Sunday, June 17, 2007

Let This Be Your Spoiler Alert

If you don't want to know major developments in the Doctor Who saga, months before they air in the States, skip the text. I'm a little cagey about it all in this entry, but not so much so that a Doctor Who fan can't get the gist of it.

Jack is dead again, for the first time in the episode
(and the second time that day)

Aside from a short story in F&SF and a little beta reading, I've blown the whole day on Doctor Who. "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" were the main episodes I was looking forward to this season, but today's story, "Utopia," was the next one I've been going nuts waiting for. It marks the return of Torchwood's Captain Jack Harness to the parent series, and was widely rumored to end with the return of a certain major Doctor Who villain. I've been wanting the latter character to reappear ever since the second episode of the 2005 series, when the Ninth Doctor first said he was the last surviving Time Lord. Now that this iconic character is back, I'm a little disappointed that the rumors were true - it kind of spoiled the surprise. But still, it's good that executive producer Russell T Davies found a way to reintroduce him, and there was one really major surprise along the way.

First things first, though. I think it's been a month since I first saw a publicity clip from a UK chat show, which showed the first two minutes of "Utopia." It's a little shocking. When the Doctor makes a brief stop in Cardiff, Captain Jack Harkness runs for the TARDIS, shouting the Doctor's name. The Doctor sees him on the scanner, and takes off anyway. Jack leaps at the TARDIS and grabs hold of it, and hangs on as it travels the time vortex! This is the second time the Doctor has left Jack behind. The first time, back in "The Parting of the Ways," he was about to regenerate and therefore a little distracted, and might not even have known Jack had come back to life. Or so we thought.

The Doctor finally explains himself as Jack does something
only he can do - save the day in a room full of radiation.

When the Doctor and Martha exit the TARDIS and find Jack dead outside, the Doctor shows some remorse, but is not especially friendly when Jack comes back to life. It isn't until later in the episode, when Jack has died and come back yet again, and is working in a roomful of deadly radiation, that he and the Doctor really talk about Jack's immortality, and the Doctor finally explains why he ran away from Jack. I was going to type up the quote here, but I think I won't. It's a pretty amazing scene, though.

While all this is going on, Martha mentions to Professor Yana (Sir Derek Jacobi) that the Doctor is a time traveler, and that the blue box is called the TARDIS. This sets in motion the next major revelation of the episode. The Professor hears drums in his head, and certain sights and sounds associated with the Doctor seem to set him off. And then Martha sees something very familiar, something that proves that Yana is not what he seems. Her reaction unfortunately provokes the Professor to become someone else entirely. The brilliant thing about it is that I totally didn't expect "Utopia" to reference what previously seemed a completely unrelated bit of continuity.

The Doctor's old enemy has a new face.

It all ends with the old enemy revealed and in control. He's in the TARDIS, taunting the Doctor with the fact that he's not going to follow the villain cliche of hanging around to tell the hero his plans. Then he dematerializes in the TARDIS...

...leaving the Doctor, Jack and Martha stranded at "the end of the universe" without a time machine, as sharp-toothed, pierced and tattooed cannibal dudes try to break into the room. Eek!

There are only two more episodes this season, continuing on from this one. In a way I hate to see it end - but I want to watch the rest right now.


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