‘Sarah Jane Smith was the wet nurse. I am your mother.’ This isn’t quite as impressive as the first episode, largely because Wormwood and Kaagh’s detour to another derelict factory for a runaround gets in the way of the convergence at Whitebarrow’s standing stones. It does, at least, give Wormwood some time to get to know a little more of Luke’s abilities, and to start to view him as her son, the Prince to her Empress. In turn, this leads to a climax where Luke’s choice between nature and nurture, between the woman that bred him and the woman that raised him, is key. It also means we’re left with a hooded would-be Empress trying to tempt Luke to become her young apprentice before her current apprentice turns on her and together they plunge into a pit while lightning strikes about them. I wonder where I’ve seen that before.
Bits of this are great: Wormwood’s growing attachment to Luke; Kilburne’s slimy infiltration of the Chandra household; Sarah Jane’s race to the stones. The Brigadier gets a final moment defending the Earth as he shoots down the Bane-Kilburne, a hint of that old Battlefield steeliness in his eyes. It’s just a shame he doesn’t get a fitting farewell scene, instead pottering off in his car with the promise of further appearances that never came. But perhaps that’s how the Brig would have wanted it. After 40 years playing Lethbridge-Stewart, Courtney drives off into the sunset with a cheery wave, amongst joy and gratitude, not pompous speeches or lingering goodbyes. He just did the best he could, and it was magnificent.
Sarah Jane will return in From Raxacoricofallapatorius With Love
Next Time: The Next Doctor