13 – Series Thirteen – Jodie Whittaker

New Companion

The series announced a new companion in the wake of the departures of Graham and Ryan at the end of Revolution of the Daleks. The new guy is played by John Bishop, and it looks like his character is named Dan, and he is a contractor of some kind.


This series is one long connected story called “Flux”

Chapter One: The Halloween Apocalypse

This episode is mostly setup. Something called The Flux is destroying the universe, and the Doctor doesn’t know why. And obviously Yaz is having two problems with the Doctor. One, she is in love; and two, the Doctor keeps withholding information from her. We see Sontarans, a Weeping Angel, and a couple of real baddies (Swarm, Azure) that are not clear yet, although one of them (Swarm) fought the Doctor before. But the Doctor has no memory of this epic fight. So in the last analysis it is hard to say exactly what this episode means until we see where everything goes.

That said, I was excited most of the time watching this, and wondering how it would all tie together. There is an opening scene involving a mine in Liverpool in what looked like Victorian times, and we have no idea what the significance of that is. Dan is an engaging character I don’t mind seeing more of. We have the mystery of the woman sent back in time by the Weeping Angels, and we know she met the Doctor as a result of this, but that is in her past, but the Doctor’s future. And the character Vinder seems interesting, and his observation station is named Rose, which makes you think there will be a payoff down the line. And in a hint about exploring past mysteries, the Doctor has been pursuing a canine-like alien (one of the Lupari) because he is supposed to have information about The Division, which is a reference back to the Timeless Child story arc, which is a big untied loose end.


Chapter Two: War of the Sontarans

There are still multiple plot lines and mysteries. The Sontarans have launched a Temporal war against Earth, and they intend to fight throughout all of Earth’s history. They invaded the Earth just as the Lupari were putting a shield in place to protect the planet from the Flux, then sent a detachment back in time to the Crimean War in 1855. But this war does not involve the Russians, who don’t exist in this altered timeline. Russia and China have been replaced by Sontar, and the battle is between British soldiers and Sontarans, but all of the casualties are British. Interestingly, they all meet a nurse there, but it isn’t Florence Nightengale, but instead Mary Seacole, who was a real British-Jamaican nurse, and has the Jamaican accent in this production. Two points for this. Dan and Yaz get yanked away from the Crimea, and Dan is back in Liverpool just after he left, where he finds the Sontarans have landed and taken over. Yaz and Vinder have been taken to the Temple of Atropos on the planet Time. Swarm and Azure then arrive at the Temple, and it appears that this temple controls time in the Universe, and it is failing. The Flux seems to be the result of time running wild, and the TARDIS is also being affected by this. All in all a pretty good episode, but we still don’t know how it will payoff in the future. Perhaps we won’t be able to assess this until all 6 episodes have been seen, but then again, this is single story over 6 episodes.


Chapter Three: Once, Upon Time

The mysteries continue in this episode. Swarm and Azure have captured Yaz and Vinder and set them up as substitute Mouri in the Temple of Atropos, but the Doctor realizes they cannot survive the time stream energy that would flow through them in the Temple, and throws them and Dan and herself into a fractured time stream. She is trying to stick each them back in their own time as a safe hiding place. A lot of this episode is about the Doctor trying to regain her old memories. There is a memory of her leading three Division colleagues into the Temple to capture Swarm and Azure some time in the past, which they succeed in doing. But the three colleagues are now Dan, Yaz, and Vinder. Everyone is bouncing around time, and they are all very confused. Jo Martin’s Fugitive Doctor appears and it now seems canon that she is a past incarnation of the Doctor, possibly the one who led the previous assault on the Temple of Atropos. And a strange old woman appears and tells the Doctor that she is the cause of the fracture of time and that there is nothing she can do about it. There is also a story arc about a woman named Bel, and we later find she is Vinder’s lady love and is pregnant with his child. And Vinder relives his memories of working for a dictator callled The Grand Serpent, and how he was exiled to Rose when he tried to expose the Dictator’s misdeeds. And the TARDIS gets attacked by Weeping Angels. So a pretty confusing story, and I think intentionally because the Doctor is completely confused. But it looks like we may get to see more of her hidden past that we know of from The Timeless Children. Interestingly, Vinder pops his head inside the police box, then says “Is this a TARDIS?” So he knows what a TARDIS is. There is more to find out here.


