'Doctor Who: Flux' Episode 3 Recap: Once, Upon Time

The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER) Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL) in Doctor Who: Flux

Like last week, Doctor Who: Flux does not deal with its current cliffhanger upon arriving back with a new episode, but at least this week it's a little less, "and then a miracle occurred." Instead, the episode begins somewhere else, with Bel (Thaddea Graham), who is currently living through "The Beginning of the End," trying to stay one step ahead of the Dalek Sector. For the record, she's not on Earth, but some medieval-esque planet, where Time no longer makes sense in the aftermath of the Flux and giant particle swarms of the Time Force is tearing people apart. She's got a mission to find someone, and she's not about to let anything stop her.

Bel: Love is the only mission, idiot.

But Doctor Who can't ignore that cliffhanger for long, and it's time for another miracle to occur. In this case, it's the Doctor shooting them all into a time storm, with a random Weeping Angel thrown into the mix for good measure. The storm ejects them into the Siege of Atropos, in the middle of a battle with the Ravagers, aka Swarm and Azure. Except that's not actually where anyone is. Dan is at the Liverpool museum with Di, but nothing makes sense. Blink and they're in the Church of St. Luke, blink again, and the particles circle. Blink once more, Di is gone, replaced by the Passenger. Dan blinks again and finds himself in the Williamson Tunnels. Their architect wanders through in 1820 with a blaster shooting at creatures under the Earth.

So what is this battle at the temple, and who is the Doctor standing in for? Last week, the Priest Triangle recognized the Ravagers from the previous incident when they took over the temple, and it seems this time stream is that earlier meeting. The Doctor was indeed the one who stormed the temple with her companions; their last face-off Swarm alluded to that he can remember, but the Doctor can't. That's because this happened when she was Ruth-Doctor, as she discovers to her shock as she passes by her reflection. They're all trapped in their time streams, in memories that have happened or haven't yet.

Yasmin Khan (MANDIP GILL), Dan (John Bishop) and Vinder (Jacob Anderson)  in Doctor Who: Flux
(James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America)

Up in Sheffield, Yaz is sitting in her cop car, the Doctor at the wheel. Blink, and it's not the Doctor, it's her old partner, blink again and... and a Weeping Angel sits in the rearview mirror as the Doctor tries to breakthrough. Vinder, meanwhile, is on his home planet, with Yaz sitting where his old commander should be, giving him a commendation for saving lives and a new posting to work directly with The Grand Serpent (Craig Parkinson), as the Doctor floats through. As she reveals in short spurts, she's trying to keep them all hidden in their time streams and safe until she can reset the Mouri and return everything to normal.

Poor Vinder's backstory now plays out, a Guardian of the Grand Serpent, taking orders to protect and take minutes. He's not long for the job, though, and he doesn't want to relive this failure. He turns to Yaz, begging her to help him, but Yaz is at home playing X-Box with Sonya, where a Weeping Angel has infiltrated the game. Vinder must relive seeing the Great Serpent order a massacre and his failed attempt to be a whistleblower, leading to his banishment at Observation Outpost Rose. He leaves one last message for the person he loves: Bel. 

While her companions slide through their pasts, the Doctor relives RuthDoctor's victory over Swarm and his Passengers, which turn out to be creatures barred from this dimension, full of prisoner lifeforms. She also gets the sense that RuthDoctor's mission is not without controversy. Swarm tells her the Division created this world called Time to control the stream with Space and says this fight is the Founding Conflict, the battle between Time and Space. RuthDoctor ruthlessly releases the Mouri hidden in one of the Passengers, capturing the Ravagers and imprisoning them to where they escaped back in the premiere episode. 

A Cyberman in  in Doctor Who: Flux
(James Pardon/BBC Studios/BBC America)

The Doctor believes the time stream showed her this moment from her past so she and the Mouri can replicate it and bring order to Time again. The Mouri does as she asks, but not before she realizes the figure in this RuthDoctor past she sees as Dan is Karvanista. These are the same answers she's been seeking all along. She begs to be allowed to see more. Instead, the Mouri sends her to Awsok (Barbara Flynn), who sneers at the Doctor's ignorance, declaring all this deliberate — the release of the Ravagers, the Flux, all to end this universe due to the Doctor. 

But before the series can explain any of that, the Doctor is back in the temple, now repaired. Swarm is amused; he'd hoped the Doctor would regain her memory of their last encounter and start questioning everything. He and Azure escape, but not before declaring Time disrupted, Space wrecked, and oh, by the way, Di is trapped inside their Passenger. Dan foolishly says he'll track them down and rescue her before turning to the Doctor, hoping she'll back him up.

Of course, she will. But first, there's the little matter of Vinder, this random extra character. He actually knows what a TARDIS is, and upon getting in it, asks to be taken home, thinking to find Bel there. But the Flux already ripped through his planet, and as fans saw, she is gone. He sets out to find her, leaving the Doctor and company behind, with a call button to bring them back if he needs them. At least Bel is a total badass. She's gone from the Dalek Sector to the Cyber Sector and taken down a phalanx of Cybermen with her Tigmi. Nothing will stop her from finding Vinder, just as nothing will stop Dan from finding Di, not even a Weeping Angel taking control of the TARDIS after sneaking in via Yaz's phone. Love, after all, is always the mission.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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