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A pluri-temporal tater invasion splinters the fam across history while the baddies provide time stream tech support

The TARDIS and its occupants are miraculously, some might say arbitrarily, thrown by the Flux into the midst of the Crimean War. You incorrigible cynic, obviously the Sontarans’ obsession with Japanese food caused some tempura residue to hurl Fam 2.0 to where the potatoes’ pilot scheme to invade all of Earth’s history was taking its first soft baby steps on the heaped bodies of the British Imperial Army.

However, said plot-enabling residue equally miraculously sends Dan hurtling straight back to 2021 Liverpool where he tries to wok things out with his parents, and it spirits Yaz straight to the Planet of Time itself, where the Mouri are at risk of being turned into mere mementoes by the oncoming Swarm. Vinder’s also there, so he can show off the Mouri’s fancy proximity activation. And Mary Seacole takes notes.

Here's what we think of N168 War of the Sontarans (Flux, part 2)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.4

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.2

Here's what we think of N168 War of the Sontarans (Flux, part 2)

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.4

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.2

Here's what you think 6 Responses to “N168 War of the Sontarans (Flux, part 2)”
  1. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    So what would we prefer: Sontar or Russia? It’s a tricky one.

    A Sontaran on a horse, hahaha. There’s something about this one that just works for me. Weirdly serious and silly at the same time. Properly bloodthirsty Sontarans, stupid British commanders. Chibnall has a lot of faults but I do think he’s actually fairly good at writing classic monsters. His stories for the daleks and cybermen are actually really strong for them, if not for the rest of the story around them. Handling the sontarans well is a rare thing with Classic Who only doing it great once and good another time and then two misses. So I’m happy with what we got here.

    Nice to have Mary Seacole rather than Florence Nightingale. Patients under Nightingale actually had a really bad survivability rate even for the time, which you probably wouldn’t have thought given the general pop history take on her. Big Finish have done a Florence Nightingale story already so again this keeps it fresh.

    One annoyance is they don’t really resolve the cliffhanger from last time. They ignore it and move forward with very little mention.

    So what of the other plot threads? Dan back in Liverpool is fine and fits in with the Crimean stuff. Yaz in the temple is more teasing for next time’s ep. Now this cliffhanger is a really good one with the Doctor and Swarm selling the moment. And good that you can hear the click so you can’t do the old cop-out of ‘wait’.

    4.3/5

    Cheers
    Kieren

  2. Izaak | @msmonsteradams

    After the madness of the Halloween Apocalypse, it’s nice to have a breather episode, which sees the Doc and her friends split up between three diverging plot points. Russia has been corrupted by a war-mongering potato, and in this episode Russia has also become Sontar. The Thirteenth Doctor has a run of great stories set in the past, and I think a big part of the fun is the new dynamic of ‘no one powerful listens to the silly lady’, which lets Jodie Whittaker flex her Doctor’s more frustrated, argumentative side. I’m not a Sontaran fan, so the bar is set low, but Flux has the best Sontarans in it. Uglier, scrappier, nastier, better. Dan Starkey gets to continue playing exclusively funny Sontarans, which is nice too.

    We also get to see more of Dan, who has fun skulking around hitting Sontarans with a Wok. My biggest complaint about Flux as a whole is the lack of showing present day Earth post-Flux, and here I’m left with more questions. If the planet is covered by the Lupari shield, how come we can see the sky, the moon? Is there still a Moon? The mini Dan and Karvanista flying out of the Sontaran ship like Poochie returning to his home planet is adorable.

    Atropos is wonderfully weird. Priest Triangle is so cute! And the Mouri look bonkers and amazing. Swarm continues to be incredible and he’s stylish as hell.

    Another solid, exciting story that has dragged me further invested. More! More!

    3.8/5

  3. Daniel McGinley | @danieljmcginley (TW) & @planet_of_giants (Insta)

    The good:

    – The Sontarans look fantastic. In fact, everything in the episode looks gorgeous.
    – The line “Are you expecting a response to your musings?”
    – The Crimean setting and the alternate reality of Sontarans instead of Russians is inspired.
    – Dare I say it, the Doctor is really Doctory. Thumbs up.
    – Swarm is the best villain of the 13th era. Brilliant look and great performance.
    – Swarm asking Yaz ‘why did she choose you?. A GREAT question…
    – The Sontaran plan; invasions throughout time (rather than OF time).
    – Sontaran Temporal Command. More please.

