Doctor Who: Flux: The Halloween Apocalypse
October 31, 2021 10:45 PM - Season 13, Episode 1 - Subscribe

On Halloween, all across the universe, terrifying forces are stirring. The life of Dan Lewis is about to change forever. Why is the Doctor chasing Karvanista? What is the Flux?
posted by mumkin (30 comments total)
Indeed, why is the Doctor chasing Karvanista, and who is this angry Mr Pinhead via They Live? Have I forgotten something in the hiatus, or are we kicking series 13 off in serious media res?
posted by mumkin at 10:48 PM on October 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

This was a mess.
posted by jjderooy at 3:56 AM on November 1, 2021 [5 favorites]

I'll be glad when Chibnall finally leaves, not least because every single thing he writes feels like a first draft.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:51 AM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I guess I'm in the minority. I thought this was a fun episode. It set up a lot--some of it could have been saved for the next episode--but I enjoyed Karvanista, Swarm is actually scary, that was the best, terrifying Weeping Angel appearance in a long time, Yaz got to actually do things and did them very well, and I like Dan and I wonder if there's something special about him, since he didn't respond to Karvanista's attempt to Jedi mindtrick him. Plus, who doesn't love Sontarans? The only bad thing about it was the horrible sound mixing, which is a persistent problem. I could barely hear them for much of the episode. I'm really looking forward to the next one.
posted by ceejaytee at 6:21 AM on November 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

This was mostly meh for me... And I rolled my eyes when the weeping angel showed up.
posted by Pendragon at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've been joking that Chibnall seems to be speed-running the John Nathan-Turner era, and then he goes and starts off his Trial-of-a-Time-Lord season with the dog version of the Cheetah People! (And, amusingly, a Nitro-9 reference!)

I liked the Weeping Angel bit and I'm genuinely curious what the story will turn out to be with Claire. Though I found it odd that the Doctor and Yaz seemed puzzled by running into someone from their future; seems like that must happen to the Doctor a lot.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Prediction: Jodie Whittaker will eventually be one of the most popular Doctors in Big Finish audio adventures.

Like Colin Baker, she's a good actor with an interesting take on the Doctor that the writing never seems to capitalize on. Someday, writers who are also fans and who will have had years to ruminate on this will do better by her.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:17 AM on November 1, 2021 [10 favorites]

I had mixed feelings. I liked the use of the weeping angels - I thought that was effective and obviously Clare is important if the angels are after her. I also thought the Swarm ( I think that's what they were called) were effective villains. And, I like Dr. Who when it starts in media res, especially when it has been a long time between episodes.

What did strike me was the feeling that two different companies were doing special effects. Some of the effects were genuinely scary and others (the opening in particular) seemed like they were designed for children. This gave me a bit of whiplash as I watched the episode.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:06 AM on November 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed this quite a lot.

After watching the umpteen hours of previous Who episodes on BBC America, I didn't really find this new episode necessarily any more batshit messy/crazy than a lot of previous NuWho eps. And, the fact that this is the kick-off to an entire six-episode arc, the chock-full-o-nuts aspect makes sense, especially given Chib's predilection for tossing a ton of balls in the air all at once. For me, I think it best to give it a couple more episodes before forming a solid opinion of it all.

The biggest downside, as ever, was being saddled with BBC America's commercial-strewn presentation. I don't think I saw eight straight minutes of programming before another block of ads ran. And the block of ads often seemed to run longer than the bit of program leading up to them.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:01 AM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought it was terrible and entertaining at the same time. Too much going on, too much hand waving. The villain who is hanging them over an acid ocean and gloating about the earth being destroyed turns out to be ... this? I hated seeing the weeping angel because it's so very played out at this point.
posted by Catblack at 12:25 PM on November 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Plus, who doesn't love Sontarans?

The Rutan host.
posted by Grangousier at 1:53 PM on November 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

OK, so according to Wolfram Alpha sqrt((earth surface area)/7e9) ~ 270m (or at 100km altitude ~274m).

