“Kerblam!” is the eighth episode of the eleventh series of Doctor Who, and was first broadcast in November of 2018. It stars Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor.
Even before it aired, this was “the one about Amazon”, and when it aired, it was indeed, in Doctor Who fashion, a story about a futuristic space Amazon, a gigantic warehouse (taking up an entire world) where people and robots work together, but where something sinister is (of course) going on. The episode starts with the Doctor receiving a teleport in her TARDIS, which is a delivery robot containing the fez she ordered back when she was the Tenth Doctor. Inside of the box is a message: Help, and of course she does.
When we are first introduced to the factory of Kerblam!, the obvious targets for conspiracy seem to be present: harsh bureaucrats, employee monitoring, dejected and impoverished workers, and robots in the background that seem slightly sinister. The episode could have existed just as a topical social comment, but this being Doctor Who, there was some curveballs thrown. This is one of the few Doctor Who episodes where I can honestly say that I believed in two different red herrings, and honestly did not see the conclusion, although it was obvious in retrospect.
I am of a mixed opinion on the outcome of the episode. If this episode was just to take the modern situation of warehouse work, automation, and consumerism, and then put them in space, it would only work as a polemic. But what the story does is take these modern issues, develop them for the first twenty or so minutes of the episode---and then turn into an (admitedly good) corridor crawl/murder mystery Doctor Who episode. But at the end of the episode, what have we learned about the subject matter? Have the creators of the episode communicated an insight about the situation, or just used it as backdrop for robot fights on conveyer belts? While I think this episode was good, I also think it missed its mark in making a message.