Adopting the format of a miniseries comprised of 6 episodes, Flux finds the Doctor (Whittaker) on the search for answers following the revelations of the series 12 finale. On her quest for the truth, the Doctor and returning companion Yaz (Mandip Gill), along with a cacophony of new characters, find themselves embroiled in a plot to destroy all of time and space.
A decidedly uneven run of episodes, Doctor Who: Flux reaches new heights for Chibnall’s tenure, but it also scrapes some familiar lows. A standout episode, Village of the Angels features the best use of the Weeping Angels since their debut in 2007’s Blink. The eerily unsettling atmosphere and shocking cliff hanger easily cement it as one of Whittaker’s best episodes. The series’ first two episodes are also a highlight, introducing new characters and establishing the central mystery effectively.
By contrast, episodes 3 and 5 are simply not very good; the former because of it’s confusing structure and disjointed editing and the latter is just treading water before the finale. The Vanquishers struggles to wrap up Flux’s many dangling plot threads and some plot points are forgotten about entirely. It’s an underwhelming finale that seems more interested in setting up the next three specials rather than concluding the series in a meaningful or satisfying way.
The odd cringe-inducing line of dialogue aside, Jodie Whittaker delivers her best performance yet as the tortured Time-Lord. Whittaker expertly articulates the grit and dogged determination her Doctor has been imbued with in Flux and her interactions with Yaz, particularly in the final episode, are beautifully heartfelt. No longer in the shadow of Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz excels in a more active role. Separated from the Doctor for the majority of the series, Yaz proves herself a confident and capable companion.
Unfortunately, new companion Dan (John Bishop) doesn’t reap the same benefits. Despite being a large focus of the opening two episodes, the Liverpudlian fades into the periphery for the latter run of episodes, his role turning from audience surrogate to occasional comic relief.
The Ravagers, Swarm (Sam Spruell) and Azure (Rochenda Sandall), are perfectly menacing and suitably histrionic villains, yet their endeavor is disappointingly mundane, and they are dealt with far too easily, thereby diminishing their threat in retrospect.
As the first serialised story since 1989, the decision to move away from the established ‘monster of the week’ format works well. The production value per episode is much higher, evident in the fantastic costume and set designs; there’s still some ropey greenscreen usage, but it wouldn’t be Doctor Who without the odd dodgy special effect.
The central mystery is intriguing, but the plot isn’t as cohesive as the miniseries structure might have you believe. The abundance of characters disrupts the flow of the narrative at times, many of which are superfluous. Equally, Flux fails to explore any of its characters in a meaningful or profound way. A more concise structure, and perhaps a more stringent rewrite, would have better served both the characters and overarching story.
While it's unlikely to attract any new viewers, Doctor Who: Flux is a fairly fun caper with a superb performance from Jodie Whittaker. It's held back from greatness by an unfocused narrative, a redundant number of characters and a disappointing finale. Nevertheless, Flux is Whittaker and Chibnall’s best series of Doctor Who. With only three more episodes set to come from the thirteenth Doctor, it’s a shame that Whittaker is only just starting to establish her legacy as the character.