Monday, 22 November 2021

Doctor Who Flux - Village Of The Angels

Village People

Doctor Who Flux
Chapter Four
Village Of The Angels

Airdate: 21st November 2021

Warning: Spoilers sweetie!

Okay, so this week’s episode, the fourth installment of the latest Doctor Who serial Flux, is Village Of The Angels. Set mostly in 1967, it’s kind of got an almost John Wyndham feel to it to start off with... once The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) has saved Yaz (Mandip Gill), Dan (John Bishop) and herself from the Weeping Angels who had invaded the TARDIS at the end of the previous episode (by ejecting them under the blind of more scientific, jargon laden jiggery pokery.

So they all find themselves in a village on the evening of 21st November 1967 (literally 54 years to the day before this episode was broadcast), with a group of villagers trying to find a 10 year old girl who has gone missing. Well... Yaz and Dan find out where she is fairly quickly, as an Angel gets them and whizzes them back to 1901, where they find the girl but in a deserted version of the village which has been ‘quantum extracted’... the borders of this version of the world slowly shrinking to the bleak void of space just outside the borders of the land mass.

Meanwhile, The Doctor finds Claire (Annabel Scholey), the woman from the first episode, The Halloween Apocalypse (reviewed here) in 1967 but it doesn’t quite explain why, when The Doctor first met her, she had somehow taken ‘the long way home’ without ageing... and I don’t think they’re going to explain that now, either. It’s really sloppy writing but I suspect it’s going to remain another of those interminable loose ends. By the finish, the rogue Weeping Angel which, it turns out, has inhabited Claire’s mind to get The Doctor to help it stay safe from its fellow Angels (who work for the mysterious Division, who we saw the other version of The Doctor working for last week)... changes the deal and instead uses Claire to lure The Doctor, her memories of working for The Division still wiped, to a point where she can be ‘recalled’ and then turned into a Weeping Angel herself!

Also meanwhile... Bel (Thaddea Graham) is still looking for Vinder (Jacob Anderson) and the search continues as they manage to miss each other on a planet as Bel works the other, post-Flux end of the story involving the villainous Swarm. I'm now wondering if the baby (or one of the babies plural, possibly) inside her is actually The Doctor, to be honest.

Okay, so the Weeping Angels were absolutely brilliant in their very first Steven Moffat penned story Blink... no question it was one of the best episodes of the show ever. However, since then, Moffat continued to use them in ways which severely compromised or made mistakes about the rules under which the ‘quantum locked if you observe them’ Angels function and, alas, while this particular episode was thoroughly entertaining, it continued the traditions of a) breaking the rules and b) further draining their impact with another new element to their personalities we’ve not seen before.

The first problem is, if there’s someone else observing them at the same time you are then they can’t move in on you, right? You’d think that would be an easy rule not to break but, no, dramatic effect means that this is going to happen even though there are clearly eyes on them a couple of times. And, no, running through the wet paint of your painted in corner by saying ‘oh, don’t get in front of them otherwise we can’t see them’ is a complete cop out and, frankly, a load of rubbish... you’d still be able to see a bit of a shoulder or a foot.

Second problem... yeah, due to holding on to one of their possessed humans they can now communicate by first speaking through her and then speaking through... I dunno. Not sure but giving these previously silent and therefore more disturbing and sinister stone cold killers the power of speech really robs them of that unique quality. They instantly become less scary... especially since you can now at least have a stab at negotiating with them. It robs them of any scariness and softens them up once again.

Also, yeah, totally called it back in episode one that The Doctor and the Angels would be working together in some capacity and, though it was a short alliance, I’m not completely sure we’ve got to the point yet where that particular team-up might not be needed again. It’s a good cliff hanger to leave things on... The Doctor now a stone angel about to be returned to The Division while leaving her companions in an ever decreasing 1901 and, yeah, you have to wonder where they are going with this... particularly since there are only two more episodes left to go. I’m really dreading the ending to be honest but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for it to not just ask another load of uninteresting questions about The Doctor’s origins... which we’ve not needed to hear about for the majority of the show’s 58 year history.

Not much else to say though. There were some nice visual references which recalled Amy Pond’s first encounter with the Weeping Angels from Matt Smith’s first season and Village Of The Angels was certainly better than the other three episodes so far. It is very much becoming a proper serial too, although it does still feel like two stories threaded together after the fact. What this means, though, is you do need to watch these 'in order', to make any sense of them (and even then, you might not have much luck with that as far as episode three is concerned) so, yeah, nice episode, deeply flawed when it comes to the ‘guest antagonists’ and definitely not a jumping on point. As usual, I’ll keep my eye on it and see how this one develops. Oh and by the way... those old 1967 television sets were a lot heavier to carry than that, I believe.

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