Doctor Who: Flux: War of the Sontarans
November 8, 2021 5:38 PM - Season 13, Episode 2 - Subscribe

During the Crimean War, the Doctor discovers the British army fighting a brutal alien army of Sontarans, as Yaz and Dan are thrown deeper into a battle for survival. What is the Temple of Atropos? Who are the Mouri?
posted by mumkin (21 comments total)
I liked this much more than the previous episode. I thought each companion was used well. I loved the Sontaran claiming he picked the Crimean War because he wanted to ride a horse. I liked the little triangular computer things (“can you repair?”)

In general, I felt like the pieces were coming together and it made me eager to see the next episode.
posted by wittgenstein at 6:00 PM on November 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes, this episode was a significant uptick on the previous one.
posted by jjderooy at 6:45 PM on November 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

I think we got backstory for everybody except the grumpy Victorian dude (to be fair, from the distance of at least a hundred years and the wrong side of the Atlantic, anything from Georgian to Edwardian is "Victorian") who seems to be popping in and out of time periods?
posted by Kyol at 8:05 PM on November 8, 2021

Yes, this felt much more like a standard Doctor Who episode, while still being a piece of a larger puzzle. I will say that I thought the first episode of the season improved a lot on rewatch. This season seems designed more for binge-watchers than week-to-week, but thus goes all TV I guess. Multiple callbacks to the RTD years this season (Weeping angels, Shadow Proclamation). It will be interesting to see what Davies does with the next Doctor and his take on Moffat's and Chibnall's additions to continuity.
posted by rikschell at 8:39 PM on November 8, 2021

Really enjoyed this, too. The idea of the Sontarans using time to wipe-out humans was a good one.

One quibble, though...I thought the Sontarans looked decidedly worse than their previous iteration (i.e. Straxx) The makeup and prosthetics on Straxx blended well and allowed convincing full mouth, head, and eye movement. These new Sontarans looked pretty much like actors in stiff rubber heads, especially in closeups.

The TARDIS without a door to enter through was a great bit.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:52 AM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Also: F**k BBCAmerica and their insane volume of commercials.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 AM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think the show feels more like Doctor Who when the effects are a bit naff. One of my many beefs with Moffat was he made things look too good. I found the Scouse accents incomprehensible from time to time, but I do like that they use British regional dialects now instead of flattening everything out (or using bad fake accents like Peri's awful American accent). Still not really seeing Dan as much more than Graham 2.0 at best, or an interloper at worst. They could've just gone with Yaz and various semi-companions (like Vinder seems to be).
posted by rikschell at 8:25 AM on November 9, 2021

I am not used to (modern) Dr Who doing a good job with telling large multi-episide arcs, but this was great. A nicely structured complete story that also leads into something bigger. I've criticized Dr Who before for not really managing to stage big action scenes but that Sontaran battle was very well done - in fact the special effects all around were a real step up from even the last season.

I was worried that Dan would just be a Graham replacement but that has not proved to be the case. He is rapidly becoming my favorite character - sneaking around an alien shipyard with a wok only to be eventually rescued by a giant dog is prime Dr Who.
posted by AndrewStephens at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Continues to be better than expected. I'm thinking the relationship to greek fates / moirai with the temple of atropos is going to unfold something like these entities in the temple being responsible for weaving time into a coherent form for beings who exist with the arrow of time. Not sure how that'll tie to the doctor or sugar skull gang yet, but I reckon this is where time as we know it began.
posted by GoblinHoney at 6:45 PM on November 9, 2021

The quote from one of the Priests of Atropos (floaty pyramidal thing), "Time is evil," should really be the giveaway. Our antagonists are the Doctor's/Timeless Child's playmates from 'before' time was put in order, probably by the Doctor. The Division knew/knows this and will no doubt come into play as this series progresses.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 11:15 PM on November 9, 2021

My plot quibble. They use the Sontarans needing to go back to their ships to flush out their suits (or whatever) for 7.5 mins every 27 hours, but Mrs Seacole got the info about them needing a break every 27 hours from watching the captured Sontaran when he was locked in a cell, ie not able to return to his ship
posted by biffa at 9:55 AM on November 10, 2021 [4 favorites]

The quote from one of the Priests of Atropos (floaty pyramidal thing), "Time is evil," should really be the giveaway.

