; Date: Mon Nov 29 2021
It takes a certain perseverance to watch a tense cliff-hanger that's waved away like a puff of smoke at the beginning of the next episode. What was all that build-up for, if there was no payoff in the story? The Doctor becomes a Weeping Angel? Yaz about to be disintegrated by a time storm? Instead this gave us a story with the astonishing revelation that The Master told the truth for once.
That's how this episode, The Survivors of the Flux, started for me. The last episode ended with an unthinkable thing, The Doctor not only "recalled" to The Division, but turned into a Weeping Angel. But then, The Doctor's Angel-hood immediately crumbles away, and I was disappointed.
There was a literal cliff hanger for the 7th Doctor. At the end of one episode, he was literally hanging off a cliff. But, at the start of the next episode, he was happily brushing himself off at the bottom of the cliff, leaving fans confused for years. It wasn't until years later, with The Impossible Girl diving into The Doctor's time stream, and we saw her show up in dozens of tight situations, including the literal cliff hanger, that we had an explanation. The Impossible Girl made a number of Impossible Saves.
But this, having The Doctor immediately rescued by an Ood, who brought The Doctor to Tecteun...? That vaporized what could have been an exciting tense feeling over questions about what will happen now that The Doctor is a Weeping Angel. Surely a good show runner could have milked that situation in a big way. But, it turned into a nothing. The Weeping Angel status waved away, and we're suddenly talking to Tecteun.
The story we wanted to see was a deeper exploration of the Weeping Angels and/or what kind of something-or-other would The Doctor do to escape the trap.
This is what I mean - the beginning of the episode we see this. The Doctor, in the middle of a flock of Weeping Angels. Don't we have a zillion and one questions?
Why would these creatures be hiding their eyes if nobody other than other Weeping Angels are around them? If Weeping Angels are not observed by others, shouldn't they be able to move about freely? Wouldn't they have a Weeping Angel city where they live, maybe drive Weeping Angel cars to jobs, etc?
That's it? All that build-up, The Doctor becoming an angel, all that tense face-off in the previous episode, Yaz screaming in anguish.. and that's it? Angel-hood immediately crumbles away?
Tecteun and The Division
As fun as it was to see Yaz, Dan and The Professor gallivanting around the world in 1904, the only part of Survivors of the Flux that has significance is The Doctor facing Tecteun, and finding the Fob Watch. The rest of the action is still setting things up for the finale.
This room dominated by that tree. It's presented as being something like a TARDIS Console, is it not?
There are legends in multiple cultures of a "World Tree". I suppose that's what this is meant to convey? In the episode, Tecteun described her space as a "seed vault" containing seeds of forms she intended to bring into Universe 2. Oh, Universe 2? That's getting ahead of the story, so read the following.
The dialog between The Doctor and the person we learn is Tecteun is of great significance.
Tecteun: It's complex, but I suppose that right now, leadership of Division falls to me.
TD: Leadership of what though? What is Division now?
Tecteun: Division is simple... and indescribable. It began on Gallifrey as a group to ensure the safety of our galaxy. As our ability to travel grew, and our horizons broadened, Division kept pace. The number of operatives grew.
TD: What did those operatives do?
Tecteun: Anything we needed. Guided and shaped events.
TD: Interfered! In contravention of all Time Lord directives!
Tecteun: Not every civilization works. Or is enlightened. Some require help. Some needed to be told. Division assessed and acted accordingly.
TD: How much did it interfere? How big has it become?
Tecteun: Colossal! Across space and time! Its influence is unparalleled. Its reach is unlimited. All from the shadows. It achieved its aim beyond our wildest dreams. Division is magnificent.
TD: I don't think having weeping angels do your dirty work can be classed as magnificent.
Tecteun: Division recruits across all dimensions, from all species. It had to.
TD: Then why couldn't I find it? Where are we now, because I looked. Far and wide across the universe, and there was nothing.
Tecteun: Of course not. We're not in the Universe, Doctor.
That ended one portion of the exposition, and the story switched gears to the Looper barricade around The Earth. That led to Bel's ship being called to the garrison. etc...
What did we learn here?
I'd begun to believe The Division was a much larger deal than The Time Lords. That if the war is between Time and Space, that the Division had something to do in between those two forces. But, no, it's much simpler than that.
The Division is a byproduct of The Time Lord society. It's largely the same as the Celestial Intervention Agency idea invented by Big Finish. Meaning, the Big Finish C.I.A. is something like the American CIA but with time travel, and time weapons. But, The Division is bigger in scope, than the C.I.A., perhaps?
Given The Doctor's past, this is exactly the sort of thing The Doctor would seek to destroy. This is megalomania coupled with time travel technology.
