Doctor Who reintroduces Sontarans and still manages to spectacularly disappoint.
The second Sontaran focussed episode of the Doctor Who – Flux arc continues straight after last week’s The Halloween Apocalypse, which felt as apocalyptic as it did festively Halloween inspired. With the Flux headed towards Earth, and the TARDIS the cliffhanger ended with audiences speculating if this was the end of the Doctor and the show as we knew it.
Of course not! This is Doctor Who, the Flux was just a wibbly-wobbly phenomenon that displaced the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yas (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) back in time to the height of the Crimean War where the British, French and Ottoman Empire fought against the imperialistic Russian empire, except the Russians are nowhere to be seen.
I wonder what monster has replaced the Russians and could possibly be the foe for the episode unless of course, the promotional material for this entire series revolves around the revival of the Sontaran race, and the episode itself is dedicated to alerting audiences of an inevitable fracas between Sontarans and some other force.
Finding out that Sontar has replaced Russia off the face of the Earth ahead of the Crimean War, and with Yas and Dan fading out of existence Back to the Future style as a result of this timeline altering detail, we have the Doctor alone on a battlefield where Sontarans are invading and winning every incursion.
What an interesting concept! I hope this doesn’t get ruined.
A Potato with a Dream of Horseriding
In typical Chris Chibnall fashion, the initial set-up then gets ruined with chunky exposition, location and setting jumps, including where we meet Dan’s bickering parents who felt oddly mirrored from Donna Noble’s family in The Sontaran Stratagem/Poison Sky double-parter back in 2008.
We cut to and from Dan reappearing in Liverpool right after he left in The Halloween Apocalypse, though above Enfield is now a Sontaran carrier – something the Doctor Who marketing team actually projected ahead of this series launch, meanwhile Yas awakens on the planet Time, required to fix an as of yet unexplained quantum locked machine involving six figures that all stare at each other in a circle.
Where last week’s episode faulted in having too many pieces on the board at once, thankfully War of the Sontarans does limit that down, however, still, audiences are torn with whether or not we need to bother giving a damn as in the first episode three of the new characters were killed off before we had a chance to rally for them. And now two weeks in, it’s still the same with the exception of Vinder and dog-man Karvanista, though Dan the Liverpudlian Man has miraculously developed the ability to peruse a Sontaran ship and knows without instruction to do the Vulcan salute to gain access.
Similarly, when the Doctor later does the Vulcan Grip on a BBC intern dressed as a British soldier, it made me question whether Chibnall wished he had been offered a writing role on Prime’s Picard instead.
Considering that this series is so short, and how we are already a third of the way in, with the halfway mark next week, it really drains me how little I care for this entire storyline, and how little I care for the ultimate shock reveal that the quantum locked device on the planet Time is going to be the origin story for the Weeping Angels.
It is exhausting how little I enjoyed it, but given the travesty that was the debut for this series, I am grateful it was slightly less unbearable.