Doctor Who time! In the battle of time against space, I lost last night, and crashed about four thoughts in. So time to pick it up now that morning (West Coast) has come around for me again. Ten thoughts about last night's Doctor Who: Survivors Of The Flux, the penultimate episode of this run…
1. Travelling The Long Way Round
The Grand Serpent lives a century with one mission, played out over such a very long time, doing whatever is necessary to be in the right place at the right time. While Yaz, Dan and Jericho travel the world from Egypt to Constantinople to the Himalayas to the Great Wall Of China across three years in pursuit of an explanation, reminiscent of Martha Jones doing the same, gathering a psychic army against the Master in Last Of The Time Lords. While John Williamson gets to jump around time like a mad thing. He's basically The Doctor in this.
2. Divide And Conquer
Because the Doctor is elsewhere and elsewhen, separated from her fam, outside of the universe, face to face again with e Tecteun, the Gallifreyan who found the Doctor when she was the Timeless Child and stole their power of regeneration and created the Time Lords. And she is now head of The Division, the black ops Time Lord group, with Ood and other species at her hand And it's with this episode of Doctor Who: Flux that I realise, that Unit and Division are by their name two sides of the same coin. Division is not just the name of a department, it divides. While Unit unites. Or at least it is meant to.
3. Unite And Prosper
We get a history of UNIT for the first time, including all manner of Doctor Who continuity nods that smack of Moffat. Mention of the Post Office Tower event, the Patrick Troughton episode The War Machines, and the hiring of Corporal Lethbridge-Stewart, and how Kate Lethbridge Stewart dealt with the closure of UNIT in recent years. But it does raise questions of how the Grand Serpent avoided the Doctor for so long, and have UNIT always had a TARDIS in their headquarters, even when the Doctor had theirs, and Torchwood were keeping their eye out for TARDISes? Still, it will be a handy place for the Doctor to pick her TARDIS up later. And it reveals that the real purpose of UNIT under the Grand Serpent was the opposite of defending against alien attacks – but welcoming a very specific one.
4. Property Is Theft
Yaz gets to bring modern sensibilities about colonialism to the beginning of the twentieth century while the mid-twentieth century Jericho just can't see the problem. It was a different time – and space. And this new Fam have a mysterious sabotreur which reminds me so much of the addition of Scar to the kids cartoon version of Eighty Days Around The World – and I wonder if the David Tennant version of that story will keep that character in it as well? Alos plenty of James Bond and Tintin while we are at it.
The Division is the Time Lord's greatest hypocrisy, and their objections to the work of the Doctor turned to dust, given that the Division has been doing what the Doctor does but to a far greater, unimaginable level of bureaucracy and institutionalised interference, from one universe into another. The Doctor isn't a wandering anomaly, it is just a far smaller reflection of the whole. But one that is fighting its own self.
6. The Doctor's Strife
The weaponisation of the Doctor's companions and those he or she encounter over the millennia, has been a constant theme of the new incarnation of the series. They sacrifice their lives, they turn themselves into weapons, and do what the Doctor never would, all inspired by them. And Tecteun frames her own actions and that of the Division in a similar terms, exposing the Doctor's hypocrisy.
7. Flight Risk
The Timeless Child as a concept restored the concept of mystery to The Doctor, which had been chipped away over the last sixty years. It began as a mysterious man in a time machine on the run from his people, without any idea who his people were or what the Doctor was. And now that's back – but we also have a better idea of why the Doctor ran away from Gallifrey – originally it was boredom, then a rejection of bureaucracy, but now it was a way to get away from the very worst things, "cut off from our own planet, without friends or protection".
8. Return Of The Multiverse
The Doctor has very occasionally popped into parallel universes, in Inferno, Cybermen and Doomsday, now it seems we are getting a whole new multiverse to play with. Loki was a lot like Doctor Who, now Doctor Who is turning into Loki. Though in structure, this series is more like a series of sketches, jumping from narrative to narrative, and time to time, with offshoots looping back into the main narrative and basically looking just like those Liverpool tunnels of folly.
9. Double Acts
"Finally, someone with a gun". Di has a rather non-Doctor Who comment, but it emphasises the entertaining double acts we have going on, Di and Vinder, Karvanista and Bel, and the Yaz, Dan and Jericho threesome, especially when there's a hermit involved. Which, considering how much of this had to be shot in lockdown conditions with social distancing is even more impressive. Separated from The Doctor, there's a big reunion coming… and who and what Bel and Vinder are, whether they are Time Lords, and their potential relationship to the Timeless Child herself must be coming soon.
10. Watch Out
The Fob Watch, used by the Doctor in Human Nature, by The Master in Utopia and the Doctor again in Fugitive Of The Judoon, is back. And the Doctor's secrets of The Division are held within. And while the Doctor may now be without Tectuon, she still had the watch. Will the finale see her release its secrets as to who she was, and what she did? From the trailer it rather looks like she's going to do just that. So what is the door that leads to endless death?
Doctor Who airs on BBC One and BBC America.