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Doctor Who recap: Flux chapter four – Village of the Angels | Doctor Who

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Wow – what an incredible slice of Doctor Who served up by Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton, with a jaw-dropping conclusion. It gave us plenty of jump scares, but, like the reveal that the cursed Devon village had been quantum-extracted into space, it also had more than one unexpected turn along the way.

“Division uses everything and everyone. Every species. Every world. Every moment. They are everywhere. Present and unseen. Division is unstoppable.” The Rogue Angel gave us a grave warning about what the Doctor was about to find out about herself, and what she was up against. But even as Jodie Whittaker was being captured and recalled, I caught my breath in shock as the wings appeared on her back and the Division imprisoned the Time Lord herself as an Angel.

It wasn’t just the central story of the Angels and the Division that shone, though. It was desperately sad that Peggy returned to her village after 66 years and was treated like a pariah for trying to warn everyone about what happened there when she was 10. And the chilling reaction of Poppy Pollynick’s young Peggy at the deaths of her elderly carers Gerald (Vincent Brimble) and Jean (Jemma Churchill) back in 1901 was one of the darkest moments of the series so far.

The supporting cast were exemplary, especially Annabel Scholey as Claire. The interplay between her, the psychic, and Prof Eustacius Jericho (Kevin McNally), the scientist and war veteran, echoed Matt Smith’s 2013 haunted house episode Hide, only without the romantic undertow brought by Dougray Scott and Jessica Raine. Claire’s premonitions must have meant she recognised the Doctor, which was why she seemed so intriguingly knowledgable about Weeping Angels in chapter one. I hope her tale is not done – she was absolutely compelling, and still remains stranded.

Claire (Annabel Scholey) stranded in the 1960s.
Compelling … Claire (Annabel Scholey) stranded in the 1960s. Photograph: BBC Studios

If I had to find one flaw, the VFX or direction didn’t work particularly well when Azure and Passenger turned up to give their sermon on the mount in front of Bel (Thaddea Graham) and Namaca (Blake Harrison). But it seems churlish to pick a fault. What a stunning episode.

Sum it up in one sentence?

Weeping Angels besiege an English village with a missing young girl in 1967, with catastrophic consequences for the Doctor.

Gerald (Vincent Brimble), Jean (Jemma Churchill), The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop)
Catastrophic … Gerald (Vincent Brimble), Jean (Jemma Churchill), The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Yasmin Khan (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop). Photograph: James Pardon/BBC Studios

Life aboard the Tardis

Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Dan (John Bishop) got to do a two-hander without the Doctor, mostly in 1901. Yaz showed off her modern police search-and-rescue skills, while Dan got all the best lines. They did a good job, when confronted by the Angels, of conveying that they were putting on a brave face for young Peggy, and failing.

Elsewhere, Vinder (Jacob Anderson) found out Bel is still alive – even if she was too disorganised to blurt out her coordinates immediately on a limited time holo-recording.

Blake Harrison as blah, with Thaddea Graham’s Bel, who has been a great addition to the story.
Still alive … Thaddea Graham’s Bel with Blake Harrison as Namaca. Photograph: James Pardon/BBC Studios

Fear factor

Not so much “base under seige” as “basement under seige”, we got a greatest hits of the Weeping Angels here. They used nearly every trick we’ve seen before – dust in the eye, hiding in images, pursuing quarry through tunnels where they grow out of the very walls – with a couple of new moves thrown in. The sequence in which Claire’s sketch reassembled itself and started to project an Angel, then the Doctor set the paper alight – morphing the Angel into a fire Angel and making the situation far more dangerous – was a great twist. Jericho’s EEG printing out another Angel was an original moment, and Claire hallucinating she had wings was a disturbingly surreal scene.

But they were at their creepiest when they used Prof Jericho’s voice against him – when they played on his insecurities, making him sound like some 1960s incel who explored the paranormal as a way of shutting himself off from the rejections of the real world.

Prof Jericho (Kevin McNally), a star turn in this episode, and the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker)
A star turn … Prof Jericho (Kevin McNally), and the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker). Photograph: BBC Studios

Mysteries and questions

From revelations in The Timeless Children, I imagined the Division being some historical secret Time Lord organisation interfering in the galaxy that was long done and dusted. This episode made it clear that the Division was still an active threat in the universe, which put paid to my previous theories. I still think Tecteun will turn out to be a pre-mind wipe Master, the exploitative relationship between her and the Timeless Child setting the blueprint for the loving antagonism between Master and Doctor.

This was the first Flux chapter where we didn’t see Joseph Williamson or his tunnels, and there was no sign of Barbara Flynn’s mysterious White Guardian Awsok either. Or Swarm. Boo.

Lots of people on social media are suggesting that the identity of Bel and Vinder’s unborn child may be somebody we already know. But who? Or should that be – but Who?

Something has been bugging me. We saw last week that the Fugitive Doctor and Karnavista were two of the Division operatives who took part in the battle of Atropos. But who were Yaz and Vinder there to represent? They surely weren’t at the events themselves. Who were the other two people on the Ruth Doctor’s team?

Deeper into the vortex

  • The Weeping Angels first appeared in one of the most highly regarded Doctor Who episodes of all time – Blink in 2007. That was an adaptation of a short story titled What I Did in My Christmas Holidays – By Sally Sparrow that Steven Moffat originally penned for the 2006 Doctor Who annual. Read it online here.

  • It is the first time they have been titular monsters since The Angels Take Manhattan in 2011, although they have made several cameos since, including in Matt Smith’s final episode The Time of the Doctor in 2013.

  • I yelled out “She said the thing!” when Whittaker said “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”, regarded as Jon Pertwee’s definitive third Doctor catchphrase, even though he only actually said it twice. Here’s a supercut video of every time the Doctor has reversed a technobabble thingamajig since 1963.

  • When Gerald asked who was in charge, and Yaz said it was a very flat team structure, she wasn’t just echoing the Doctor’s words, but also Graham, who in 2018’s The Witchfinders dealt with King James refusing to accept a woman could be in charge by saying “It’s a very flat team structure. We all have our area of expertise.”

  • The people of the village disappeared on 21 November 1967. If they had landed the Tardis three days earlier, they could all have sat down and watched the now-lost second episode of Patrick Troughton story The Ice Warriors, which was broadcast on 18 November 1967.

  • If you can get to London, the immersive Doctor Who theatre experience Time Fracture is taking bookings again after being closed due to flooding for months.

Full-length trailer for Time Fracture

Next time

Survivors of the Flux, you have me at a disadvantage. I must confess I didn’t watch the next time trailer because I was still rocking in shock at the Doctor being recalled by the Division and turned into a Weeping Angel.

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