Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran
(2 episodes, s02e01, 2008)
Earth’s mightiest potato meets Bannerman Road’s exemplary half-forms.
Sarah and Maria gaze at the night sky, talking about their adventures together and everything that lies on the path before them. That next adventure materializes at the Tycho Project’s radio telescope in Goblin’s Copse as Professor Nicholas Skinner and his daughter Lucy search for alien life. Strange lights buzz about in the night sky, but upon investigation, the Skinners disappear.
The night lights intrigue Sarah Jane, who asks Mr. Smith about them in the morning. This interrupts Luke and Clyde, who have been learning about battle strategies using a computer game. Mr. Smith believes that the lights are meaningless.
Meanwhile, Alan has received a job offer. He and Maria have a lot of thinking to do.
The Bannerman Road Gang heads to Goblin’s Copse to investigate the lights. The space is large and they feel like they’re being watched. The facility is abandoned, which piques Sarah Jane’s interest. Lucy bursts in and tells them that something is in the woods before collapsing. When she comes to, she tells Sarah Jane her story. She believes that the mysterious being has her father, and both Clyde and Luke go to investigate. They are pursued by a familiar (but cloaked) figure and eventually find his spacecraft.
Lucy falls asleep, so Sarah Jane talks to Maria about the news that is bothering her. Alan’s job offer will take them to the United States, and while Sarah Jane readily accepts the news, Maria doesn’t want to leave.
Chrissy visits Alan and receives the news. Alan is apprehensive, but Chrissy says that he must take the job.
When Lucy awakens, she tells Sarah Jane and Maria about the lights. Sarah Jane believes that they are drones. Professor Skinner returns, though he’s not quite himself, and says that the lights were merely ball lightning. He kicks Sarah Jane and Maria out, but Sarah Jane knows that something is wrong.
Luke and Clyde call Sarah Jane and show her the spacecraft. She disables the cloak with her sonic lipstick, revealing a shape that she knows from her encounter with Linx and Styre. Before she can contact UNIT, the Sontaran returns and captures them. He is Commander Kaagh, but his superior warrior prowess doesn’t stop Maria from distracting him so they can all escape.
Sarah Jane tells Clyde that they need to return to the telescope. They attempt to reason with Skinner, but find him under the control of the Sontaran and meddling with satellites. Before Sarah Jane can disable the mind control device, Kaagh captures them. Meanwhile, Luke and Maria sneak in via the ventilation system.
Kaagh is intrigued as to how Sarah Jane knows his people. He is the sole survivor of the fleet that the Tenth Doctor defeated. He has vowed vengeance on Earth for the humiliation of their defeat. His plan is to use the Tycho radio telescope to steer Earth’s satellites into nuclear reactors, therefore triggering nuclear annihilation.
Clyde protests and Kaagh says that he will make a good experimental subject. When Sarah Jane steps in front of Clyde, Kaagh shoots her. Luckily, she’s only stunned because she is to be taken back to the Sontaran homeworld to stand trial for the Doctor’s crimes.
Luke and Maria rescue Clyde, prompting Kaagh to give chase through the complex. They narrowly escape through a hatch to the woods beyond. Sarah Jane awakens, locked in a room with Lucy without her tools. Sarah Jane convinces Lucy to help her rig up a tool to escape.
While Alan and Chrissy talk over the job offer, Maria calls her father and asks him to visit Mr. Smith. Of course, Chrissy crashes the party as the gang learns about probic vents, and Alan covers by saying that it’s a live-action roleplaying game. Chrissy sees through the lie and learns that the Bannerman Road Gang fights aliens. She’s eager to help save Maria.
The kids break into the Sontaran ship and scavenge for anything they can use to defeat Kaagh. Clyde runs interference as Luke mixes chemicals. Maria reveals her news to Luke, leaving Luke distraught over losing his friend. She focuses him back on task as Clyde leads Kaagh back to the telescope.
At the telescope, Sarah Jane and Lucy jam the dish’s transmissions as the program nears completion. Professor Skinner investigates and is trapped in the room as the ladies escape. They reunite with Clyde and Lucy tries to disable the program.
Chrissy and Alan arrive as Kaagh frees Professor Skinner. Elsewhere, Clyde and Sarah Jane find Luke and Maria on the run from the Sontaran drones. Sarah Jane disables the drones with her newly-recovered sonic lipstick, then dispatches Clyde and Maria to disable the telescope dish while Luke helps Lucy. Luke stops the countdown at 3:33 after figuring out that the program was constructed in base 6 notation. Because, you know, six fingers.
It’s a good thing that Kaagh doesn’t count using his toes.
Clyde and Maria are trapped by Kaagh and Skinner. They are returned to the control room where Kaagh activates Lucy as a sleeper agent. Lucy restarts the program as Kaagh holds them all at gunpoint. Kaagh is only stopped by Chrissy as she jams her designer shoe in his probic vent. Sarah Jane disables the Sontaran devices in the Skinners while Maria drugs Chrissy so she won’t remember the event.
The Bannerman Road Gang forces Kaagh back into his ship, which no longer has weapons, where he returns home to Sontar. When Maria asks if that’s last they’ve seen, Sarah Jane tells her that she hopes so. However, no matter how far someone goes away, she never considers them gone.
Chrissy wakes up in the Jackson house. Maria tells them that she’s decided they should follow the job offer. Six weeks later, Maria stops by to take one last look at the attic and to say farewell. Sarah Jane says that it’s like she’s saying goodbye to her daughter, but she’s happy for the Jacksons.
The Bannerman Road Gang says goodbye to one of their own. Chrissy tells Sarah Jane that she remembers everything, but promises not to say anything. Later that night, Clyde, Luke, and Sarah Jane gaze upward at the night sky, hoping for the best for their friend.
Sarah Jane consoles them with a few words of advice: “I learned a long time ago that if you’re missing somebody, just… look up at the night sky. Whoever it is, wherever they are, chances are they’re looking at the stars just like you. Sometimes, for all its size, the universe isn’t such a big place after all.”
One of the things I admire about Sarah Jane Smith is that she recognizes her limitations. As soon as she understood that the threat was a single Sontaran, she was ready to call in the cavalry. Luckily for us, she didn’t get the chance because this story provided a wonderful chance for the team to work together. Especially the kids, who really carried the bulk of the plot.
Sarah Jane seems lighter of heart this time around, and Mr. Smith has developed a personality and a sense of humor. That was helpful because it lightened the tone of the show while still bringing a meaningful story to bear. It bridged the gap between Doctor Who and Sarah Jane by bringing a mutual monster to the table, but it didn’t forget to explore the characters and their relationships.
The farewell to Maria was touching, and the impact on our team is noticeable. I felt for each of them as they lost part of their tight-knit family.
I also admired how this Sontaran was less comical and more menacing. He’s also been hiding in Goblin’s Copse for a while fixing that ship because it’s been a while since they tried to poison the Earth. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the plot device of trying to destroy the planet by smashing satellites into nuclear power facilities. The kinetic energy alone from all of Earth’s satellites impacting the planet would be devastating, but trying to use inherently stable nuclear power plants as fuel for the fire doesn’t cause a bigger boom. Just a messier one.
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
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