Survivors of the Flux

Posted in Episode by - November 29, 2021
Survivors of the Flux

Aired 28 November 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After a gripping episode set more or less in one location, Flux returns to a more disparate storytelling format, positioning its players for the endgame as clues and revelations continue to develop in Chris Chibnall’s penultimate chapter, ‘Survivors of the Flux.’

Little time is spent dealing with any of the lingering details regarding what happened to the Devon village and its denizens following the Weeping Angels’ efforts last week, and the action picks up immediately as the Doctor in Angel form is transported to Division which has recalled her. The previous story purposefully kept the Angels’ powers essentially to what had already been established, but the sheer cruelty of their actions and their choice to transport the Doctor in such a manner solely for their own entertainment continues to develop the inner workings of these fearsome creatures to great effect. Of course, the Angels are but enlisted workers for Division, and it’s not long before the Doctor comes face to face with the woman she briefly encountered in ‘Once, Upon Time.’ Revealing that Division is a furtive and all-seeing group with roots on Gallifrey that expanded as Gallifrey’s power and influence did to ensure that the universe took the proper path as it deemed appropriate, Awsok paints a picture of incredible power aboard a ship that exists outside of this known universe that is headed for planned destruction by Division’s hand via the Flux and that is headed for another with a seed vault of this universe’s inhabitants for safekeeping.

As the Doctor and Awsok spar about the strengths of morality, there is an easy chemistry between Jodie Whittaker and Barbara Flynn that expertly hints at the long history these two characters have shared when Awsok reveals herself to be Tecteun, the woman who found the Doctor and gave her the life she knew. The Doctor has never had to confront any sort of parental issues before, and the personal fury that Whittaker lets forth as she delves into the depths of a person who has had her life taken away from her is incredibly moving and powerful, a foundation for some of the actress’s most profound work yet as this incarnation who must also confront that the Flux was set loose to destroy this universe because of her and the hope she inspires in others to stand up against Division’s influence. This does, of course, bring into question why Division hasn’t simply recalled her earlier to eliminate the perceived threat she poses as a virus let loose in the system, but it also opens up Tecteun to further scrutiny when she pleads the Doctor to join her in the new universe. Given everything Tecteun has done to rid herself of the Doctor regardless of any assumed familial connection, the Doctor throwing herself and the TARDIS at the Flux the only thing that has stalled its success as the universe contracts around Earth, this makes no sense and will likely not be given any further time to develop given Tecteun’s ultimate fate at the hands of Swarm and Azure aboard her ship. Still, the notion of the seed vault and the thrilling visual of a fob watch hosting the Doctor’s forgotten memories from so many lives before are tantalizing propositions that will hopefully be picked up and developed more definitively as Flux reaches its stated end.

Elsewhere, Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho are off on a globe-trotting adventure to find record of an exact date yet to come as the effects of the Flux reverberate through time for those able to understand. Though little information is given as to how the trio got to this point once leaving Devon, the three are nonetheless effective in a fairly light-hearted way and all too quickly they draw unwanted attention upon themselves as they barely escape multiple attempts on their lives. Little is truly added to the characterization of any of the three, but Mandip Gill, John Bishop, and Kevin McNally are all wonderful and share an immense chemistry that simply begs for more adventures featuring them together to be told. Eventually, this leads to them leaving a message for Karvanista far in the future regarding their temporal position, an element that seems somewhat out of place given Karvanista’s lack of time travel abilities until this trio’s narrative suddenly changes course when Joseph Williamson quite literally wanders into their lives. Suddenly, tracking down this man becomes their focus, and their like-minded thoughts about the threat facing Earth reveals the truth at the heart of his network of tunnels and the shocking connections to other locales and times to be found here, an element sure to pay tremendous dividends as none other than the Sontarans break through to begin their attack on Earth anew.

Bel and Vinder, still separated, have relatively little to do in this episode with the exception of Vinder discovering that Swarm and Azure have set up a base of operations and are using their prisoners as something of a power source. Given where this powerful duo ends up at episode’s end, it’s shocking just how much remains unknown about them at this point, but Sam Spruell and Rochenda Sandall again imbue an understated and yet theatrical power to their performances that hint at something altogether more malevolent to come. On that note, Craig Parkinson’s Grand Serpent once more returns to the fold, shockingly and incredibly effectively infiltrating UNIT over the many decades following 1958 and its formative stages. While it’s hard to know if the decision to defund UNIT off-screen in earlier episodes was all part of bigger narrative plan, the cunning and brutality that the Grand Serpent shows whenever anyone stands up to him or suggests that they may know the truth about him is written and portrayed well and puts the entire history of the organization into a new context before Kate Stewart firmly takes charge once she uncovers the truth. Jemma Redgrave is always superb as the head of UNIT, and she perfectly captures the very personal element that Kate would and should feel given her familial history with the organization, something that should prove to be all the more vital now that the Sontarans have struck a deal to advance their scheme.

It might seem a bit late in the game to be reintroducing so many characters within new roles with only one instalment of Flux left, and though there certainly are some questions regarding motivations in the Doctor’s storyline and the exact purpose of the companions’ storyline, the overall effect is unquestionably a positive one that truly encompasses the grand scale and scope of this tale that still has so many questions left to answer.

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