After almost a year since our last episode of Doctor Who, the desert-like dry spell is finally over. And oh boy, did the show deliver on an outstanding premiere episode. Aptly named “the Halloween Apocalypse” this episode delivered on both the tricks and the treats!
Warning: Spoilers from the Doctor Who: Flux (Season 13) premiere are below!
This episode wastes no time getting straight into the action. We begin with the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and longtime companion Yaz (Mandip Gill) captured by alien forces. It’s not long before the Doctor manages to break herself and Yaz out of their cuffs. After a quick chase scene, the Doctor and Yaz are back in the T.A.R.D.I.S., allowing for the story to truly begin.
Right away, the Doctor notices that things aren’t right. The door of the T.A.R.D.I.S. opens to the back of the main cabin. As well, a black oily substance is leaking from the main console. And… oh yeah, she’s also getting psychic messages from a terrifying new baddie.
His name is Swarm and he has been locked up since the dawn of time. He teases a history with the Doctor, but she does not remember him or their time together. He escapes his prison cell, which seems to be tied to the Flux (an unknown energy-like wave that destroys everything in its way). Throughout the episode, we get minor flashes of Swarm as he adventures through space, putting his evil scheme into motion. However, the majority of the story consists of saving Earth from the Flux.
The graphics in this opening episode seemed much better compared to the last few seasons. Perhaps it has to do with the decrease in the number of episodes this season. Down to six compared to the usual ten to thirteen. Or perhaps the BBC upped the budget. Either way, the mixture of CGI and practical felt amazing and more like a movie, rather than low-budget television.
Swarm is already terrifying from the little we saw of him, and the way he talks is truly scary. I have no idea of his motives or what he’ll do, but I already know this spells major trouble for the fam. I’m scared to learn of his history with the Doctor, but I’m already hooked.
I think giving one villain a larger story than the “monster of the week” type show of series past, elevates this season. It truly feels like an event. I hope that the BBC and future showrunners of Doctor Who continue to embrace this idea.
The chemistry between the Doctor and Yaz continues to be some of the best moments of the show. The two have a banter similar to that of the Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate). There are plenty of quick-witted and hilarious quips at each other, but it still feels natural and not just like well-written dialogue. I already wish I had more time with these two because I don’t think six episodes (and three specials over 2022) is enough to truly get closure for this relationship.
This episode also brought a new companion to the mix, Dan played by John Bishop. While he did get a fair amount of screen time, I felt like I didn’t get a good feeling of who he is and how he’ll fit into the fam. At times he seemed caring and kind, at other times slightly gruff. I do look forward to seeing how his story grows, but his introduction felt more necessary for the plot and not specifically for the character.
The pace of the episode was quick, and a bit head-spinning at times. It felt like I just started watching it when the hour and ten minutes were over. I had to watch it twice to catch all the dialogue, which was spoken rapidly in many different scenes. Like they were attempting to fit in as much as possible into the time they had.
Overall “The Halloween Apocalypse” was a great opener and left me excited for the next five episodes. This season will end just as quickly as it began, and I’m nervous to see where the Flux leaves our favorite characters.
My rating for this show:
★★★★ / ♥♥♥♥
*The rating scale is out of 5 stars (filmmaking/storytelling quality) and 5 hearts (entertainment quality).
Doctor Who: Flux airs globally Sundays on BBC in the U.K. and BBC America in the states.