I was of two minds about how to cover Doctor Who’s thirteenth series (since the revival) as it’s being billed as one six-part story titled “Flux”. As we got nearer the date though I thought to myself, if there is ever a series to cover each episode on this blog it’s Doctor Who, and given each episode has its own subtitle all the better. So here we are! Chapter 1 of “Flux”, subtitled “The Halloween Apocalypse”. Was it any good? Let’s take a look…
Halloween, 2021. A storm approaches. Something tears through space and time, undoing everything it touches. Who is the man who escapes his shackles? What about Dan got his captor’s attention? Why have the Angels come? And what will remain of the Earth, when this night is done?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The Doctor and Yaz just hanging out together …. Ugh, sorry, I just rolled my own eyes at myself.
Obviously being set up as Part 1 of a six-part story it’s hard to judge a lot of what I’ve seen here because it may pay-off in a spectacular way or it may all lead to a disappointing finale. This is the issue with contemporary reviewing a part of a series as opposed to the retrospective reviewing or full series/season reviews I do far more often. With all that being said, just judging it on its goal of setting the scene I will say it was very enjoyable.
The Doctor and Yaz are tracking down a human-dog like person named Karvanista (Craige Els) though Yaz doesn’t know why. The dog-man heads to Earth and kidnaps debuting companion Daniel Lewis (John Bishop) who beforehand was portrayed as the most friendliest and nicest guy you could ever meet (seriously, loves the museum, helps out at the foodbank, refuses to take food home for himself and then we see he actually has no food… it’s possibly overboard on the niceness if I’m honest…) Karvanista takes Dan to his ship and begins to fly away until The Doctor and Yaz board, after they visit Earth and have a strange meeting with a woman who already met them in the her past but their future (and who was then zapped back into the past by a Weeping Angel).
While Yaz saves Dan we see why The Doctor is hunting Karvanista down, he knows about “The Division”, the mysterious organisation that wiped her pre-Hartnell mind clean, something that is becoming more worrisome as a threat “from the beginning of the universe” named Swarm (Sam Spruell) is soon freed from his eternal prison and begin taunting the Doctor via some mental link or other about their past together. I do love the design of Swarm and his female counterpart Azure (Rochenda Sandall), whom he frees during the course of the episode, very freaky. As The Doctor and Karvanista are talking she finds out about why he headed to Earth and why the rest of his species is heading there, they’re each picking up “their human” in order to save them from a wave of destructive energy known as “the Flux”, seemingly unleashed by Swarm earlier in the episode. The Doctor, Yaz and Dan try to escape in the TARDIS but even though she manages to protect the Earth using Karvanista’s species’ ships as a shield, her craft and seemingly her and her friends are all enveloped by the Flux…
Also, we briefly see the new redesigned Sontarans, which frankly look fantastic. A proper modern redesign of the original creations. Their part in the story is seemingly next week…
He’s a good dog… except when he has to express any emotion. (also blurry screenshot, sorry…)
The main one that stood out to me was Karvanista’s effects. I appreciate the attempt to use animatronics and practical effects but it just didn’t work here, clearly due to budget. The face barely moved at all, giving the impression of someone wearing a mask rather than a dog-person. It’s a shame because the practical effects on Swarm and Azure were fantastic, as were the new Sontarans, but this was obviously one step too far. All the more fitting that Dan thought it was a guy in a mask at first due to being Halloween… I don’t blame him!
Also there was another couple of cases of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor being a bit of a git, keeping her true reasons for tracking down Karvanista down from Yaz then when quizzed just replying with the guilt trip answer of “aren’t I showing you a good time, aren’t we having fun?” It’s like, well yeah, but that doesn’t mean you have to blatantly lie and then not admit that’s what you’re doing. Would Yaz knowing what’s bothering her be that big a deal? Plus she manages to out-do David Tennant in the whacking the TARDIS console stakes and doesn’t seem that bothered when it starts leaking black fluid or even when she literally breaks the console and tries to zap The Flux with vortex energy. Felt like these things should’ve been a bigger deal to her…
“Wow… it’s quite big in here, isn’t it?”
The only big one is following the plot threads from the Series 12 two-part finale “Ascension of the Cybermen / The Timeless Children”.
There are a few little nods as well, The Doctor mentions having used Ace’s choice explosive Nitro-9 recently, and claims to have previously visited Liverpool football games (which was probably just an off-the-cuff remark written because they’re in Liverpool but actually matches up with several Doctor Who stories, including the Eighth Doctor audios “Living Legend” and “Something Inside”, as well as the Eighth Doctor comic “The Nightmare Game”, though the latter involved a fake football team rather than a real one…) but in general there wasn’t anything major.
I don’t know about you, but I’d trust him.
The Halloween Apocalypse has certainly set a monumental amount of obstacles in the way of The Doctor for the next five episodes and did a good job of introducing Dan as a new companion. Karvanista’s dodgy (and doggie!) effects were a sticking point, as were a few scenes with The Doctor, but overall I enjoyed it and most importantly as a Part 1 I’m looking forward to see where it goes from here…