TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

I’ve seen the second episode of ‘Flux’, the six-part story that is essentially Series 13 of ‘Doctor Who’ with Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill and John Bishop. I greatly enjoyed it and found it better than the first episode. I was able to follow what went on compared to finding it all crammed in the first episode.

I was able to watch the second episode on BBC One on TV at 6:15pm compared to watching it on BBC iPlayer. I hope I’ll be able to watch the rest of ‘Flux’/Series 13 on the last four episodes’ initial BBC TV transmissions rather than BBC iPlayer, unless of course other commitments get in the way. 😐

Mind you, I did re-watch ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’ before watching ‘War of the Sontarans’ on Sunday evening to get a clear idea of what was going on in the ‘Flux’ story so far. Maybe I’ll re-watch ‘War of the Sontarans’ next week before checking out the third episode ‘Once, Upon Time’ on TV. 😀

‘War of the Sontarans’ depicts Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor coming up against the potato-headed Sontarans. We’ve had her coming up against Daleks, Cybermen and the Master so far. It makes sense for her to confront the Sontarans this time round. I’m pleased that she’s been able to do that.

Chris Chibnall is the writer of this episode as well as the writer for most of ‘Flux’. It’s amazing how Chris Chibnall can write a six-part adventure as the entire Series 13. Hopefully everything will be consistent and smooth-flowing by the time we reach the conclusion of this pretty exciting and epic story so far here.

In this episode, we follow on from the events of the previous episode where the Doctor, Yaz and Dan have ended up in Sevastopol during the Crimean War. Not sure how they managed to escape the Flux by the end of the first episode, but then again, time has been messed about lately in the series.

The Doctor, Yaz and Dan soon meet up with Sara Powell as Mary Seacole. And once again, I see another example of the TV series ignoring the fact that Big Finish have done a story of the Doctor meeting Mary Seacole before, as was the case with Mary Shelley in ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’.

I bring this up because last year, I reviewed ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ which included the story ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’. In that, the Twelfth Doctor met Mary Seacole and she was played by Mandi Symonds. I’m surprised the TV series didn’t check up on that when doing this episode.

And yes, I know this episode takes place in perhaps an alternative timeline and over the years, I’ve grown used to inconsistencies featured in ‘Doctor Who’ in stories like ‘The Haunting of Villa Diodati’, ‘At Childhood’s End’ and ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. Even I’ve done this sort-of thing in my story called ‘Into the Death-Space’.

But it’s so surreal to watch the episode and see the Thirteenth Doctor meeting Mary Seacole when a year ago I previously heard a story about the Twelfth Doctor meeting Mary Seacole. And no, this wasn’t from a story made a decade or so ago. ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ was released in 2020!

Mind you, I will give credit to the story in terms of defining Mary Seacole as an historical person, which matches to what I heard of her in ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’. And it’s nice to see how Jodie’s Doctor interacted with her and how they worked together in sorting out the Sontarans here.

And yes, it turns out the British are fighting the Sontarans in the Crimean War. This is wrong, as it should be the British fighting the Russians in the Crimean War. The Doctor realises that the influence of the Flux has shifted human history, especially since Russia has been replaced by Sontar on a map.

I found that funny when I saw the episode on TV. It becomes worrying for the Doctor though when her friends Yaz and Dan get phased out and transported through time. The Doctor is also unable to enter her TARDIS to track down and find her friends, as she’s stuck with Mary Seacole in Sevastopol.

Just to clarify for those new to my blog, Mary Seacole happens to be a Jamaican doctor who founded the British Hotel in Spring Hill during the Crimean War. It was intriguing to see how Mary Seacole and her hotel were depicted on TV compared to how I heard them in ‘The Charge of the Night Brigade’. 🙂

The Sontarans are great to check out in this episode. I enjoyed them more in this episode compared to seeing them in brief scenes in ‘Flux’s first episode. It was good to see the Sontarans in ‘Time Warrior’-armour going at full pelt, especially when they’re in an action scene fighting British soldiers.

It was also fun to hear the Sontarans in their Linx-like voices, matching to how the classic series Sontarans would sound. The Sontarans include Jonathan Watson as Skaak and Riskaw, and Dan Starkey as Svild. It was also great to see a Sontaran officer riding on horseback in the Crimean War. 🙂

Have the Sontaran on horseback paired up with Captain Mainwaring dressed up as Napoleon on horseback from the ‘Dad’s Army’ episode ‘A Soldier’s Farewell’ and you have a perfect pairing. 😀 Mind you, the Sontarans can still be dim, especially when knocked out for the count by someone on their probic vents.

