We're heading into the final stretch of Series 13, friends. Doctor Who: Flux has been a wild, and at times, chaotic, ride. Do we trust Chris Chibnall to bring it in for a satisfying landing in the last two episodes? Wild card: What if the story actually continues through next year's three specials that we know end with a regeneration? Well, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Are you ready to discuss this week's adventure? Here we go...
(Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
The Doctor, who was turned into a Weeping Angel at the end of the last episode, is brought to Division HQ, where she meets the woman in charge of the entire operation. This individual is responsible for the Flux, but she says the Doctor is to blame for the pending end of the universe. She also offers the Doctor a chance to regain her lost memories if she'll just come back into the fold.
Meanwhile, Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho have spent three years trapped in the early 1900's trying to figure out when the end of the world is supposed to happen. The Grand Serpent makes a nasty return, and we come to find out he's been involved in #13's run longer than we realized. Throw in another appearance from Bel and Vinder, and there's a lot going on in this penultimate episode.
- We start with the Doctor stuck in Weeping Angel form, but it suddenly dissolves away. That was easy. How did she do it? Hold on, this is a mental realm. She's still physically trapped and being transported. Also, now that we know the Angels can talk on some level, it turns out they're really mean.
- There's a theory floating around online that the Weeping Angels are punished Time Lords from way back. It's a fascinating idea which would make for a whole line of Big Finish audio stories in the future. If that's not the Angels' backstory, where do you think they came from?
- Last we saw Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho, they were trapped in 1901 England, and now they're in Mexico in 1904 looking for a clue to the end of the world. The group looks like they've handled the last three years pretty well. If you tossed us back in history, we'd set the over/under on our survival at about two weeks. How long do you think you'd make it?
- The Doctor lands at Division HQ, and she's greeted by an Ood. These guys find the intersection between being funny, sympathetic, scary, and gross.
- The mystery lady from "Once, Upon Time" is back, and she still dislikes the Doctor. It's clear she's running Division, but should we know who she is? (Probably.)
- Who is trying to kill Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho? Who knows who they are and that they're stuck in the past? A Division operative? (Wild rambling theory - it's Fugitive Doctor carrying out an assignment from Division, unaware of how this trio factors into her future.)
- Hold on, one assassin commits suicide after these three catch him. He clearly knows about the future, so the Division mission idea is still possible.
- The Grand Serpent just showed up in 1958 England, and he introduced himself to UNIT's first boss. We hear about a new hire, who must be Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, but no one shows up on-screen. (Can you imagine how much fun the Brigadier would have had with the modern Doctors?)
- Yaz has a talking Doctor hologram where #13 explains (to everyone) what's going on, and why she needs Yaz to figure out when Earth will be attacked. Mandip Gill and Jodie Whittaker are both terrific in this scene. You can feel their connection after all of their adventures. John Bishop is fine as Dan, but we'll still argue these two women could have handled a series by themselves without additional companions.
- Mystery woman sounds a little delusional as she explains Division's universal reach. (There's a whole commentary about "Western government interfering in other countries" buried in her rant.) Actually, it's more than that, because the HQ is between universes. That's right, Marvel - you're not the only one with multiverses. You can hear so many storytelling doors opening with this revelation.
- Here comes Karvanista (who still sounds like Christopher Eccleston to us), as well as Bel and Vinder. We're under the impression that Bel and Vinder are the Doctor's parents, and this whole adventure eventually ends in some sort of "the Doctor's death (regeneration) leads to her birth" twist. If that's not it, we will be disappointed the show spent so much time on these two, but fingers crossed.
- Now we've got Swarm and Azure again, and they're excited to "connect with her again." That can't be good for #13.
