death; her companions and Mabli are not far behind. Arriving before them, the Doctor finds the section darkened with emergency lights and a small creature devouring pieces of the ship. Catching sight of her, the creature snarls and enters a defensive stance. Graham, Ryan, Yaz and Mabli arrive; the Doctor explains to them that the creature killed Astos. Trying to figure out if she has any knowledge of the creature in the back of her mind, the Doctor begins listing off everything that she's seen it do, slowly approaching with the sonic screwdriver to scan it for more information. However, just mere inches away, the creature quickly snaps the sonic out of her hand and eats it; however, it then spits it back out, now drained of power and useless.

Thirteenth Doctor3 TTC

The Doctor learns the identity of her foe.

Everyone flees to the hub, where Graham questions where the crew is, to which the Doctor recaps everything that Astos told her. Mabli reveals that staff wear contacts that record their work for training purposes; now that she has an image of the creature, the ship's database can identity it. Her search reveals the creature is called Pting, which is highly dangerous; they are toxic to touch, eat non-organic material and VERY hard to kill. The Doctor tells her companions to gather everyone in the assessment area, hoping to have a plan within an hour. An alarm goes off; the ship detects the Pting. Mabli explains they can confirm or deny it; the Doctor denies it, only to learn it only works three times and then the ship gets destroyed as a precaution. The Doctor is less the pleased to hear about the latest addition to their death-trap puzzle.

With everyone gathered together, the Doctor explains that the Pting has infiltrated the ship and has jettisoned the life-pods. However, they will find a way to get rid of it and gets to Resus One safely. Eve reveals that her fleet fought a Pting once, and it only wants to cause destruction and death. The Doctor explains that right now they need to protect the engine, with the lights suddenly going out due to the Pting's continued destruction of the ship. Mabli confirms that they have enough back-up power to keep the heat and oxygen going until they can restore the main power. Yoss unfortunately mentions that he is going into labour, asking Ryan and Graham to help Mabli with the delivery.

The Doctor takes the Ciceros and Yaz with her to defend the engine. Along the way, Eve has to stop for breath; the Doctor examines her, discovering that she has Pilot's Heart. Arriving at the engine, the Doctor informs Yaz that it runs on Anti-matter and has her and Ronan (whose artificial nature allow him to touch the Pting) stand guard against the Pting. She leads Eve to the control room, where she has Durkas create a makeshift holographic interface for Eve in order to pilot the ship away from the asteroid field. At the time, the alarm goes off twice, causing the Doctor to use up the other two lies. She begins wondering how Resus One could destory them at this distance, immediately realizing how and running back to the engine room. In the engine room, the Pting attempts to attack the engine, but Yaz uses a medical blanket to wrap it up after Ronan stuns it. The Doctor arrives moments later, revealing that part of the engine is a bomb that will get detonated remotely be Resus One. She removes it, asking Yaz to come with her, while Ronan stays to guard the engine.

The Doctor leads Yaz to the empty life-pod airlock, placing the air-lock and speeding up its countdown by a few minutes. A confused Yaz asks why the Doctor has done this; she explains that she realized that the Pting is not blinding destroying things. The creature feeds on energy, and targeted this ship because it was the only thing with power in the asteroid field; it went for the spare power in the pods first. Now that the bomb is charging up, its like the scent of cheese to a mouse. The Pting arrives and, enticed, eats the bomb right before it detonates; the Doctor locks it in as the Pting becomes content from the "meal". The Doctor opens the airlock, knocking it back into space. In the control room, Eve tells Durkas how much she enjoyed being a pilot. She starts losing balance, only to be caught by her brother. She tells her sibling that she does love him. Moments later, the Doctor arrives, but Eve is on the floor, covered by a sheet and Durkas is using the interface. Durkas explains that Eve's heart gave out; without the medical treatment to stabilize her, the strain of flying through holographic interface had finally taken its toll on Eve.

Yoss Inkl

Yoss decides to keep his son

Tsuranga arrives safely at Resus One, with Mabli updating the patients on the ships's assessment. After the ship goes through three hours of decontamination, they will be admitted into the medical center; inside is a post-recovery teleport patients can use to leave, which can take the Doctor and her companions back to Seffilun 27. In the meantime, Graham and Ryan are with Yoss and his newborn son, whom he decides to keep; Yoss had previously decided on adoption to give the child a better future, but Ryan convinced him that so long as he puts the child first, Yoss can be a good parent. Yoss says he will name his son in honour of them: Avocado Inkl. Seeing their confused expressions, Yoss explains that the name comes from the Gitan records of Earth, which mention a hero named Avocado Pear. Graham and Ryan explain that records are wrong; those are the names of fruits and vegetables.

In Eve's room, both Durkas and Ronan mourn her passing. Durkas apologizes for being mean to Ronan, who explains that since Eve is dead, he no longer has any purpose and will soon be turned off; Durkas tells Ronan that, till the very end, the android provided his sister with excellent service. He asks if Ronan would like to encant for Eve, as his final act of service to her, which Ronan agrees to. Mabli, the Inkls and Team TARDIS enter the room to join the ceremony, to honour the woman who helped save them.

The episode comes to a close, with an outside shot of Resus One with everyone continuing the ceremony.

Cast Edit

Crew Edit

General production staff

Script department

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Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.


References Edit

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Story notes Edit

  • Pretty much every scientific fact about anti-matter given by the Doctor in this episode is true to real science.[1] However, in reality, because antimatter is produced via pair production, energy gained by antimatter-matter reactions would not exceed the energy required to create it; therefore energy generation would have to be performed by captured antimatter that has not been manufactured.[2]
  • Tim Price receives a creator credit for the Pting, the first time such a credit is given on a creature or character's first appearance.
  • The events of the episode bear similarity to Flesh and Stone, where the Doctor and companions are trapped and there is a dangerous creature (in that case an army of Weeping Angels) trying to feed on energy (which is also deadly). Much like the previous adventure, the Doctor found a way to use the energy to defeat the creature; though unlike the Time Field that erased the Angels, the deadly energy in this story simply sated the appetite of the Pting, which was then safely removed.

Ratings Edit

  • 6.12 million (UK overnight)[3]
  • 7.76 million (UK final)[4]

Filming locations Edit

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Production errors Edit

If you'd like to talk about narrative problems with this story — like plot holes and things that seem to contradict other stories — please go to this episode's discontinuity discussion.

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Continuity Edit

Home video releases Edit

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