Thoughts on Doctor Who Flux: Survivors of the Flux

It’s all starting to come together as we hurtle towards the season finale of Doctor Who Flux. Do I have thoughts? Of course I have thoughts!

However, as is traditional around these parts, I’m wary of dropping spoilers on folks who might want a simpler review format. I hate spoiling anything for anyone, so in order to avoid that, I’m going to embed a video clip below. Lurk below that, and you’ll find spoilers aplenty.

For a series that’s teetered around being near incoherent for much of its prior four episodes, Survivors of the Flux presents a rather more structured approach, with what amounts to three seperate narrative flows to cover off.

Naturally, we’ve got the Doctor’s journey to discover exactly what The Division is. We don’t get answers to every question — there is still one episode to go — but it does actually slot neatly into what had already been discovered about the main series arc so far, right down to the idea that our universe was being deliberately destroyed while others would be established.

Then there’s Yaz, Dan and Eustacius Jericho’s take on, well… Indiana Jones, albeit a little early. We at least get an explanation (of sorts) for Joseph Williamson, even though I’m not exactly sure how a Victorian explorer handles random time travel being foisted on him quite so adroitly. More on that in my wider thoughts below.

Then we’ve got the Grand Serpent/Bel/Karvanista plot, which brings back Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, as well as a cute (but not too cute) nod towards a certain loud spoken corporal. It’s in no way clear why the Grand Serpent has ended up time travelling to Earth — or, given the Lupari blockade, how he’s done it — but he’s nicely Machiavellian in his deliberations, if somewhat obvious in some respects about it.

Wait, he's an ALIEN? Nobody (at UNIT) saw that coming. Which, as Douglas Adams, ex Dr Who script editor once wrote, was a pity, because it was exactly the kind of thing they'd been looking for for years.
Wait, he’s an ALIEN? Nobody (at UNIT) saw that coming. Which, as Douglas Adams, ex Dr Who script editor once wrote, was a pity, because it was exactly the kind of thing they’d been looking for for years.

For once, however, we do get these threads actually tying in together through the episode (at least to an extent) as the Sontarans invade (seemingly through both the Lupari blockade and time itself while Azure and the Swarm deal with Tecteun in what would appear to be a rather final way… oh yeah, and Bel is back, and forced to travel to Earth by Karvanista, while Vinder is… somewhere undefined, but it’s the same place that Diane has ended up. Is he in the Passenger? It’s not very clear.

In any case, it all leads up to a cliffhanger of invasions, dustings and the potential end of the entire universe while the Doctor is also presumably at danger of imminent dusting.

As with all the other parts, I can’t really “rate” this episode because it still will hang on the finale. That’s also a little more true than for, say, War of the Sontarans or Village Of The Angels, because while things happened in this episode, it’s nearly 100% connective tissue rather than a full standalone narrative in its own right.

Which means while I can’t rate it fairly, I do have some observations to make:

  • If the Doctor is outside the universe, doesn’t that mean that she’s in E-Space? Is a Romana reappearance imminent?
  • Earth is under constant invasion, it seems. Where is my Ace cameo? (Do it you cowards)
  • I’m slightly relieved that while the dangling carrot of the Gallifreyan watch with the Doctor’s “real” memories was introduced, it’s also clearly not going to be used. Or at least, while it’s teased like crazy in the next time trailer, I hope Chibnall’s not going to burn out all the mystery of the Doctor just because he can. Don’t do it!
I totally want a cherry blossom powered TARDIS. This is basically a TARDIS, right?
I totally want a cherry blossom powered TARDIS. This is basically a TARDIS, right?
  • That being said, the scenes and dramatic tension between the Doctor and Tecteun are excellent. “What do you do, Doctor? Pick people up, take them with them, use them? They’re your experiments, just the same as me”.
  • Although that line is very Rani-esque. Probably not going to happen now, though.
  • Vinder came this close to finding Bel.

Indeed, Max.

  • If Yaz, Dan and Eustacius can wait around another seven years, they can head to the Scarman estate and meet the Doctor there. Just a thought…
  • The Nepalese hermit bit was fun. Inconsequential for a basic gag, but fun.
Hang on. How did they stumble across a hermit in Nepal in possession of ancient dog-related wisdom... who speaks English? I mean, Dan and Yaz might have the TARDIS' gift of translation, but where did Jericho get it from?
Hang on. How did they stumble across a hermit in Nepal in possession of ancient dog-related wisdom… who speaks English? I mean, Dan and Yaz might have the TARDIS’ gift of translation, but where did Jericho get it from?
  • However, I do have a problem here. When we last saw Yaz, Dan and Eustacius, they were stuck in 1901 Medderton with a crumbling space wall behind them and… nothing else. Young Peggy said they couldn’t leave. And now… they can travel to Mexico, Nepal, China and Liverpool? This wasn’t addressed as far as I can see.
  • Although they do travel mostly by map. Indiana Jones (and the Muppets) would approve.
  • Speaking of unresolved plot points, what happened to young Peggy? Did they just abandon her? And what about Claire, now that her Angel has been captured by the Division?
  • I do rather like the changing style of Unit headquarters, which do match up with the proper style of the series. And the Brig sound sample was a lovely touch, not too overstated.
You get one shot at a Lethbridge-Stewart. And you'd better not miss. The Grand Serpent just missed. I await Kate enlisting the services of Ace to deal with this.
You get one shot at a Lethbridge-Stewart. And you’d better not miss. The Grand Serpent just missed. I await Kate enlisting the services of Ace to deal with this. She’s the one Prentis won’t want to deal with, right?
  • Presumably the Grand Serpent/Prentis doesn’t actually know what the Tardis is, given he’s had access to it over five or more decades without doing anything.
  • Although (and this *is* stretching) Jon Pertwee had a snake tattoo that was shown in Spearhead in Space. If that’s a callback, it’s a hell of a callback…
  • “Hey Dan, are you from Liverpool? You’ve never mentioned it”. I laughed.
  • While I’m thinking on Prentis, anyone else have flashbacks to the TV Movie and The Master’s psychic snakes? Just me? That effect of the snake killing its victims was also a touch too gurn-heavy for my liking.
  • If Williamson knows that doorway 9 contains “endless death”… how does he know that while still being, you know… alive?

While it’s racing towards its conclusion, it’s also rather sad that we’ve only got one more episode of Doctor Who this season. Not too long until the New Year’s Day special, however (which, spoiler alert presumably means that this universe survives, I guess), but before that, we’ve got… The Vanquishers.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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