Earlier this season, we saw an episode that was an homage to Predator, while “The Tsuranga Conundrum” was clearly modeled after Alien … if the Xenomorph was a space gremlin. Strangely enough, this bizarre combination works.
The brilliant thing about Alien is that it took the haunted house formula and set it in a spaceship with an alien threat replacing the supernatural. The creature in this week’s episode is a goofy looking alien known as a P’Ting. Its awkward appearance is an interesting contrast to the threat it presents. It eats inorganic material (such as the ship itself), has toxic skin, and has no apparent weaknesses.
The Doctor and companions find themselves stuck on the ship (which is essentially a mobile hospital) and separated from the TARDIS when they are picked up after getting injured by a sonic mine while visiting a junkyard galaxy. This season has been on the grungier side of space and time travel, so it was a refreshing change up to see a shiny, pristine ship while facing a creature that is more hungry than evil.
So far, the Thirteenth Doctor has faced off against toxically masculine hunters, prejudice, and greed. This week, she was confronted with something that is not bad, but its life functions are in direct conflict with the crew’s continued existence. This is the type of situation where the Doctor shines. Anyone can be a hero when faced with clear evil, but the Doctor shows her true colors when confronting conflicting ideologies. The Doctor is not only a champion of good but also a champion of uniting people to solve the impossible.