Doctor Who: Flux returns with a six-episode Flux arc and a disappointing Halloween season launch.
Doctor Who: Flux paves the way ahead of showrunner Chris Chibnall’s final goodbye next year. As such, the stakes are at an all-time low with audiences guaranteed another six episodes under the Flux arc, and subsequent specials in 2022 ahead of Jodie Whittaker’s regeneration episode all before preferred showrunner Russell T. Davies returns to the helm of the show he made great in the early noughties.
Subsequently, after the interesting story choices of Series 12, The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) discovered that they were the genetic template from which Gallifrey and Time-Lords themselves were built.
With all this in mind, it makes little sense why the first episode of Doctor Who: Flux spent the entire duration jumping between time periods and nameless generic characters in the hopes of audiences forming any form of attachment all the while the sound mixing priorities bass over dialogue like a Christopher Nolan film.
To actually delve into the episode itself, it first opens with The Doctor and Yas (Mandip Gill) hanging upside down over an acid sea as a countdown signifies their demise while a hologram provides narrative exposition as to why he’s a threat, and as a result why our two protagonists need to stop him.
The elusive hologram guarantees their death with two ominous bladed droids on standby to slice and dice our heroes should they attempt to escape.
Only, they do escape, and the aptly named Kill Discs choose to instead fire generic lasers instead, thereby undermining all threats this episode has presented before the opening title card.
What a way to start.
Doctor Who: Flux Sake
Further in, the show introduces a new travelling companion played by British comedy legend John Bishop. Dan Lewis, a Scouser who lives and breathes Liverpudlian history – I’m sure this will prove useful later in the series given the flashback to Industrial Revolution Liverpool providing its own mystery and clues to the wider Flux story arc.
However, in developing this new character not much is ever really explained about who he is and his flaws. All we know thus far about Dan Lewis is that he loves Liverpool, loiters at museums pretending to be a tour guide, loves to give back to the community such as working at a food bank and giving gifts to people, despite economically struggling. Something he refuses to accept help for.
Which in itself is grossly written as endearing and that Dan has the strength to not admit he needs help, but will happily just make do in hardships – ironic given the episode we had last season about Yas’s suicide attempt.
What I want to know, however, is what vices does he have as a person? Does Dan have any flaws? What weights of life made him who he is, and why does he behave the way he does. Looking back to the last couple of seasons you had Ryan the dyspraxic and personality vacuum, Yas the mental health struggling, and Graham the bus driver.
All of the characters had their own burdens so what is Dan’s, and more importantly, why are they his burdens, and why should we care.
The Liverpudlians Guide to the Galaxy
Instead, we get snippets of Dan living his best-impoverished life, the Doctor and Yas chase a dogman who clearly is mimicked off Chewbacca to the extent he tries to use what can only be described as The Force, and random inserts of characters we don’t know or care about yet.
Ultimately, all it does is raise further questions for the remaining five episodes of Doctor Who: Flux without really answering any of them. For instance, why the Arctic Circle, why are the Sontarans back, what is a Weeping Angel doing on Earth, why does bedazzled Voldemort absorb the souls of the people he killed?
It’s fun to make us as an audience ask these sorts of questions, but if that’s all the episode is then what’s the point.
Genuinely the most interesting part of this episode revolves around that previously mentioned Weeping Angel stalking a woman in the street as she tries to come home. Who is she? Where did she come from? Where did she go? Where did she come from cotton eyed Joe?
But the tension in that short scene was seat clenching. I was exhilarated and wanted to see how it played out. More importantly, for a Halloween special, it felt festively appropriate rather than the generic mention of trick or treat and lit pumpkins as set decoration.
Though this is all then ruined by Chris Chibnall’s continued god-awful unoriginal writing. Evidenced by newcomer Vinder (Jacob Anderson) performing a Star Trek-inspired Captain’s Log about how mundane life is until something out of the ordinary happens. A trick saw in Chibnall’s episode The Power of Three where Brian Williams monologues a similarly monotonous Day in the Life before the cubes start activating.
Thankfully this series is only six episodes in length as truthfully if it were the normal thirteen I doubt I would still be caring by the end of the series.
I am so sorry Jodie that this is your experience in the show. You deserved better.