Village of the Angels

Posted in Episode by - November 22, 2021
Village of the Angels

Aired 21 November 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Arguably no foe introduced in modern Doctor Who has had such an immediate and instant impact as the Weeping Angels, the embodiment of the horrors lurking in everyday life and all that cannot be seen. With only a blink enough to allow these creatures to send their prey into the past to live off of what may have been, there can never be a moment of assured safety, a fact made all the more resonant by the later revelation that anything holding an image of the angel will itself become an angel. With a Weeping Angel now in control of the TARDIS console to open the fourth chapter of Flux, ‘Village of the Angels’ by Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton, the Doctor must reboot the TARDIS to allow dimensional compression to eject the wayward traveler, in the process landing in a completely unknown time and location that just may be exactly where the Angel originally wanted her.

Arriving in 1967, the Doctor, Yaz, and Dan soon find themselves in the middle of a village search for a missing girl. Of course, the Doctor is far more interested in the psychic experiments of one Professor Jericho, experiments being run on a young woman named Clare who crossed paths with the Doctor and then fell victim to a pursuing Angel in ‘The Halloween Apocalypse.’ In no time at all, the Doctor, Clare, and the Professor find themselves besieged by a group of Angels attempting to break into the domicile, setting the scene for an immense and tense sequence that plays up all of the Angels’ greatest abilities. With locked doors providing only temporary respite as lines of sight are broken and even video footage and a sketch unable to contain the essences of these creatures, the relentless approach of the Angels paired with the claustrophobic confines and limited resources at hand perfectly allow every established aspect of these iconic foes to reach their full potential.

Of course, no episode can rely solely on what has come before, and the Angels here offer plenty of new hurdles for the Doctor and her companions to contemplate and traverse. Their quantum extraction that has inexorably linked 1967 and 1901 with diminishing area and with literal space at lane’s end is a striking ability and visual, and although none of the villagers involved in these elements truly develop beyond necessary plot devices, their use in introducing this concept and the Angels’ ultimate scheme is wholly effective. With Claire’s acceptance and the Doctor’s psychic abilities, the Doctor is slowly able to discern that the Angel that has taken up residence within Claire is a rogue element that the others of its race are pursuing. As has been increasingly common during the Doctor’s recent travels, the Angel likewise reveals a connection to the Division and knowledge of the organization’s use of myriad species to achieve its goals as well as of the memories that the Doctor no longer has, and the Doctor soon discovers that a far greater trap has been sprung that culminates with one of the most effective cliffhangers in the history of the programme. Realistically, the Doctor being turned into a stone angel while being recalled by the Division could only have happened in this serialized format of Flux, and the striking visual and the thrilling promise of far greater secrets is a superb endpoint to this tense thriller that Jodie Whittaker, Annabel Scholey, Kevin McNally, and the motions of the Angels themselves vividly bring to life.

Quite rightly, the focus here is on the Doctor and her plight, and while Mandip Gill and John Bishop do well in their brief time with the 1901 plot element to provide further context to the Angels’ plan, the more intriguing side plot features the surprising return of Bel as her search for Vinder across an increasingly dead and destroyed universe continues. Landing on the remains of the planet Pizzano, she here discovers that Azure is harvesting populations and imprisoning them within Passenger forms, leaving unexplained Azure’s motives and intentions as another confrontation with the Doctor seems all but guaranteed. This is an effective reminder of just how much suffering is occurring outside of the Doctor’s more intimate bubble as the Ravagers continue to put into motion their own plan that is likewise so linked to the Time Lords and their ancient secrets, and the connection that Bel and Vinder so clearly share despite not yet being shown together is a testament to the writing and acting of both Thaddea Graham and Jacob Anderson.

The characterization of the villagers aside from Jericho and Clare is a bit lacking, and the smaller scope of the 1901 time zone of this cursed village naturally can’t compare to the immense drama within 1967, but ‘Village of the Angels’ as a whole is a resounding success that not only capitalizes on the excitement that the returning villains bring with them, but that also utilizes those enemies to springboard into a stunning cliffhanger that quite possibly could change everything thought known once again. Chris Chibnall has a lot of work to do to bring Flux to a satisfying close with only two episodes left in its run, but this fourth chapter that puts the Flux and the Ravagers is more of a background role is an absolute testament to the storytelling that Flux allows and is proof positive that this era of the franchise still has an incredible amount to offer.

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