6. Are the Stenza the Big Villains of This Season?
Last episode introduced a new alien race, the Stenza, when their would-be leader headed to Earth to hunt down a random human in order to claim his throne. The Stenza were a dangerous race, able to kill humans with just a touch of their skin, and Tzim-Sha claimed they were the conquerors of the "Nine Systems." The Stenza appeared to be a classic Monster of the Week, but surprisingly they returned again in "The Ghost Monument" - after a fashion. We learned that the Stenza were the ones responsible for the fate of the world known as Desolation; they had forced its scientists to create unspeakable weapons, which had then run amok and destroyed the entire planet. Equally chilling, we learned that they were in the middle of an act of genocide, systematically wiping out the Albarians.
It can't be a coincidence that we've had two references to the same race; are the Stenza really the main villains of season 11? After all, the Doctor is a cosmic do-gooder in every one of his/her incarnations. Surely she won't be able to resist getting involved now she knows just what the Stenza are up to.
Related: Doctor Who Season 11 Premiere Review
5. How Recently Was Desolation Destroyed?
All this raises an obvious question; just how long have the Stenza been up to mischief? The state of the ruins on Desolation strongly suggests that it's been quite some time since they forced that world's scientists to engineer weapons for them. In theory the flesh-eating bacteria in the planet's water could survive for hundreds of years. This could actually be quite important; not only do the Stenza possess all the weapons we saw in "The Ghost Monument," but they've also had a long time to develop new ones. There's also no reason to assume they only pulled this trick once, meaning the Stenza could have quite a formidable arsenal.
4. Are Albar and Althus In The Nine Systems?
Given we're clearly in Stenza territory, we can't help wondering whether the two worlds mentioned in this episode - the doomed Albar and the barely-described Althus - are part of the Nine Systems the Stenza claim they rule. If that's the case, they could be committing far more than just the one act of genocide at a time; that could well be their standard modus operandi.
3. Why Haven't The Stenza Invaded Earth?
Spinning out of this is another oddity: why haven't the Stenza invaded Earth? Given humanity's natural instinct for creating weapons of war, you'd think they'd definitely want to force us to create weapons for them. Instead, they seem satisfied with using Earth as a hunting ground. Why is that the case? What's more, now that the Doctor has brought a hunt to an unsuccessful conclusion, will the Stenza change their attitude towards Earth and decide we should be conquered after all? If so, Tzim-Sha's fellow Stenza will be in for a nasty surprise. Earth is, after all, defended.
2. Where Would Pythagoras Get Shades From?
It didn't take Jodie Whittaker's Eleventh Doctor long to start dropping names. In this case, she notes that she could have borrowed her shades from Pythagoras, and quips that he needed them while recovering from a hangover. That raises the obvious question; just where did Pythagoras get a pair of shades from back in 500BC?
1. How Long Can A Human Survive In Space?
Finally, forgive the pedantry, but we have to wonder; just how long can a human being survive in space? The opening scene sees the Doctor and his friends stranded in space for at least 18 seconds. Back in season 10, Peter Capaldi's Doctor delivered a scathing lecture on the impact being in space would have on the human body.
"So, how does space kill you? I’m glad you asked. The main problem is pressure. There isn’t any. So, don’t hold your breath or your lungs will explode. Blood vessels rupture. Exposed areas swell. Fun fact! The boiling temperature of water is much lower in a vacuum. Which means that your sweat and your saliva will boil, as will the fluid around your eyes. You won’t notice any of this because fifteen seconds in, you’ve passed out as oxygen bubbles formed in your blood. And ninety seconds in, you’re dead. Any questions?"
Given that nobody was expecting to materialize in space, we can safely assume neither the Doctor nor his friends were holding their breath. They were definitely exposed to vacuum long enough for the humans to pass out, although it's safe to assume the Doctor's Time Lord physiology will have been a bit hardier. There should have been a pronounced health effect on all of the humans given the length of their exposure. We can only assume they were treated in those medi-pods.
Still, at least this brief scene is guaranteed to be less problematic than Leia's spacewalk in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.