Doctor Who 3.11 – Utopia

The Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, and Martha Jones find the dying universe the perfect setting for a threesome.

The Doctor and Martha fuel-up rift-side in Cardiff.  Last visit, he was “a different man” (oh, Nine!).  Say, who’s that sexy beast of a man, sprinting and yelling “Doctor!”?  HI, CAPTAIN JACK!  In an epic blow-off, the Doctor starts the TARDIS, miscalculating how far Jack will go to avoid his shady brush-off.  I’m talking end of the universe far!  

“Doctor!” Jack yells again, holding on to the TARDIS as it hurtles through time and space to the year one hundred trillion, jeezum crow!  Biggest crush ever!

You think *you’re* obsessed with the Doctor? Yeah, that’d be Jack clinging to the TARDIS as it flies ALL THE WAY TO THE END of the time vortex!

Oh, and mind you, this angsty TARDIS-clinging Doctor-stalking Jack comes right out of his adventures on Torchwood (s1), recapped by our very own Jenn Tharp on HDJM.  Check out her TW posts to revisit the antics of Jack & Co., or to find good commentary and company as you watch for the first time if you’re a TW neophyte like yours truly.

At the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, meet the meat: humans!  On a dark dying planet, atavistic pointy-teethed goth cannibals hunt down some poor slob. Inside, it’s so not old Professor Yana’s day.  He can’t spare guards to save humans outside, his assistant Chantho is an over-sharer (just enjoy your internal milk without the chatter, okay?), and his status report gets derailed because of pesky drums in his head.

Stepping outside, the Doctor and Martha find Jack prostrate and unconscious.  “Hello again. Oh, I’m sorry,” the Doctor murmurs.  Kinda cold, as greetings go.  Martha rushes to help, surprised Jack’s “an old friend” of the Doctor’s, shocked he clung to the TARDIS the entire way, and completely stunned when Jack wakes from the dead and immediately begins flirting.  “Oh, don’t start,” the Doctor says irritably. That Jack!

Awww, yeah! Jack knows a good Companion when he sees one!

How awesome is it to see Jack again?  That brash smile! I also adore Martha’s training and sympathy kicking in big time, with her brisk “Get out of the way,” to the Doctor when treating Jack, and her comforting, “I’ve got you,” when Jack gasps himself alive.  The only downer is the Doctor, who replies to Jack’s accusation of abandonment (well, yes) with a vague, “Did I? Busy life. Moving on.” Colder still!

The Doctor’s enthusiasm surfaces only when Jack asks about Rose.  “Good old Rose,” Martha mutters when the Doctor assures him Rose is okay.  Awww, the hug Jack and the Doctor share over their common relief!  And hey, for anyone tsk-tsk-ing Martha for grumbling, just remember how freaking jealous Rose could be.  If she dealt with half the former-companion references Martha hears, she’d have acted surly constantly.

While the Doctor and Jack bicker over the size of their space toys (whip ‘em out!) Martha presses, “Do you just get bored with us one day and disappear?” “Not if you’re blonde.” Jack snaps. After all, the Doctor left him: Jack got stuck with his vortex manipulator broken in 1869, waiting and seeking a version of the Doctor to coincide with him.  When Martha, discomfited by this scenario, picks up the resentment theme, the Doctor tells ‘em both a little story ’bout a man named shhhtt!

At the ruins of an ancient city, the Doctor muses everything’s dying (except our boy Jack).  But hey, there’s hope for humanity yet: just look at that human running from cannibals!  When they scramble to help before he gets munched (“Oh, I’ve missed this!” Jacks shouts), they’re surrounded, unable to escape to the TARDIS.  But Mr. Meat, Padra, knows about a charming little silo behind a quaint electrified fence.  Let’s go there!

“Show me your teeth!” the silo guard yells.  Everyone bares their non-pointy chompers to enter, leaving the Futurekind blocked out.  “Oh, don’t tell him to put his gun down,” Jack complains when the Doctor shrugs at the guards though he refused to let Jack fire earlier.  “He’s not my responsibility,” the Doctor answers.  “And I am? That’s a change,” Jack retorts.  Yeah! If you liked it you should have put a (TARDIS key) ring on it, Doctor!

