Man’s Best Friend
Doctor Who Flux
The Halloween Apocalypse
Airdate: 31st October 2021 BBC 1
Well that was alright.
Doctor Who returns to our screens once more after a lengthy absence and, despite my misgivings about the show because, frankly, it’s been hit and miss just lately... mostly miss... it turns out that the first episode of the new mini series episode of Doctor Who Flux, The Halloween Apocalypse, is quite an exciting and interesting set up for what I hope will be a thrilling story arc binding this exceptionally and inexcusably short season together. Despite all my expectations and after, it has to be said, a fairly shaky opening.
That opening being The Doctor, played by the always wonderful (despite the scripts she gets) Jodie Whittaker and her remaining companion Yaz, played by Mandip Gill, escaping from an elabourate deathtrap in about as dodgy a way as possible. Why is it remote controlled death probes can’t shoot for toffees? However, after this elabourate opening, things immediately get exciting and, as importantly, intriguing as we watch the mystery set up of a new story develop.
First things first, we get a new companion introduced called Dan (played by someone called John Bishop who is apparently famous but, I confess, I’ve not seen him before). We also have his potential love interest introduced but, Dan’s too busy being kidnapped by a dog-man kind of alien and having his house shrunk down to something the size of a fist to be worrying about that too much just yet.
Meanwhile, The Doctor and Yaz are trying to stop the Earth from being destroyed but there’s something The Doctor is not telling her... that she keeps having visions of an ancient enemy who she doesn’t recognise (my money at the moment is on another incarnation of The Master and, I suspect, his similarly ugly alien companion may possibly be a future version of The Doctor herself... but I’m probably wrong about that one... it’s probably a bit too obvious).
Then, when The Doctor and Yaz ‘rescue Dan’, it turns out that the various ships of the particular species aligned with dogs really are man’s best friend. They are each assigned to one human to get the humans off the Earth before the planet is destroyed by... The Flux.
Now the Flux is some kind of energy source which is eating through the entire universe and, so far it seems, The Doctor can do nothing to stop it. Also thrown into the mix is a woman on Earth who isn’t recognised by The Doctor but she definitely knows her. She is taking ‘the long way home’, which I assume means she’s existing on Earth and has somehow been thrown back in time and she’s just waiting to catch up... somewhere in our future. This is confirmed soon after, in a way, when she runs afoul of a Weeping Angel who whisks her back to Liverpool in 1820 by the looks of it. Although how she’s not aged by the time she returns to 2021 if she originally went back in time the same way also throws up questions about her actual species. Also, don't quote me on this but... why am I getting the feeling the angels aren't actually working ‘against’ The Doctor this time around? Hmm... time will tell.
And it’s in Liverpool of 1820 that a man is building a mystery project which, you at first think might be quite sinister but, with the way the episode has gone so far, I suspect is some kind of ark or rescue structure built in our past to rescue humanity in the future. I expect we’ll find out at some point towards the mid-way part of the story arc, is my guess.
Throw into the mix Dan’s love interest, who is kidnapped by the main bad guys (identity unknown but, like I said, I had my suspicions) and a group of rowdy Sontarans... and we have a recipe for success. And if that wasn’t enough, the TARDIS also seems to be in a state of flux, with new doors popping up in the interior... and also a special message for long standing fans of the show. By which I mean, the dreaded cloister bell in the TARDIS is ringing the house down... and as every Doctor Who fan has known since the cloister bell was first introduced in Tom Baker’s final story in 1981, this means bad news is coming. Could it be the bad news that the Flux is now coming for the TARDIS and is about to disintegrate our heroes? Well, not all bad news because, at the very least, Doctor Who has become a serial again like it was in the old days... along with a cliff hanger ending which crosscuts to all of the important characters included in the mix thus far (and I believe a fair few classic monsters will be turning up in the story over the next few weeks... Daleks and Cybermen for sure).
And, yeah, apart from the rough opening to the episode, I had a blast with this one all the way through. My only other problem other than the first five minutes was that, for an episode which is partially set in 2021, why the heck was nobody wearing Covid masks. We already knew Covid 19 exists in the Doctor Who universe because we had a very short clip of Jodie as The Doctor telling kids to wash their hands and mask up, right at the start of the pandemic last year. So is everyone in this episode just being completely irresponsible for not masking up? Not sure what’s going on here but it seems a bit of a strange oversight considering that the earlier short suggested it’s ‘a thing’ in the world of Doctor Who.
But there we are... I liked the set up, liked the new assistant, Jodie and Mandip were pretty cool and the pace was fast and furious, what with the amount of different story elements already thrown at us. I hope show runner Chibnal can land a decent conclusion this time around when we get to episode six is all I’m keeping my fingers crossed for right now. This episode was a blast and... long may it continue.