Doctor Who Recap: Pop Goes The Kerblam!


This week’s episode of Doctor Who introduced us to our robot overlords, the Kerblam Man and his twins in technology. They are the engine (or 90% of it, anyway) that runs the galaxy’s largest retailer, Kerblam.

When the Doctor receives a package she’d ordered two regenerations ago (back in the ‘fezzes are cool!’ era), she and her companions are alerted to the fact that something is wrong at Kerblam—the package contains an SOS, but no indication of who sent it. To find out, Yaz, Ryan, Graham, and the Doctor all pose as new employees at the massive warehouse covering an entire moon orbiting the planet Kandoka.


Sound familiar? That’s because there’s a very good chance that you or an online shopper you know have purchased something from Jeff Bezos’ home planet of Amazon. That real-life retailer’s largest warehouse is nearly as impressive as the one occupying an entire moon on Who. One of Amazon’s largest covers one million square feet (and can be found on the planet Baltimore).

But back to Kandoka’s capitalist moon. On their first day on the job, the Doctor and her companions discover that a string of organic (aka human) employees have gone missing. Is Judy, the Head of People (Broadchurch and Happy Valley’s incredible Julie Hesmondhalgh) behind it? Or could it be Slade, the company boss and a terrible bully? Maybe the robots have gone rogue and are attacking their organic co-workers? To find out, the Doctor needs to uncover who sent her the message inside her Kerblam package.


Regular power drains are a sign that some larger conspiracy is underway at the company. Using their original operating system, the Doctor hacks into Kerblam’s mainframe and finds out that packages have been intentionally held back awaiting one massive teleportation delivery. Why? So that a misguided young worker can blow up thousands of Kerblam’s customers using exploding bubble wrap—an act of violence and devastation that he believes will convince people to start hiring more human workers instead of robots.

Somewhat confusingly, his plan kind of works. The Doctor steps in to make sure those packages explode safely inside the warehouse, but the incident inspires Judy and Slade to work together to treat Kerblam employees more humanely from that point forward. Casualties aside, it’s a pretty happy ending, but the episode’s message came off a bit muddled considering the outcome.

5 questions we have about this week’s episode of Doctor Who:

1. Who caught this week’s name drop? It was Agatha Christie, in case you missed it.

2. We understand that Kerblam’s system malfunctions desperately required the Doctor’s attention, but liquifying Kira was a bit of an overdramatic cry for help, no?

3. How badly did this episode make you want to throw out your Group Loop, err, Fitbit?

4. Three characters got blown up in this episode (and two of them were really nice). That’s a pretty high body count for Doctor Who.

5. Tell the truth: Will you ever pop bubble wrap again?