This doesn't seem an unreasonable size for the ships, belief re-suspended.
posted by Marticus at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I hate the Lupari "species bond" premise for much the same reasons I hated the central premise of Jordan Peele's Us. Just throws my bean plating circuits into overdrive until I have to throw the remote at the TV and yell "HOW?!?!"
And the Doctor having hidden memories AGAIN, and STILL not letting her friends in on what's going on.
I liked that Dan's friend at the museum had a hand difference and there was no undue "ooh, pat ourselves on the back for inclusivity!" about her.
This season may be a hard pass for me.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 2:29 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I had forgotten this is only a six episode season. Perhaps that's why they are trying something new and making this one serialized story instead individual standalone episodes. But so far it feels like they shot six individual episodes and are mixing them together after the fact.

I'm interested in Claire's story because I like it when get up to time travel shenanigans beyond just going to that episode's setting.
posted by Gary at 4:51 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

who doesn't love Sontarans?

I do love Sontarans. Once I went to a Doctor Who convention and Dan Starkey was there. It was around the same time my kid was a) obsessed with Strax and b) regularly refusing to eat any dinner.

I convinced Dan Starkey to, as Strax, threaten to destroy them if they didn't eat their dinner.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:23 PM on November 1, 2021 [17 favorites]

In parts, I thought Chibnall was really leaning in to the excesses of the Moffat era and then I thought he was doing some of the overblown things that RTD did and mostly this episode feels like throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. I know that it's a six-part serialised season but given that his two previous seasons haven't drawn their two or three threads together very well, I'm not convinced he can pull twenty strings together.

I like the ambition, sure, but some of the smaller moments were just eye-rolling bad. The introduction of Dan at the Museum of Liverpool was great but then the prideful poor man was just a terrible cliche and the trick-or-treaters bit with the drunk guy was terrible. I thought the Weeping Angel bit might have been the best part of the episode, even though it feels like a lazy trope to use it. Characters in the Arctic circle were bland. Characters in Liverpool in 1820 were worse.

And the cold open was just really terrible.

I hope this all comes together. I like Chibnall's first season. I like Jodie. I don't want her era to feel so much like an afterthought. I hate that I'm already looking ahead to 2023. But nothing in this episode made me excited for this show.
posted by crossoverman at 11:18 PM on November 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was happy to just go along with the ride once it got past the cold open, but yeesh that cold open was far too "as you know" for television.
posted by Kyol at 6:19 AM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Two days later, I got questions.

Okay, so every Lupari is bonded to exactly one human? How? What's that process? Is a new Lupari spawned every time a human is born, or vice-versa? What happens when one half of the bond dies?

There are seven billion individual Lupari ships? Do you get issued one when you turn Lupari-sixteen, or are you expected to finance your own? Where do they park them all when not in use?

Who's minding the Lupari store right now? Did the last Lupari to leave turn off the planetary lights? Are they going to come back to find that all of their milk has gone off and their bread's turned moldy? Who's watering their plants?

Did Karvanista not realize Yaz is human? If he did, why did he try to drop her into an acid ocean? Wouldn't that make for awkward watercooler conversation back on the homeworld? "Sorry I fridged your human, Bob. My bad."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 7:00 AM on November 2, 2021 [6 favorites]

It's funny that The Ardship of Cambry mentioned Us because that is exactly what this "there's a secret pair for each one of us!" BS reminded me of, most definitely.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:13 AM on November 2, 2021

I'm surprised this site is so negative on this premiere, compared to another far-more-generally-negative community I post in. For what it is, I thought it was pretty good especially keeping it in the context of it being Chibnall Who. I guess I was just braced for much worse. I liked the dog aliens, seem to be the right level of hokey for Doctor Who, would easily buy that these things got introduced decades ago. The crystal devil perverts are also makeup-wise appropriate. I don't mind Doctor Who losing their memory over so many lifetimes, in fact, given their existences I'd expect a much worse memory than an average human, even on a per-doctor basis. Unless the tardis is carrying around lifetimes worth of memory backups or some shit, I absolutely do not believe that the doctor would be capable of remember most of one lifetime, let alone so many.

I'm hoping this somehow salvages the timeless child idea into something that allows gallifrey or the doctor to not be products or components of torture science, and the fact an upcoming episode is called "the timeless children" has me somewhat optimistic that while the doctor had more lives than what we've seen (which is something i always kind of assumed was the case and thought was odd when approaching the 12/"final" regen) but not in the hacky way they laid out in timeless child. Fully ready t oaccept this optimism will be turded upon and I'll have to wait till next season t osee if they fix, keep, or ignore it. They've done it before, the Doctor isn't half-human despite them saying so.

