Doctor Who: Flux Episode 5 Review - Survivors of the Flux

Fans of the Lethbridge-Stewart lineage were understandably upset when UNIT got ‘defunded’ off-screen back in 2017, and while it’s doubtful that Chibnall had this planned in mind back then, it’s nice to see their closure used for something more than narrative convenience. It’s also nice to see Jemma Redgrave return as Kate Stewart for the first time since 2015’s ‘The Zygon Inversion’, and hopefully she’ll go a second round with the Grand Serpent at some point before Vinder gets to him.

Quite how that’s going to happen is still up in the air, as Vinder himself is currently trapped inside a Passenger along with Diane, having missed Bel by a matter of seconds because her stolen ship was yoinked to Earth by Karvanista. Bel gets embroiled in a brief firefight with her canine captor but the two soon find themselves on the same side when the Lupari come under attack, so with any luck they’ll be tearing stuff up good and proper next week. One thing that Flux has done well is to combine and recombine its sizeable cast of characters in different ways, exploring the various chemistries in play.

Despite the threat of a second Flux wave that will finish what the first event started, the Doctor is increasingly distracted by a Gallifreyan fob watch – the kind last seen in ‘Utopia’, which Tecteun claims holds her missing memories. She tries to use it as leverage to have the Doctor accompany her to a new universe, only to be unexpectedly interrupted (also: killed) by Swarm and Azure. They’ve used the power they’ve been accruing to break out of our doomed universe and board Division, which will offer them both revenge and access to the multiverse to do, y’know, more bad things.

The episode ends not with the Ravagers, but with the surprise return of the Sontarans, who flood into Williamson’s tunnels and also materialise a space fleet to assault the Lupari. Judging from the next time trailer, it looks like they’re a bit more successful at conquering the Earth this time around, but there’s plenty to pick through before then. Starting with the return of Tecteun…

Personally, the reveal that Division still persists as an illuminati-style force left me cold, because introducing all-seeing shadow societies almost always does. For one thing, they create the same kind of problem that Chibnall was trying to sidestep when he wrote out UNIT in the first place – having to explain all the times they didn’t show up. Now we’re left to ponder why the Division didn’t step in when the Daleks built a reality bomb, when Rassilon called for the end of time, or the hundred other times the universe was under threat by anything that wasn’t Division itself. And if they really were secretly masterminding the universe, what was their ultimate goal?

Beyond that, though, I share the Doctor’s incredulity when she asks if Division would really wipe out the entire universe just to avoid her giving them some grief. If they were that worried about her finding them, and really are that powerful, why did Division allow the Master to tell her everything? Things are only muddled further when Tecteun suddenly changes her mind and starts trying to bribe the Doctor into joining forces – hold on, Division, aren’t you only wiping out the universe because it’s the ultimate way to get away from the Doctor? Also, having imprisoned him originally, were Division really responsible for releasing Swarm, as he implies? They certainly don’t seem to need him for their plan, nor are they in cahoots, so again – why?

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