The fifth chapter of Doctor Who: Flux builds on the new origin story for the Doctor that was first introduced in ‘The Timeless Children.’
Titled ‘Survivors of the Flux,’ the fifth part of the Doctor Who: Flux saga sees the return of the character of Tecteun – the mysterious traveller who was first introduced in 2020’s ‘The Timeless Children.’ This time, however, she has undergone a regeneration and is not instantly recognisable to the Doctor. Her regeneration, however, was only made possible because of the DNA she stole from the infant Doctor, otherwise known as the Timeless Child.
In ‘Survivors of the Flux,’ the Doctor is captured by her old enemies the Weeping Angels and taken to a place called Division. Division, as it turns out, is a strange space station that is floating between universes, with Tecteun at the helm. It is here that the Doctor discovers the true origin of the devastating Flux that is ravaging the universe. It transpires that it was caused by Division as a response to the Doctor – she had defected from Division and had become a threat to their work, putting the whole universe in jeopardy (in Tecteun’s eyes.) The universe, therefore, had to be destroyed.
This expands upon the information about the Division that was revealed in ‘The Timeless Children.’ In the episode, viewers learned that one of the Doctor’s former (and forgotten) incarnations played by Jo Martin had previously worked for the Division – a ‘black ops’ programme that went against the Time Lords’ code of non-interference in the affairs of other planets. But she ultimately turned her back on them, becoming the rogue traveller in time and space that viewers later came to know.
But why did the Doctor have no knowledge about her former lives and activities prior to ‘The Timeless Children’? Well, ‘Survivors of the Flux’ answers that question too. It turns out that Tecteun extracted the Doctor’s missing memories and stored them in a Gallifreyan ‘fob watch,’ a device that preserves Time Lord identities. And Tecteun still has this fob watch in her possession, safely stowed aboard the Division spacecraft.
But why should Tecteun be so invested in the Doctor’s activities? Well, in ‘The Timeless Children’ it was revealed that Tecteun had discovered the Doctor as a young girl standing next to a portal to another universe. She rescued the young girl and took her back to Gallifrey where she experimented on her, hoping to learn the truth about her regenerative abilities. She was ultimately successful, and used her knowledge to create Time Lord society as it came to be known. In essence, as ‘Survivors of the Flux’ suggests, she became the Doctor’s mother.
Of course, the Doctor wasn’t entirely convinced that this information was true. In ‘The Timeless Children,’ her new backstory was narrated by her old enemy the Master, who took the Doctor inside the Matrix to explain about her confused origins. And whilst he is not known for his truthfulness, Tecteun confirms in ‘Survivors of the Flux’ that he had not been lying on this occasion.
What she will not confirm, however, is how many forgotten lives the Doctor has had. It is clear from ‘The Timeless Children’ that she has regenerated dozens of times, but when the Doctor seeks clarity from Tecteun (“Hundreds? Thousands?!”) she refuses to give an answer.
So where is all this heading? In ‘Survivors the Flux,’ Tecteun reveals that the Division ship contains a ‘seed vault’ containing remnants of the universe ravaged by the Flux. It’s on its way to another universe, which just so happens to be the one that the Doctor originally came from. Tecteun wants the Doctor to travel with her, and help ‘improve’ the universe they’re heading towards.
Naturally, this isn’t something the Doctor is too keen on. She argues that Tecteun can’t be sure that the second universe is truly her home; when she was discovered in ‘The Timeless Children,’ she was merely standing outside the gateway. Tecteun had no way of knowing if the young girl had come through the portal, or was simply waiting for someone to collect her. In essence, Tecteun robbed her of a life that could have been – something that Tecteun accuses the Doctor of doing with her companions.
It is likely that more information from ‘The Timeless Children’ will be expanded upon before Doctor Who: Flux concludes, and there is still time for many more twists and turns. Indeed, ‘Survivors of the Flux’ highlights the importance of other universes; Tecteun even mentions the multiverse by name. And with the Flux causing confusion throughout all of time and space, it’s conceivable that the Doctor’s new origin story may not have happened within the canonical Doctor Who timeline, but in a different universe altogether. The Fugitive Doctor could even turn out to be a parallel incarnation.
Of course, not every fan will want the events of ‘The Timeless Children’ to be rewritten, so the expansion of the storyline in ‘Survivors of the Flux’ will be welcome to some. Other fans, meanwhile, will feel pained by the continuation of a storyline that has, essentially, rewritten all of Doctor Who history.
At the moment, fans can only guess at the impact ‘The Timeless Children’ will have on Doctor Who canon in the long-term. But with former showrunner Russell T Davies returning to the fold in 2023, the series is about to enter a brand new chapter. This may mean a complete reset – an undoing of the events of ‘The Timeless Children’ that divided fandom. Equally, Davies may choose to build on Chris Chibnall’s ideas and expand the Doctor’s new origin story. Alternatively, he may avoid the storyline altogether, and not reference it.
How do you feel about ‘Survivors of the Flux’ expanding on the storyline of ‘The Timeless Children’? Do you welcome the new details, or would you prefer it if the Doctor’s new origin story was retconned? Let me know in the comments below.
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