Doctor Who: Flux season finale recap: “The Vanquishers,” Aired Dec. 5, 2021
Welcome to Jodie Whittaker’s last season finale! Despite this being her final season, she certainly isn’t slacking.
When we open, the Doctor is split across three realities – on a Lupari ship with Karvanista and Bel, in the Williamson Tunnels with her companions, and still outside the universe with the Ood, Swarm, and Azure and her missing memories (apparently in the form of that creepy house she kept seeing in visions).
Chris Chibnall gave himself a whole lot to wrap up in the finale, so let’s get recapping!
Season finale wrap-up
First, some good news before the real fight begins. Williamson goes back to his time. Diane and Vinder are rescued from the Passenger Form, and Bel and Vinder reunite. And Bel could finally tell Vinder the news – they’re going to be parents! But there isn’t time for celebration. Bel, Vinder, Karvanista, and one version of the fractured Doctors head to Lupari ships to knock out Sontarans.
“Sontarans are the ultimate Vanquishers”
It’s December 5, 2021, aka the end of the universe. On Earth, Sontarans wage war on the planet, and they offer an alliance with Cybermen and Daleks. With this many alien invaders, the planet is certainly in trouble.
Lucky for us, one Sontaran soldier is easily bought, and the Doctor gets Jericho and Claire onto the Sontaran ship undercover in return for chocolate, all part of the Doctor’s plan to stop the Flux. Who knew Sontarans loved chocolate?
Gotta hand it to the Sontarans, or so the Doctor says. Their plan is to save themselves from the Flux while allowing it to wipe out all their enemies at once. Should’ve known they’d never cooperate with Daleks and Cybermen for real. I expected more Dalek/Cyberman action based on the preview of the episode from last week, and we really didn’t get much at all.
I thought the titular Vanquishers would be something more directly connected to the Flux or related to Swarm and Azure. Guess Sontarans work, too.
“The final Flux event has begun”
Antimatter created outside of the universe and let in – that’s what the Flux is. And with enough matter, perhaps provided by the destruction of the Dalek and Cybermen fleets, the Doctor believes the Flux can be neutralized.
Well, no such luck.
The Sontarans’ plan works well at first, as the Flux takes out entire fleets of Daleks and Cybermen. They also take out all the Lupari, leaving Karvanista the last of his kind – sound familiar? Fortunately, the Sontarans didn’t count on the Doctor and company showing up and knocking out their systems, leaving the Sontarans to be taken out by the Flux as well. Unfortunately, Jericho went down with them.
Somehow the Doctor was cool with all that destruction of life. And after all that, the Flux was still at it, undeterred by the matter it devoured.
In the end, the Flux is eliminated pretty easily. After some quick thinking by Diane, the Doctor traps the rest of the Flux in a Passenger Form. Feels anticlimactic – a six-episode leadup to… that.
“Stewart, Kate Stewart”
The Grand Serpent is working with the Sontarans, but he seems more interested in non-Flux matters. He interrogates the Doctor, and he wants to know about Kate Stewart’s whereabouts. The Doctor ignores his question and quickly turns the tables, trapping him after he failed to kill her. When he breaks free, he continues his quest to find Kate Stewart, following her to the Williamson Tunnels.
However, Kate wasn’t alone. When the Grand Serpent arrives, Vinder is the one who confronts him. Turns out the Grand Serpent doesn’t remember his former apprentice. Still, in a somewhat satisfying moment, Kate and Vinder surround the Grand Serpent, and Vinder exiles the Grand Serpent like he’d been exiled all that time ago because of him.
Claire ends up back in 2021. Kate goes back to life in the light. Also, Bel, Vinder, and Karvanista stay together on a ship, off to travel as a team. After all that buildup, Vinder and Bel’s reunion was underwhelming. I’m glad they found each other, but I wanted more.
The Timeless Child
Let’s talk Swarm and Azure. After six episodes of Flux fear and these two popping up everywhere, tormenting the Doctor and her companions, I expected more for them. After the Flux is “extinguished,” they offer up the Doctor, the Timeless Child, as a sacrifice to their savior, Time itself. Time isn’t happy with them and destroys them on the spot. And that’s it?!
Time then takes the form of the Doctor herself, and Time warns her of her impending end.
Later, the Doctor elects not to open the fob watch with her missing memories. She instead instructs the TARDIS to keep it safe, somewhere she’ll never find it – unless she really asks.
We find out in this episode that Karvanista was a past companion of hers, but he can’t tell her about it without dying. It’s less of an “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you” situation and more of an “I’d tell you but it would kill me” subject. The unopened fob watch coupled with this revelation leaves the door open for Karvanista’s return, and potentially Bel and Vinder with him.
Well, “The Vanquishers” was one busy season finale. Things were mostly wrapped up, and it’s really starting to hit that Jodie Whittaker’s time as Doctor is coming to an end. She even reminded herself – “your time is heading to its end”; “nothing is forever”; “no regeneration, no life”; “I restore you Doctor…but for how long?”
And was there a hint that the Master might return?! I would love, love, love to see more of Sacha Dhawan’s Master.
But first, Daleks on New Year’s Day! See you in the future (2022), Whovians!
What did you think of “The Vanquishers”? Let us know at @PureFandom on Twitter!
Doctor Who will return New Year’s Day on BBC America.