Whenever the Doctor returns to Gallifrey, there’s always some sort of political problem going on. For a society that has so much power, you’d think their security would be a lot better. This time, the Doctor is caught up in a conspiracy to free the ancient ex-Time Lord Omega from his antimatter prison. It’s been ten years since Omega last appeared, in the anniversary special The Three Doctors, so it’s an appropriate year to bring him back (from the dead?).
While the Doctor and Nyssa are gallivanting around Gallifrey, another story runs parallel, following a couple of backpackers in Amsterdam, who we later learn are the cousin and friend of Tegan, who rejoins the adventure by sheer coincidence. Amsterdam just happens to be Omega’s base of operations on Earth, while he communicates with his accomplices on Gallifrey from afar.
The backpackers are almost unwatchably awful, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting way to split up the story into two parallel threads that come together near the end. The final chase through the Amsterdam streets is perhaps longer than it needs to be, and I would have liked to see the duplicate Doctor idea expanded upon.
Speaking of duplicate Doctors, this story casts Colin Baker as the security commander Maxil. At the time, this would have been a non-issue, but I found his presence distracting because I know that he will be cast as the next Doctor in a couple of seasons’ time (even having never seen any of Colin Baker’s episodes myself). He plays a ruthless by-the-book hardnose, so it’s difficult to get a feel for how he’ll be later on.
Arc of Infinity is mixed, then. The Amsterdam half of it is weak, but the mystery stuff with the Time Lords is pretty watchable, even if it doesn’t make much sense, and the plot introduces ideas that it doesn’t develop or conclude very well. One thing I will say, Nyssa was a lot better in this than she has been before, and that’s probably because she had more to do. Keeping the roster of Tardis crew down to a minimum is a good idea. I also liked the execution scene; even though it was obvious that he wouldn’t really die, it was a cool-looking contraption.