The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill), Graham O’Brien (Bradley Walsh), and Ryan Sinclair (Tosin Cole), are accidentally transported to Deep Space, where they are rescued by Angstrom (Susan Lynch) and Epzo (Shaun Dooley), humanoid pilots competing in an intergalactic race. They arrive on a dead but hostile planet called Desolation. They meet with the race’s organizer Llin (Art Malik) via a long-distance hologram. It seems that the final event involves an object called the Ghost Monument, which must be extracted in one day. The Doctor discovers that this object is the TARDIS, damaged in mid-phasing. They join the race so that the Doctor can get her friends home.
They find and repair a solar-powered boat and reach a ruined civilization invaded by sniper robots. Disabling them with an electro-magnetic pulse, the Doctor finds tunnels they can use as a shortcut. Angstrom wants the prize to save her family from ethnic cleansing by the Stenza race, but Epso just wants the money. In the tunnels, they learn about Desolation’s history. The people were killed building weapons of mass destruction for the Stenza. Cloth-like beings called the Remnants mopped them up. In a gas-filled area they are trapped by Remnants, and the Doctor uses Epzo’s cigar-lighter to ignite the gas and take them out.
They reach the Ghost Monument and the Doctor talks the pilots into a joint victory, but Llin refuses to teleport the Doctor and her friends to safety. The Doctor apologises but hears the TARDIS and materialises it with her sonic screwdriver. The ship has changed somewhat, but she offers her friends a trip home.
The episode was written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Mark Tonderai. This episode was the first to use the 13th Doctor’s title sequence. It was generally liked. The exteriors were filmed in South Africa, though this was made difficult by a drought there, and Tosin Cole suffered from heatstroke. The interiors were filmed in the U.K.
At one point, a green police box is mentioned. It is real and in Sheffield. There is a custard cream dispenser built into the TARDIS as a surprise for Jodie Whittaker. The Venusian Aikido the Doctor uses was invented during John Pertwee’s tenure as the Third Doctor. In each episode, someone says “Don’t Panic!” as an homage to Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and several episodes of Doctor Who. The new TARDIS is similar to the one from the classic series in 1963. It appears that, no matter how the TARDIS has changed, the Doctor can always pilot it.