Doctor Who Flux: Chapter Six: The Vanquishers by Chris Chibnall.

Y’know, after the apparent death of Awsok last episode, you do have to wonder if writer Chris Chibnall is going to start pulling astral-rabbits out of the hat for the conclusion. I mean, the Doctor has been led from pillar to post without really knowing what is going on. Even her other regenerations would bluff until they got the upper hand.

Something blue.

Be warned, there is likely to be spoilers, so pop through the door to your Earth in the apocalypse and ensure you watch the last episode. I’m watching it a second time just to be on the safe side, so you’ll be catching me up as there’s going to be a lot of analysis along the way.

The Doctor is caught in an entanglement, appearing in three places at the same time. Where we left her, in the tunnels with Yas, Dan, Jericho and Kate Stewart and on-board the TARDIS, I think. You do have to wonder that the first three have been living through a time period for several years and haven’t aged.

It does also seem a bit weird that the Sontarans have a sweet tooth and why don’t they go to sweet manufacture factories than corner shops that are now rarities also seems somewhat of a throwaway just put in for the sake of it. No doubt there will be some Sontaran sweets somewhere down the line. Kate also doesn’t seem surprised that the Doctor is female. Doesn’t anything surprise anyone? Looking at the fan reaction to a female Doctor, you would think there would be a similar reaction to those who’ve seen the Doctor as a male.

There is a lot of jumping around and a lot of doors that could be opened. Going through them seems to be too voluntarily. Everyone seems too compliant to doing what they are told. No one seems to question their orders. Everyone seems happy to be meeting up and posturing than moving the story along. This is something you would often see in fan-fic. The end of the Grand Serpent also seems that way. A face-off with Vinter and Kate Stewart when he could invade their bodies and he meekly goes through the door. This makes a good argument that we need a lot more non-Doctor Who British SF shows so more showrunners can learn how to do episodic SF TV series again. It’s a lack of experience that we are losing out to over the years. You only have to look at the early Who stories to note that.

Something doggy.

There are also a lot of character moments than story but you’ll see that for yourself.

If there’s a common problem with Chibnall’s writing is his wasteful use of characters. A great build-up for Kate Stewart last episode is really wasted here. She’s head of a resistance yet we see none of her people, all right one but not with her, or how did she knew where the TARDIS was in the labyrinth or meeting the Doctor’s friends there at the right time? The same also applies to the Grand Serpent, who’s influence becomes wasted here as well into a secondary position when he’s been shown to be a manipulator for several decades. The appearance of Vinder and his oriental companion, whose name doesn’t sink in although I think its Bel and not helped by not having complete credits pop up but than get ignored much of the time. The same applies to other supporting characters.

Probably the biggest reveal is the Lupari was once her companion in her lost memories, is this a prediction for the future that we are going to see really alien looking companions or friends on board the TARDIS? That’ll be interesting on every Earth-bound adventure.

As to the Sontarans, despite their sweet-tooth, they also look like they’ve been on a diet.

Sontaran diet.

When you consider that is it Diane who gives the Doctor the solution to the end of the universe problem, it relegates her role again. I’m still not sure how the end of the universe was stopped but it seems caught up in the maelstrom of special effects.

The biggest problem is there’s far too much going on and too many characters to fulfil in the plot that becomes giddy at so much going on at the same time.

I did wonder if the watch will turn out to be a merchandise and did a check. Three versions in fact. Pick your own colour but I reckon there’ll a sell on bronze.

There is a hint of the Doctor’s forthcoming regeneration and her not using the watch to restore her memories. When you consider all the fuss over it, the Doctor ends up being singularly adverse to finding out about her past lives. It’s not as though all of it would be revealed to the viewers or needs to be.

Lest we forget, this series is supposed to be about these three characters who don’t really do that much here.

Bear in mind that I’m bringing together all the other 5 parts with this finale here, my reviewer mind is focusing on what is wrong and its sticking out like sore thumbs. My impression is that Chibnall appears to be having a check list. Information about the Doctor and other parts of the series history to appease the extreme Whovians. Moving the story at breakneck speeds so you aren’t left in a position to question anything or why it happened. That’s not good plot writing.

Opaqueness works in fantasy and barely in space fantasy but it breaks up the goals of making a good story. Everything brought to a head at the end but nothing feels satisfying.. There’s also the possibility that we might have seen the extinction of the Sontarans as well as the Lupari species, although you would think some of each species would still be on their home planets. One can only hope some of this mess can be sorted out in the last three stories.

GF Willmetts

21 November 2021

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