Might that not be why they needed someone to repair? That time is evil?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:25 AM on November 10, 2021

I'm enjoying this series. Jodie finally gets some good material to work with. We got our standard Chibnall historical figure and she was great fun and was the best of humanity while the military guy was definitely not. Dan sneaking around with a wok and taking credit for everyone else's plans was funny and he and Karvanista are fantastic together. I find Swarm and Azure genuinely creepy and I wonder if their new friend is Dan's friend Di, which is even more creepy. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next. I wish Yaz got more to do though. She gets to be smart and courageous for brief periods and then abandoned for large chunks of plot. She deserves better.
posted by ceejaytee at 4:56 AM on November 11, 2021

The Doctor dropping that "half a league onward" reference makes me wonder if next week's episode will include The Charge of the Light Brigade.
posted by Paul Slade at 5:21 AM on November 11, 2021

The evil officer was Lord Lucan, who was one of the officers who gave the order for the charge, which the Doctor presumably knows.

I thought this was again, surprisingly good. It was pacey, the plot mostly worked, and the writing was pretty funny. The plot was utter nonsense if you thought about it too hard, and it relied on Dan essentially being a super hero after about ten minutes of exposure to the Doctor; Dr who has often granted deeper connections to companions than has been shown on screen, but this was particularly egregious as we're following the story in real time!

Chibnall also continues his trend with the sniperbots of making badguys really unthreatening, as despite their destruction of the British army, the sontarans apparently cant handle a middle aged man with a wok.

Finally I do really like the villains so far. They have the advantage of being new, and thus at their most threatening. The only problem with the temple plot is it make yaz look pretty bad in context to how well dan did, which unfortunately seems to be a bit of a theme in how Chibnall treats her.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:31 AM on November 13, 2021

This felt a lot more like a Chibnall episode than the last. A bit rough around the edges, but (mercifully) far better pacing, and made great use of the entire cast.

For all the complaints that everyone seems to have, I'm going to miss Chibnall, and I'm especially going to miss Jodie Whittaker.

I might be in the minority, but I've liked virtually every bit of modern Doctor Who. Sure, it's been uneven at times, but it's all good fun, and has always been quite enjoyable in the right context.

That being said, I don't entirely understand what they're setting up with this (short) season. If they're trying to set up a tightly-scripted series akin to Children of Earth, they've already missed that mark (the first episode of this series is one of the worst I can recall, and this one did little to set up a coherent overarching plot). So..... what is this? It's feeling a little like we're about to speedrun the worst bits of the tail-end of the RTD/Tennant era.
posted by schmod at 4:09 AM on November 16, 2021

the Sontarans needing to go back to their ships to flush out their suits (or whatever) for 7.5 mins every 27 hours

posted by Saxon Kane at 5:58 PM on November 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Pish. It wouldn't be Doctor Who if the baddies weren't blindingly stupid.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2021

Yeah, I mean, I don't watch Doctor Who for its logical plausibility, but there are limits for everything. This series started off testing mine already, so the excess of hand-waved, obviously set-up convenient solution feels particularly grating.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2021

Did anyone else look at the Lt. General and think, "Oh, it's evil Paul F. Tompkins!"
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2021

Something I noticed on the re-watch: apparently, the Sontarans planned their invasion for the split second before the Luppari ships formed their protective shield around the Earth. But since that wasn't actually the Luppari plan and the Doctor came up with it at the last minute, how would the Sontarans been able to plan that? Another example of how Chibnall's stories establish something then almost immediately forget about and discard it. Lazy lazy lazy.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:05 PM on March 6, 2023

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