In the Big Finish universe, The Doctor is constantly struggling against the C.I.A., usually trying to counter their efforts, and only rarely cooperating. As The Doctor interacts with the C.I.A., he is getting angrier and angrier, and we can see the C.I.A.'s machinations leading towards The Time War between Gallifrey and The Daleks. The Doctor's anger led him to become The War Doctor.
Since The Division appears to be more-or-less the same thing, we should not be surprised to learn The Doctor will seek to destroy The Division.
In any case, the story shortly returns to Tecteun showing everything to The Doctor. At this point it's clear Tecteun wants to recruit The Doctor to the cause, and is therefore making a sales pitch of sorts.
"Universe 1" is the universe that all of Doctor Who has occurred in. Well, except for those brief excursions elsewhere, such as the trip into E-Space during the Fourth Doctor's era. This universe is being collapsed, and The Division is heading to a new universe, which is labeled Universe 2.
TD: That Universe isn't going anywhere!
Tecteun: It's over, Doctor. It has been ever since we let a virus into the experiment.
TD: What sort of virus?
Tecteun: YOU! You got out from The Division. And you couldn't leave the universe alone. I blame myself a little, but mostly I blame you. I thought you were manageable. But I had to admit, what I always knew deep down, you'd never stop if you rediscovered what Division had done. Morality... was always your flaw.
TD: Morality is a strength!
Tecteun: And when you knew the truth, you'd never stop hounding us.
TD: So, the universe has to end to protect the existence of Division!
Tecteun: Precisely, which is why we engineered The Flux, shut the Universe down, with you in it. But, even then you interfered. Disrupting the Flux just as it came into existence. Throwing yourself and a TARDIS in front of it.
TD: Division created the Flux because it's scared of me?
Tecteun: Not scared, wary, perhaps.
TD: How much power do you imagine I have?
Tecteun: You inspire. Make people question. Rise up. You give them hope, and that can be problematic.
TD: Who even are you?
Tecteun: You don't remember. Why would you. I think my eyes are the same across the regenerations. But you wouldn't know.
TD: Can't be
Tecteun: I'm the one who found you. I brought you to Gallifrey and raised you. I'm Tecteun. The woman you used to call "Mother".
Then shortly later... we learn that the Ood was running control systems that caused a compression of the Universe.. The Flux in other words.
TD: I know what that Ood is doing. You're generating the final waves of the Flux from here. Forcing spatial compression on that Universe. You're trying to move this structure into the next universe while you wreck the one you leave behind. No wonder this place feels under so much pressure.
Tecteun: We all need to clear up after ourselves. That's why I brought you here, to ensure you won't be in the Universe to save it.
TD: So.. is what The Master told me true?
Tecteun: Yes. I found you. A lost child, alone, beneath a monument on a deserted planet. Seemingly deposited there by a wormhole. No way back. No one to care for you.
TD: You took something that didn't belong to you.
Tecteun: (laugh) I rescued you. Would you have preferred to have been left.
TD: You assumed I came through that wormhole, but you don't know. What if I was waiting there to be collected? What if I was supposed to be taken through it? What if whoever left me there was taken by that wormhole?
Tecteun: What if, what if, what if...
TD: You denied me my life!
Tecteun: I gave you a life! Everything you are is because of me! But I understand. You think you could have been something else. Someone else.
TD: Maybe. I'll never know.
Tecteun: You judge me for giving you the journey of your lifetime. What do you do, Doctor? Pick people up, take them with you, you adopt them, use them for reassurance, for company. They're your experiments just like you were mine.
TD: We're not the same.
Tecteun: This just shows I'm right to order all your memories erased.
Then, shortly after this we're shown a Fob Watch. This gizmo is used by Time Lords to store their life memories so they can go into hiding. Tecteun explains that she used this one to store all the life memories from The Doctor's lives.
What we'd learned via The Master in previous episodes is that The Division (Tecteun) had put this Timeless Child through many (hundreds?) of lifetimes. All of which had been erased, and which The Master had been unable to find in The Matrix. Because of The Master's role in this story, it is curious why The Master hasn't made an appearance, unless The Master has been here all through the story?
The offer given by Tecteun is - on the one hand The Doctor can go back into Universe 1, take a stand, and die trying to save that Universe.. or, The Doctor can join Tecteun to build a new universe. Tecteun tries to sweeten the deal by preserving The Earth.
However, as much as Tecteun thinks she had everything under control, there were other forces at play. To demonstrate this, The Ravagers invaded the mother/daughter bonding that was happening, upending the whole story, and killing Tecteun in the process. Or, maybe, that fizzing thing simply made Tecteun be put into a Passenger Form?
What's to come? The head of Division has just been taken out. The Earth is the focus of The Flux, and will be the final destruction event. There will be a focus of Sontaran's, Cybermen, and Daleks on The Earth. Williamson's tunnels are playing a role. UNIT's resources will be there defending The Earth. The Ravagers will be having a showdown against The Doctor, dangling the fob watch as bait.