Chapter Four: Village of the Angels

I thought this was a really good episode, and it did advance our understanding of what is going on. Swarm and Azure barely appear, and are for the most part not needed. Azure makes a brief appearance tricking people into being absorbed by a “Passenger” thinking they will be transported, but in fact they will be imprisoned. Bel and Vinder just miss each other. But the main part involves the Weeping Angels going into a town in 1967 and sending everyone there back to 1901, and in 1901 they had already cleared out everyone so it was an empty town. We find that Claire Brown from The Halloween Apocalypse is there, being examined by a Professor Jericho. The angels have taken the TARDIS to 1967 as well, and Dan and Yaz get sent back to 1901. The Doctor manages to stay in 1967, but discovers that this whole thing was set up by The Division, and that The Division wants to recall the Doctor. We still don’t know much about The Division, but they seem pretty sinister, and they don’t like the Doctor much. But the idea that the Angels are also agents of The Division is interesting. Is it just these particular Angels? In any case, they are just as scary as the Weeping Angels should be. And extra points for reversing the polarity of the neutron flow.


Chapter Five: Survivors of the Flux

The strange old woman from Once, Upon Time turns out to be the head of The Division, and also Tecteun. The Doctor meets her in a vessel outside of the universe, and headed for a nearby universe. The Flux was created by The Division to destroy the Doctor and the old universe, and the Division plans to move into the new universe and start over. The Division was originally created by the Time Lords, but recruits operatives from many races and seems to be thoroughly despicable. And the Doctor was once part of Division, but left, and that is why they want to get her back I guess. Tecteun reveals that the wormhole where the young child who became the Doctor was found (see The Timeless Children) leads to this second universe, so maybe this is where the Doctor originally came from. Meanwhile, Yaz, Dan, and Professor Jericho who were left in 1901 have been travelling and we catch up with them in 1904 trying to find out when the world will end. Someone or something is trying to kill them, but it is never explained who that is. And the Grand Serpent from Vinder’s past comes to Earth in 1958 and embeds himself in U.N.I.T. and rises to the top of the oversight committee, from where he can shut down U.N.I.T. when the time is right for his deal with the Sontarans, but Kate Stewart is on to him. And Vinder gets caught by a Passenger, and finds Diane inside. At the end, Swarm kills Tecteun and moves towards the Doctor. Cliffhanger.There is a lot in this episode, and while some questions are answered, new questions pop up. And Yaz is really starting to shine.


Chapter Six: The Vanquishers

OK, many of the loose ends get tied up here. But the overall issue is the Doctor’s past and her memories. After the Doctor runs away from Swarm and Azure, Azure offers them to her on the Division ship, but the Doctor refuses them. The Doctor removes her conversion plate, gets touched by Swarm, but instead of being killed is split into three copies, one of which is still on the Division ship, Bel’s Lupari ship, and the Liverpool tunnels. Since there is now three of her, it can get a bit confusing on which Doctor is doing what. And sometimes two copies are together in the same place, making it even more confusing. It turns out the Flux is anti-matter, and can be eliminated or slowed by a sufficient amount of matter, and the Sontaran plan is to lure the Daleks and the Cybermen to Earth under the guise of a truce, and then sacrifice their fleets to the Flux. This whole thing doesn’t bear close examination at all, but is undeniably exciting. In the end, the Doctor saves they day, the three copies are reunited, and the Doctor takes the pocket watch with all of her memories and puts it deep in the TARDIS for safekeeping without opening it, having apparently decided she doesn’t want her memories after all. And in a scene with Yaz, it looks like it is not only Yaz in love with the Doctor, but it might also be the Doctor in love with Yaz


Overall Series Thirteen

OK, how to sum this up. This series was done under difficult circumstances because of the Covid pandemic. It was originally going to be 8 episodes, but they had to cut it down to 6, and the cutting contributed to the problems here. While the series had two episodes I really liked (War of the Sontarans, Village of the Angels), and many scenes that were good, the overall plot is a hot mess. Some plot threads are never developed properly, and some are practically dropped with no resolution. There is a whole thread involving the Grand Serpent that serves no useful purpose; it does bring in U.N.I.T., but you could do that without an extraneous character who does not advance the story in any way. One main plot thread involves the Division, which is supposed to be a terrible and menacing organization, but we still have no idea what it is or why it exists. None of the Timeless Child stuff is explained. I loved Jodie Whittaker’s acting, and most of the other actors were good. Yaz really shined, I took a liking to Dan, and I was sorry when Professor Jericho died. One the other hand, the death of Tecteun meant nothing to me because Tecteun never meant anything to me. I was moved by the story of Bel and Vinder. The special effects are good, the story is visually appealing, so if you can turn off your brain it is worth watching. I really feel sorry for Jodie Whittaker. She was attacked by a bunch of fan boys who decided to hate her solely for being a woman, and when given decent scripts she shines. In fact, I think her acting this season is her best in her run. The Council of Geeks video linked below makes a persuasive case that the season was a victim of the Covid restrictions, and that they were forced to cut time out of the series in the middle of production. They note that the two episodes I liked were both shot in the first block of filming, and the stuff that made me go “Huh?” was in the second block of filming when they were probably trying to wrap up all of these plot lines without enough time.


Review of “The Fam”

 Save as PDF

Comments are closed.