Doctor Who: Flux wrapped up its story with “The Vanquishers” and I must admit I doubted Chris Chibnall would be able to wrap this one up well. I’ve said many times through the Flux run that the hodgepodge of stories and new characters was going to be way too much to wrap up in one episode. But I’m pleasantly surprised to say that Chibnall pulled off a satisfying end to the Flux storyline. In fact, I’m even able to forgive the more messy entries of this season since I’ve seen where the build-up had been leading to.
The episode isn’t flawless. It’s nowhere near as strong as “Village of the Angels” or even the season premiere. The episode had a lot of storylines to wrap up, and it did so in a very rushed way. Some stories don’t get wrapped up or fully explained. However, even though it’s rushed, it somehow still works and makes the viewer want to see what will be coming up in the upcoming specials, and maybe in the next season.
“The Vanquishers” Story
After last week’s episode ended with Swarm (Sam Spruell) and Azure (Rochenda Sandall) killing Tecteun, the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) flees with the Ood in search of the TARDIS. Once they locate it, Swarm tries to tempt the Doctor with a fob watch that contains her memories of being the Timeless Child. As this is going on, the Doctor also appears on Bel’s (Thaddea Graham) ship where Karvanista (Craig Els) is also present.
Meanwhile, Yaz (Mandip Gill), Dan (John Bishop), Jericho (Kevin McNally), and Joseph Williamson (Steve Oram) encounter Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave) in the tunnels where she is leading in a battle against the Sontarans. The Doctor also makes an appearance there, finally reuniting with Yaz.
Yes, the Doctor is appearing in three places at once. The Ood explains that she is now everywhere and nowhere, existing in three places at once. I know that’s a little confusing.
Anyway, it turns out the Sontarans are imprisoning humans on a psychic technology mechanism to pinpoint the final flux event. They are also making fake truces with the Daleks and the Cybermen to help them all survive. In reality, they are tricking the two alien species into the path of the Flux where they will supposedly serve as enough matter to cancel the Flux out before it can do much more damage. This plan is carried out with the intent of leaving the Sontarans as the titular Vanquishers of the greatest threats to their existence.
That’s a lot to follow, and there’s even more to follow when watching. However, this is the best plot explanation I can give without spoiling the episode, and quite frankly I think it’s an episode worth watching.
That is a lot to follow and keep up with, as has been the case with Doctor Who: Flux during this whole run. The good news is that most of the storylines from this season are sufficiently wrapped, albeit in a rushed way. We see Vinder (Jacob Anderson) and Bel reunite, and while I feel that Vinder didn’t truly become a compelling character, it’s nice to see him get a happy ending (assuming this is the last we’ll see of him). We also get satisfying endings for Claire (Annabel Scholey) and Diane (Nadia Albina), with the latter actually proving resourceful in the Flux’s final defeat.
This is also the first time the Sontarans impressed me as villains (I’m typically not a fan). They show a level of military brilliance and deception that actually makes them intimidating villains. Granted, there is still some evident buffoonery when the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan manage to trick a Sontaran into sharing secrets in exchange for chocolate. While I found that scene ridiculous and pointless, I still was ultimately more impressed with the Sontarans as villains than I’ve ever been.
But the star of the show is Jodie Whittaker. With three versions of herself in different places, we see different sides to the Doctor given the situations each Doctor is in. Desperation, fierceness, wit, humor, and resourcefulness are all on display with each Doctor, and Whittaker’s acting chops are top-notch. Her regeneration is teased in this episode, and her reaction sums up how we should all feel. Whittaker has been a pretty great Doctor.
That said, there’s a lot to follow, and not all of it wraps up well. The worst of it is the storyline of the Grand Serpent (Craig Parkinson). The character, who some expected to be the Doctor’s nemesis the Master in disguise, never really became that interesting of a villain in this storyline. Furthermore, his whole storyline felt like it never really got explained well enough to make his ending something viewers should care about. Ultimately, I feel he was just an unnecessary side character.
There’s more I could say about “The Vanquishers” and how most complications and storylines aren’t fully resolved. And yet, I feel I can forgive all of it. There’s a point when the Doctor reunites with Yaz and asks how long this whole journey has been for her. Yaz reveals it’s been a few years. All the characters have been on different timelines and journies, and that’s probably why there’s been so much complication for us viewers. That’s the complicated nature time travel would have if it were real, and that’s sort of why I can forgive the craziness that Doctor Who: Flux has put us through. There’s bound to be confusion in the scenarios that this storyline offers, so viewers shouldn’t be surprised by some messiness. That’s time travel for you.
The Verdict (for the episode and for Doctor Who: Flux)
“The Vanquishers” marks the end of Doctor Who: Flux, and it’s a satisfying finale. While I still feel like some storylines and characters could have been removed, or that they would have worked in a longer season, I’m can ultimately give Doctor Who: Flux a B as a whole with this storyline giving it a good ending and wrapping things up as best as it could at this point. Furthermore, it did do enough to get me excited for future installments, which we will thankfully get on New Years Day with the special episode “Eve of the Daleks.” Chris Chibnall ultimately is wrapping up his time as showrunner on a good note. But I won’t lie: I’m still eagerly awaiting Russell T. Davies return.
So for me, “The Vanquishers” ends Doctor Who: Flux on a satisfying note making the season an ultimately entertaining experience. Do you all agree? Voice your thoughts in the comments.