- Mystery woman says the Doctor is a virus in the universe that threatens Division's operations. Thus, the Flux was created to destroy the universe and stop her once and for all. Many characters hate the Doctor, but this woman is doing a particularly good job of conveying it. Feels like there's real contempt here. Who is this? Oh, it's Tecteun, the woman who found the baby Doctor way back when. So Tecteun stole a baby's DNA, used it to create a new race, and then eventually turned the child into a government operative. She is not getting a "Mother of the Year" award.
- It's now 1967 London, and UNIT's leader is about to find out he shouldn't have trusted the Grand Serpent for the last 10 years. There isn't much about Doctor Who that really scares us, but that image of the snake coming out of the General was gross.
- Tecteun and the Doctor have a conversation we've been waiting years to hear. Tecteun says the Master was telling the truth about the Doctor's origin. However, as the Doctor points out - Tecteun doesn't know for sure that the Doctor came through the wormhole. She was already on the ground when Tecteun found her. This is a gigantic loophole in the "Timeless Child" story that gives either Chris Chibnall or Russell T. Davies an opening to eventually rewrite this story again if they so choose.
- Tecteun is also the one who had the Doctor's memories erased. Rude. There's no way we'll cover all of this in just two episodes. We need years of future Fugitive Doctor stories.
- Vinder gets himself trapped inside Passenger. What's his plan?
- Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho are back and now they're talking to a Nepalese wise man in 1904 about the future attack. This attempt to have the wise man be funny falls flat, and it feels racist. It does eventually lead to the group trying to signal Karvanista, who doesn't have time travel abilities and thinks Dan is an idiot. That got a chuckle. We were a little wary of the idea of a warrior dog at first, but we could get used to more of him.
- The Doctor is trying to convince the Ood to team up with her and reverse the compression of our universe. However, she gets distracted by hissing noises and a flashback to that black and white house we saw earlier in the series. Ohhh, there's a fob watch in the room, and yup, it has the Doctor's erased memories!
- The Doctor and Tecteun have another argument about 13's history. We could have watched these two for the entire episode. The Doctor is struggling with having no idea how many of her lives have been erased. Tecteun does a bit of a 180. She starts by trying to wipe out the universe to get rid of the Doctor, and then she gives the Doctor the chance to get her memories back and save Earth, if she'll just rejoin Division and stop being a pain in general. That's not going to happen.
- The Grand Serpent's story finally sees him face to face with Kate Stewart in 2017, who calls him out for shutting down UNIT (which was mentioned back in "Spyfall Part 1.") Kate tells the Serpent she knows he's a a hostile alien, and if he doesn't back down, she's going to call in a favor from a certain friend. She's just so badass. The only problem with this scene is that it took so long to get to her.
- Of course the Grand Serpent tries to kill Kate to keep her quiet. You can't stop her that easily, and after a quick phone call to Osgood (who sadly does not appear this week), she's on the run.
- The Grand Serpent leaves Earth vulnerable, and it turns out the Sontarans are back for revenge after what happened to them in "War of the Sontarans" when a fleet was blown up while trying to retreat from Earth. They've also trapped Karvnista and Bel. What's in this for the Grand Serpent? Is he looking for revenge on Vinder for reporting the murder he orchestrated a few episodes back?
- Swarm and Azure show up in Division HQ. They want revenge on Tecteun for imprisoning Swarm, so she's turned to dust, and they seem ready to do the same to the Doctor. (Also, who will run Division in Tecteun’s place?)
- Sounds like a good time for the closing credits.
"Survivors of the Flux" is another entertaining chapter in this adventure. We've come to appreciate the chaotic feel to Series 13. The Doctor's life would be this frantic. Like we said, we've been eagerly waiting for ages for the Doctor - Tecteun conversation, and it did not disappoint. We always have to dock off a point for no TARDIS interior scenes, but the storyline, performances, visuals, and music were all strong. Not convinced that this whole thing really ends next week (especially after seeing the art for the New Year's Day special), but we can't wait to find out what happens next.
See you next week!
The Doctor still has so much to learn about her history. (pic via radiotimes.com)
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