Padra, assured he’ll get to “Utopia,” seeks his family. With the help of Creet, an angelic imp “old enough to work” the group wanders a refugee camp.  The Doctor delights in “indomitable” (if smelly) humankind (yay!), Padra finds his family (yay!) and Jack finds a hot guy to flirt with (YAY!).  Wait, who’s that surly looking woman in the corner with the sharp teeth?  Futurekind have infiltrated!

Jack helps open a half-deadlocked door (reminder: you can’t Sonic deadlocks).  The Doctor nearly plunges down, as one might in a rocket silo.  “How did you cope without me?” Jack says gruffly, holding him.  The rocket’s supposed to take humanity to Utopia.  But the Doctor wonders “if the universe is falling apart, what does Utopia mean?”

Professor Yana bustles up, thrilled to have a Doctor of everything to help.  I love Ten’s utter lack of modesty (though I still more adore Nine’s furtive flying under the radar until absolutely necessary).  “Chan welcome tho,” says Chantho, and yes, she seems named after her habit of starting everything with “chan” and ending with “tho”.

Yana’s got rocket problems.  Too bad the Doctor’s never encountered his system.  But hey, Yana and Chantho never encountered Time Lords. “Blimey, end of the universe is a bit humbling,” the Doctor says.  But hey hey, Martha’s never encountered a Doctor who regrows hands, nor a sexy Captain who keeps said Doctor’s ex-hand in a jar.  Pfftt, how else was Jack supposed to stalk the Doctor?  I do love Jack’s determined creepy-crush!

Jack flirt-introduces himself to Chantho, also the last of her species.  I love how Martha totally takes Jack’s flexibility with men and aliens in amused stride (another difference from Rose).

Jack meets yet another hottie. You can see his brain working overtime with all the possible configurations of sexy humans and aliens!

Meanwhile, who are the Beastie Boys outside?  Oh, the cannibalistic Futurekind, just what all fear humans will turn into if they don’t reach Utopia, ho ho!

Humankind would never turn into cannibals like Futurekind, hahahaha! Haha! Ha. *coughs*

The “Come to Utopia,” signal began transmitting thousands of years ago.  In a dying universe even if they don’t know what’s awaiting them, “It’s worth a look, don’t you think?”  “Oh, yes,” the Doctor says, wholly approving this daring attitude.  Yana’s edified, but again temporarily overcome by the mounting sound of drums in his head.

The Doctor knows your secret, Yana!  The rocket can’t work, so everyone’s actually stuck at the silo.  “Better to let them live in hope,” Yana says (he’s like the patriarch of humankind, its Moses fueling them with hope of reaching a new land).  “Quite right,” the Doctor approves, but what about a little Sonic Screwdriver action-a-rooni?  Time for the untenable system to work like crazy!  Oh, did the Doctor forget to mention he’s brilliant?

“All passengers prepare for immediate boarding. Destination: Utopia.”  As everyone boards, Martha says goodbye to Creet.   He’s excited to see the skies of Utopia, “made of diamonds,” his mother said.  Before she died.  Because of course he’s an ORPHAN.  But he’s full of pluck and happiness because DIAMOND SKIES!  Well, that just adds to the growing sense of “this Utopia thing is WAY too good to be true” doesn’t it?

Oh, hey, there’s that Futurekind woman who we realized sneaked inside earlier, looking toothy and malevolent!  Hi, Futurekind woman! What sort of shenanigans is she about to pull?  Also, how did the Futurekind get so clever that they were able to plant a spy in the silo?  I thought they mostly rattled their weapons and shouted “HUMAN!” and starved.

Hey, Professor Yana made his rocket system out of “food and string and staples”? “You’re a genius,” exclaims the Doctor.  Aww, but even Yana’s title’s an affectation (what with formal education being kaput).  But the Doctor admires the hell out of him anyway.  Dude, there’s Jack right over there, just aching for camaraderie.  The Doctor’s increasing affection for Professor Yana throws his coldness to Jack into stark contrast.

