Doctor Who: Flux concludes with the last episode of the season, The Vanquishers!
When we last saw the Doctor and her friends, there were just a whole lot of things happening: Azure and Swarm had just killed Tecteun and were taunting the Doctor with the pocket watch that contained all of her forgotten memories. Dan, Yaz and Jericho had met up with Joseph Williamson in his room full of magic doors. Vinder had met up with Diane inside of the Passenger-form, where they were both trapped. Bel and Karvanista were on a ship together. Kate Stewart was on the run from the Grand Serpent, who had apparently been manipulating UNIT over the decades all to get to the point where he could allow the Sontarans to easily attack earth. And the Sontarans had easily attacked earth, and were threatening everyone.
Is that it? Well, there was also Claire, but she had skipped that particular episode. But I think that was all of our main and featured characters.
As I rambled on about extensively last time, I have generally enjoyed The Flux, much more than I have either of Jodie Whittaker’s first two seasons. But the last episode, Survivors of the Flux, had left me cold and frustrated. It was over-crowded and awkwardly paced, doing a terrible job building assembling its various elements into something I could enjoy. I doubted, quite bluntly, that the show had any chance of wrapping this stuff up successfully in just one more episode.
Well, now I’ve seen that episode, and I’m pleased to say that it did a much better job than I expected at giving us a decent conclusion to the story.
Certainly, it was fun. The whole conceit of the Doctor being split up into three different time frames was a bit nutty, but that’s okay–I do like a good dose of timey-wimey nonsense, and this is one of the more innovative examples not written by Steven Moffat. It led to one of the only legitimate excited “fist bump into the air” moments in the whole Jodie Whittaker era, which is when one of the Doctors turns up in the TARDIS to rescue another.
I continue to like John Bishop as Dan, the bewildered but adaptable everyman, and Mandip Gill’s Yaz works well as the seasoned but grouchy companion. I liked a lot of the guest characters, including Vinder, Bel, Claire, and the tragic Mr. Jericho.
And the reveal of Time itself as some sort of destructive avatar–an idea that has been hinted at all season long–was intriguing as well.
This is not to say that The Vanquishers was perfect–far from it. The character arc for Diane (Dan’s near-date) was pretty bad–her whole personality seems to go through a regeneration or two in the course of the episode, and there’s no real explanation for why she’s conveniently been left behind in the Passenger when everyone else is gone.
And I was excited to see Kate Stewart being the head of earth resistance…but that amounted to her standing around in a tunnel for a few scenes, with nobody working with her but one poor guy who gets killed in the only scene he appears in. And most of the episode’s villains–Swarm, Vinder and the Grand Serpent–all turn out to be a bit of a bore.
Still, I liked The Vanquishers so much more than I thought I would. Chris Chibnall has wrapped up his Flux epic quite well and even managed to set up the next step of the whole Timeless Child storyline. All this, and we also got a bunch of teases for the end of Jodie Whittaker’s era on the show and the inevitable (and lamentable) return of the Master.
Pretty impressive, really.