Doctor Who: Flux isn’t bad. Indeed, at its strongest, it probably represents the best of the Chibnall era. Yet there’s still something dissatisfying about it. By the final episode, I was rather troubled by the fact that I wasn’t too disappointed to see this storyline conclude.
Undoubtedly part of the reason for this is that Doctor Who: Flux has one of the most convoluted storylines that the revived series has ever attempted. As unfortunate as it was to have a Doctor Who season with only six episodes, having the whole series centre around a main storyline while also factoring in smaller, episode-long stories was a promising concept; in fact, it brought to mind similar story arcs from the classic era, like The Keys of Marinus. It can’t be coincidence, however, that the best episodes of the series – War of the Sontarans; Once, Upon Time; and Village of the Angels – were the ones that functioned best as self-contained stories. As for the main plot involving Division, the Flux and the Ravagers, I could barely begin to try and explain it to you; I had given up trying to properly understand it by the end of Survivors of the Flux.
Jodie Whittaker gets more room to flex her acting abilities in this series as the Thirteenth Doctor is tested more than previously; the series does its best to continue to develop the Timeless Child revelations from Series 12, though with mediocre results – perhaps it’s too recent and controversial a development to be fully emotionally invested in. Any hope that Yaz would have more room for development with Graham and Ryan out of the picture sadly proved in vain, as she has little opportunity for introspection and spends much of her time away from the Doctor. John Bishop’s Dan Lewis is a pleasant chap, but there’s not that much more to him; perhaps he will be best remembered for giving birth to the Evil Dan meme.
Kevin McNally’s Professor Jericho is easily the best side character, subverting expectations by proving to be much more capable than he appears at first glance; fellow side characters Vinder and Bel, meanwhile, provide a charming but ultimately irrelevant love story. As for the monsters, the Sontarans make good use of their surprisingly large role, and the Weeping Angels go back to their roots in being utilised for effective horror. The Ravagers, Swarm and Azure, have a great look and start out as very intimidating – but like Vinder and Bel, they end up feeling superfluous by the conclusion.
When I heard that Russell T Davies was coming back as showrunner, my first thought was that if anything could possibly please the complaining fans, it was this one. Now, after two-and-a-half seasons for Chibnall’s style, I myself feel eager for a change. As much as I’ve found value in Series 11 and 12 – and indeed, Flux – this current era of Doctor Who is like a brand of fast food that tastes good and even a little novel at first, but loses its initial appeal after you’ve eaten it enough times.
Series 13 Episode Ranking:
- Once, Upon Time – 9/10
- War of the Sontarans – 8/10
- Village of the Angels – 8/10
- Survivors of the Flux – 7/10
- The Halloween Apocalypse – 6/10
- The Vanquishers – 6/10
So, now we have another New Year’s special coming up – making a tier ranking of Christmas specials on Twitter recently caused me to realise how much I miss watching Doctor Who on Christmas Day. Then, after two more specials in 2022, we shall see who the Fourteenth Doctor is and how Russell T Davies manages the second time round. I look forward to it.