Ah, the Doctor’s realized Yana plans to stay behind to activate the engine (with Chantho, who won’t leave him), sacrificing himself for the others. Yana claims he’s too old for Utopia; it’s time he had some sleep (i.e., DEATH).  But when the guards signal they’ve found the TARDIS, the Doctor’s thrilled: he’s found a way for Yana to join the rest.

But that gosh-darned TARDIS is just no good for Yana’s drumbeat headache!  He barely hears the Doctor’s plan, instead sitting, overwhelmed.  The Doctor allows the rocket “a little bit of a cheat”: juice via cable from the TARDIS.  Yana explains he’s heard drums all his life, but now they’re getting closer.  NOT A GOOD SIGN!

You know, first I thought Yana might be a future version of the Doctor.  Their instant affinity, Yana’s extraordinary mind, and their whole “saving humankind” thing, right?  But this ep builds unease so fantastically that at this point I was starting to peek through my fingers whenever Yana came on screen.

Chantho and Martha chat, again showing a trait of Martha’s I absolutely adore: supply a remotely sympathetic female character, and Martha’s going to befriend her straight away (though I love Rose, that was so not the case for her).  They commiserate over being in love with their respective geniuses before Martha gets a giggling Chantho to say (cover the children’s ears!) something without bracketing the words in “chan” and “tho”.

Professor Yana’s equipment starts to go all kerplooey, so Martha takes up the reboot button at the monitor.  Some poor fool has to enter a room below the rocket so he can increase the sense of impending doom; he’s got to cahjigger something to make the rocket go, but he’s surrounded by horrible dangerous radiation, which Jack’s ordered to keep steady/safe.

Oh, hey, Futurekind woman, smashing key electrical control boxes!  Anyone else feel like the Futurekind have been underestimated?  Add spying and sabotage to their skill set of hunting and eating people.  The control dials go hella-wonky, Jack grabs cables to override them AND DIES and the dude in the radiation chamber turns to a pile of dust.

The guards shoot Miss Futurekind, ridding our story of its most capable villain.  Ahem.

“I’ve got him,” Martha calls (I love this echoing of the “I’ve got you” from Martha’s first encounter with Jack; third iteration here, as Jack said it when he saved the Doctor from falling).  She tries mouth-to-mouth until the Doctor orders her to leave off. If Yana has a room no man can enter without dying, the Doctor has “just the man.”  “Was someone kissing me?” a disappointed Jack asks as he again surges back to life.

The Doctor oversees Jack’s entrance to the chamber, complaining when he needlessly strips off some clothes.  “I look good, though,” Jack grins.  You sure do, Captain.  “How long have you known?” Jack asks about his immortality before he slips inside.  “Ever since I ran away from you,” the Doctor tells him flatly.  “Good luck.”  COLD.  I always assumed Nine had NO IDEA Rose had brought Jack back to life.

Martha, still supervising the com lines, chats to Professor Yana about the Doctor’s ability to travel through time and space in the TARDIS.  Great, now whispering malevolent voices are added to Yana’s drumbeat of DOOM!

Martha inadvertently gets Professor Yana interested in Time Travel and Chameleon Arches masquerading as watch fobs!

Under the rocket, Jack details a few of his deaths (cripes, the poor guy).  It’s why the Doctor ran from him: “It’s not easy even just looking at you, Jack, because you’re wrong.”  Even the TARDIS senses Jack’s “a fixed point in time and space”; it’s why it jolted to the end of the universe, trying to throw him off.  So “you’re saying your prejudiced?” Jack asks.  “I never thought about it like that,” the Doctor answers; it’s the first really light-hearted moment between them.

Wow, this exposure of the Doctor’s reaction to Jack is seriously rattling.  Avoidance, that’s one thing.  Abandonment, that’s worse.  But the Doctor’s been actively running from Jack?  The explanation of his aversion because he’s a Time Lord makes some sense; it’s just a far darker side to their relationship than I thought we’d encounter.

