In Doctor Who: Flux, the universe is in peril. Hardly that big a deal. In the new series alone the universe has been in peril four times already, and that’s just counting the really near misses. One of those actually ended the universe, although that only lasted half an hour. But looking at the trajectory of Flux, there’s a case to be made that Chris Chibnall isn’t just looking to turn the universe off and on again. He’s looking to destroy it for good.
The End Is Nigh
Let’s look at the evidence. First, and foremost, the universe is in a really bad way. Probably the worst we’ve seen it at any time when it actually exists. Countless inhabited planets have been obliterated by the Flux. A big deal for anyone who lives on them, but hardly Doctor Who’s first multiple planetary scale genocide – the Master alone wiped out whole swathes of universe with nary a thought in ‘Logopolis’.
On top of that, time is collapsing. Again, this has happened before, although admittedly it was mostly restricted to Earth and the surrounding light years. But this time, time’s not collapsing in a fun ‘Mini metros hanging from hot air balloons’ and ‘Winston Churchill wears a toga’ kind of a way. Instead, we’re seeing the worst enemies the Doctor ever faced fighting over the scraps – and they are scraps – and hoping to be the ones standing on top of the last hill of debris.
Yes, all of this is stuff that could be washed away with a wave of a magic retcon, but it is being laid on thick, and for much longer than usual, and even David Tennant making a speech and glowing a bit in the last five minutes of the episode doesn’t feel like it’d be enough to set everything right again.
Then we get to the most disturbing encounter, in the latest episode ‘Once, Upon Time’. While bouncing through her own time stream the Doctor encounters someone called Awsok, who may or may not be the White Guardian (depending on how seriously you take her hat). Whoever she is, her role in this episode is basically to tell the Doctor to give up. Not in a cackling ‘You will never defeat me’ villain kind of a way, or in a ‘But Doctor! Even you can’t destroy the Torment Nexus!’ kind of a way, but a very matter-of-fact, disappointed mother figure kind of a way.
“Lost causes are my speciality,” the Doctor says. “Not this time,” responds Awsok. She points out “the damage to time is already done” and that “This universe is over, Doctor.” She concludes “Everything has its time. Nothing is forever. Nothing is certain. Not you, and not this universe you seem to love so much.”
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