‘We’ll face the future together.’ Cleverly, this uses the nature of Rani’s story – the older version remembering the key moment of her youth – as a mirror for Sarah Jane. For Doctor Who fans, there’s a lovely JNT style flashback to Sarah’s adventures The Time Warrior, Planet of the Spiders, The Hand of Fear and The Five Doctors. And there’s the promise that ‘he is coming back’.
Indeed, with references to ‘the darkness’, there’s a connection to Carmen’s premonition that ‘It is returning through the dark’ which means that this links neatly into the wider storyline of 2009. While Torchwood had to deal with the Doctor’s absence through the part of the year Doctor Who normally aired, The Sarah Jane Adventures are going to lead into The Waters of Mars in just a few weeks’ time.
It’s all very meta – especially Elisabeth Sladen and Brian Miller discussing the possibility of going off into space: ‘it’s never too late.’ It’s very funny, too: Mr Smith’s less than delighted ‘Oh, good’ when K9 confirms he’s returning from the dark, is brilliant. With themes of teenage angst and the regret of old age, the importance of families, inherited and chosen, and the dangers of teenagers flexing their muscles too soon, this is really strong. Alice Troughton’s direction and the striking design, with Eve’s crimson makeup absolutely popping in the faded surroundings of the pleasure gardens, lifts it further.
Next Time: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith