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Doctor Who: Flux – Chapter Five: Survivors of the Flux (Review)

“We’re not in the universe.”

Survivors of the Flux marks a return to the narrative style of both The Halloween Apocalypse and Once, Upon Time.

It’s not so much an individual episode of television so much as it’s a space in which the larger narrative threads of the season advance itself. While it’s not as scattershot as Once, Upon Time, it lacks the clarity of focus and momentum that held The Halloween Apocalypse together as a season premiere. Surivivors of the Flux often feels like things happening, which is particularly noticeable in the two story threads focusing on the Great Serpent and the separated companion crew, which are largely a series of disconnected vignettes jumping through time and space respectively to provide a sense of scale to the adventure.

Tomb to manoeuvre.

Even more than The Halloween Apocalypse, Survivors of the Flux is an episode that hinges heavily on the looming series finale. The nature of Doctor Who: Flux places a lot of weight on The Vanquishers. If the season finale is suitably compelling, any earlier missteps will either be retroactively justified or easily excused. However, if the last episode of the set collapses into itself, it may erase a lot of the more interesting ideas leading into it. It is best to travel hopefully, but The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos and The Timeless Children are perhaps cause for concern.

Survivors of the Flux is not only a heavily serialised instalment, it’s also recognisable as the first half of the season finale. It is comparable to something like The Stolen Earth or Dark Water. The best of these penultimate seasonal episodes manage to balance a compelling self-contained narrative, or at least engaging character work, with the necessity of setting up larger plot arcs to pay off the following episode. Survivors of the Flux feels a lot more like homework than episodes like Heaven Sent or World Enough and Time.

Glowing concern.

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New Escapist Column! On How “Loki” Betrayed Itself…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Loki wrapping up its first season this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the show. In particular, how the season finale betrayed the show’s core themes and characters.

Loki is a story about many things, but it is primarily about power. It is about whether individuals have the power to determine the paths of their own lives. It is about who has the power to determine what stories get told and what they do with that power. It is also about how power intrinsically acts in its own best interests. There’s a lot of really interesting and biting stuff in Loki, which makes it slightly frustrating when the final makes a conscious choice to rob its characters of their agency, to reveal that this story doesn’t belong to them, and to argue that power must be centralised. In the end, Loki betrayed itself.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “For All Time. Always.”

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the sixth and final episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “The Nexus Variant”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the fourth episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “Loki” as an American Riff on “Doctor Who”…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. Following the latest episode of Loki, it has become very clear that the show is an interesting American counterpoint to Doctor Who, specifically the version of Doctor Who overseen by showrunner Steven Moffat.

Loki carries over a lot of the imagery of Doctor Who, often with an interesting specificity – the purple world from Mindwarp, the fugitive pulled out of time to face trial for meddling with the timeline from The Mysterious Planet, the exploding moon from Kill the Moon, the former villain encountering different gendered versions of themselves from The Doctor Falls, the notion of “Volcano Day” from The Doctor Dances. It’s interesting to see such a major property drawing so directly from an eccentric British television show.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “Lamentis”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the third episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “The Variant”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the second episode of Loki, streaming on Disney+.

 

New Escapist Column! On “WandaVision” and “Loki”, and the Challenges to the MCU Canon…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With Loki delving into the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s interesting to wonder why the modern stage of the MCU seems so preoccupied with its own history and continuity.

Black Widow will be a prequel. The Eternals will chart the secret history of a corner of the larger universe. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will potentially retcon Iron Man 3. On top of that, Spider-Man: Far From Home teased the possibility of a multiverse, while WandaVision warped reality. As such, it seems like the franchise is building towards something – but what could that be and what does it mean for the shared universe’s canon?

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Loki” as a Fugitive From Continuity…

I published a new column at The Escapist yesterday. Following the premiere of Loki, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at some of the meta-fictional aspects of the beloved trickster.

At its core, Loki is essentially the story of a character trying to escape their own narrative and wrest control of the story in which they’ve found themselves trapped. The title character of Loki has always been a supporting player, an antagonist or an ensemble player. Loki finds the character pushing his way to the fore, trying to figure out his own arc and his own place when he is no longer defined by the role that he has played for the past decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! “A Marvelous Escape” – Loki – “Glorious Purpose”…

With a slew of Marvel Studios productions coming to Disney+ over the next six months, The Escapist has launched a weekly show discussing these series

This week, with Loki launching on Disney+, I join KC Nwosu and Amy Campbell to talk about the first episode of the new streaming series.