TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time’ (Doctor Who)


Hello everyone! 🙂

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

It’s time to talk about the third episode of ‘Flux’, the six-part story that is Series 13 of ‘Doctor Who’. The third episode is called ‘Once, Upon Time’ by Chris Chibnall. My parents and I revisited the second episode ‘War of the Sontarans’ on BBC iPlayer before we watched ‘Once, Upon Time’ on TV.

I enjoyed ‘Once, Upon Time’. Mind you, there was a lot to take in with this episode, especially involving character twists and plot revelations that were told in a rather solve-the-puzzle manner. But it wasn’t overly complicated as I’ve found when watching some of the Steven Moffat-era stories.

On the contrary, as I watched the episode, I wanted to find out more about what’s going on and who were the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Vinder as characters. This episode might require more than one watch though in order to get your head around some of the confusing, bizarre moments. 🙂

I’m sure my parents and I will do that when revisiting the episode on BBC iPlayer next week before we check out ‘Village of the Angels’ on TV. There may come a time when my parents and I will watch the complex ‘Flux’ story in one go on Blu-ray or on BBC iPlayer. I’m currently enjoying these episodes so far. 🙂

The episode has Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor saving Yaz, Dan and Vinder from potential death, as the Ravagers – Swarm and Azure –unleash deadly time on them. The Doctor, Dan, Yaz and Vinder fight for survival since time is running wild throughout. They uncover very unusual aspects about them. 😐

It’s fascinating when it gets unveiled how the Flux happens to have a devastating impact across the universe. There’s a sense of mystery of where the Flux came from and it seems the Doctor is directly involved. But she can’t remember, especially when it occurred in a past life she’s forgotten about.

It was nice to see how the Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Vinder get unravelled as characters and how we learn more about them. The cast, including Jodie Whittaker, Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson get to play different characters in each of the simulations featuring our main heroes here.

I’m reminded of the Big Finish audio ‘The Natural History of Fear’ where Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas got to play a variety of characters based on the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz. Mind you, I found that audio hard to follow, whereas this episode was easier to get the gist of.

Essentially, the Thirteenth Doctor is trying to keep her companions safe whilst she’s sorting out the unleashing of raw time upon her friends by the Ravagers. It’s here we get to find out a little bit more about who Swarm and Azure are and why they’re treating the Doctor as their greatest enemy here.

We explore the memories of each character in their respective timestreams and they’re presented like they were dream-like. I say that because Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor interacts with characters from their past who take on the physical appearances of Yaz, Dan and Vinder, except they’re not them. 😐

I did wonder if I was seeing an alternative universe version of the Thirteenth Doctor or if this was something that happened in her future. It clicked in that it happened in the Doctor’s past (and you probably know where this is going). The Thirteenth Doctor is even wearing a brand-new coat in this.

I was hoping that would be the Thirteenth Doctor’s new look in donning a darker blue coat as opposed to the light grey coat she usually wears. It would have been a nice look to have, matching to Colin Baker’s Doctor who often wore the multi-coloured coat and sometimes wore the blue-coloured coat. 🙂

Or when David Tennant often dons a brown or a blue pinstripe suit in the series! Sadly that wasn’t to be. Maybe the Thirteenth Doctor will think about wearing a dark blue coat as well as a light grey coat after this episode. Whether that be in the rest of her time in the TV series or not, I really don’t know.

Maybe she might wear the dark blue coat in the Big Finish audios when it comes to the Thirteenth Doctor having her turn in Big Finish. It’s not made clear who the characters that Mandip Gill, John Bishop and Jacob Anderson are meant to be when interacting with the Thirteenth Doctor in her past.

Although we are given a clue on who John Bishop’s meant to be, as he carries a weapon similar to Craige Els as Karvanista and even reveals him to be him at one point. Who the other characters Mandip Gill and Jacob Anderson are meant to be, I don’t know. Obviously, they’re Division members.

