What a corker!
I read various comments about ‘Utopia‘ over the weekend, and the camps seem split between good and bad. The good appreciate the excellent climax to the episode and even have a soft spot for the background plotline of humans, monsters and quarries. The bad viewed the whole thing as dull and poorly handled, average for Russell T, too average for the spoiled ending to save it (The Sun ran an article mid-March about the return of The Master and the fact John Simm had secured the role).
Me? I appreciate a slice of vintage Who – and struggles in a quarry fall squarely within that description. ‘Utopia‘ represented a fan boy high point, tying up a bunch of loose ends from throughout the series so far and turning them into a spine-tingling finale. Derek Jacobi played the roles of Professor Yana and The Master with panache, a roller coaster ride from bumbling and good natured into cold and malign with breath-taking ease. From a fan boy perspective, having The Master portrayed by someone who had played the character before made it an even greater delight (Jacobi played an android version of The Master in ‘Scream of the Shalka‘).
To me it looks like the next episode will centre on The Master as Saxon, a moment for Doctor-lite leading up to the season finale. I certainly would have no objection to that – and it makes perfect sense to go for a three-parter for that reason. I sincerely hope The Master will get out of this with the potential for repeated return like the Daleks… would be a shame to pull a Batman on him and kill the big villain off at the end!
How can The Doctor escape his current predicament? Well, I have theories. He could use Jack’s Vortex Manipulator, either to go back in time himself or send Jack back to locate the TARDIS and return for a rescue. They could discover that Malcassairo provided a home for more than just a long dead insectoid race… with the insectoid city built on the blasted remains of Gallifrey. Or, Utopia might well be the remains of Gallifrey. Finally (and someone else suggested this), Professor Yana’s lab contained a old-style tape-driven computer bank… a disguise The Master used for his own TARDIS in the Pertwee-era The Time Monster.