    The bad:
    – People teleporting willy-nilly in time and space is lazy and convenient writing.
    – The Sontaran’s shooting aim has nosedived since the Poison Sky
    – Dan.
    – The wok
    – Dan with the wok.
    – Dan, with the wok and wok puns
    – The probic vent. After battling the Rutans for 50,000 years, this weakness should have been fixed by now. See: Dalek going upstairs in Remembrance.

    A master of battle psychology, wrestler Jake ‘the snake’ Roberts posited that when talking about your opponent, never describe them as useless. The theory being that if you beat them you’ve only defeated rubbish and if you lose, you’re beaten by garbage. In Doctor Who, or any drama, a strong protagonist makes a babyface victory even sweeter. Finally, the Sontarans are treated with respect and made to look strong – the best thing Chibbers has done. Excellent work. 3.9/5
    INSTA: planet_of_giants

  4. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:
    – The Doctor’s weird Lars Von Trier dream.
    – Best Sontarans in ages! Loved the old school look, and the Sontaran chief on horseback. And the return of comedy Strax (sort of). And cheeky reference to Linx!
    – The Crimea bloodbath. Who gives a damn about shenanigans on planet Time – this is the best battle in New Who!
    – Scary Sontaran occupied Liverpool. Those executions weren’t family friendly!

    Beefs:
    Aside from not following any plot (how were the Sontarans defeated?) which I’ll pass off as my own ineptitude, would 18th Century gunpowder really destroy Sontaran ships (all of them?). How did that dude have the time/capability to rig every ship? Did Mary Seacole not notice him doing it? She was writing copious notes! And how are the Sontarans such crappy shots at point blank range?

    Rating: 4/5 Red Coats sorely regretting their commission to Crimea.

  5. vamshi

    hi gang!

    some likes:
    – jodie felt more than just like the doctor this episode – she was fun, and sometimes actually kind of cool. i just love when the doctor uses their name as a threat. i also think the doctor is written/acted best when you just can’t help being drawn to them, like they can’t help being the most important thing, the ‘main character’ in every scene, and she pulls that off!
    – the scale of the war (mentioned above) – the sontarans were a credible threat and deserved this title way more than the daleks deserved ‘revolution’. the aerial shot of the lasers and rifles was unlike anything we’d seen before, and it was refreshingly ambitious in scale and concept.
    – the sontarans looked AMAZING.
    – the twist of russia now being sontar was a great moment
    – swarm was very scary and brilliantly theatrical, the best successor to missy we’ve had so far – the cruel teasing of yaz’s “what would the doctor do” was a highlight and the twist of yaz and vinder replacing the mouri was a tense cliffhanger
    – the chocolate moment? not sure how to feel actually

    some not-so-likes:
    – why separate yaz and the doctor??? it’s ridiculous and pauses every character progression and i guess she’s supposed to learn to be proactive but it didn’t work as well as it could’ve – this story would’ve been so much more interesting if yaz was using her police skills to interrogate the sontarans and investigate their base and doc was either there or dealing with the time shenanigans
    – dan was not particularly useful apart from levity this episode
    – they’re being very slow to reveal swarm’s motives and reasoning – what does he actually want?

    all in all i think this is on par with part 1 but i may have rated that one too low last time – ep 1 and 2 both get 4/5.

    best,
    vamshi

  6. Michael Tanoshi

    There’s not too much I can say, but I’ll try!

    1: My little sisters saw me watching this when it premiered and one of them yelled, “IT’S THE MOLDY POTATOES!!!”

    2: I have no clue how or why Dan was sent back to the present OR WHY HE HAS A DAMN WOK!!!

    2a: If the random use of “damn” didn’t give it away, I’m an American listening to a British podcast. Quick, hide your kids!!

    2b: Even weirder, I’m an American that has grown up on Doctor Who, which for PA is weird.

    3: Swarm was amazing and exactly what I WISHED the Spy Master (Sacha Dhawan) was.

    4: Chibnall actually wrote the Sontarans pretty well.

    5: Don’t Sontarans EAT horses? I remember Strax saying something about that in “The Crimson Horror.”

    6: Why is it military figures never listen to the Doctor?

    Ultimately, I give this one a 4.8 out of 5.0.

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