Never mind the Spiders, here’s a space ship!
The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yaz (Mandip Cole) get hit by a sonic mine while on a junk planet. They awaken on Tsuranga, an automated spaceship heading to a medical space-station with a load of patients it picks up on the way: Yoss (Jack Shalloo), a pregnant man (no, it wasn’t planned, but don’t judge); Eve Cicero (Suzanne Packer), a famous general; Eve’s brother Durkas (Ben Bailey-Smith); and Ronan (David Shields), Eve’s android partner. The Doctor tries to leave but finds she isn’t able to get off the ship until they reach their destination.
The Doctor and head nurse Astos (Brett Goldstein) discover that something has gotten through the shields. They begin searching for whatever entered, but Astos gets tricked by an alien creature into being jettisoned out on an escape pod which then explodes. The Doctor and the TARDIS Trio (I don’t care if they’re Team TARDIS, I’m keeping my name) find the creature, which is revealed to be a tiny monster that can devour things many times its size and eat almost anything. The computer identifies this monster as a P’Ting, but warns that the spaceship will be blown up if the P’Ting is onboard when it gets near the destination due to the fact that the creature is known to eat entire fleets.
Yoss goes into labor and brings Ryan, Graham, and the remaining nurse Mabli (Lois Chimimba) with him to monitor the birth. The Doctor leaves Ronan and Yaz to guard the ship’s power source while she goes with Eve and Durkas to disable the signal that will lead to the destruction of the ship. In the process, they find out that they need to pilot the ship manually, so Eve is put in the pilot rig, but it’s revealed that due to her years of piloting spaceships, her heart is in danger of failure. She decides to sacrifice herself anyway and dies piloting them to safety. The Doctor realizes that there is a self-destruct bomb onboard the ship and uses it to overload the P’Ting’s appetite before blowing it out into space. As the episode ends, Ronan prepares to kill himself (his service over), but Durkas asks him to help eulogize Eve… with everyone having forgot about Astos, apparently.
Well, there are some positives and some negatives in this episode.
I like the P’Ting. It’s small and unassuming and it isn’t particularly threatening directly since it only eats non-organic matter. However, it’s also one of the most dangerous monsters out there, since it is A) apparently invulnerable, B) toxic to any organic life to touch, C) mostly immune to stunning, and D) able to consume entire spaceships without being sated. It doesn’t do anything out of a hatred of the people on the ships, it’s just hungry and acting on instinct. It doesn’t even appear to really “trick” Astos into going into the pod, it just eats the life support system while he’s in there. In a season of relatively unimaginative antagonists, this is the first one that I really might remember.
Yoss’s pregnancy is… interesting… as a side plot. I don’t know if I consider it good or bad, because it’s just very unusual. Yoss’s species requires both genders to get pregnant in order to survive, because males birth males and females birth females, but the pregnancy also only lasts a week. Yoss apparently got pregnant from anonymous sex, something that the show wisely doesn’t comment on, but he also originally planned on giving the baby up until Ryan convinces him otherwise, apparently seeing his own father’s abandonment in Yoss’s decision. That part I didn’t like. I agree that it was wrong for Ryan’s father to abandon him, but it’s also okay to give children up for adoption. There are a lot of couples out there who want kids, at least in America, and it is painfully difficult to adopt despite the huge number of children in the system. I’m not saying whether the show did it right or wrong, I just felt like Ryan kind of took the position automatically that giving a child up for adoption is wrong and, well, I’ve worked with too many families to believe that forcing a parent to raise a child they don’t want is a good idea. Maybe this one is just me.
Eve’s sacrifice is a pretty good sequence. It’s foreshadowed early on that she probably wouldn’t survive when Malbi warns her against using the last of the life-saving drug she needs before she is in trouble. Ronan basically threatens Malbi into handing it over because he doesn’t want Eve to be in pain, but ultimately this kills her. I can only assume this is part of the reason why he decides to stop living after she dies, because he feels that he’s partially responsible. When the actual sacrifice comes, it’s her telling her brother that she loves him, something that apparently their family doesn’t do much. It’s not perfect because it feels a little chaotic, but it still works.
They are having some issues with finding stuff for all of the TARDIS trio to do during the episode, since there are just so many of them and this season also tries to introduce some dynamic side-characters in every episode. Yaz still needs some more room to shine, having basically been a punter of alien in this episode. Admittedly, it was fun to watch her punt, but still, she needs more.
I still love Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, and I think the opening sequence where she’s desperate to find a way off of the ship while in agonizing pain is pretty solid. It’s basically the Doctor being desperate and a little overwhelmed, something we don’t often get to see. She still powers through it, but watching the Doctor being distracted by pain to the point of irrationality makes it all the more powerful when we see her finally realize that it’s happening after Astos confronts her with it. The look on her face is brilliant.
Overall, the episode feels like it was a little slow, but not to the point of really letting my attention wander. I give it a B.
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