***Following the review is a recap, and both contain spoilers for tonight's episode, so be sure you watch it first if you don't want to be spoiled.***
Today, Doctor Who
premiered a special Halloween episode, “The Halloween Apocalypse,” written by Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone, that stands as part one of six of a season long story arc. The episode was fast-paced, but with a lot of different storylines intermingled it left me a bit confused about what the flux was actually happening.
I loved that the episode takes place during Halloween. The series is known for doing fun holiday episodes and the departure was nice. It also made for some great dialog between Dan (John Bishop) and Karvanista (Craige Els) when he thought he was simply someone dressed as a dog.
I really was pleased with Dan as the new companion; he brought some new energy to the group in the absence of Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole). He seems to have a good sense of humor and will likely bring some of the comic relief that would be missing without Graham. I also think the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Dan, and Yaz (Mandip Gill) fit fairly well together as a team thus far.
The storyline with the ravager aliens was interesting, but it was convoluted. I had to watch pieces again to actually get what was going on. It’s also unclear if Swarm (Matthew Needham and later Sam Spruell) is controlling the Flux, but that seems to be the case and it’s likely left vague on purpose. Vinder (Jacob Anderson) commented that it “disintegrated” planets so it’s clear they have similar powers. I’m also not sure how I feel about another alien that the Doctor knows about that was apparently wiped from her memory; I’m withholding my judgement until I know more. I was happy that they brought back the Division; however, so we might be getting more clues about the Doctor’s memory being wiped soon.
The alien design of the ravagers itself I’m not sure how to feel about. Swarm especially seems very reminiscent of Tim Shaw from previous episodes, but with crystals stuck to his face instead of teeth. It’s an interesting design, but especially for his sister, there is a lot of glitter, and it makes it feel less authentic to me.
The Lupari aliens are reminiscent of Chewbacca from Star Wars
, and I like it. It’s a little cheesy in the best way Doctor Who
sometimes is. They fit right in with other aliens from the series, and as they are not villains or supposed to be frightening, it works. Dan’s right, Karvanista is kind of cute.
The special effects in the episode were fantastic. I appreciated the effect of the disintegrating people and the way the Flux moved as it devoured (perhaps “ravaged?”) planets was a cool effect.
On the whole, however, as much as I enjoyed parts of it, and I loved the returning aliens of the Weeping Angels, which are my personal favorite, and the Sontarans, there was so much going on it didn’t make a lot of sense why they were there. It felt like they were just pushed into the story for fan service. It remains to be seen how they connect. I understand the Sontarans are showing up because there will be bloodshed and suffering, which they like, but it’s just a bit of a reach for me. I also want to mention that they changed up the Sontaran design, perhaps to make them look more similar to the classic series. I’m fine with it; it makes them look scarier.
For the most part, I definitely had a positive reaction to the episode, and I am really excited to see where it goes next. RECAP
The episode opens with the Doctor and Yaz having been captured by an alien called Karvanista. He tells them that he is traveling to the future of Earth in what will be its final hours. Eventually, using skills they learned at a high-gravity circus workshop, they make their way to the TARDIS to chase after the alien.
In 1820 in Liverpool, a man named Williamson is trying to get as many men as he can to work excavating tunnels, but he won’t tell anyone what the true purpose is for.
201 years later in the present on Halloween day, we meet Dan Lewis who likes to give tours at the Museum of Liverpool, even though he doesn’t work there. He tells a woman named Diane (Nadia Albina) that he will meet her that night for drinks. It’s clear they like each other.
Meanwhile the Doctor and Yaz are headed to Earth, but the TARDIS is acting weird. Suddenly someone activates a psychic connection with the Doctor, and the alien, a ravager called Swarm, tells her to watch. Swarm has been in a prison since the dawn of the universe. Two members of Division come to check his prison, but he gets through the containment chamber shield. Swarm yells and the woman disintegrates, and weird crystals grow from his face. He touches the other woman, and she disintegrates as well. Trick or treat, Doctor.
Back on the TARDIS, it’s sort of leaking. The Doctor brushes everything off as fine, but it’s obvious that it’s not.
Dan is working at the food bank, and Wilma tells him to take some soup with him, but he refuses. She sees something outside. It’s something surveilling them.
Back home, after dealing with some trick or treaters, Dan is looking into his empty refrigerator when an alien who looks like a human/dog hybrid breaks and tells him to submit or die. Dan thinks it’s just an adult trick or treater and argues with him and irritates him. Eventually the alien puts him in a containment cage. This is Karvanista, but before we didn’t see his face.
The Doctor and Yaz arrive at Dan’s house too late and are met with a bunch of booby traps left by the alien. When they track the ship on what they think is Dan’s laptop, they find seven billion others not that far behind. They realize it’s not his laptop and rush out as the apartment building is shrunk to a few inches tall.
Meanwhile, an alarm goes off on some kind of alien tech where a man and a woman are staying. It was only supposed to happen in the gravest of circumstances. The woman breaks it and says that they didn’t receive a warning. She thinks it’s destroyed, but it’s not.
Dan wakes up in an electrified cage on Karvanista’s ship. He explains to Dan that he has taken him off world on his spaceship. Dan realizes though, to the alien’s annoyance, that he would have killed him already if he had been going to.
