By now, the Doctor has conscripted Mary as a temporary companion and while the Sontarans are out having some war, they sneak aboard one of their ships to use its computer. This allows the Doctor to get in touch with Dan, who’s done the same thing in the future, and she rather blithely states that stopping the 21st century Sontarans is entirely on him. Which is a bit of an ask, honestly. Granted, UNIT has been defunded, but does this mean Kate Stewart, Osgood and co. have just given up on saving the Earth when it needs it?
Fortunately, Dan is still under the species-bond protection of Karvanista, who has doggedly (sorry) followed him aboard the Sontaran ship and shows up just in time to save his pet human from a Sontaran execution squad. Karvanista promptly commandeers the ship and sets it on a course to ram the rest of the shipyard, as this will create a huge temporal shockwave that will handily erase every Sontaran on Earth from existence. Dan’s okay with this, because it saves him from having to take them out one at a time with his wok, which is about the only option the Doctor left him with.
Dan and Karvanista escape the implosion by jumping down a nearby tube that drops them neatly into the Mersey, and if that sounds like a threat-free and unsatisfying conclusion to their part of the adventure… it is. The Doctor’s side of the plan is rather more involved, however. Having learned from Mary’s careful observations that Sontarans enter a Borg-style replenishment cycle every 27 hours, she teaches General Logan and the surviving soldiers how to sabotage the process and force their enemy to either retreat or suffocate.
Not that the Sontarans have chance to do much retreating, as Logan has sneakily planted enough explosives to demolish their fleet. The Doctor’s righteous anger at this action is pretty predictable at this point in the show’s run, but given that the place they’d have evacuated to would still have been Earth, albeit 21st Century Earth, the General’s actions to protect the future of humanity are not exactly irrational, even if he does cite revenge as his main motivation.
Having reunited with Dan, the Doctor’s torn TARDIS is yanked to the Temple of Atropos – presumably by Swarm, Azure and their new friend, The Passenger. The three villains turned up halfway through the episode and began to troll Vinder and Yaz, reading their minds and daring Vinder to try and shoot them, all before dusting one of the remaining Mouri and a few of the Guardian Priests as an afterthought.
This trio, not the Sontarans, are the aliens that are driving the Flux plot arc forward, but they’re also the most frustrating characters to watch as they languidly potter around the universe. Did we need to see Azure slooowly destroy not one but two Priest Triangles, or watch them repeat the same teleportation trickery half-a-dozen times? It’s one thing to bait the audience with lingering unanswered questions, but we’re now a third of the way through Flux and the lack of any defined agenda or motivations for Swarm feels like the script is stalling, not teasing. The entire episode can be accused of being slightly padded, in fact. It’s a full hour long, but unlike ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’, it doesn’t feel like it needs to be.
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