Yes, what we see in the Doctor’s past happens to be when he/she was a member of the Division before he/she became William Hartnell’s Doctor. From this, we get to have another appearance of Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor from Series 12. It was good to see Jo Martin’s Doctor back in the series.

It’s intriguing how the Thirteenth Doctor re-lives what the Fugitive Doctor did when raiding the Temple of Atropos and what she did to make Ravagers like Swarm and Azure to be become so angry with her. The Thirteenth Doctor isn’t able to view the whole story of her past through to the end. 😐

This is because the Mouri, voiced by Amanda Drew, interrupt her and warn the Doctor about staying too long in the timestorm when she’s trying to protect Yaz, Dan and Vinder. It was intriguing to see the Doctor becoming so frustrated when trying to learn things about the past she had forgotten about. 🙂

We are given another hint of the Doctor’s past just before she reunites with her friends. She meets up with a mysterious woman-like entity called Awsok, who I believe exists outside the universe. Awsok reprimands the Doctor, implying that she’s the cause of all that is happening with the Flux and…

Wait a second! Barbara Flynn is playing Awsok in the episode?! Wow! Barbara Flynn in ‘Doctor Who’! And this is from watching her in period dramas like ‘Wives & Daughters’, ‘The Barchester Chronicles’ and ‘A Family At War’. I wasn’t expecting her to make an appearance in ‘Doctor Who’. 😀

Meanwhile, we get to learn more about Dan’s character, especially when he experiences his date with his love interest, Nadia Albina as Diane. Mind you, the setting keeps changing and the Doctor appears to him as a hologram whenever he’s re-living his past memories before Dan gets to meet up with her.

Dan even gets to meet up with Steve Oram as Joseph Williamson, who happens to be a real-life person in history since he’s an English eccentric, businessman, property owner and philanthropist, best known for the Williamson Tunnels. I still don’t know what Williamson’s angle in all of this is about.

The Doctor has yet to meet him too. By the episode’s climax, it turns out Diane has been abducted by Swarm’s companion called Passenger. Dan is clearly anxious about Di’s well-being. He’ll have to rescue her another time, as he, Yaz and the Doctor return to the TARDIS and take Vinder back home.

Incidentally, is it just me, or does Passenger look a lot like the Shadow from ‘The Armageddon Factor’? The dark cloak and the cape seems to give off that impression. I wonder if it is the Shadow and he’s come to torment the Doctor for not being willing to give him the Key to Time the last time. 😐

Yaz’s story is fascinating, especially when we see her in her past life as a police officer. It was funny to see Jodie Whittaker in a police uniform when she’s trying to make contact with Yaz. This episode also has another appearance of Bhavnisha Parmar as Sonya Khan, Yaz’s sister in the series. 🙂

I’m saddened I didn’t meet Bhav Parmar at the ‘Bedford Who Charity Con’ when she was booked as a guest. At least she’s kept busy lately, especially with playing a new character in the ‘Timejacked!’ box set by Big Finish with Jacob Dudmam’s Twelfth Doctor. I’m curious on what her character is like in that.

It was tense and scary when the Weeping Angel in Yaz’s phone, the TV screen, and the police car rear-mirror kept popping out and approached her. Thankfully, Jodie’s Doctor was there to help her out. I’m curious about what will happen to the TARDIS trio concerning the Weeping Angel at the end.

It was interesting to see how Vinder’s character got unveiled in the episode. I’m not sure I fully understand about Vinder’s past from watching the episode, especially when it’s detailed how he ended up on the observation outpost where we met him in the first episode. But it’s intriguing to see.

Mandip Gill gets to play more than one character in Vinder’s experiences of memories, including where she plays his commanding officer, who’s actually male, I believe. Like I said, the episode needs to be seen more than once in order to gain a clearer insight on who Vinder actually is as a character. 🙂

There’s a character in the episode that has her own story to tell and she’s Thaddea Graham as Bel. I wasn’t sure what to make of her story and how it connects to the rest of the episode. But it transpires by the end that she happens to be Vinder’s lover (I believe) whom he got separated from.

