Utopia was the eleventh episode of the third series of the revived series of Doctor Who. It marked the return of Captain Jack Harkness and notably featured the first televised re-appearance of the Master since 1996’s Doctor Who TV movie.
This story continued on from the end of the Torchwood episode End of Days, with a six month gap between broadcasts. It also continued in The Sound of Drums leading some, including the DWM survey, to take it as a three-part story. However, Davies himself always took it to be a separate story.
The TARDIS arrives at Cardiff to refuel at the Rift. The Tenth Doctor notes in surprise that the Rift has been active, and so refueling should only take 20 seconds. Martha asks about the earthquake that happened in Cardiff, to which the Doctor replies, “A bit of trouble with the Slitheen.” A figure suddenly bolts toward the TARDIS screaming “DOCTOR!” from the distance…
The Doctor, shocked, sees Jack Harkness running towards the TARDIS on the monitor and takes off. Jack leaps onto the TARDIS as it de-materializes, and the TARDIS console sends out sparks, knocking the Doctor and Martha to the floor. The Doctor is astonished that they are accelerating towards the future, ending up at the year 100 trillion — the end of the universe. Jack holds on tightly to the TARDIS, screaming for the Doctor as they hurtle through the time vortex… Somewhere else, a humanoid face with fangs turns and announces that “humans are coming!”
In a desolate area, a human is running from the Futurekind. Within his laboratory, Professor Yana notes that there is movement on the surface: a “human hunt”. His assistant, Chantho, asks if she should alert the guards. Yana tells her not to, as they can’t spare them. The Professor is asked for a progress report over the radio but evades it by having Chantho answer. While she speaks, he is unable to focus due to the sound of drums in his head. Chantho gains his attention to show him that the surface scanner has now detected the TARDIS. He remarks, “It would seem something new has arrived…”
The Doctor tells Martha that he doesn’t know what is outside — none of the Time Lords ever came this far. Gleeful at seeing the unknown, they leave the TARDIS. Outside, they find Jack on the ground. While Martha rushes back into the TARDIS to get a medical kit, the Doctor says to Jack, “Oh, I’m sorry.” Realizing that Jack hung on all the way through the vortex, the Doctor remarks that it is “very him”. Martha says that Jack is dead, but just then he takes a deep breath and sits up, grabbing a shocked Martha by the arms. Jack immediately begins flirting with Martha, and an annoyed Doctor tells him not to start.
The Doctor and Jack greet each other tersely. Jack accuses the Doctor of abandoning him, which the Doctor shrugs off. Jack asks after Rose, having seen her on the list of the dead after the Battle of Canary Wharf. The Doctor happily tells Jack that she is safe and sound on a parallel world along with Mickey and Jackie. Jack and the Doctor embrace in relief, while Martha shows subtle resentment over the mention of Rose again.
The Futurekind are once again seen chasing the same man as before. Jack tells Martha of being stranded in the year 200,100 A.D after the Doctor had left without him, much to her indignation. In response, the Doctor coolly claims that he had been “busy”. Jack shows Martha his vortex manipulator — which an unimpressed Doctor considers a space-hopper in comparison to his “sports car” TARDIS — and explains that he had used the manipulator to try to get back to 2005, but ended up in 1869 and had to live through the following decades, basing himself at the Rift until his life coincided with one of the Doctor’s incarnations that would know who he was. Martha asks if the Doctor just gets bored of his companions. Jack says, “Not if you’re blonde”, to which Martha displays sarcastic surprise at the fact Rose was blonde, causing the Doctor to become irritated at their complaining.
They come across a city-like conglomeration. When Martha asks about humanity’s fate, Jack spots the man running from the Futurekind. Jack catches the man, and pushes him towards the Doctor, drawing his service revolver. The Doctor stops Jack from killing the Futurekind, and Jack fires into the air, scaring them. The Doctor plans to head for the TARDIS, but they are cut off by more Futurekind. The four head for “the Silo”.
They approach the gates, with the Futurekind closing the distance. The guard yells at them to show their teeth, admitting them to the Silo once they show their normal human teeth. A soldier fires an assault rifle at the Futurekind to force them back; when Jack remarks that the Doctor didn’t tell him to put his gun down, the Doctor points out that the soldier is not his responsibility. The Futurekind leader reluctantly orders his minions to fall back; they retreat a short distance where they can keep watch on the Silo. The man asks the soldier if he can be taken to Utopia, which the soldier happily responds to affirmatively.
Professor Yana learns that the Doctor, who claims to be a scientist, is in the Silo, and rushes upstairs to find him. The Doctor asks for the men to help retrieve the TARDIS. The Doctor is happy when he discovers that humans have survived to the end of the universe, remarking that though they “spent a million years evolving into clouds of gas”, they revert to the same form eventually.
