'Doctor Who' Season 11, Episode 5 Recap: The Tsuranga Conundrum

(Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC America)

Doctor Who's newly christened Team TARDIS runs into their first real out of this world danger when they wind up in hospital.

The Doctor: I bet you wonder why I brought you all here... Sorry, bit Poirot.

Exactly how long it's been since Team TARDIS pulled the lever at the end of last week isn't clear. But they've apparently seen a few things between then and now, including rain bathing in the upward tropics of Kinstano. Unfortunately, now they're hunting up a specific device on a junk planet, assumedly for a minor ship repair. But when Graham turns up a sonic mine, it momentarily blows everyone to bits, before a medical team can rescue and stabilize them. The medical team, comprised of Astos (Brett Goldstein) and Mabli (Lois Chimimba), mention there are a lot of these mines in the area, and "Tsuranga" would like there to be more thorough sweeps for them, The Doctor sort of takes note, but is really too busy trying to get back to her TARDIS to pay much attention.

In trying to find the exit, the Doctor runs into a fellow high profile space celebrity, the famed Neuropilot General Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer), along with her engineer brother Durkas (Ben Bailey Smith, aka comedian Doc Brown) and her drone Ronan (David Shields). They also find Yoss Inkl (Jack Shalloo). He's on board for his pregnancy — apparently, he didn't take precautions on holiday last week — and is due any minute now. It's there the medics find them and break it to them: There's no exit. The Tsuranga is a hospital rescue ship. (As Yaz notes, they're like the Red Cross.) They're already four days gone from the planet where the TARDIS has been left behind. The Doctor freaks out at this news, threatening to hijack the ship and turn it around so they can get back to the TARDIS, even as she can barely walk. It isn't until Astos points out she's being hostile, selfish, and very un-Doctor-like that she calms down and comes round.

(Photo Credit: Ben Blackall/BBC America)

But it's perhaps a good thing she's turned on the navigation controls, because she notices they're off course, and something is invading their ship as they speak. At least, unlike earlier adventures, the companions don't have to defend the Doctor or point out she's in charge. Eve not only knows the Doctor's name but has read about her in The Book of Celebrants, where they both have entries. When the Doctor tells Astos who she is, he's stunned. "Are you kidding," he asks, before falling directly into line to do what she asks, even as he still firmly insists she needs more time to heal. He's not able to do it long though, because before long he's captured by whatever it is, stuck into one of the lifepods, and ejected from the ship upon which the pods explodes, leaving no one in charge to get them home but the inexperienced Mabli, and of course Team TARDIS.

Speaking of Mabli, Ronan's been pushing her into supplying extra drugs to Eve. Graham, meanwhile, catches Durkas hacking into the computer, trying to get hold of his sister's medical records. Apparently, whatever's wrong with her, she's trying to hide it. Malbi winds up leaving Ronan to whatever drugs he wants once Astos is killed, while the Doctor finds our culprit.

The Doctor: 51! Great number! The atomic number of antimony, number of Federalist Papers written by Alexander Hamilton. I love that show, I've seen all 900 casts. 

It's a P'Ting. (Picture a cross between Nibbler from Futurama and a Pixar monster.) It's far too adorable to be really scary, but it's also a hell of a little bastard, having blown up two pods, killed one person and disabled the Doctor's sonic after determining it to be inedible. According to the computer logs, it doesn't eat people, but it will consume all non-organic material. Also, it cannot be wounded or killed, and its skin is toxic. The Doctor decides what she really needs to do is figure out what the creature wants to defeat it. And she's going to have to do it quickly because the ship can't dock at the medical facility with a deadly predator like this on board. (In fact, once the facility realizes the ship is infected, they'll blow it up.)

General Eve has encountered a P'Ting before. As far as she's concerned all the little bastards want is to kill, which is not helpful. But she is perfectly capable of flying the ship, which is helpful. Yoss, on the other hand, is going into labor. We'll stick him in the "unhelpful" category. Yoss needs a doula, so Ryan and Graham go with him. Ryan finds talking to Yoss to be a bit of a mind trip, since they're the same age, and his dad was this age when Ryan was born. He also winds up telling Yaz how his mum died and his dad disappeared. (Everyone who is currently shipping Ryaz*, this scene was for you.)

*We *are* calling them Ryaz, yes?

(Photo Credit: Simon Ridgeway/BBC America)

It turns out Eve's condition is something called "pilot's heart." As Eve is a Captain Picard-level living legend, the poster child for the fleet, one of the most decorated ever in her field, she can't let her condition get out. She's been suppressing it so long, one big surge of adrenaline could kill her. But she's the only one who can pilot them home, as long as Durkas can jerry-rig an interface for her in record time. Yaz and Ronan are assigned to protecting the antimatter drive. Ronan can touch the creature since he's not a live person. Yaz has a protective blanket for when she has to pick it up. Also, kick it like a blanket wrapped football down the hallway away from the antimatter drive.

Graham: I've seen every episode of Call The Midwife!... While you've been mucking about on YouTube, I've been learning useful life skills.

Meanwhile, the Doctor has held off the main medical facility from figuring out what's happening for as long as she can, but just as she realizes there must be a remote activated onboard bomb to detonate the vessel, it hits her what the P'Ting wants: Power. It feeds on power. While Eve and Durkas pilot the ship through the asteroid field to get them back home, the Doctor rushes off to get the bomb, activating it to attract the P'Ting into an airlock, where he eats it and is summarily ejected off the ship. Eve doesn't make it, her heart gives out just as the baby arrives downstairs. Birth, death, the cycle of life. But Durkas steps up into her place, piloting the ship safely into port.

The baby, by the way, is named Avocado Pear, after the earth hero, inspired by Ryan and Graham's doula skills. Let's not ask if the history books are right or wrong on that one, shall we?

Next week: Team TARDIS travels back in time to India, and Yaz's ancestors, in "Demons of the Punjab."