Did Karvanista not realize Yaz is human?

I would assume these doggs were coming for the humans who existed in the timeframe of that halloween they happened to visit. AFAIK that wasn't Yaz' "base" timeline so I wouldn't expect the dog aliens to have planned for time-displaced adventurers who were briefly on-planet on evac day. Plus, the karvanista we see specifically as a person does not care for humans, just like some people who don't like dogs but still care about their general welfare.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:49 AM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Given how convoluted this episode was and the fact this season is only six episodes, I'm sort of hoping the Timeless Child stuff and the Jo Martin Doctor don't appear until Chibnall's three specials.
posted by crossoverman at 10:52 PM on November 2, 2021

I thought Chibnall's first season was really excellent. Just the Doctor travelling around with a big Fam and having adventures in history and space. Just what was needed after Moffat's run got more and more overbaked.

Last season was a mixed bag. Some good concepts, more time with the Fam, a fun new Master, a Big Mystery. But more episodes that didn't quite land. And a really lousy resolution that was as bad as the worst of NuWho fanservice continuity (okay, maybe not QUITE as bad as super-old David Tennant or super-old Matt Smith).

This opening to the season feels like, "fuck it all, let's make six episodes of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and run them all simultaneously."
posted by rikschell at 1:16 PM on November 4, 2021 [3 favorites]

Something weird happened, I watched this on BBC iPlayer and it glitched and showed clips from like 5 different episodes all randomly stitched together.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:51 PM on November 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I thought this was OK, a promising start to the season, although they sold the new guy's niceness really hard. It felt like they were twisting my arm to like him. The dogman makeup was also super dodgy, like something from the original series. (I have great affection for the dodgy effects of the original series, but it's kind of jarring to see a Peter Davison-era monster in a 2021 show.)

The Lupari species bond thing was awfully silly but I have to admit that it's exactly the kind of BS move RTD would've pulled and if I would've bought it from ol' Russell I guess I gotta buy it from Chibnall.

The show's audio issues are bad enough that I find my ears squinting at the dialogue, trying to make it out over the iffy sound mix and the booming music. My girlfriend had it even harder than me, she seemed to be missing every other line. NuWho has been on the air for 15 years or something, and it's bizarre that the same sound issues have plagued the reboot since day one. (Although to be fair I think it got better in the Moffat era. I don't remember constantly struggling to understand Matt Smith.)

Somebody someplace suggested that the Master should've been the Timeless Child, that it would fit his megalomaniacal character and the (frequently scheming, asshole-ish) Time Lords a lot better. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Davies goes there, if Chibnall doesn't beat him to it first. While there's always been this feeling like the Doctor has somehow lived a lot of lives in addition to the incarnations we're aware of, I just hate the idea of a bunch of forgotten secret agent adventures before William Hartnell came along. Hartnell was first, god damn it, and after that there were centuries of stuff we should always be left wondering about. The intriguing ambiguity about the Doctor's past is part of the show's appeal. I demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:38 PM on November 7, 2021 [1 favorite]

I thought it was fun, which came as rather a surprise (I've often felt I've been watching Doctor Who more out of a sense of duty than out of real enjoyment).

The fact that it was Karvanista in that cold open made so little sense once the Lupari were properly introduced that apparently I immediately rewrote my memory of that scene to "Doctor and Yaz in mortal peril due to anonymous alien we will never meet again", which works much better. The species-bond thing really doesn't bear close examination, but, well, it's Doctor Who. So it goes.

I prefer competent companions to the more bumbling comic-relief ones, so I enjoyed seeing Yaz and the Doctor working together. And I'm pleased to see a return to serial storytelling. It's never felt right having a whole Doctor Who story wrapped up in one episode. (Also, I've got the astonishingly good third series of Torchwood in the back of my mind, giving me high hopes for the format.)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:04 AM on November 13, 2021

To echo a few comments:

Karvanista wants to kill the Doctor, who has been hunting him down... to ask him a question? And then they are allies, because they are really on the same side?

Karvanista's trap in Dan's house was pretty terrible: a booby-trapped laptop with a delay on it long enough to allow the victim to use the laptop and escape before it activates the shrink ray. Yeah, that's smart. (Side note: for a moment I thought it was the Master back to his old shrink-ray tricks, and I was psyched, because I did really like the new Master from last season. I hope he returns.)

