Series 13 of the infamous British show Doctor Who, commonly referred to as Doctor Who: Flux, ended last Sunday, concluding it’s six episode story arc with a one-hour action-filled finale that saw the Doctor race against all kinds of enemies to save the universe. So, does Jodie Whittaker’s last series stand the test of time?
Well… no, just… no. Flux was overwhelming to say the least, but not in a fun way. Chris Chibnall, the current Doctor Who showr-runner, really went all-in this year, bringing back many beloved villains and new characters in exotic locales across the universe. Every episode was wildly different from the previous, but kept one common narrative: the mysterious Flux, a powerful entity destroying the universe that the Doctor had to stop. While the start of the series was good, tricking fans into believing Chibnall has finally done a good job after the disappointing Series 12 and 13, one quickly realises that this series is once again heading nowhere. While most of the episodes of Flux were decent enough to keep audiences interested in this universe-ending storyline, they’re all built in a constant state of cliffhanger, building towards a big finale with big reveals. Said finale, supposed to bring a much-needed satisfactory conclusion to the show, does everything but that. By the time the credits roll, the public is lost, left with many questions as to what actually happened over the course of those six episodes. The ending just kinda happens and… that’s it. The Flux clusterfuck is over.
Doctor Who has always been about the Doctor, but most importantly about the human companions he makes along the way. Tenant had Rose, Martha and Donna. Smith had Amy and Clara, Capaldi briefly traveled with Bill. Jodie has… whatever those empty shells lying in the corner of the TARDIS are. It’s a true shame, because Mandip Gill’s Yasmin Khan and John Bishop’s Dan Lewis had a lot of potential, but Chibnall’s writing makes them nothing more than dull characters stuck in a repetitive loop of asking the Doctor what’s happening or what they should do. Even though the Doctor severely mistreats her companions throughout the show, putting herself first in every situation, there isn’t an ounce of resistance in them. They are passive in their own story. This lack of personality only worsen an already weak premise.
Flux does not fail everywhere. Episode 4, Village of the Angels, is a great stand-alone that perfectly uses fan-favourite Weeping Angels while Episode 2, War of the Sontarans, shines a light on the work of Mary Seacole. There are few acting stand-outs, like Thaddea Graham and Game of Thrones’ Jacob Anderson, who both portray a touching couple mixed up in the end of the universe. Visually, the show has never looked better, whether we’re talking about special effects or cinematography. It’s just a shame it’s not as good as it is beautiful.
When watching Doctor Who: Flux, it was impossible not to compare it to previous series. As I journeyed through the series, I couldn’t help but think of all the episodes that were infinitely better than what she was given. Capaldi’s era, albeit controversial to some, was full of darkness and amazing writing that allowed the Glaswegian actor to shine and Tenant’s time was marked with powerful storylines. Jodie on the other hand, is given nothing to work with. In her 28-episodes run (so far) I can’t remember a single scene that stood out or that defined her as the Doctor. Chibnall traps her in a writing style that sees her constantly explain to the audience what’s going on, leaving little to no room for mystery or even silence. Flux is a loud show, always moving, never stopping, and that rushed pacing only helps losing the audience further. Sometimes you just wish the Doctor and her friend could pause for a beat, to let audiences take a breather and take in what has happened, but no, they’re always running to the next action scene. Flux was teased as a great and satisfying story that could unite Doctor Who fans and make them forget about Chibnall’s mistakes, but it only confirmed that Chibnall was not made for a show like this, as proven by the 35% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Jodie and the public deserved better.
As a Doctor Who fan, it’s hearcrushing to see how many people have left the shower under the Whittaker era. When it was revealed in 2017 that Whittaker would succeed Capaldi, the announcement was met with excitement from fans but also a considerable amount of misogyny towards the first-female Doctor Who, promoting old Doctors like David Tennant or Colin Baker (the 6th Doctor) to defend the casting decision. I was so ready to see Jodie prove the haters wrong, but the writing has failed her so hard that we might not see a female Doctor for a while now. If anything I don’t blame her one bit because despite the poor writing she was given, Jodie still shined with her kindness and bubbly personality. With a better show-runner, she could have accomplished wonders.
Jodie Whittaker is now set to have three last specials to conclude her run as the Thirteenth Doctor. One on the 1st of January, titled Eve of the Daleks, then a second in the spring and her final episode at the end of the year. Soon Russel T. Davies (the showrunner of the Eccleston / Tenant eras as well as the creator of shows like It’s a Sin or Years and Years) will return as showrunner and bring with him a new doctor, the 14th iteration. It’s truly a shame that Jodie had the worst years of Doctor Who since its 2005 revival, and that fans are eager to move on to another Doctor this quickly. Jodie and the public deserved better.