This installment of the season-long arc features some excellent moments and it does move several of the disparate plotlines closer together. Overall, however, I do not know if I will be among those who survive the Flux.
Title: “Survivors of the Flux”
Directed by Azhur Saleem
Written by Chris Chibnall
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
John Bishop as Dan Lewis
Kevin McNally as Professor Eutacius Jericho
Barbara Flynn as Tecteun
Craig Parkinson as Prentis / Grand Serpent
Robert Bathurst as Farquhar
Craige Els as Karvanista
Thaddea Graham as Bel
Jacob Anderson as Vinder
Sam Spruell as Swarm
Rochenda Sandall as Azure
Nadia Albina as Diana
Simon Carew Silas Carson, as Ood
Nicholas Blane as Millington
Steve Oram as Joseph Williamson
Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart
Jonathan Watson as Sontaran Commander Stenek
Barbara Fadden, Isla Moody, Lowri Brown as Weeping Angels
The Weeping Angels transport the Doctor to a place outside the universe where her brand-new backstory gets amplified to where she is now central to, not only the story, Gallifrey, Division, and the Flux, but the entire history of the known universe. The Doctor also technobabbles something that includes the phrase, “reverse the polarity.” Perhaps it crosses the streams and counterpoints the surrealism of the underlying metaphor as well.
Prentis snakes through time and messes with UNIT. We actually see the third Doctor’s Tardis, but (and, in all fairness, this is typical, and only pulled out on special occasions) no explanation for how these changes to the timeline have not drawn the attention of the Doctor’s other incarnations. Timey-wimey, I suppose.
Dan, Yaz, and Eutacius travel around the world in 1904 in what appears to be the heavily-edited version of an interesting solo adventure connected to the main plot. They end up in Liverpool where they join forces with Joseph Williamson and try to fetch help from an irritable ally.
Conflict arises between Bel and Karvanista.
The plotting of the Doctor’s “mother” gets interrupted by the season’s low-budget (maybe) Final Bosses.
A kitchen sink gets thrown into spacetime. Okay, not really, but I fully expected that to happen.
Saddled with this script and several elements that don’t quite gel, Whittaker nevertheless gives a brilliant and nuanced performance as the Doctor.
The UNIT plot features a shout-out to the Brigadier and an impressive appearance by Jemma Redgrave as Kate Lethbridge-Stewart.
Look, multiple and complex plotlines can work in fiction and even in visual media. Some of the crossover comic stories have pulled it off without becoming incoherent. Game of Thrones did it very well. Robert Altman and Richard Linklater (among others) have made memorable films with an army of characters and plots. In theory, it could work on Doctor Who.
It isn’t working.
Unlike the crossover comic events, we don’t already know and like most of the characters. The backstory lacks the coherence of a Game of Thrones. Opportunities to tell interesting parts of the arc– the 1904 adventures, for example– get lost in the need to tell all of them at once, in tiny fragments that obscure character, motivation, and anything else required for us to care about the plot.
This episode tries to bring the plot threads together, but the Flux’s storyline is collapsing faster than the universe.
Originality: 3/6 It’s a mess, but some of its ideas are original.
Story: 4/6 The chaotic story gets some points for showing us a direction to this season.
Emotional Response: 4/6
Effects: 5/6 This episode features enough stunning visuals for a season of Doctor Who, and impressive (if not strictly necessary) shots of various places around the world. Why, then, does the story hinge entirely on a pair of villains who look like they stepped out of a Halloween party down the block for a quick smoke?
In total, “Survivors of the Flux” receives 29/42