Doctor Who: Flux – The Vanquishers Review

After five episodes of build up does Chris Chibnall stick the landing?! … *sigh*, no, of course he doesn’t. I thought there were too many spinning plates for all of them to get a satisfying resolution but I didn’t expect practically NONE of them to get any real sense of resolution at all. As the end credits rolled I just wondered why I’d bothered getting invested in anything the past month and a half, and that’s not a great way to leave your audience! Let’s take a closer look then…

Official Synopsis:

In the final epic chapter in the story of the Flux, all hope is lost. The forces of darkness are in control.

But when the monsters have won, who can you count upon to save the universe?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The Doctor sees her future and is awestruck … at how disappointing it is.

The only real highlight to me was the return of the new re-designed Sontarans and the fact that they actually came up with a plan to wipe out their last two competitors in the universe so they could then… erm, conquer what little remains… Which while Sontarans would probably have preferred to face their enemies in a major battle rather than tricking them into the line of the Flux like they did here it was fun seeing them “win” for a while. It was apparently the plan of the Grand Serpent anyway… who again I have no idea why the Sontarans would work for, but there you go. Still love the redesign, even the weird scene where a Sontaran was eating loads of chocolate bars in a corner shop was funny.

It’s annoying because there were a few moments I enjoyed but they were all undercut by having no satisfying conclusion. Professor Jericho was still around and had a well filmed “bravely facing down an enemy” death but I didn’t really care about him, his role in the plot was to be a somewhat amusing old man and therefore it just felt like he was kept around so at least one “good guy” character died, though even Yaz, who spent several years with the man, didn’t seem that bothered for very long… Still, good death scene!

The Bad:

Azure, along with Swarm, still look great at least. Top marks to the special effects / make-up team!

Where to start? How about Swam and Azure, two villains I’ve loved in the past five episodes. I loved their look, their cheesy acting, their mysterious Dark Times origin… Guess how The Doctor defeated them? She didn’t. They took The Doctor to the planet of Time to meet an entity known as Time, the thing they were trying to free after wiping out Space, and the entity was annoyed at their failure to completely wipe out Space so absorbed them into itself, something they were both thrilled with. That was it. The evil villains of the past six weeks happily joined their master with The Doctor having done nothing. Great. Speaking of not quite wiping out the Universe, that was never sorted either. Apparently Earth was the only fully formed planet left thanks to the special Lupari shield and the remnants of the Cyberman, Dalek and Sontaran fleets were wiped out when the latter’s plan went wrong, yet at the end The Doctor, Yaz and Dan went off in the TARDIS for some adventures with nobody even mentioning the devastation on an unimaginable scale that went on, nor the fact that there aren’t many places left to go… the TARDIS may as well just be a time machine now!

How about The Doctor’s pre-First Doctor memories, left in the fob watch? The Doctor was taken to the weird floating cabin world where her lost memories are and tormented about them being erased and then restored by Swam and Azure, then at the last moment she got her hands on the watch, the thing she was so desperate to reclaim the whole series. Later in the TARDIS she gets the watch out and… pops it in the TARDIS with no intention of opening it. Great! Admittedly this was the one plot thread I assumed wouldn’t be fully explored until Chibnall and Whittaker’s final story next year, but I thought this would be because it was still out of The Doctor’s reach, not because she just decided she wasn’t arsed about it anymore.

Vinder was another character that was really interesting at the start…

The Grand Serpent was left as a dangling plot thread, The Doctor named his species in one confrontation and then Kate Stewart (who had only a small number of lines) and Vinder forced him into a door that led to a blank asteroid and shut it behind him. That was it. He’s stranded on a floating rock (which the universe has pretty much been reduced too, don’t forget!) but he didn’t seem that bothered, so why should I? At least have him scream or try to get back into the door before it vanished… SOMETHING. Karvanista’s entire species were wiped out, but we never saw any other member of his species and it all happened off-screen so it didn’t really have any emotional impact, especially as Karvanista can’t express any emotions due to the whole barely-moving animatronic head thing. Vinder and Bel reunited and … stayed together. Fair enough, I guess! Dan found Dianne (who during her time in the weird Passenger dimension learned to shoot an alien gun and how alien tech works somehow) and the two lovingly embraced, but then back on Earth Dianne wasn’t interested in going out with him because he left her waiting, despite EVERYTHING she’d seen clearly indicating it wasn’t his fault.

In the end Dan then walked down the street and saw Yaz and The Doctor, who welcomes him on board the TARDIS for some fun trips like the whole six part thing hadn’t happened. With the exception of The Doctor having her lost memories to hand if she wants to rediscover them (and she really did up until she suddenly didn’t) it feels like nothing of note has been accomplished by this “six part event series”. Given all the characters and plot threads that’s quite an accomplishment…

The Continuity:

All the continuity is pretty much based on the previous five episodes, unsurprisingly! Just click the “Flux” tag at the bottom of this review to have a look at them!

Overall Thoughts:

Again I took the screenshots before I saw the episode… I had a feeling this would be irrelevant to the story but did it anyway! Let’s call this a preview for the next episode!

I went into this story with low expectations because Chris Chibnall had created too many separate plot threads to effectively end them all and knowing there are a few more special episodes to come I was expecting some plot threads to be left dangling. What I wasn’t expecting was nearly all of the threads to be left dangling and the ones that weren’t to be given really unsatisfactory conclusions or just flat-out not addressed at all. Looks like we have a Dalek story for New Year’s Day, will it be addressed how they’re on Earth when the whole Dalek fleet was wiped out along with pretty much the entire universe? I doubt it. It’s just back to business as usual despite a six episode epic about the universe being nearly completely destroyed… *sigh*. What a waste of time.

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