Having watched all six episodes of Doctor Who: Flux, I find that my thoughts from the first episode are unchanged. Those thoughts are, in no particular order… “Huh?”… “What?”… “Who is that?”… “What?”…”Did BBC America cut a scene out?”… “What?” And so on.
After the first part of Flux, I had thought that perhaps I had been overly critical when I suggested that Chris Chibnall had sought to baffle fans with bull if he couldn’t dazzle them with brilliance. Five episodes later, I think I was giving him too much credit. The finale of Flux is not the result of an organized plan. It feels like the kind of story proposed by an excitable 12 year old with ADD, who has been given expresso for the first time.
I won’t bother recapping the events of the episode beyond four words. This is too much. There is so much going on, in fact, that The Doctor can’t cope with it. Luckily, because reasons, The Doctor is also split so that there are three of her running around through this episode.
If that sounds vaguely familiar, it might be because Russell T. Davies pulled the same trick with his Season 4 finale “Journey’s End.” Perhaps not coincidentally, that story also served as a Grand Guignol for his run on Doctor Who, bringing back all his beloved supporting characters, as they faced a villain who threatened to destroy the entire universe. Unfortunately, Chibnall never created any beloved supporting characters, so he used Flux to hurriedly introduce a number of characters who might be beloved if any of them were given any vestige of a personality beyond “elderly academic” or “Scouser.” It might also have helped if they had been given something to do besides run around with one of the Doctors while things happen.
The actors and the production team give it their all, but they can’t overcome the inertia of Chris Chibnall’s writing. There are too many subplots and none of them are strong enough to stand on their own. The introduction of a new villain called the Great Serpent (who I will be stunned if he is not revealed to be another incarnation of the Master) fizzles completely and the Sontarans, Cybermen and Daleks are destroyed as an afterthought. Except not really because BBC America is already running endless advertisements for the Doctor Who New Year’s Special that reveal, surprise, the Daleks are coming back in a month.
In the end, Flux is a failed experiment, whose only saving grace was that it was shorter than the usual Doctor Who season run. The best thing that can be said about Chris Chibnall’s reign as showrunner is that it caused Whovians everywhere to realize what a good thing we had in Steven Moffatt. Unfortunately, we have another three specials and one year to go before the return of Russell T. Davies. We can only hope the franchise can survive that long.