Jack flirts with a male refugee, with the Doctor once again telling him to stop. Jack helps the Doctor open a deadlock seal, and the door opens to show a deep rocket shaft, into which the Doctor blindly steps and nearly falls down before Jack yanks him back. They see a large rocket in the shaft, with neither the Doctor or Jack recognizing the engines. The Doctor muses on what “Utopia” can mean if the universe is collapsing.
The Professor arrives, dragging an amused Doctor away, followed by Martha and Jack, but the four pass a woman whom nobody notices baring her teeth, revealing her to be one of the Futurekind. Back in the lab, Jack immediately flirts with Yana’s alien assistant while the Professor shows the Doctor all the machines within the rocket. However, the Doctor can’t help, as the technology is unknown to him.
Martha is shocked and disgusted to find the Doctor’s hand (which Jack describes as his “Doctor Detector”) in a glass case in Jack’s backpack, and the Doctor explains how he lost it in the events of Christmas 2006. Yana inquires as to the Doctor’s species, and the Doctor is saddened that the Time Lords have never been heard of in this time.
Chantho reveals that like the Doctor she is also the last of her kind, the Malmooth, and Yana says that this was originally the Malmooth home world, Malcassairo, before the humans took refuge. In response to Jack’s query about who the “Beastie Boys” upstairs are, Yana tells them of the Futurekind, which in themselves are a myth. It is feared that they are what the humans will become, unless they reach Utopia.
Yana shows the Doctor the co-ordinates of Utopia, supposedly a project of the Science Foundation to find a way to save mankind from the end of everything. Yana once again hears the sound of drums. The Doctor surmises that the rocket will not fly, but Yana hasn’t told the others to keep them from losing hope. Impressed by this, the Doctor applies what knowledge he has and uses the sonic screwdriver to get the system working. The passengers board the rocket, the outside guards secure the gate against the Futurekind and retreat into the Silo, and the Doctor, Yana, and Jack work to speed up the launch process.
The Doctor remarks to Yana that he built the system of “food and string and staples”, calling Yana a genius who would be revered in a different time. Yana admits wistfully that some admiration just once would have been nice. The Doctor has also realized that Yana must stay behind to launch the rocket, which the Professor admits — Chantho has refused to leave, and he considers himself too old for Utopia, instead wishing for rest (death). A message comes over the radio that the TARDIS has been found. The Doctor gleefully remarks he may have a way for Yana to go too, though Yana barely hears him, for as he looks at the picture of the TARDIS, the sound of drums grows louder in his head…
The Doctor uses the TARDIS to provide extra power. The Professor tells the Doctor of the sound of drums and how they are growing louder, as if they are getting closer; he says that he has heard them all his life.
Chantho tells Martha she has been with the Professor for 17 years, letting slip her unrequited love for him, something Martha sympathizes with. Martha asks about the sentence structure she uses, starting sentences with “Chan” and ending with “Tho”. Chantho replies that it would be rude not to, before trying once with a fit of the giggles.
Atillo communicates with Yana, who gives him instructions as the communication line fails and then gets Martha to reboot the system every time the picture goes. Atillo sends a man into the couplings room, which is flooded with Stet radiation, to enable the launch with a gravity footprint.
The female Futurekind damages the system, and Jack and Yana furiously try to correct the radiation levels. Finally, Jack sends a massive (and lethal) current through his body in order to jump-start the override system, but the man in the couplings room is vaporized by the Stet radiation. As the Doctor points out, no one can enter the room without dying, but as Jack comes back from the dead, remarks he has got just the man for the job.
The Doctor and Jack race down to the couplings room — ordering Atillo to board the rocket — and Jack asks the Doctor how long he has known that he is immortal. The Doctor grimly replies, “Since I ran away from you”, as Jack enters the couplings room — unlike his predecessor, he just winces instead of disintegrating. As they watch the process, Martha tells Yana and Chantho of the Doctor’s ability to travel through time and space. Yana has new sounds in his head, including the reverberating word “TARDIS”.
Jack explains that it wasn’t until 1892 that he found out he was immortal after getting killed in a fight on Ellis Island, then waking from death. His past deaths included falling off a cliff; getting trampled by horses; World War I; World War II; poison; starvation… even a stray javelin. The Doctor tells Jack that to him he is “wrong” — a fixed point in time and space, a fact. Just looking at him is an effort for the Time Lord. Even the TARDIS knew what Jack was — it had traveled to the end of the universe to try to shake him off!
