Doctor Who Is Back To Face The Flux With Some New Characters And Familiar Foes In The Season Premiere
Doctor Who: Flux has arrived, with a premiere that heralds the beginning of the end for showrunner Chris Chibnall and star Jodie Whittaker. It is both the final act for these two who will depart the series after the end of Flux. And it might also be the end of the universe – again! The premiere episode Doctor Who: Flux sets up this truncated and serialized season by showcasing new characters and a few familiar villains. Let’s see what the premiere episode of Doctor Who: Flux brought in an episode titled The Halloween Apocalypse.
The Doctor And Companions Face New Mysteries
The premiere of Doctor Who: Flux kicked off in media res, with the Doctor and Yaz dangling over an ocean of acid. They seem to be arguing with a big blue blob? Their banter indicates that some time has passed since former companions Ryan and Graham departed the TARDIS. Since then Yaz has been the sole companion for the Doctor, and they have been on a number of adventures. One of those excursions apparently involved a high-gravity acrobatics course where they gained the skills to do a truly ridiculous flip on a gravity bar to escape. A high-octane action sequence ensues as the two of them race to get back to the safety of the TARDIS.
Except not all is as it seems in the TARDIS. There is weird black goop dripping from the crystals, and the door seems to be moving around at random. More troubling, the ship keeps stalling. And if we know one thing it is that if something is goes wrong with the TARDIS, then there is something up with the Doctor as well.
What Is Division?
Photo by James Pardon via the BBC
These troubles may be related to a different villain, one who is lurking behind the scenes as the Doctor hunts down someone named Karvanista. In a variety of scenes that occur across different timelines, we slowly learn about a character called “The Swarm.” This is an ancient alien imprisoned from the dawn of time. When he breaks free and grows some crystals on his face, the Doctor suddenly has a vision brought by a psychic link to the alien. Apparently the Doctor has faced this enemy many times across the eons, but those memories have been erased. Most likely by a mysterious organization called Division.
Because it is Division that the Doctor is truly searching for in her hunt for Karvanista. This new alien is extremely Wookie-like, except with more canine features. His true face is first revealed as he abducts a human named Dan Lewis, played by John Bishop. The Doctor and Yaz run to his rescue, picking up a new companion in the process. But surprisingly saving Dan is only a perk of the journey, as the Doctor interrogates Karvanista about Division.
The Flux Is Coming
Jacob Anderson in Doctor Who | Image via BBC America
We are left with few answers however, as the Doctor learns that there are bigger issues in the universe that she was somehow unaware of. The Flux is coming, we are ominously warned in the Doctor Who premiere. And soon we see it for ourselves, first through the eyes of another new character named Vinder (Jacob Anderson). From his outpost at the edge of the universe, Vinder witnesses the Flux as it obliterates planets. Soon, the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan see this unknown phenomena for themselves. It appears to be tied to the awakening of The Swarm in some way. And it is coming for the Doctor.
Elsewhere, we meet a woman who seems to be human but is eventually revealed to be an alien similar to The Swarm. He rescues her from her domestic life living as a human, and changes her back into her true from. The Swarm calls her his ‘sister’ and we know that her name is Azure. However we know little about these mysterious villains, and they seem to be at the heart of this season’s greatest mystery.
New Faces And Familiar Foes
Image via the BBC
There are a couple of other new faces that pop up in this episode, alongside some familiar monsters. We meet a woman named Claire, who seems to know the Doctor and Yaz. But soon after their meeting, Claire encounters a lone Weeping Angel. She seems to know the basic rules of how to deal with them, struggling to keep her eyes on the statue and not blink. This scene is genuinely scary and full of tension. And we definitely have questions about who Claire is, and what role she will play in the larger story.
The Weeping Angels are not the only familiar Doctor Who antagonists featured in this episode. Elsewhere we see a group of Sontarans, ready to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Flux. They are prepared to attack Earth once more. The second episode of Doctor Who: Flux will address this situation, with an epic battle against the Sontarans. We are also bound to also see some Cybermen and the Ood in upcoming episodes.
A New Companion For The Doctor
Image via the BBC
With two of her companions departing at the end of the last holiday special, it seemed as though Yaz would be the sole companion moving forward. However, we knew going into this season that there would be a new companion joining the Tardis. That would be the character of Dan, who got a rude introduction to space travel in this episode.
I was uncertain about adding a new companion for the final run of Whitaker’s doctor. However, Dan was an unexpected delight in this episode. He is funny and heartfelt, and clearly bewildered by what is happening. But he takes it all in stride, and is soon working side by side with Yaz and the Doctor. Dan’s knowledge of history around his hometown of Liverpool is also certain to come in handy. Especially considering the mysterious tunnels that were dug beneath the city in some of the scenes from the 1800’s.
Image via BBC
Another new character that will be a big part of this season is Vinder. Although he will not be an official companion, we know that he will work with the Doctor in later episodes. His storyline involving the Flux is already crossing over with the Doctor’s, so it was a little disappointing that they did not cross paths this premiere episode of Doctor Who: Flux. However, we know that this shortened season is meant to be serialized. So although the episodes are airing weekly as per the norm, the overall season will be one long story centered around the Flux.
Previous Doctor Who Episodes Give Clues To This Season’s Mystery
The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Ruth Clayton (JO MARTIN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Ben Blackall
There are a few tidbits from previous Doctor Who episodes that might give us an idea of what is going on with this season’s mystery. First there is the character of Azure. Her life as a human may be due to a device called the Chameleon Arch. This is the same device that allowed the character of Ruth to live as a human last season. It was then revealed that she is a secret unknown incarnation of the Doctor.
I suspect that Ruth might be the key to the overall mystery of the Swarm and the Flux. After all we learned last season about The Timeless Child, we know that there are lives and memories that the Doctor no longer remembers. There is some precedent for this, as with the revelation of The War Doctor back during Steven Moffat’s 50th anniversary special. This was an incarnation that had been forgotten by later Doctors, until circumstances forced them to confront this warrior version of themselves.
Image via BBC
Our current Doctor thought she knew all of her faces and identities from previous incarnations. However, she is learning that much of her memory has been taken from her. This could be due to the mysterious organization that she is searching for – Division. We obviously don’t know anything about Division yet, but I would guess that they are Time Lords who have been manipulating the Doctor across the centuries. And I would not be at all surprised if The Master was also involved somehow, as he has been at work behind the scenes throughout much of Chibnall’s run.
The Final Chapter For Whitaker & Chibnall
Image via BBC
Chris Chibnall has spent much of his tenure as showrunner establishing new mythology for Doctor Who. With the end of his tenure approaching, we can only hope that Flux wraps up all of the stories including The Timeless Child, Doctor Ruth, and Division in a satisfactory way that will lead into the next series when former showrunner Russell T. Davies returns.
Doctor Who: Flux will air five more episodes in this truncated season on the BBC. This will be followed by two Doctor Who specials due to air in 2022, when we will inevitably see our first female Doctor regenerate into a new form.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.