A First-Timer Watches Doctor Who: “Utopia”
In Doctor Who, even in the year 100 trillion, the computers are early-’90s PC clunkers. Seriously, this episode was made in 2007. Why are people basically still using DOS?
Technological quibbles aside, “Utopia” was a fun episode. Quick recap: when the Doctor and Martha make a pit stop in Cardiff to refuel on the rift, Jack Harkness suddenly grabs hold of the outside of the TARDIS, which volleys itself all the way to the end of the universe in an attempt to shake him off. There, they encounter the Futurekind, a band of pointy-toothed cannibal sorta-humans, and the gentle Professor Yana, who is trying to build a spaceship to get the last of the regular humans the hell outta there. One catch, though—Yana isn’t actually a human, either. He’s an evil Time Lord.
The Doctor has some serious passive aggression toward Harkness. I’ve mentioned before that I like how this season has explored the Doctor’s emotional weaknesses, and Harkness brings his faults further into focus. While Harkness is an incorrigible flirt, the Doctor basically has no game. And while the Doctor seems to go through life somewhat gleefully self-absorbed, it was satisfying to watch him express jealousy and annoyance at Harkness. So there is a full range of emotions in there! And petty ones too. Even when he sees Harkness running full-speed towards the TARDIS, the Doctor tries to ditch him. Monsters don’t faze the Doctor, but a hotter dude does.
I’m also digging the Master. After starting off as a sort of futuristic, professorial Bilbo Baggins, his transformation came as a cool surprise. I’ve found the Daleks can be a hard species with which to connect—or rather, to fear. They’re so robotic that their anger and violence feels distant. So it’s exciting that this particular finale centres on a flesh-and-blood villain. For me, the Master’s maniacal laughter is much more potent than an army of Daleks whining “EXTERMINATE.”
Also, what the heck happened to Martha’s meddling mother? “Utopia” is the first episode in a two-part finale, so I’m assuming we’ll see her again in the next instalment What was she up to and how does she tie into this Master-Harkness-end-of-universe drama? And also, will the Doctor ever stop whining about Rose?
Oh, and shout-out to Chantho for being the cutest alien ever! RIP.