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

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.

Quick Guide

Doctor Who: all our episode-by-episode recaps

Show

Flux / Series 13

Chapter one: The Halloween Apocalypse
Chapter two: War of the Sontarans
Chapter three: Once, Upon Time
Chapter four: Village of the Angels
Chapter five: Survivors of the Flux
Chapter six: The Vanquishers

Series 38 / Season 12

Episode 1: Spyfall part one
Episode 2: Spyfall part two
Episode 3: Orphan 55
Episode 4: Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror
Episode 5: Fugitive of the Judoon
Episode 6: Praxeus
Episode 7: Can You Hear Me?
Episode 8: The Haunting of Villa Diodati
Episode 9: Ascension of the Cybermen
Episode 10: The Timeless Children
New Year’s special: Revolution of the Daleks

Series 37 / Season 11

Episode 1: The Woman Who Fell to Earth
Episode 2: The Ghost Monument
Episode 3: Rosa
Episode 4: Arachnids in the UK
Episode 5: The Tsuangra Condundrum
Episode 6: Demons of the Punjab
Episode 7: Kerblam!
Episode 8: The Witchfinders
Episode 9: It Takes You Away
Episode 10: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos
New Year’s special: Resolution

Series 36 / Season 10

Episode 1: The Pilot
Episode 2: Smile
Episode 3: Thin Ice
Episode 4: Knock Knock
Episode 5: Oxygen
Episode 6: Extremis
Episode 7: The Pyramid at the End of the World
Episode 8: The Lie of the Land
Episode 9: Empress of Mars
Episode 10: The Eaters of Light
Episode 11: World Enough and Time
Episode 12: The Doctor Falls
2017 Christmas special: Twice Upon A Time

Series 35 / Season 9

Episode 1: The Magician’s Apprentice
Episode 2: The Witch’s Familiar
Episode 3: Under The Lake
Episode 4: Before The Flood
Episode 5: The Girl Who Died
Episode 6: The Woman Who Lived
Episode 7: The Zygon Invasion
Episode 8: The Zygon Inversion
Episode 9: Sleep No More
Episode 10: Face The Raven
Episode 11: Heaven Sent
Episode 12: Hell Bent
2015 Christmas special: The Husbands of River Song
2016 Christmas special: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Series 34 / Season 8

Episode 1: Deep Breath
Episode 2: Into The Dalek
Episode 3: Robot of Sherwood
Episode 4: Listen
Episode 5: Time Heist
Episode 6: The Caretaker
Episode 7: Kill The Moon
Episode 8: Mummy on the Orient Express
Episode 9: Flatline
Episode 10: In the Forest of the Night
Episode 11: Dark Water
Episode 12: Death In Heaven
2014 Christmas special: Last Christmas

Series 33 / Season 7

Episode 1: Asylum of the Daleks
Episode 2: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Episode 3: A Town Called Mercy
Episode 4: The Power of Three
Episode 5: The Angels Take Manhatten
2012 Christmas special: The Snowmen
Episode 6: The Bells of Saint John
Episode 7: The Rings of Akhaten
Episode 8: Cold War
Episode 9: Hide
Episode 10: Journey to the Centre of the Tardis
Episode 11: The Crimson Horror
Episode 12: Nightmare in Silver
Episode 13: The Name of the Doctor
50th Anniversary special: The Day of the Doctor
2013 Christmas special: The Time of the Doctor

Series 32 / Season 6

Episode 1: The Impossible Astronaut
Episode 2: Day of the Moon
Episode 3: The Curse of the Black Spot
Episode 4: The Doctor’s Wife
Episode 5: The Rebel Flesh
Episode 6: The Almost People
Episode 7: A Good Man Goes To War
Episode 8: Let’s Kill Hitler
Episode 9: Night Terrors
Episode 10: The Girl Who Waited
Episode 11: The God Complex
Episode 12: Closing Time
Episode 13: The Wedding of River Song
2011 Christmas special: The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe

Series 31 / Season 5

Episode 1: The Eleventh Hour
Episode 2: The Beast Below
Episode 3: Victory of the Daleks
Episode 4: The Time of Angels
Episode 5: Flesh and Stone
Episode 6: The Vampires of Venice
Episode 7: Amy’s Choice
Episode 8: The Hungry Earth
Episode 9: Cold Blood
Episode 10: Vincent and the Doctor
Episode 11: The Lodger
Episode 12: The Pandorica Opens
Episode 13: The Big Bang
2010 Christmas special: A Christmas Carol

Was this helpful?

Add comment