At long last, the Doctor returns to the airwaves, with Doctor Who Flux a multi-episode arc that kicks off the swan song of both showrunner Chris Chibnall and current Doctor Jodie Whittaker. We met quite a lot of new friends and enemies and scratched the surface of more than a few mysteries. With plot points that have left even veteran fans of the series scratching our heads, we know newer or more casual fans might find themselves struggling.
To help out, here are some of the big mysteries your TARDIS Team here at Nerdist picked up on during “The Halloween Apocalypse.” We could spend all day asking questions about how “species recall” works, so we’ll try to limit it to the important plot questions as best we can. In case you too wondered what the Flux was happening.
What exactly is the Division?
The big revelation in series 12 was that the Doctor is much, much older than we, or even she, knew. In a controversial reveal, we learned she has a deep connection to Time Lord history and the discovery of regeneration. Why doesn’t the Doctor remember any of this? Because of the work she did for a mysterious, seemingly clandestine organization called the Division, which erased all of her pre-William Hartnell era memories. Memories that we learned this week also include a pretty intense nemesis, Swarm. Swarm has been held captive “since the dawn of time” in one of those solo sci-fi prisons for really bad types. The kind of shackled incarceration where the only daily activity seems to be nursing a grudge against the Doctor. And helping optimize social distancing for the cast.
At first, the Division seemed like a sort of Time Lord spy agency, but with the Halloween Apocalypse, we learn that members of other species can also be agents of the Division, such as Karvanista, of the dog-like Lupari. The Doctor has hunted Karvanista to find out any information on the shadowy organization. While the Division is part of the Doctor’s distant past, we’ve seen much evidence of Division operatives working in an era contemporary to modern Earth, both last season and with Karvanista now. It seems this organization exists beyond the capabilities of the Time Lords and Gallifrey, a planet existing in a sort of Schrödinger’s Cat of destroyed or not destroyed depending on who is showrunning Doctor Who at any given time.
If the Division has operated all this time, who is actually in charge of it? What is its goal? And why have they worked so hard to keep the Doctor blissfully unaware of their presence?
What is up with Dan?
Look, we’re not buying Dan’s “aww shucks” demeanor. There are a lot of questions swirling around the new companion, played by John Bishop. First off, we learn in the episode that the Lupari are sending 7 billion ships to Earth to save all of humanity from the Flux. Yet Karvinista, who we know is a Division operative, arrived much earlier in the evening to snag Dan. He handwaves away the Doctor’s question about this with a quick response about a time distortion. However, it’s still very sus. Especially considering he puts Dan in a cage and is pretty annoyed when Yaz lets him out.
Furthermore, Karvanista’s attempts to hypnotize Dan with some sort of Jedi mind trick fails, catching even him by surprise. Finally, when remarking on the “bigger on the inside” nature of the TARDIS, Dan mentions he has a friend who had one but it was bigger. This comment is brushed aside by Yaz and the Doctor, but is it a simple joke or a hint at something more going on with Dan?
We know from this episode and series 12’s “Fugitive of the Judoon“ that 21st century Earth is a popular spot for hidden individuals associated with the Division, could that include Dan?
And if Dan is so good at giving tours at the Liverpool museum and seems to like it so much, why don’t they just hire him? Or, heck, let the nice harmless guy lead a few free tours?
What’s the deal with all the aliens?
What connection, if any, do all of these alien races have to each other, and this specific Halloween night in Liverpool? We’ve seen a Weeping Angel, the Lupari, the season’s apparent big villains Swarm and Azure, and even some Sontarans on the way. Are any of these groups working with or against each other? Are they all up to their own unconnected different plots and are maybe feeling a tad bit awkward that they all ran into each other here?
And that doesn’t even take into account the two Statler and Waldorf looking guys in 1820s Liverpool that we met right after the credits and then, let’s be honest, completely forgot about till they showed up in the “let’s all look at the camera” montage at the end. And what do all of these species have to do with the Flux, the raging time and space hurricane tearing its way through this arc?
What’s the purpose of Vinder’s outpost?
We meet Jacob Anderson’s Vinder while he’s filing his report on his 21,754th rotation in a distant outpost. We’re not sure exactly how much time passes in any given rotation; a day, a year, twenty minutes? The weariness and hostility in his voice, however, implies he’s been stuck in this isolated observation role for a while. Given how unhappy with the assignment he is, we are deeply curious who it was that put him there in the first place. Does the outpost also have Division ties? Why has Vinder felt obligated to stay, until permitted to leave by an abandoned ship order? Is the name of the outpost, Rose, simply a coincidental reference inspired by the same of the station? Or is Chibnall tossing some teases at fans of the modern era’s first companion, once a love interest of the Doctor?
Why was there only one bed!?
Speaking of teases! In the opening sequence of the episode, the Doctor and Yaz escape from Karvanista’s Bond-villain worthy death trap, involving two pairs of handcuffs that happen to be in the Doctor’s pocket. This pandemic-era green screen sequence builds to the pair diving into the TARDIS and landing softly in an unmade bed that just happens to be right in the main control room of the ship. There is only one bed. Was this truly just a prop placed in the scene just to facilitate the landing? Or did Chibnall, Whittaker, and Mandip Gill know they were about to send Thasmin shippers to their keyboards demanding answers? Is Thirteen truly the Doctor Who Flux?
Like we said, the important plot questions only.