To a certain respect, it would’ve and should’ve been unreasonable for Chris Chibnall to land as many story threads that this Flux-ilicious Series of Doctor Who had spun out artfully over the course of the previous five episodes. But because we are fans, we hope against hope that this indeed will be done.
Upon reflection, just in sheer story terms some episodes of these six had to carry the load more than others in laying out and progressing story. They were The Halloween Apocalypse, Once, Upon Time, and The Vanquishers (which, lets be honest, has the ring of an ITC adventure series circa 1970). But, as we said at the time, The Halloween Apocalypse could afford to spin out 80 story threads (or so it seemed) as stake-setting. While the Tour found Once, Upon Time frustrating, at least it indulged in a certain kind of weirdness whilst doing some origin storytelling, and as the 3rd of six everyone knew it was by necessity the mushy-middle so some allowance could be given.
The Vanquishers gets none of this very, very, particular grace. It has to ‘land this plane’ but comes off suffering from Ghost Light Syndrome, namely that there was too, too much story for the running time allotted. This is probably down to being a COVID casualty–or some other arcane limitation which limited the Series run down to what we saw. It was an unenviable, probably an impossible, task to wind everything up cleanly while providing the sense of scale a huge connected story like this held promise for. We, in this case the Royal We for the Tour, aren’t disappointed, just somewhat chagrined at the final result.
Fortunately, none of this is down to Jodie Whittaker, who we feel has gleefully been indulging her goofier side to wonderful effect as her tenure narrows. Matt Smith had a similar opportunity in The Almost People but he did his stuff physically, Jodie got to do hers facially, and the fun just radiated off of her.
Far from wrapping up all of the story threads, or hitting the reset button, The Vanquishers in theory leaves the universe in tatters, but images and caps for The Vanquishers are far from tatty. In fact, we think they’re really rather nice.