Species-bonded? By whom? How did that happen? Why? Karvanista says he's on "species recon," and the Doctor recognizes that term, so it sounds like this is some intergalactic buddy-system where an advanced species is paired up with an up-and-coming less advanced species as their mentors. Are there other guardian species out there setting off to save their bonded lil' brother species? Maybe I'll just re-write it in my head that the Luppari are descendants of the dog planet set up in the first episode of Rick and Morty.

The 1 ship per Luppari per human thing is just so ridiculously inefficient and nonsensical I just gotta say, "WHATEVER MAN."

But the thing that bothered me the most: The Flux is supposed to be a hurricane destroying the very fabric of space-time, unmaking matter at its most basic level, disintegrating whole planets in SECONDS... and yet the Luppari built 7 billion ships out of material that can somehow withstand it and, one presumes, were intended to keep the Luppari and human species safe in the void left in the Flux's wake for an indefinite period of time. WTF??? Had they already built their ships out of Flux-proof alloys before they even knew about it? Have they been working on this project for centuries? Or did they find out about the Flux and then do some war-time industrial ramp-up 1billion times faster and more intense than the US in WW2?
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:39 PM on November 24, 2021

They could have found many other ways to protect earth from the Flux temporarily. Use the TARDIS to throw a black hole at the earth and shift the planet into a negative space-time micro dimension; Create a temporary dark energy shield around the solar system by vibrating the Tardis at the same resonance as the quantum string harmonic. It doesn't matter if it makes sense, but at least make it interesting or a little bonkers. There's something so mundane about saying "The Flux is destroying the very fabric of the universe" or whatever, and then, "Oh yeah, but we've got some stuff that can protect us against it, no need to explain that or go into it." It makes the problem seem a lot less dangerous if a species of anthropomorphic canines can build 7 billion-odd spaceships that can withstand it without apparent ill effect.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2021

I did like the one Sontaran commenting on how ugly the other Sontaran was. Amusing stuff.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:45 AM on November 26, 2021

Hello fellow time-travelers! I'm here in 2023, watching this again after seeing Jodie's last eps as Doctor, and guess what: it's even worse when you KNOW how terrible the story is beforehand!

The writing reminds of when Linda hosted her own murder mystery show in Bob's Burgers. Just throwing out stupid ideas that contradict each other because it's a "twist!"

Karvanista: I'm going to kill you human!

Doctor: I'm going to stop you from killing the humans!

Karvanista: Actually, I'm here to protect the humans, it's a twist!

Doctor: But you just said you were going to kill them?

Karvanista: Uh, that was a lie! It's my honor to protect the human. We're species bonded to protect them.

Doctor: So, hate to be a stickler, but why didn't you show up to protect them from any of the previous dozen world-threatening catastrophes?

Karvanista: Oh, we only do it in the most dire circumstances, like the Flux, which will destroy everything!

Doctor: Oh no! What is this mysterious Flux?

Karvanista: No one knows, we just know that it destroys EVERYTHING!

Doctor: Wait, so how are you going to protect them then?

Karvanista: Our scientists designed our ships to be Flux-proof!

Doctor: That's handy! But wait, how could you do that if you don't even know what the Flux is?

Karvanista: Well...

Doctor: Also, if this ship is made of Flux-proof material, what kinda tools did you use to cut it and weld it together and all that? You have saws that are more powerful than the Flux or something?

Karvanista: Look, you're ruining this for me, OK? Can't you just make some jokes about how I look like a giant Yorkshire terrier or something?

Doctor: Sorry. Bit hypocritical of me to harass you for this sort of thing, to be honest. Apparently I'm the genetic base code for regeneration or some shit. Can you believe that nonsense?

Karvanista: Don't get me started. How did we even get signed up for this species bond bullshit? I've literally never heard anyone else say that their entire race was legally required to protect some aliens on the other side of the galaxy. Like, what the fuck, man? And I don't even know who to complain to about it!

Doctor: Yeah, and that reminds me, who writes these "laws" that the Judoon are supposed to be enforcing?

And so on.

Remember when we were all so happy about Chibnall's smaller-scale stories, no more threats to all of creation? Ahh, the good old timey-wimeys.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:12 PM on March 4

Oh I did really like the one Sontaran busting the other Sontaran's chops about how ugly he'd gotten. Funny stuff.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:37 AM on March 5

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