So I very awkwardly noticed the female producer who did a couple episodes of “Who” is gone, with Phil Collinson back. It was an awkward notice because she was actually gone last episode. She just did the two-parter with the pre-WWI love story.
This episode is Russell T. Davies writing and it’s the start of the season finale so it’s very clearly the return to old time new “Doctor Who.” I never thought I’d be so happy to see Davies’s name on the writing credit but it’s nice he’s handling it.
We open in Cardiff, with the Doctor (David Tennant) gassing up the TARDIS on the energy rift and telling latest lovesick sidekick Freema Agyeman all about it while making the now uncommon season one references. And then John Barrowman reappears—also last seen in season one—and runs and jumps on the departing TARDIS.
Said TARDIS then loses control and goes to the end of the universe. The stars are winking out, it’s really the end this time. But the final remnants of the human race are trying their best to survive, getting scientifically-minded but not formally educated Derek Jacobi to build them a rocket.
As a teen, I didn’t like Derek Jacobi for some reason and it took me a while to change my mind. But I can’t—based on the IMDb—figure out why. I thought about that history a lot during the episode, which has Jacobi finding a kindred spirit in Tennant, who agrees to help complete the rocket to Utopia. In a hurry too, because the Road Warrior cannibals are at the gates, clamoring to get in.
It’s really nice having Barrowman back. He’s his same flirtatious self, though he’s got a secret. It’s a weird secret—portentous maybe—but it doesn’t matter. Especially if you’ve been watching the “Torchwood” spin-off series, I’ll bet, where Barrowman found a regular gig.
Once they’re helping with the rocket it’s all just a countdown to see what’s going on with Jacobi, who stares longingly at the TARDIS and ignores his female devotee (Chipo Chung, who’s great as an humanoid insect). Hint hint.
The cliffhanger’s not particularly enthralling and the final surprise mugs a little too much but… I guess the episode itself plays all right. Lots of running though.
Lots of running.