12. Silent Running (Flux 5)

Thoughts on Doctor Who: Flux chapter 5…

2021


Survivors of the Flux

Chibnall seems intent on reviving as many Doctor Who controversies as possible, from the Morbius Doctors to the dateline of the previous UNIT stories. It’s doubly baffling as to why he’s suddenly bringing UNIT (the anti-alien-incursion taskforce) into the mix of his era and this already-complex story, considering that he emphasised UNIT (and Torchwood) didn’t exist any more with Resolution and Spyfall.

See the end of the review for more on UNIT –  though for now note a voice cameo from the Brigadier complicates matters slightly. For the general audience that’s seen the past few seasons of the programme, the main event: the Brig’s daughter, Kate Stewart, returns and we get an onscreen explanation as to why UNIT was shut down during her time of command.

What’s the Grand Serpent up to with all his UNIT shenanigans? The surprising answer is facilitating another Sontaran invasion – but he also seems to be aware of the efforts of Team Yaz, sending serpent-tatooed villains to thwart her Indiana Bond adventures.

Yaz & co’s escapades are great fun, and ultimately re-unite Dan and Tunnel Guy, Joseph Williamson. The Williamson Tunnels will allow them to finally gather to the when of everything happening.

More gathering is Bel being brought to dog-man, and Vinder meeting Diane while trying to unite with Bel. Chibnall is bringing all his plotstrands together.

There is a lot to like about the Doctor’s scenes on the Division ship. The “seed vault” tree at the centre of the ship is a spectacular visual. (Possibly it’s intended to echo Yggdrasil, the World Tree of myth – and so also the inclusion of a Serpent.) The ship itself with its bio-domes echoes Silent Running.

The confrontation between the Doctor and Tecteun has some thought-provoking dialogue but we are on the Doctor’s side always – there is no comparison really between Tecteun’s terrible experiments and the Doctor’s.

The mystery of Division had been increased last week and now – it really does feel like ten episodes of plot condensed into a six-chapter story.

Dr Who on fastforward.

Hello Awsok Ep03, Goodbye “Awsok” Ep05.

(Did anyone ever speak the word Awsok?)

If Chibnall had decided “Awsok” was a rogue past incarnation of the Doctor then I would have accepted that.

Especially as I love the idea of Barbara Flynn as Dr Who.

As it is though that’s Tecteun appeared again then gone. It all makes sense as a narrative for Chibnall’s three-season run but what is Chibnall going to handover as the “mystery of Doctor Who refreshed”?

Cartmel intended his masterplan to create mystery – which was resolved eventually by Platt’s New Adventures novels.

Chibnall seems to be creating & resolving the mystery over his set of TV seasons.

The (possibly) weirdest thing is Chibnall giving the Doctor the line about her possibly having thousands of previous incarnations.

This ain’t the elegant neat addition of the one new incarnation of the War Doctor!

The Doctor’s memories have been decanted from the Rogue Weeping Angel into a fobwatch. Swarm & Azure take the stage for the finale as Tecteun exits stage left.

Next: the final chapter.

“Listen to me. I’m gonna save my friends. I’m gonna save that universe. And I’m gonna destroy Division. So hold on to that hat, because you, me, and the end of the universe – it’s personal now. And I’m gonna win.”
—–

Additional Flux musings:

Predictions!

The four people of the Doctor’s Atropos team during the Dark Times:
The Doctor herself,
Dog-man, Karvinista, already confirmed,
Bel, (the Yaz character),
Lee, the partner of Ruth, (the Vinder character).

The Doctor will absorb enough of her fobwatch memories to understand that much, but not much more.

The ghostly Lungbarrow-esque floating mansion represents the past forgotten lives of the Doctor.

Dan is not what he seems and that’s why ex-Division dog-man Karvanista has been paired with Dan.

The Doctor saying “what has been compressed can be decompressed, uncompressed” will be relevant for saving Universe One.

Additional Doctor Who musings:

This chapter says the Brigadier is a “Corporal” for 1967 which is confusing (surely he’s a Colonel during The Web of Fear of 1964 for the Doctor Who universe, four of that universe’s years before the events of The Invasion and the debut of UNIT) however Chibnall seems to be going with the “UNIT stories happened during the equivalent time of television broadcast” that Mawdryn Undead suggests. Which clashes with various things but then again Mawdryn Undead did already.

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