The Sontarans still say their war chant “Sonta-Ha!” even in their ‘Time Warrior’ stages. I thought they would have chanted, “Sontar, Sontar, we fight for Sontar, the glory of Sontar, the death of our enemies is why we live!” like in ‘Heroes of Sontar’. Mind you, this could be after that lengthy war chant! 😀

There is another instance of the “Sonta-Ha” chant in the episode, except it’s said negatively in the form of “Sonta-Ho” when Skaak executes Svild for dishonour to the name of their species. I still think Dan Starkey is great in that ‘Time Warrior’ make-up, especially when held prisoner at Mary Seacole’s hotel.

It was great to see Jodie Whittaker’s up against the Sontarans and attempting to parley with them (even in that close-up shot of hers from the Series 13 trailer earlier this year 😀 ) I like how the Doctor’s history with the Sontarans gets touched upon in the episode through Jodie’s performance.

Jodie’s Doctor also gets to show how angry she can be when people like Gerald Kyd as Lieutenant-General Logan (Not Logan from the ‘X-Men’ films in case you wondered 😀 ) interrupts her during her negotiations with the Sontarans to pull out of a fight and when he blows up the Sontarans as they’re about to leave Earth.

I liked the interaction between Jodie’s Doctor and Mary Seacole here. Jodie’s Doctor is impressed by Mary Seacole’s attention to detail when taking notes, especially concerning how long a Sontaran can sleep for and what’s going on in the Sontarans’ camouflaged base of operations in the Crimean War.

John Bishop is equally good as Dan in the episode. It’s interesting how he ends up back in Liverpool, only a few days ago after he went missing. Surprisingly, the Sontarans are already there when they’ve taken control of Liverpool and they attempt to gun Dan down once he runs away from them.

It was nice to see Dan’s parents in the episode, as they save him from the Sontarans, including Sue Jenkins as Eileen and Paul Broughton as Neville. I do like it when we get to learn more about a new companion’s background, especially when Dan’s parents relay to him about all that has happened. 🙂

I found it exciting when Dan ventured into a Sontaran spaceship in the 21st century at the same time the Doctor and Mary Seacole were venturing into a Sontaran spaceship in the 1850s. It was funny when Dan and the Doctor saw each other on computer screens and they talked to each other simultaneously, unable to get a word in. 😀

Meanwhile with Mandip Gill as Yaz, who’s also very good, she gets transported to a religious temple on the planet Time. I wouldn’t say Yaz had a lot to do in this episode here, but it’s interesting how she copes without the Doctor, down to having the initials WHAT WOULD THE DOCTOR DO? on her palm.

She even expresses confidence when she says she can repair the temple’s mainframe to the robotic triangular priests in the episode. Yaz gets to meet Jacob Anderson as Vinder in the temple and he turns out to be less of the villain I expected him to be and more as a potential ally in the story. 😐

Yaz also briefly meets up with Steve Oram as Joseph Williamson, who was in the previous episode and comes from Liverpool in the 19th century. Not sure where Williamson fits into the story, but he does seem mysterious, especially when Yaz encounters him in a corridor and he soon vanishes. 😐

Interestingly, the Priest Triangles whom Yaz meets in the temple are voiced by Nigel Lambert (who is credited as Nigel Richard Lambert in the episode). Not sure why he was credited like that, but Nigel Lambert has been in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Leisure Hive’ and he’s done some Big Finish audios.

Criag Els as Karvanista is also back in the episode, as he continues to protect Dan when he’s aboard the Sontaran ship that’s soon about to be swamped with Sontarans. Thankfully, they manage to sort them out. Karvanista seems fine about Dan going with the Doctor to join her in her TARDIS travels. 😐

I did find it funny when Karvanista and Dan escaped from their Sontaran spaceship through a waste tube as well as Dan sarcastically calling Karvanista ‘Scooby-Doo‘! 😀 Dan and her mum also use a wok (or is it a frying pan) to knock out Sontarans on the probic vets to defend themselves, which is great.

At the end of the episode, the Doctor and Dan arrive on the planet Time where they hope to find Yaz. They’re welcomed by Sam Spruell as Swarm and Rochenda Sandall as Azure. Still not sure what Swarm’s angle is and how he happens to know the Doctor. What will the secret twist end up becoming?

It turns out the Temple of Atropos on the planet Time used to have the Mouri gatekeepers. Their death and the ruin of the temple were caused by the Flux. Swarm seeks to control time himself and he’s imprisoned Yaz and Vinder as replacement bodies for the Mouri, which is pretty terrifying here.

