Image Credit: BBC (Fair Use)
Image Description: A Weeping Angel stands in a Liverpool street
We’re now over halfway through Series Thirteen, so beware of spoilers as Victoria Walker reviews Flux’s fourth episode.
Village of the Angels was an episode that did not fail to surprise. We were drawn in by a (not-so) sleepy village in 1967, and treated to an episode that gave both the Doctor and her companions plenty of breathing room. It raises new lines of intrigue but unfortunately fails to close some of the ones that were very expected.
As the episode opens, we meet Claire once more, returning to our mysterious lead on the Weeping Angels from The Halloween Apocalypse. She is experiencing psychic premonitions, and it is later revealed she is a seer. While this latter aspect appears to have allowed the angel to track her down, it is unclear whether the visions are a result of her head being invaded or not. While they could be separate, all the visions we know of have been directly related to the Angel. It’s also uncertain whether Claire’s role in Flux is done, or whether she will be returning in future.
While Claire does not get much space in this episode, being the conduit for a far more interesting character, Yaz and Dan do – about 66 years, in fact. Being split from the Doctor very early on, they are allowed to play to their strengths in the search for Peggy. This plot in and of itself is not terribly interesting, but allows Yaz to demonstrate a very authoritative presence, both attempting to give ideas on how to lead the search for Peggy and talking calmly to her once they find her back in 1901. On the other hand, Dan rather confirms what I supposed his character would be as he serves up comic relief. His contribution is minimal, but giving a few good-natured laughs is not a bad thing by any stretch and it is often good to have a character who we needn’t expect too much of. Their time in the past keeps them separate from Dr Eustacius Jericho, who I expected to form more of an obstacle to the Doctor. It was nice, then, to see that he did not carry this expectation through and ended up being an interesting presence in the episode, particularly during his cross-examination by the Weeping Angels.
Of course, the titular monsters, following in the steps of the Sontarans, form the backbone of this episode. While an impressive foe, they suffer from appearance fatigue and do not benefit from repetition. As such I did not feel very much suspense, which would have given the episode the aspect of horror it aims to provoke. Despite this, they do form an interesting force in this episode, particularly through their relationship with others. While the rogue angel is fascinating in its own right, the species’ wider relationship with Division, now seemingly dropping the definite article, is more compelling. Were the angels created by them, or are they beings that were co-opted into shadowy dealings? In any case, the angels now member the Doctor seemingly amongst their members following a sensational climactic scene. It is a brilliant sequence which almost caps off a brilliant episode. Questions are raised once again – why did they transform the Doctor? Is this necessary to trap her? Will she remain stone? – but these are questions I am confident will be answered in the next episode. The biggest question raised, however, is why she is being recalled, having been assured she was free. Could it be that Division is recalling its best agents to tackle the extra-universal threats of Azure, Swarm and Ashok? The whole organisation has been set up as a very mysterious, hence bad, organisation but this may not necessarily be the case.
Village of the Angels is rounded out after its false finish by seeing Vinder catch up to Bel after she has left Puzano. Unlike in Once, Upon Time, the Bel storyline felt as though it was serving a purpose from the get-go. We now know Vinder quite well, and I am invested in him finding his life partner again. More widely, I enjoy this narrative even though it does not seem to have much to do with the main plot itself at present. That said, it has been a good way of keeping us tied to the havoc Swarm, Azure, and the Flux are wreaking on the universe. Azure putting beings into the Passenger leaves a range of possibilities for their scheme, perhaps even the population of a new universe. This may be a far-fetched idea, but with the rate at which Chibnall is throwing out these twists I would not be too surprised.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this episode. Each of the three storylines presented were engaging. Unlike in some other stories (Fugitive of the Judoon springs to mind) it did not feel like the companions were simply being kept busy. The only worry I am left with is this: How is all this going to be resolved by the end of the series?