A woman, Claire (Annabel Scholey), comes up to the Doctor and Yaz on the street before they can chase after Karvanista. She says that they haven’t met her yet, but they will in the past. She says she was taking the long way home, because it’s Halloween. She seems confused. She says they will see each other again.
When the Doctor and Yaz get in the TARDIS they realize the door has moved. The TARDIS is still acting up, and the Doctor admits she herself had a glitch, but she won’t explain anything to Yaz, who gets upset she’s lying about things and that she’s hiding something about why she tracked down Karvanista in the first place. The Doctor sees on the screen that there is temporal residue around the alien’s ship. Nothing is as it should be.
Meanwhile, Claire is walking home when she has a run in with a Weeping Angel. She makes it into her house but then blinks.
At the Observation Outpost Rose, Observation Officer Vinder is reporting that nothing has changed, as usual. It’s his 21,754th report. Although even though there is no activity, he appreciates the beauty of space that he is lucky enough to observe. Suddenly his equipment starts going off as it detects an anomaly, and he sends off a warning transmission. This weird sort of cloud of fire starts engulfing planets and everything in its path.
Meanwhile, at a little house on the water, the couple from earlier are sleeping when Swarm comes in and touches the man. He disintegrates. The woman has the odd urge to thank him, and then, when he touches her, her flesh falls away to reveal another alien - his sister (Rochenda Sandall).
The Doctor and Yaz eventually make it on Karvanista’s ship. Yaz goes to find Dan while the Doctor has a “bone to pick” with the alien. She shuts his ship down so he has to talk to her. She tells him that the Lupari invasion of Earth is off - the planet is protected by her. She then tells him that he will tell her everything he knows about the Division.
Yaz finds Dan and helps get him out of the electrified cage.
The Doctor says he is the only known Division operative she has been able to find alive, but is distracted by a call sign lit up behind him. She discovers that he is actually on species recall - the Lupari are species-bonded to humanity - for every human there is a paired guardian Lupar. It’s their genetic obligation and honor. It goes into effect in the ultimate crisis. He was saving Dan, not abducting him; he was his human. She questions he used a stun cube on him. He says he can save him without liking him. That means the seven billion Lupari ships coming down to Earth is “man’s best friend” to save them from the Flux.
He explains the Flux is like a hurricane ripping through the structure of the universe and disrupting all the particles causing a cataclysm of unknown proportions and patterns, and it’s already begun.
Meanwhile, at the outpost, Vinder is reporting that planets are being not just compromised, but destroyed - disintegrated - not by weapons, but like they are folding in on themselves because of their proximity to something, like it’s erasing the galaxy. Vinder leaves his post in the survival pod to fight another day.
The Doctor wants to know more, but Karvanista doesn’t know. She unlocks his ship systems’ so he can realign with the battalion so they can get to Earth to save the humans. Their survival battalion was engineered to withstand whatever the Flux can throw at them. Once the humans are onboard, the ships will unite to form a survival structure. She says it’s clever but notes they never asked humanity how they felt about it. He says they don’t have to, because they are protecting them.
Dan comes in with Yaz saying they didn’t ask for protection. Karvanista is not happy. The Doctor tells him that it’s not over between them, and then the three run as he shoots at them. They make it to the TARDIS, but now there’s a second door. Things are still wonky on the ship. She gives Dan his miniature house.
The Doctor tries to locate the Flux. Why does she not know about it?
Thirty trillion light years away, a Sontaran talks to his commander via hologram. He’s analyzed the psychic waves and is happy to report that the cataclysm approaches; the flux is imminent. There will be suffering and bloodshed, and they must be ready to take advantage.
The TARDIS brings them to the edge of the solar system which confuses the Doctor. The cloister bell goes off and the Doctor says she can feel the universe breaking apart. The Doctor is hijacked with some kind of psychic link again. The Doctor doesn’t know Swarm, and he says that they were efficient that no part of her remembers them dancing across time and space locked in combat. He remembers every battle which gives him the advantage in their final fight.
Suddenly the Flux changes direction and comes towards the TARDIS. The Doctor starts the TARDIS to take evasive action but has to hit the console to make it work. The end of the universe is chasing them, so she’s going to do the only thing they can do if the Flux is coming after them: head for Earth.
She calls Karvanista and tells him the Flux is following them to Earth, but he says they don’t have time to get all the humans on the ships in time. Yaz and Dan know their families are still on Earth, and Dan realizes he’s late to meet Diane.
Meanwhile, Diane waits outside for Dan who doesn’t show when she hears a voice demanding she come in the house. Her necklace lights up a yellowish color as she tries to resist but is unable. When she enters the house, she ends up in a weird swampy area with the female ravager who says they are going to have fun with her.
The Doctor says that Karvanista had said the ships were meant to form a protective structure, and she tells him to send the shape information she is giving him to all the ships right away. He agrees, and the battalion creates a shield for the Earth.
The Doctor is unable to get the TARDIS out of the Flux’s pull, so she breaks the console and send the Vortex energy from the TARDIS into the Flux, except it doesn’t seem to do anything. Uh oh.
Meanwhile, Claire lands somewhere in time having been sent by the Weeping Angels, and the Sontarans are shown reading an attack. The ravager aliens look on.
The Doctor says, “The end of the universe. I always wondered what it would feel like...”