I felt gripped throughout the episode as I watched it. I think the epic feel of the ‘Flux’ story is coming into fruition, especially as things are being unravelled. Not all the questions from the first episode are answered here, but it makes me eager to find out more about what’s going to happen to our heroes? 🙂

The temporal power that Swarm intends to unleash will inevitably kill Yaz. The Doctor begs Swarm not to activate the temple, but he ignores her warnings. I wonder what’s going to happen to Yaz the next time we see her. Will she survive next time?! I hope that she will for the rest of ‘Flux’/Series 13.

‘War of the Sontarans’ is a gripping instalment in the ‘Flux’ story. I enjoyed the Sontarans featured in this episode and how Jodie’s Doctor confronted them. It was also fun to see Dan coping well as well as meeting his parents in this. I also like how ‘Doctor Who’ did their take on Mary Seacole on TV.

Even though the story takes place in an alternative timeline and even though the Doctor met Mary Seacole as his twelfth self, it was nice how the Thirteenth Doctor was able to work well with Mary Seacole in this story. I’m currently anxious for Yaz and hope that the Doctor will be able to save her for next time. 😐

It was fun to see Jodie’s Doctor using a catapult in the episode to knock a Sontaran out! 😀

Next week’s episode is ‘Flux – Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time’ by Chris Chibnall.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I’ll try and get more into the ‘Logopolis’ discussion by tomorrow. I’ve still been having a lot to do lately. I’m sorry I’m posting a lengthy comment so late in the day as well. You’re can wait until tomorrow to reply.

    I enjoyed this episode. I was a little annoyed that the last 15 minutes clashed with the start of the Mexican Grand Prix. Next weeks episode goes into the Brazilian round of the ‘Formula One’ championship. But you don’t want to hear that, you want to hear my thoughts on the episode.

    I didn’t know Mary Seacole had been a character in ‘The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles’ last year. I’m sure lots of other people didn’t know that. Sara Powell put in a great performance for her. I also enjoyed the Sontarans in this. It was interesting to see Dan Starkey play a Sontaran other than Strax. I’ve been more used to “Sonta-ha” having first seen the Sontarans in ‘The Sontaran Strategem’/’The Poison Sky’. I’ve experienced their ‘Time Warrior’ chant in ‘The Stockbridge Terror’ but not in the classic series as I’ve only seen ‘The Sontaran Experiment’ in that. I hope to get around to watching ‘The Time Warrior’ as well as ‘The Invasion of Time’ and ‘The Two Doctors’. I was quite shocked when General Logan blew them up just as they were about to leave.

    The Doctor, Yaz, Dan, Karvanista and Vinder were great to watch as well. The Doctor and Dan worked well together in stopping the Sontarans and Karvanista managed to save Dan once again. It was incredibly tense when the Swarm used Yaz and Vinder as replacement bodies for the Mouri gatekeepers. I wonder how they’ll get out.

    You’re probably getting tired of hearing about the negative reaction towards the 13th Doctor, butI thought I’d say that it is annoying me as well. Some of them are sane and make good points, but a lot of them are always “You’re not a true fan” and “You’ve betrayed the franchise!” Ugh, these people make me so angry! But I usually try to ignore them which helps most of the time.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      No worries. I’ve been busy at my end too. Hopefully I’ll be able to write some more of our discussion later today.

      Glad you enjoyed the episode. Sorry it overlapped with you wanting to see motorsports. You can always check out a ‘Doctor Who’ episode on BBC iPlayer afterwards.

      It’s funny, on the night we were about to watch the episode, I double-checked to see if Mary Seacole had been in another ‘Doctor Who” story since the name sounded familar. It’s just as well I checked before getting into this review to enlighten readers that this isn’t the first time Mary’s been in ‘Doctor Who’. 😀

      The Sontar war chant in ‘The Stockbridge Terror’ had only been used once in ‘Heroes of Sontar’ by Big Finish. It was never used in the TV series, especially ‘The Time Warrior’. I’m surprised the war chant hasn’t been used more than once since ‘Heroes of Sontar’.

      Glad you enjoyed the Doctor, Yaz, Dan, Karvanista and Vinder in the episode. I hope Yaz and Vinder will be alright by the time we get to the next episode.

      Yeah, it’s best to ignore negative reactions to ‘Doctor Who’ nowadays as you don’t want it to affect your judgement and you want a positive attitude in reviewing an episode.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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