Doctor Who: Flux recap: “War of the Sontarans,” Aired Nov. 7, 2021
Sontar-ha! Toady, we’re going back in time to the Crimean War, though I don’t quite remember learning about the Sontaran involvement in school. Maybe that’s because history has gone wrong – very wrong. Naturally, it’s up to the Doctor and Team TARDIS to save time itself. However, the Flux and all the villains that come with it aren’t going to make that easy. Let’s jump into Chapter 2 of 6!
“Can you repair?”
After his very tiny role in the premiere episode, Vinder has returned. He ends up in the Temple of Atropos, where he’s tasked with repairing a couple Mouri, quantum-locked guardians of time.
Swarm and Azure later appear in the temple and immediately start making a mess of things. “I’m Azure, and I am your death.” What an entrance.
And then Swarm goes ahead and further destroys the Mouri, certainly not helping Vinder’s work along. Swarm and Azure clearly know a lot that we don’t know, and I wonder how Chibnall is going to bring that all to light, plus an explanation for why the Doctor and crew wouldn’t remember any of it. Although, Yaz might play a bigger role in their plot than I previously thought…
Less than 10 minutes into the episode, Dan and Yaz fade away (Flux versus vortex energy, apparently).
Dan ends up back home, but things are very wrong, and Sontarans are in power. He’s proving himself a good companion already, deciding immediately to investigate a Sontaran ship while armed with only a frying pan. Luckily, he’s able to communicate with the Doctor from their respective Sontaran ships across time, and she teaches him the difference between tempura and temporal. Oh, Dan.
Also, hello again, Karvanista with the rescue, plus more banter, more name-calling! Sign me up.
And, hey, we meet Dan’s parents! They’re as much a delight as their son.
Meanwhile, Yaz ends up with Vinder and is asked the same question upon her arrival – can you repair? She glimpses her hand, where written is WWTDD (What Would The Doctor Do), and accepts the job. There’s a run-in with Swarm and Azure, and apparently they know Yaz, but Yaz doesn’t know them… yet. They even know what was written on her hand. How?!
Things are made even more complicated when the Doctor shows up for her big rescue of Yaz to find that Swarm and Azure have taken her and Vinder. One move, and Swarm would do its thing and turn Yaz and Vinder to dust. Your move, Doctor.
“I don’t understand any of this”
If you’re a regular reader of my recaps, first off, thank you. Secondly, you’ll know how much I love a good historical Who episode. And in this episode, we meet one Mary Seacole, actual historical figure who ran her British Hotel during the Crimean War.
Mary Seacole is on board with the Doctor almost right from the get-go, and she’s a quick study. She helps surveil the Sontaran ships and follows the Doctor’s instructions to a T.
However, there’s always a human that defies the Doctor and thinks they’re so great for it. *rolls eyes* The lieutenant general of the British army is no different. When he realizes his mistake, we’re gifted with a fun Sontaran lecture from the Doctor with star student Mary Seacole – “gold star and a sticker.”
The Doctor gets the Sontarans to retreat using their own tech against them, but the lieutenant general goes rogue and blows up their fleet. What is it with this Doctor and humans that make her wonder why she even bothers? Really, she’s dealt with more than her fair share.
“Hit the road, Skaak”
I do enjoy a good Sontaran episode. No Strax appearance, but luckily, Dan Starkey is back in his role as a potato soldier. Nothing like a captured Sontaran soldier so shamed by defeat he’s too stubborn to accept treatment for his wounds. I mean, a cannonball – ouch.
In a very Doctor move, the Doctor negotiates with Svild to bring the Sontaran commander information about her own whereabouts, tricking the soldier. Unfortunately for us, there isn’t much more of him, as Svild meets his end early on, which is actually a mercy to him as a Sontaran.
As for the promised massacre, the laser visual effects were less than impressive – occasional red dots across the screen and an entire British army dead. Meh. Maybe I’ll find it better on a rewatch. Maybe not. Either way, got to hand it to Sontarans – they’re efficient.
Props to Skaak, though. He was as Sontaran as Sontarans come. A highlight of the episode – part of his justification for taking over this battle being he wanted to ride a horse.
I am thankful we focused on only a few plots this week as opposed to everything Chibnall could possibly throw onto a screen all at once, like last week. Also, it’s fun to see the older-looking Sontarans.
I’m still waiting for Vinder to play a bigger role, seeing as he’s been in two of the episodes now. And I hope this Swarm/Azure plot is satisfying in the end. I feel like there’s some real potential there.
Congrats, all; we’re officially one-third through Flux.
What did you think of “War of the Sontarans”? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!
Doctor Who airs Sundays on BBC America at 8/7c.