LOUISE WILSON shares disappointment and anger at the ending of Doctor Who: Flux
Despite a promising season, Chris Chibnall failed to stick the landing with Doctor Who Flux, continuing his unfortunate habit of lacklustre finales.
Unfortunately, this is going to be a very short list. The biggest positive of this episode was Jodie Whittaker. She seems to have really found her footing with the Doctor, and her performance consistently shone through the confusing and overcrowded plot. She has been fantastic in every episode of this season, handling the sadness, the anger, and the humour of the Doctor with ease. Whittaker is a brilliant actor, but she has consistently been let down by odd characterisation and lacklustre writing. It’s a huge shame that she’ll never have the chance to shine under a new showrunner. I can only hope that her last few episodes will do her justice and that her legacy as the first female Doctor won’t be tarnished by things she has no control over.
The other positive I took from this episode was Yaz. It’s taken three years but I’m finally starting to see the close relationship between Yaz and The Doctor. Whittaker and Mandip Gill have a huge amount of chemistry off screen which has never been fully utilised in the show, but their reunion, and the quiet scene later on board the Tardis, finally started to show the audience how these two actually feel about each other. It’s difficult to imagine Yaz ever voluntarily leaving the Tardis, so it will be interesting to see where her character goes as 13 approaches her regeneration later next year.
Right. I vowed to myself when I started this series this I was going to try and be positive wherever I could, but this episode was a shambles. It was overcrowded, messy, and at times completely incoherent. The pandemic meant that series 13 had to be cut shorter than originally intended, and this episode makes that so blindingly obvious that it was painful to watch. Instead of rewriting the scripts to find a different conclusion to the story, Chibnall seems to have just squished three episodes into one and spliced the Doctor into 3 different places. It was hard to follow not only because of the writing but also because of the edit. Certain scenes felt choppy and unfinished, and whenever Chibnall didn’t fancy finding an appropriate way to end a scene a Star Wars-style wipe transition was thrust in to move onto the next one.
It wasn’t just the overcrowded plot that let the episode down though, it was also the villains. Swarm and Azure had so much potential at the start of the series, and yet as their story came to a close it still wasn’t clear what their motivations were or what their history with the Doctor was. Also, for two beings that the Division had to keep in maximum security of thousands of years, they are defeated extraordinarily easily. The Ravagers were pegged to be the big villain of the series, and yet their evil plan seemed to be thwarted by…an Ood? Was that the end of them? Are they dead, or are they going to pop up again? I have no problem with plot points that span across multiple seasons, but if we’re leaving Flux with almost the exact same questions as we had going in, what was the point of the whole thing? My biggest qualm with these issues is that they could have been avoided so easily. We didn’t need ten different side characters, or two big bads, or a Sontaran raiding corner shops because he’s obsessed with chocolate (what the hell was that about?). By doing just a little less, Flux could have been wrapped up perfectly, but instead we were left with an overambitious let-down of a finale that tarnishes the brilliance of the episodes that led up to it.
The final, and most unforgivable, issue I took from the episode, was the characterisation of the Doctor. Doctor Who turned 58 years old in November. That’s 58 years worth of history, 58 years worth of character to draw inspiration from. 58 years of a character so opposed to violence and death that they chose the name Doctor to promote kindness and healing. And yet, in this episode, the Doctor sits back and allows the genocide of not one, not two, but three different races. She takes absolutely no issue in allowing the Flux to destroy every Dalek, Cyberman and Sontaran in its path. The Doctor understands the weight of genocide because for hundreds of years she thought she’d committed it against her own people, she even says this to Karvanista in this episode! Even after Davros kidnaps the Earth and threatens to destroy every ounce of matter in the universe, The Doctor still wants to help save the Daleks. They have always given the option of mercy. Even on the rare occasion that they haven’t, they’ve been admonished for it. It is so unbelievably out of character for the Doctor to allow the death of so many that I don’t understand how it made it through the first draft, let alone through to the final cut of the episode.
Bingo and final thoughts
So, there you have it. A disappointing and frustrating end to an otherwise enjoyable series of Doctor Who. We got a hint to both 13’s regeneration and the return of the Master towards the end of the episode, but in all honesty, I, and many other fans, are just counting down the days until Russel T Davies’ return.
Written by Louise Wilson