The episode does feature Daleks and Cybermen, but don’t get too excited about it. The Daleks and the Cybermen don’t meet Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor. Their scenes are featured in Bel’s story. We see Bel hiding from Daleks and we see Bel fighting against Cybermen when they attack her spaceship. 😐

Whilst I appreciate the Daleks and Cybermen making an appearance in the episode to add to Bel’s story, I wish there was a confrontation between them and the Thirteenth Doctor, like there was a confrontation between the Sontarans and the Thirteenth Doctor like with last time in the ‘Flux’ story. 😐

It was good to see the Cyber Warriors in the episode, even though they do get beaten easily by Bel. 😐 Sam Spruell plays Swarm and Rochenda Sandall plays Azure and they still continue to be nasty in the episode. There’s also Matthew Needham guest starring as ‘old’ Swarm from ‘Flux’s first episode.

That was in the Doctor’s past where she was Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor. The episode also features Craig Parkinson as the Grand Serpent, who didn’t take to Vinder when he questioned his authority during Vinder’s memory experiencea. Nigel Lambert also returns to voice the Priest Triangles here. 🙂

It was tense when the episode ended with the Weeping Angel coming out of Yaz’s phone and taking control of the TARDIS. I’ve no idea what’s going to happen in the following instalment, but I’m keen to find out how the Doctor, Yaz and Dan will avoid being zapped when journeying back through time. 🙂

‘Once, Upon Time’ is another enjoyable instalment in the ‘Flux’ story so far. I would have to say though that the third episode is the weakest of the six-part story so far, especially when presenting the various memory experiences our main leads get to have, as it can come across as quite complex.

Regardless, I enjoyed the episode very much. I’m really getting into the ‘Flux’ story rather well and want to learn more about what will happen to the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz and Dan next time. Will they survive the terror of the Weeping Angels next time? Could they receive some unexpected help?

I’m looking forward to seeing Annabel Scholey as Claire Brown again in the series. As well as special guest star Kevin McNally! 😀

Next week’s episode is ‘Flux – Chapter Four: Village of the Angels’ by Chris Chibnall and Maxine Alderton.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

2 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Flux – Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    The ‘Flux’ series looked good at the half-way point. Some parts of this episode were a bit hard to follow, but it was easy as the episode progressed. It was interesting seeing the Doctor, Yaz, Dan and Vinder living through memories with each other replacing the people that were actually there. I was quite surprised to see Jo Martin back as the Fugitive Doctor. What are your thoughts on the Timeless Child theory since it has divided fan opinion?

    I enjoyed seeing Barbara Flynn as Awsok. I best know her for being in the ITV crime drama ‘Cracker’ with Robbie Coltrane. Did you know she was in ‘A Very Peculiar Practice’ with Peter Davison? It was good to see Bhav Parmar as Sonya. I assume Janet Fielding was called in to replace her for Bedford. I also liked the sub-plot with Bel and the cliff-hanger with the Weeping Angel trying to control the Tardis.

    Tomorrow, I’ll share my thoughts on ‘Village of the Angels’.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Glad you enjoyed my review. I’ve seen this episode twice now and hope to see it again when it comes to revisiting the first five episodes of ‘Flux’ before checking out the finale. I understand the episode a little better from watching it twice though. It was nice to see Jo Martin back as the Fugitive Doctor. I’m okay with the Timeless Child theory. I know it’s divided fan opinion, but it didn’t bother me much when it came to watching ‘Ascension of the Cybermen’/’The Timeless Children’ last year, which I’ve reviewed on my blog.

      Yes, I knew Barbara Flynn was with Peter Davison in ‘A Very Peculiar Practice’. I’ve seen photos of them together. Have yet to see the series though. It was great to see Bhav Parmar again as Sonya. A shame she couldn’t attend Bedford and yes I believe Janet Fielding did get called in to fill for her. The Weeping Angel cliffhanger was very good.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on the ‘Village of the Angels’.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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