Village of the Angels may be the Empire Strikes Back of Doctor Who series 13

*Major spoilers ahead for Doctor Who: Flux*

Doctor Who

The angels have the Doctor!

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Yes, Doctor Who: Flux’s fourth chapter ended with quite the cliffhanger as Jodie Whittaker’s Time Lord was turned to stone and captured by the Weeping Angels, ready to be delivered to her ex-bosses at The Division.

It was a shocking and creepy ending to a great episode – and in many ways, it strikes me as the Empire Strikes back of this serialised series 13 story.

Partially, this is just because of the Doctor’s fate. At the end of the episode she’s essentially frozen in carbonite by bounty hunters, who are fulfilling a contract to a nasty outer-space organisation – so far, so Han Solo. You’d half expect to see Jodie Whittaker on the wall of Jabba’s Palace next week.

But it also evokes the sci-fi classic in the mood of its ending. Village of the Angels has a classic “all is lost” conclusion, with the Doctor completely defeated, captured and removed from the board. Her friends are stranded far away, the villains are utterly triumphant – and while we know our heroes will eventually prevail, it’s hard to see how.

Obviously, The Empire Strikes Back is a seminal sci-fi movie, and I’m not suggesting Village of the Angels is on a par with it (not even most of the other Star Wars movies are!) But as the six-part Flux rumbles on, it’s notable to see how much more impact these plot twists are having than similar moments over the last few years.

This series of Doctor Who has stood out from the start thanks to its serialised structure, exchanging the usual standalone stories for a narrative that flows from week to week, bringing back characters regularly and facing an ongoing threat. On the most basic level, it’s been fun because of the weekly cliffhangers (of which, Village of the Angels’ shock ending is undoubtedly the best so far).

British actors Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, American actors Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher on the set of Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes (Photo by Lucasfilm/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

But it’s also allowed for a deeper, more engaging story than we’ve seen on Doctor Who in a while. Would this great cliffhanger have even been possible without the serialised story? No – and we’d all be the poorer for it.

Looking ahead, we’re into the final third of this story, and Chris Chibnall will have a lot to do to stick the landing in just two more episodes. But overall, Flux has been a great sign-off for the soon-departing showrunner – and even if the last series 13 section (and the specials) end up more Return of the Jedi than Empire, it’ll still be a good note to end this era on.

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