LOUISE WILSON lays out her pros and cons of Doctor Who: Flux Episode Two.
I liked this episode a lot. It genuinely made me laugh several times. The sontarans are always a fun enemy because they are so ridiculous. John Bishop proved once again that his natural brand of humour is something Doctor Who really benefits from. He made me laugh consistently throughout the episode and Dan is fast shaping up to be my favourite companion of Chibnall’s era. Jodie Whittaker is the standout in the episode, however. Her performance was superb; she nails the trademark blend of humour and heartache the Doctor is so well known for. This episode felt like quintessential Doctor Who: the Doctor trapped between classic villains and ignorant humanity, trying to find a way to prevent bloodshed on both sides.
Secondly, we get to see more of Swarm and Azure. Chibnall has a bad habit of creating villains that are at the very least forgettable, but these two are intriguing. Their motives, backstory, and history with the Doctor will presumably be revealed in the coming weeks, but for now all we know is that they seem to enjoy causing havoc and toying with the Doctor and her companions.
This might seem like an odd one to throw on the pros list, but I’ve been impressed with the amount of deaths this series. Firstly, the way Swarm and Azure reduce people to dust is genuinely scary. Dan also witnessed the Sontarans line humans up for a firing squad this episode, and the slaughter of the British Army was also prominent. Doctor Who is such a campy show that it can be easy to forget that people are regularly murdered, but the frequency and nasty nature of the deaths in Flux have helped to raise the stakes.
Chibnall just can’t break his habit of painful exposition through dialogue, can he? Don’t get me wrong, it’s gotten better since Ryan and Graham departed the Tardis, but it is so jarring when a companion just blurts out exposition the audience could easily have guessed through context clues. Chibnall seems to have no faith in the audience to work things out for themselves, which is insulting considering half of them have likely been watching this show religiously for years.
I’m putting this in the cons column until I’m proven wrong, but I discussed last week how Dan seems to be completely unphased by anything. This week he travelled in time, saw Sontarans take over the docks and got rescued (again) by a giant man dog, and he barely reacted to any of it. Granted, Chibnall has a lot to get through and doesn’t want to waste time on the rigmarole of introducing a new companion, but it feels like we’ve been robbed of that sense of wonder new companions get when they first meet the Doctor.
Dan’s parents show up this episode armed with frying pan and wok after a drunk man from Birkenhead discovered it was the best way to knock out a Sontaran. I can confirm, as someone who’s family is from Birkenhead, that this is incredibly accurate and would be exactly how the scenario would play out if it were to occur in real life.
Nothing revolutionary on the Bingo card this week, but it’s still early days. As suspected, the condition of the Tardis only seems to be getting worse, and I can see there being some permanent damage by the end of the series. 13’s Tardis is not a popular design by any means; given that the 60th anniversary special will directly follow Jodie’s regeneration and the habit showrunners have for blowing up their Tardis interiors when they leave, it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole thing gets torn apart.
What are your thoughts on this week's episode? Are you following along with a Who Bingo card of your own? Let us know!
Written by Louise Wilson