I can't say I'd forgotten how brilliant that episode is, but it was great to experience it again. My top three favourite Doctor Who episodes out of all that I've watched (I'm counting two-parters as one) would be The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, Utopia, and Blink. Usually people list Blink as their favourite, and it's a brilliant stand-alone story, but being so much a character and emotions addict, and Jack addict, I know which episodes come first for me.
Anyway. Not very structured or a detailed commentary or anything, but here's a bit on my reactions to the episode. I'd like to, oh, analyse the characters and all that because it's fascinating, but that will take a bit of time to do. So you get some ramblings on my reactions (both first time around and now) and shippiness and such.
I remember that when I first saw Utopia, I loved it and it was one of the most brilliant things ever. but it was also a punch to the gut. I'd loved Jack starting from his first episode in S1, and I'd shipped him with the Doctor already in S1. I'd waited for two seasons for him to be found again, and then I find out that the Doctor left him behind on purpose. I think for the beginning of the episode I was internally sputtering at the Doctor's attitude. Very far from what I'd imagined it would be, once they'd be reunited. The conversation in the radiation room - damn, it was painful, but also relieving because finally there was connection, and finally the Doctor was admitting what was going on, and admitting that it mattered.
The second time around, it was easier dealing with the Doctor's initial blitheness, because I knew what would come eventually, and just watch those two throughout the episode. Damn, I'm certainly not any less shippy about them than I was before. I think even more. The tension is just sizzling. It's difficult between them, yes, but it's exhilerating.
And it's easier to see what all these words and looks throughout the episode say when you know what's going on. When I first watched it, I did know of Jack's immortality - hadn't seen Torcwhood, but had kind of been spoilered that much when I looked up the character originally, or maybe was finding out what the heck is Torchwood. But I didn't know how long he'd been looking for the Doctor, I didn't know the Doctor had abandoned him on purpose, didn't know why any of it had happened. So damn, it was tense and strange watching it for the first time. Imprinted itself in my mind as one of the most brilliant Doctor Who episodes ever, and the most painful one.
After S3 I fled to fanfic, because I needed to sort out how I was feeling about it all, and because the remaining episodes didn't spend enough time dealing with the whole Doctor/Jack matter which was the most important for me. (Now, I'm not saying the Master storyline isn't fascinating. Maybe they just could have spent a few more episodes on it all. You know, just not have done Daleks in Manhattan at all, so freeing up a couple of episodes in S3, and instead have brought Jack back a bit earlier, to have more time for everything. Squeezing Jack's return and all the involved issues, the Master, and Martha's growth and departure into three episodes is kind of much.) I read fics for comfort and fics for sorting out just how complex the whole thing was and how hurtful it felt that the Doctor would do that to Jack and just what it all could mean and if they could ever make it work out together because I wanted them to. And suddenly I was reading more fanfic than I had done in ten years, and I couldn't stop thinking about the characters and the ship.
Like I said, I was shippy about Doctor/Jack earlier, but from this point on I loved it and got obsessed with it, because the episode just grabbed my heart and then twisted and squeezed. I don't know. There's just this connection through all the mess and the wrongness and all, and I'm addicted to it. And I guess I like my pairings complex and flawed and something that will never stop me wondering. Just like I like my characters. I think I love Ten more in S3, when he's so infuriating half of the time, especially to people who love him too much for their own good, than I do in S2 when he's so much nicer. Maybe I'm strange. Maybe it's like that with characters.
OK, I need to stop or I'll be at this the whole night. I had thoughts about Martha also - especially knowing how things would go in the end of the seasons, I was watching her reactions - but I'm getting too sleepy to be able to get them down right now (I tried, but I couldn't get it to make enough sense), so I'm going to leave her for later.
But I have a feeling I'm going to be watching this episode quite a lot. Why I never got back to it before, it's hard to explain, except that at first I had to digest it quite a lot and somehow couldn't bear watching it until I had.