Jack recalls facing three Daleks and his death at their hands, and the Doctor explains about Rose and the Bad Wolf entity, remarking that if a Time Lord had done what she did, they would have become a powerful and vengeful god. The Doctor then tells Jack that because of her humanity and compassion, Rose used her new-found power to bring him back to life, but unable to control the power, the transformation was irrevocable; the Doctor muses that “the final act of the Time War was life”. When Jack asks if Rose could reverse the process, the Doctor replies that not only did he remove the power from her, but she is trapped in the parallel universe and can’t return home. Jack says that he went back to the Powell Estate in the 1990s, never letting Rose see him (to avoid temporal contamination) but watching her growing up. When asked if he still wants to die, Jack admits that he isn’t sure anymore. The Doctor points out that Jack has the potential to meet other incarnations of himself across time — and that he might still be around in this time — joking that “it’s the only man you’re ever gonna be happy with”. As Jack says that this new regeneration is a cheeky one, “regeneration” is another word added to those reverberating around Yana’s head…
Yana is in tears, remembering stories of time travel from the old days that he never believed. He pulls out a fob watch, remarking that he was always late with time and the watch never worked. Martha is shocked, recalling the Doctor having a similar watch which he used to become human to avoid the Family of Blood. She asks where he got it, and Yana remarks that he was found with the watch, “an orphan in the storm”, on the coast of the Silver Devastation. Yana says it is broken, and Martha asks how he could know if he has never opened it. Martha turns over the watch and finds Gallifreyan inscriptions on it.
Martha rushes to find the Doctor, having inadvertently piqued Yana’s interest in the watch. The countdown for launch begins. Martha tells the Doctor of the watch, and the Doctor dismisses the idea as impossible. Jack says he may not be the last Time Lord, and Martha says it should be brilliant news — though the Doctor says it depends just which Time Lord Yana is. The Doctor yells at Martha, desperate to know exactly what Yana said.
As Yana inspects the watch, malevolent voices call to him from it, demanding that he open it. Jack remarks that the end of the universe is the perfect place to hide, and Martha recalls the dying words of the Face of Boe: “You Are Not Alone” — for which “Yana” is an acronym — and the Professor opens the watch. A burst of golden energy swirls into the Professor’s face and radiates through the laboratory, which astonishes Chantho. The rocket launches, and the Futurekind watch in frustration as it leaves. Chantho tries to speak to the Professor, but the look in his eyes has changed — they are now dark and sinister.
Yana deliberately closes all the doors, barring the entrance of the Doctor, Martha and Jack to the laboratory, then coolly opens the front gates, allowing entrance by the Futurekind to the Silo. Chantho frenetically attempts to reason with him, but he fails to yield. She holds a gun to Yana to try to stop him, but he advances on her with high-voltage cable in hand. As the Doctor and the others try to get back to the lab — having to double back after running into the Futurekind — Yana blames Chantho for never asking about the watch and spitting that her constant “chan” and “tho” drove him insane. Chantho begs “the Professor” for his forgiveness, but he shouts that it is not his name — merely a disguise so perfect he forgot his own identity. When a terrified Chantho asks who he really is, he replies, “I… am…the Master,” before electrocuting her with the cable as the Doctor, Martha, and Jack reach the lab and try to get in. As the Master pulls the cable from the TARDIS, Chantho shoots him before dying. Jack finally smashes the control panel to open the door, but the Master retreats into the TARDIS, putting the catch on the lock to prevent the Doctor getting in with his key as well as deadlocking it against the sonic screwdriver.
As the Doctor shouts desperately that everything’s changed, Jack and Martha struggle to close the lab’s door against the Futurekind. Fatally injured, the Master fumes on being killed “by an insect… a girl…” and then proclaims that if the Doctor can be young and strong, so can he. With a deranged wail, the Master explodes in a spectrum of regeneration energy, his eyes glow violently, and he changes into a younger form, collapsing to the floor as the pain of his regeneration overwhelms him. The Doctor stands outside his TARDIS aghast and helpless while Martha and Jack desperately block the Futurekind from gaining entrance. Now a new, even more psychotic version of himself, the Master springs up from the TARDIS floor. Laughing in triumph, the Master uses the TARDIS’ intercom to speak to the Doctor — sarcastically remarking about his past propensity to tell the Doctor his plans and remarking that he won’t do so this time — and Martha realizes that she knows his voice. The Doctor begs him to stop, to which the Master demands that he use his name. The Doctor then says, “Master… I’m sorry.” The Master pauses and shouts, “Tough!” as he prepares the TARDIS for launch. The Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver and stops the launch momentarily. The Master overrides it and gleefully bids the three a sarcastic goodbye. The TARDIS de-materializes as the Doctor looks on in horror, while the Futurekind pound at the door…