Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum Review

DW The Tsuranga Conundrum

The Tsuranga Conundrum was a step up after last week’s effort, not that it was particularly hard to do that, but it does seem to highlight a quirk of the Thirteenth Doctor’s run so far: a focus on the companions and their relationships at the expense of the villain of the story. Let’s take a look at this most recent example and see how that affected the story this time round…


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.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW The Tsuranga Conundrum 1

I’ll say this about the BBC promotional pics, there’s always a good one for the Cast of Characters section!

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) – The Doctor is looking for TARDIS parts on a planet-sized junkyard, but soon finds something far worse…

Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole) – Ryan is starting to get used to life on board the TARDIS, but scrounging around a giant skip isn’t what he had in mind…

Yasmin Kahn (Mandip Gill) – Yas wanted excitement and adventure, and she got it… until this current task. At least for now, anyway…

Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh) – Graham has enjoyed some recent trips in the TARDIS, so having to do a bit of a needle in a haystack job isn’t too bad… for the first few hours, anyway…

Eve Cicero (Suzanne Parker) – Eve is a decorated pilot and a bit of a celebrity in her own right, but she now finds herself on board a medical ship, wondering about her future…

Durkas Cicero (Ben Bailey-Smith) – Durkas is the brother of Eve, and has always felt disrespected by his sister and her android bodyguard thanks to “only” being a mechanic, rather than a pilot.

Astos and Mabli (Brett Goldstein and Lois Chimimba) – The only two living crew of the medical ship currently carrying the Ciceros and Yoss, though they’ll soon be joined by other passengers…

Yoss (Jack Shalloo) – Yoss is a member of the Gifftan race, and therefore is able to get pregnant despite being a male… which is exactly what’s happened…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Tsuranga Conundrum 3

This is a very white story overall… and I don’t mean race-wise, I mean all the rooms and outfits are literally white.

As I alluded to in the opening blurb, the highlight once again comes from the companions, and to be fair, some of the guest characters as well. Yas and Ryan have a really good conversation not just about his Dad, but about Ryan’s mum and how it was 13-year-old him who found her dead in the kitchen. It was a nice character moment (well, not nice for him!), much like when Graham and Ryan ended up helping Yoss deliver his baby, the two once again bonding over their love for Ryan’s grandmother.

Of the guest characters, Eve and Durkas were interesting. Eve is a decorated general and pilot who due to piloting the ships of the time involving directly linking to the crafts, she has picked up a condition called “Pilot’s Heart” where the heart is weakened and any sudden adrenaline burst could kill her. She and her brother Durkas don’t get along greatly due to her disappointment at him ending up as “just” a mechanic, as opposed to her ace pilot status. As you’d imagine the two finally bond over the course of the story as Durkas rigs up a way for her to control the ship, though at the cost of her life. He also sort of makes peace with Eve’s android bodyguard who acted coldly towards him. It was a good storyline, overall.

Other than that, the episode was fine. It opens with The Doctor and co. on a junkyard planet, but they accidentally find a “Sonic Mine” and get caught in the blast, waking up on a medical ship. The medical ship then get an alien lifeform attached to it called a “Pting” that starts to go around and eat the ship. The Doctor eventually flushes it out of the airlock, but not before a bunch of corridor running, people dying and potential explosions!

The two medics were good, if not basic, characters. Astos was the experienced one who tries to calm The Doctor down when she tries to exit the ship or get it to turn around when she realises the TARDIS has been left behind, then eventually he dies when investigating the Pting. This leaves still-shaky Mabli to find her self-confidence and step up. Like I said, nothing ground breaking but it worked as a side-story and added layer to the plot, and both actors were good enough.

Yoss, the man who’s pregnant, was funny, and had some good lines, plus it led to Ryan talking about his father and motivating Yoss to be a good one unlike his, so he served a purpose rather than just being there because “male pregnancy, lol”… lol? I never write that… Oh well.

The Bad:

DW The Tsuranga Conundrum 4

“I’m afraid you have a case of “flawed antagonists”.”

The Pting was a small cute alien rather than any actual threat, visually. Obviously it was a threat, but the point is this is another story where the “villain” of the piece isn’t frightening or interesting. This is beginning to be an obvious flaw in the series…

Speaking of which, once again Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was very generic, and at one point flat out gave a lecture on the nature of Anti-matter and how it could work as an engine like this was a school documentary, not to mention it was in the middle of a life or death crisis. I kind of liked how she “geeked out” over it, but it was very 4th wall breaking…

The Continuity:

DW The Tsuranga Conundrum 2

“This report, it states there were arachnids in the UK many centuries ago.”  “No way! Impossible…”

As per usual for the current series, nothing links to anything other than previous episodes from this series. Although when they look up the Pting on a galactic database, pictures of various popular Who alien races flash up briefly, from Cybermen to Weeping Angels, and many more.

Overall Thoughts:

The Tsuranga Conundrum was a good slice of Who and gave us some good character moments, but was once again lacking in the villain department and The Doctor is still coming off as plain and vanilla. Still, I do think there was much more good than bad, and recommend it a watch, especially after last week’s debacle…

4 Star Watch

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