11. Night of the Living Dead (Flux 4)

Thoughts on Doctor Who: Flux chapter 4…

2021


Village of the Angels

The story, Blink, that introduced the Weeping Angels was an instant classic, and is still regarded as one of the best ever Doctor Who stories. A Top 2 story when the first 200 stories were polled by Doctor Who Magazine and still a Top 2 story with a new poll years later when there were 241 stories.

No pressure then as with almost 300 stories now, Blink is still the benchmark of quality that any new Angels story is compared to.

Moffat wrote two more with the Angels as the main villain. The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone was Aliens to Blink‘s Alien. The Angels Take Manhattan was Film Noir.

This, Village of the Angels, is Night of the Living Dead. (Obviously there is more to it than that, but the siege of the mansion by a horde is the basic shape.) Chibnall & Alderton have penned this one rather than Moffat. Akinola’s music enhances the tension of a clever script.

It repeats elements of Blink; it repeats elements of The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone and it somehow makes those various “the Weeping Angels can do what now?” elements of TToA/FaS more coherent and satisfying; it keeps what’s already invented and adds even more but crucially making it seem entirely consistent; it’s integral to an arc like The Angels Take Manhattan; it uses all that for so many “That. Was. Amazing.” moments.

The cinematic lushness of it all is enhanced by some fantastic scenes, often with complex camera-moves: Claire’s possessed-voice exclamation during the pre-credits sequence; Claire’s Angel wings and the mirror; Jericho’s eye reflecting the Angel then it’s 1901; the mirrored black-and-white psychic-link beach.

The miroring of Claire-Angel and the Doctor on the beach is interesting considering the eventual swap of Claire-Angel and the Doctor. Foreshadowing, as is the woman turning to stone with wings, Claire that is.

The psychic beach is the setting for the greatest Flux dialogue and twist yet:

“But why?”
“They are an Extraction Squad. For the Division.”

It’s “not a sanctuary. It’s a hunting ground”. Bel is describing the half-destroyed planet but could equally be saying what the Doctor’s misunderstanding is regarding the mansion.

The Doctor is separated from her companions – as Yaz says they are “herded” to the daylight 1901 of the supposed stone burial site area.

When the Doctor emerges from the tunnel it’s exactly where the Angel Squad want her, she emerges at the site.

The aerial view of the stone site is another great camera-move scene – you can see the Angels glow and power-up (that powering-up could be achieved by all the villagers being zapped back 66 years).

Ghost Light had a stone spaceship too. There is some of its abstract mysticness with these lines –

“Division uses everything and everyone. Every species, every world, every moment.”

Division is unstoppable.”

Just when the Division was something the audience understood, this refreshes the mystery and deepens it.

How does this chapter compare to Blink then? It’s arguably even more impressive as it manages to use the Angels as effectively while also re-energising the Division storyline over 56 minutes – and it all dovetails smoothly.

“This was its plan all along”

“Because the only thing Division wants more than my Angel… is you. You are recalled… to Division.”

The Doctor transformed to stone with wings, to a Weeping Angel, is one of the most astounding sequences of almost 300 stories.

—–

Additional Flux musings:

Superb performances from Kevin McNally and Annabel Scholey – and from Jodie Whittaker. Exciting that there will be – probably – more.

Additional Doctor Who musings:

This is 297d of Story 297 so this era may end with Story 300.

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