Over com, Martha hears the Doctor explain Rose’s role in Jack’s immortality. “I bring life,” we flashback to Rose as Bad Wolf. It’s the most human thing she could have done, but she couldn’t control it.  “That’s something, I suppose,” he muses. The final act of the Time War was life.”  Really, the final act of the Time War was JACK.

Martha also hears Rose is trapped on her parallel world.  It’s a terrific (and tragic) parallel to the Doctor’s reaction to Jack; Rose’s separation is another “wrong” fixed point in time and space.  No wonder he’s still devastated over losing her.  And really, this is essential information for Martha, to understand where the Doctor’s at, and what he’s capable of giving her emotionally whether it’s romantic or just comradely (i.e., not much, and certainly not what she deserves).

Jack mentions he visited the estate to see Rose growing up (both creepy and charming, Captain), but avoids the Doctor’s question of whether he wants to die (answer: he thought he did, but he’s increasingly ambivalent).  They ponder Jack might meet himself: “the only man you’re ever going to be happy with,” the Doctor observes.  “This new regeneration, it’s kind of cheeky,” Jack answers with a grin (“I LIKE IT” is understood).

“Regeneration, regeneration,” echoes in Yana’s head.  Holy hell, all we’ve got here is repeated words and reaction shots (from the terrific Jacobi), and it’s terrifying.  Yana never believed in time travel, but then he never could keep time: “Always late, always lost.”  Very White Rabbit of him.  Then he pulls out a fob watch EXACTLY like the Doctor’s in “Human Nature”; Martha, turning it over, spots its Gallifreyan inscriptions.

Yana was found with it: “An orphan in the storm.”  To Martha’s anxious question, he says of course he never opened the watch: “It’s stuck. It’s old. It’s not meant to be.”  INCREDIBLE dialogue, Yana describing himself/the watch as useless when Martha and we understand he’s revealed there’s a hidden and possibly dangerous power behind both.

Jack, having dispensed with radiation chamber stuff, joins the Doctor in switch-flicking.  Martha rushes in to talk about Yana’s possible Time Lordliness.  “That’s brilliant, isn’t it?” “‘Course it is,” the Doctor answers, distracted and worried.  “Depends which one. Brilliant, fantastic, yeah.” Martha reminds him of the Face of Boe’s words: You Are Not Alone.  On the com screen, the Doctor sees the blinking name of the professor: YANA.

Holy cripes! I thought the Face of Boe’s words were a reassurance; now they seem a warning.  All the crazy converges in Yana’s head as the watch calls: “The drums, the drums, the drums, the never ending drumbeat. Open me, you human fool. Open the light and summon me and receive my majesty.”  The Doctor throws a switch, firing the rocket engine: Professor Yana opens the swatch, streaming golden energy toward him.

Professor Yana turns into an as-yet unidentified Time Lord, who’s been playing a very long game indeed.

I’ll say this for recovered-memory Yana: he gets to evil work but quick! He locks out Martha, the Doctor, and Jack and lowers the silo’s defenses, inviting in Hungry Hungry Futurekind.  When Chantho anxiously objects, he berates her for never questioning the fob watch.  She kept him from freedom, he argues.  She apologizes to “Professor” but he disavows his identity, “so perfect a disguise that I forgot who I am.”  Who the hell is he?  “I am the Master,” he growls, thrusting the live cable at Chantho, killing her.

AHHHHHH!  Again, my Classic Doctor Who knowledge is spotty, but even I know the Master means serious bad news!  The Doctor pleads over the audio-only com not to open the watch while Yana removes hardware from the rocket’s navigational system, scoffing, “Utopia.”  AH CRAP, humankind, totally doomed by their benevolent patriarch! But Chantho, not quite dead, fires a gun at Yana, mortally injuring him before dying herself.

HANG ON!  I can’t let Chantho’s death pass by, not when repeated viewings of this ep made me fascinated with her.  Yana accuses her of keeping him from freedom, and Chantho seems unaware she’s done so.  But Chantho’s formal speech, which at first seemed a polite affectation, pointless to the overall narrative, is, I’d argue, an incredible emblem of the organization and control she exerted for seventeen years with Yana.

