The TARDIS lands on a comet which has been hollowed out and set up as a long-haul freighter making precisely-timed supply runs through the solar system. A life support system allows a community of humans to live and work within the comet, though much of their time is simply spent waiting and cultivating non-work-related pursuits. But someone has been stealing supplies from the comet’s cargo holds, and the newly arrived time travelers are obvious suspects. Nyssa and Tegan befriend a woman who is on the run from the security team, and meet her accomplice just before he dies in the vacuum of space. Turlough offers “testimony” against the Doctor, claiming that they have been stealing the comet’s supplies, to buy time and divert the attention of the security guards. Somewhere on the comet, a gaseous life form from Jupiter lurks, and some of the humans aboard the comet are making their own plans to spark a war between Earth and the Jovian life forms that Earth has yet to discover. Future history records a peaceful outcome, and the Doctor has to risk the lives of his traveling companions to ensure that it happens.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Rebecca Front (Patricia Walton), John Cummins (Anton Falcao), Ellie Burrow (Chica St. Jude), Zoe Lister (Violet Silvaner), Ben Porter (Major Nash), Simon Blake (Manny), Philip Pope (Jovians)
Timeline: for the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough: between Enlightenment and The King’s Demons; for Nyssa: 50 years after Terminus. This story takes place after The Emerald Tiger and before The Butcher Of Brisbane.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An unusual story whose setting is practically its own character, it’s just possible that The Jupiter Conjunction could’ve happened aboard any old space freighter, but that would have stripped the story of some of its weirdness. And the lurking, seemingly unstoppable gas creatures could’ve been Cybermen or somesuch, but that’d be too predictable.
It’s populated by interesting characters with a wide variety of conflicting interests, but The Jupiter Conjunction more or less follows the plot outline of Earthshock, right down to stranding Nyssa on the comet as it follows a potentially fatal trajectory, and having her obliquely acknowledge the similarity to what happened to Adric. It’s kind of poignant, but that doesn’t strike the similarities from the record.
Still, the setting is fascinating and may be worth a revisitation down the road. This may be a case where, like the movie The Fifth Element, the universe in which the story takes place may be more interesting than the story itself.