This Means War
Tripwire’s man in Los Angeles Robert Cave grabs his sonic screwdriver and takes a look at the first episode of Doctor Who: Flux…
Writer: Chris Chibnall
Director: Jamie Magnus Stone
Chapter Two: War of The Sontarans
Yay! That was fun! I must admit, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for the Sontarans and their new rougher, more battle-scarred look gives them back a level of gravitas that their shorter, smoother Nu Who incarnation lacked.
After last week’s episode of set-ups, this week we have a less cluttered, somewhat straighter story, albeit one that still managed to jump around a fair bit across time and space. We start off somewhat ominously with the cloister bell, that magnificently baleful toll first heard in Logopolis back in 1981. The idea that something is wrong with the TARDIS is further explored here in a gorgeous little dream sequence in which the Doctor (Jody Whittaker) sees a dark, foreboding, rotten-looking ruin — a building with too many rooms to fit its footprint. It strikes me that the TARDIS is trying to communicate its distress to the Doctor, but the Doctor doesn’t want to hear it.
The Doctor, Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) then wake up in a debris-strewn battlefield in the middle of the Crimean War. Apparently they have been thrown out of the TARDIS as it reacted violently to encountering the mysterious Flux. There is something about this explanation that doesn’t quite fit for me. It feels like a bit of misdirection, perhaps preparing the way for twist later in the series. Or maybe I’m wrong (it does happen an awful lot). What I do find interesting is how a broken TARDIS that the Doctor can’t control harkens back to the days of classic Who in a way that we haven’t really seen much since the show’s 2005 revival. John Pertwee’s Doctor spent much of his tenure unable to operate is own time machine. Is that where we are heading this series? Without a functioning getaway vehicle, there is a greater sense of jeopardy for everyone in team TARDIS — and that can only be a good thing as far as the story is concerned.
Returning to the Sontarans, it appears that they have been monitoring The Flux, but are not responsible for its creation or deployment. They are just taking advantage of a disaster that is occupying everyone else’s attention to launch their own temporal take-over of the Earth. This is another fun little call back to 1974’s The Time Warrior, in which, as this episode notes, a Sontaran named Linx literally staked his race’s claim to the planet with his own little flag.
The Sontaran love of battle (and, apparently, horse riding), so this is all the excuse that is needed to justify the Crimean War setting. Yeah, the politics underlying the conflict is so glossed over as to be almost entirely absent (along with the Ottoman, the French and the Russians), but I am just glad for the opportunity it provides to shine a spotlight on the work of Mary Seacole (Sara Powell), an interesting historical figure all too often overlooked. It’s gratifying to see her stamina, compassion and observational skills in action, and they prove invaluable in identifying the Sontaran’s new rest/refuel cycle weakness.
When it came to the fighting itself, I found the visual effects impressive — especially considering the Covid-related limitations imposed on live action filming. The glimpses we got of a largescale battle between the British and the Sontarans worked, and the computer generated Sontaran time cruiser foundry in modern-day Liverpool docks, where Dan ends up, looked beautiful. I even enjoyed Dan’s wok-wielding as he teamed up his canine protector/partner Karvanista (Craige Els) for the Sontaran spaceship demolition derby. If there ends up being a Big Finish spin-off series, can it be called “One Dan and his Dog?”
Then we have the Temple of Atropos on the planet of Time, where Yaz meets Vinder (Jacob Anderson) and then a group of frozen/damaged entities called the Mouri (Moirai? Mori? – I guess I won’t know for sure until/unless they get a speaking part). We are told the Mouri control the flow of time in the universe and they are serviced by Priest Triangles, not too dissimilar to the while cubes Time Lords use to send messages (as seen in 2011 story The Doctor Wife). Could they somehow be linked to the Doctor’s new pre-Time Lords origin, as revealed in 2020’s The Timeless Child? We don’t know. What we do know is that Swarm (Sam Spruell) and Azure (Rochenda Sandall), now joined by the mysterious Passenger (Jonny Mathers) are quite willing to disintegrate a couple of Mouri and then plug poor Yaz and Vinder into the gaps the now-missing Mouri leave behind. Fortunately, the trailer for the next episode makes it abundantly clear that Yaz and Vinder will be safe and well in seven days’ time.
Amid all the questions, the unknowns surrounding the temple, the Mouri, Swarm and his gang’s origins and intentions, not to mention the whole Flux thing, this episode does offer one tantalising titbit of information: Atropos appears to be linked in some way to the Williamson Tunnels, which we saw being dug in last weeks’ episode. Are the tunnels, and, by extension, the temple itself dimensionally transcendental like the TARDIS? Could it be some kind of TARDIS-like structure itself? We shall just have to keep watching to find out.
And speaking of finding out, next week’s episode is set to pit the Doctor against the Cybermen once more. Will there be a resolution to the dangling Cyber-Time Lord plot thread from the 2020 series finale? I hope so, but certainly wouldn’t count on it.
Read his first episode review here
The post Tripwire’s Man In Los Angeles Reviews Doctor Who: Flux Episode Two appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.
This Means War Tripwire’s man in Los Angeles Robert Cave grabs his sonic screwdriver and takes a look at the first episode of Doctor Who: Flux… Writer: Chris Chibnall Director: Jamie Magnus Stone Chapter Two: War of The Sontarans Yay! That was fun! I must admit, I have always had a bit of a soft
The post Tripwire’s Man In Los Angeles Reviews Doctor Who: Flux Episode Two appeared first on TRIPWIRE MAGAZINE.Read MoreTRIPWIRE MAGAZINE