The flux has begun. Doctor Who: Flux, the thirteenth season of the revived Doctor Who series, kicked off with The Halloween Apocalypse, and it threw everything at us but the kitchen sink. Of course, we knew that was going to happen. The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) herself warned us that we’d face the threat of Weeping Angels and Sontarans in a teaser trailer. Both threats and more showed up in this premiere. While it was a bit much, it was enough to leave us wanting more.
The episode opens the Doctor and her companion Yaz (Mandip Gill), suspended over a pit of acid. They are imprisoned by a being known as Karvanista (Craige Els). The Doctor is able to save herself and Yaz, and they start tracking down Karvanista, who the Doctor seems to have a keen interest in that Yaz can’t understand.
Meanwhile, we are also introduced to Dan Lewis (John Bishop) who fans already know will be the new companion in the TARDIS. He comes off as a seemingly charitable guy who seems to be facing financial woes of his own. On Halloween night, Karvanistra breaks into his home, revealing himself to be a Chewbacca-like dog being. Karvanistra ends up kidnapping Dan and bringing him aboard his spaceship.
The Doctor tracks down Karvanistra, who reveals to her that each member of his race is bound to a human (in his case Dan), and he and his race are saving their humans from the flux. The flux is a mysterious entity that defies the laws of time and space and destroys everything in its path. The flux, in reality, is the end of the universe.
We also learn that the Doctor is seeking Karvanistra because he is the only known member of the organization known as The Division. The Doctor is clearly trying to learn more about her past as the Timeless Child, a memory that The Division has wiped out. Unfortunately for her, Karvanistra does not seem interested in talking.
We also come across a being known as the Swarm (Sam Spruell). While a psychic link between them suggests he knows the Doctor, she does not recognize him. It appears this is an enemy she encountered before her memory was wiped and before she became the First Doctor (William Hartnell).
We also meet a mystery woman named Claire who falls victim to a Weeping Angel, but she doesn’t do so ignorant of what a Weeping Angel can do. We also encounter a mysterious character named Vinder (Jacob Anderson of Game Of Thrones, Dan’s potential love interest Diane (Nadia Albina), and a Sontaran commander (who will be the main subject of the next episode). All of them seem to be connected to the flux and to the upcoming storyline we will see playing out in the coming weeks.
Thoughts On Doctor Who: Flux: “The Halloween Apocalypse”
Some of you probably had a hard time following that all of that. If so, you are not alone. Chris Chibnall’s heavily criticized time with Doctor Who is coming to a close, and he’s clearly trying to make up for some shortcomings by including all these fan-favorite villains in a wild, apocalyptic storyline. While it’s a noble and cool intent, there are times when “The Halloween Apocalypse” is a little hard to keep up with.
When you’re waiting for the commercials to end so you can see where the storyline that just got your attention picks up, they introduce a new character or a new plot point. This becomes so confusing at times that you may be wondering if you accidentally changed that channel and are watching a different show.
This is also Jodie Whittaker’s last season on the show. While Whittaker has certainly done fine with the material she was given, her era has been criticized for not showcasing how she is unique from her predecessors. This is likely why Chibnall brought this whole “Timeless Child” storyline in. Based on the Doctor’s interactions with Karvanistra, it seems like Chibnall is trying to bring that storyline to its climax in Flux, and honestly, this feels reckless. If you’re going to undermine the entire storyline of a 60-year franchise and create some sort of timeline that occurred before the very beginning, don’t do it when you’re at the end of your reign and when your current Doctor is known to be reaching her end. Granted, Whittaker still has three specials after Flux, so perhaps they can stretch this out well. Time will tell.
Jodie Whittaker told Empire that this would be a massive arc and honestly, there is a lot going on in Doctor Who: Flux. There are still unanswered Timeless Child questions, and all these new characters and the storylines surrounding famous villains are going to be a lot to keep track of in these episodes.
And yet, it held my attention. Yes, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge of villains and storylines, but I can’t deny I was eagerly wondering what would happen next. Since Whittaker became the Doctor, I haven’t felt much eagerness for another Doctor Who episode. But it looks like Chibnall is going out without some gusto before Russell T. Davis takes over. Furthermore, there is real tension and suspense in the Weeping Angel scene, and Swarm seems like an intimidating and intriguing villain. While we haven’t seen much of Dan yet, he seems like a likable companion who I sense will only get better in future episodes.
There’s a lot going on in “The Halloween Apocalypse” episode of Doctor Who: Flux. While it’s a little too much to take all at once, it still leaves you wanting more, which is more than can be said for most of Chibnall’s reign. Chibnall is clearly demonstrating a desire to go out with a bang, and he just may pull it off. Time will tell if the smorgasbord of plotlines in this first episode will play out well in the next five installments, but Chibnall definitely had me eager to see it all play out. He just may end his reign on a good note.