‘All the wasted years leading to this moment. But somehow I always knew I was different.’ The only problem with this is no fault of the script, but a sequencing failure that placed two stories that involved Michael Kerrigan directing crowds of zombified people to wander through the streets – even the doors to the theatre look like the doors to Spellman’s clown museum in The Day of the Clown.
That aside, this is the strongest story so far, using Sarah Jane’s gang as a team as Luke and Rani try to stop Trueman’s hypnotic broadcast while Sarah Jane and Clyde go to appeal directly to Trueman himself. The showdown is the best since Roberts’ conclusion to Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?, as Trueman rejects a return to ‘my life before’ pushing supermarket trolleys and cleaning toilets. Instead, he chooses to embrace ‘the old knowledge’ and join with the Ancient Lights. In the end, he’s to be pitied as much as anything – Luke reflects on his wasted life, His destiny, whether to join the Ancient Lights or be destroyed by them, is total obliteration, to be remembered only as a man with an ‘ailing career and unrecognised religious beliefs’ (‘Hey, that’s a half-truth,’ as Homer would say).
Everything about this works and could work in Doctor Who (it even has Trinity Wells). I’m half disappointed that the villain didn’t turn out to be the Mandragora Helix (as I suspect it would have been in the parent show), because it would have been another nice kiss to Sarah Jane’s past. But in a season that’s already put her up against a Sontaran, maybe it would have been overkill. It doesn’t really matter anyway. The joys of this are in Abbot’s performance, a storyline that makes the most of the Bannerman Road gang, and more airtime for Mina Anwar, who’s rapidly becoming my favourite supporting character.
Next Time: The Mark of the Berserker