Look, Chantho helped keep Professor Yana, humankind, and the planet they’re on, controlled and safe from chaos (partially figured by the cannibalistic Futurekind, and now totally embodied in The Master).  She potentially did so at the sacrifice of her own kind (the conglomeration died riiiight about the same time humans arrived).  So Chantho, seemingly a character added for some alien flavor, is actually pretty freaking incredible.

Remember when the Doctor rigged the TARDIS to give the rocket system power, he left the freaking door open?  Yana gets ready to hijack the TARDIS, carrying the Doctor’s severed hand-in-a-jar (out-creeping Jack when he strokes it and hand-naps it) and deadbolt-ing himself in (= un-Sonic-Screwdriver-able!).

Jack and the others break the door down, holding back Futurekind.  The Doctor pleads with Yana: “I’m begging you. Everything’s changed! It’s only the two of us! We’re the only ones left! Just let me in!”  Gah, it’s really not just that he’s trying to stop whatever evil is afoot; you can see the Doctor’s overwhelming yearning for this other Time Lord.

“Killed by an insect,” the Master scowls as he staggers inside the TARDIS.  “A girl. How inappropriate.” (Actually, VERY APPROPRIATE, but that comes later).  If the Doctor can be young and strong, he gasps, so can he.

That awkward moment where old Professor Yana becomes the strangely hot evil young Master.

He regenerates, addressing the Doctor with his new voice, and mocking him by saying he’ll just detail all his plans so the Doctor can stop him (a characteristic of former incarnations of the Master).

The Doctor begs him to stop and think.  “Use my name,” the man formerly known as Professor Yana demands.  “The Master,” the Doctor breaths (and holy cow, you can feel all sorts of ships launching).  “I’m sorry,” he adds, activating his Sonic Screwdriver.

The Master merrily starts the time rotor, calling out, “End of the universe. Have fun. Bye, bye!” While Martha and Jack yell for the Doctor’s help, the Doctor stares at the dematerializing TARDIS, stricken and shocked, and

Wow, how about a heavy dose of your own medicine? The Doctor, now abandoned himself by the TARDIS *and* the Master.

TO BE CONTINUED…!

Wahooo eee phoooo bathoo!  Guys, I’ve missed you and these recaps!  I apologize for the hiatus, but I’ve been crazy sick, and unable to do much at all.  Now, however, I’m in TARDIS-ship-shape, and ready to keep on watching more Doctor Who with you.  Let us reunite in comments, with better results than the Doctor and the Master’s reunion, okay?  <3

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4 responses to “Doctor Who 3.11 – Utopia

  1. YAY you’re back! Missed you, hope you’re feeling better now. I had reverted to watching -other- shows. Honestly :P

    This episode starts off rather unpromisingly (apart from the return of Jack, obviously <3 ) and ends up amazing. There's not too much of a plot or story, it's all character interactions, tension and a pretty massive setup for the coming episodes.

    I have missed Jack, watching him and the Doctor together is awesome. And I'm a big fan of Chantho, who is one of my favourite minor characters.

    Excited for the next recaps!

    • HOORAY! I’m so happy to be back on the recapping case! Other shows??? :o Let us not speak of it again.

      I really like your point! I think the narrative here’s been replaced by the powerful emotional story, the intense yearning (for a new home, for haven, for the confirmation one isn’t alone in the universe). And MAN, IT’S SO GOOD!

      Yay for another Chantho fan! So sorry to see her go. And gah, I was seriously thrilled to see Jack running for (and hanging onto for LIFE, hee, poor dude) that TARDIS!

      ME TOO! Very happy to have you comment today — it’s great encouragement, and lovely to interact with you about the eps again!

  2. I’d missed you so much. Yes, Chantho is a great character. Yes, Martha’s great at bonding with people.

    And, OMGWTFBBQ, Derek f-f-f-freaking Jacobi was on Doctor Who and rocked it.

    • I missed you too! And heee,yes, I had to stop the ep and say, “Is that REALLY?” I read somewhere that he had mentioned two of his longstanding goals were to appear on Doctor Who and Coronation Street. :D

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