Sarah Jane Adventures: Enemy of the Bane
(2 episodes, s02e06, 2008)
Double the trouble.
Rani’s mother Gita is working late on a special floral commission. Her mysterious client turns out to be Mrs. Wormwood, who ends up paralyzing Gita in an attempt to draw out Sarah Jane Smith. On Bannerman Road, Luke has been having nightmares about Mrs. Wormwood and his origins.
Sarah Jane consoles Luke about his nightmares, though he counters that he’s never dreamed before. They’re interrupted by Rani and news of Gita’s disappearance, which Sarah Jane decides to investigate despite zero evidence of alien interference. Luke, Clyde, and Sarah Jane visit the flower store and find Mrs. Wormwood’s check, an intentional clue that they take for Mr. Smith to analyze.
The supercomputer unravels an address masked in the check’s account and routing numbers. Sarah Jane leaves to investigate, reluctantly taking Rani with her and providing a history lesson for the teenager. Once they arrive, they find Gita and Mrs. Wormwood. The former Bane operative has extensive knowledge of the Bannerman Road adventures, and she asks for Sarah Jane’s help. Mrs. Wormwood took responsibility for the Bane’s previous failure and they’re hunting her.
The Bane attack and the group runs away, Mrs. Wormwood defending them with her phonic disruptor. Sarah Jane is briefly captured, but Mrs. Wormwood saves her life before they all escape to Bannerman Road. Gita recovers and Rani takes her home. Sarah Jane brings Mrs. Wormwood to her home, shocking Luke and Clyde.
In the attic, Sarah Jane asks Mr. Smith to watch the Bane operative while she explains herself. Mrs. Wormwood tells a tale of an ancient immortal, Horath, that tried to take over the galaxy but was defeated three thousand years ago. Unable to destroy him, Horath’s captors separated his body and consciousness and placed them at opposite ends of the galaxy. The Bane have located Horath’s consciousness, but to find the body, the team needs to find the Tunguska Scroll.
That artifact is located in UNIT’s Black Archive, a secure storehouse of dangerous alien artifacts.
Sarah Jane confines Mrs. Wormwood to a containment field before making contact with an old friend: Retired Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Sarah Jane and Rani ask the Brig if he can help them break into the Black Archive. He drives the women to the Black Archive and is intercepted by his UNIT liaison. Once he ditches the major, he gives Rani and Sarah Jane access while he stands watch. In short order, they make a Tooth and Claw joke, steal the scroll, and make a hasty escape despite tripping the alarms.
Clyde remains behind to keep Luke away from Mrs. Wormwood, but Luke’s temptation is too strong. He talks to her about his origins and his social isolation. The Bane attack the house and Luke sets Mrs. Wormwood free so they can escape. The boys are separated from Mrs. Wormwood, and she makes contact with Commander Kaagh. The Sontaran has Horath’s consciousness, and Mrs. Wormwood is overjoyed that her revenge against Sarah Jane Smith is at hand.
Luke and Clyde are surrounded by Bane. To Kaagh’s surprise, Mrs. Wormwood recharges her disruptor and blows the two attackers into goo just as Sarah Jane, Rani, and the Brig arrive. The entire lot takes refuge from UNIT in Gita’s flower shop and Luke’s two mother figures have a small heart-to-heart before tensions rise again.
Mrs. Wormwood summons Kaagh. The Sontaran destroys the sonic lipstick and Sarah Jane deduces that he is holding the consciousness. Mrs. Wormwood takes the scroll, threatening to kill all of them to get it. She also coerces Luke into joining them, using him as leverage to prevent Sarah Jane from interfering. Mrs. Wormwood knocks all of them out with her disruptor before leaving.
Mrs. Wormwood, Kaagh, and Luke arrive at yet another factory – this one shelters the Sontaran’s space pod – and activate the scroll with the consciousness. Mrs. Wormwood reveals that Horath is a cybernetic intelligence instead of a biological being, and suggests that Luke’s intelligence could make him a superior leader of the galaxy. Luke ignores the offer and swipes the scroll, getting only a short distance before being stopped. Kaagh nearly shoots him, but Mrs. Wormwood assumes her Bane form and steps in front of the Sontaran’s gun and stuns the soldier into submission.
Meanwhile, Major Kilburne snoops around Bannerman Road, posing as Sarah Jane’s nephew. The Bannerman Road gang arrives home and attempt to locate Luke and the villains, only to be ambushed by the major. The Brig uses a weapon in his cane to stun the officer, who is now revealed as a Bane agent. Sarah Jane and Clyde use Mr. Smith to track the Bane to a stone circle in Whitebarrow, and they borrow Gita’s van to drive there.
When Mrs. Wormwood and Kaagh arrive at the stone circle, they find it guarded by a force field that blocks offworlders from crossing into it. Mrs. Wormwood uses Luke to breach the perimeter and place the scroll at the heart of the circle. The portal to Horath begins to open, and Mrs. Wormwood attacks Kaagh before offering Luke unlimited power at her side.
The Bannerman Road Gang arrives as the portal opens. Clyde tends to Kaagh as Luke rejects Mrs. Wormwood. As Mrs. Wormwood turns on Sarah Jane and her friends, Kaagh asks Clyde for help to regain his honor. The Sontaran rushes the Bane, plunging them both into the portal as it closes, trapping them. Sarah Jane pulls her spare sonic lipstick and destroys the scroll, ending the threat.
Back at Bannerman Road, the team reflects on how amazing the universe can be as they bid farewell to the Brigadier, once again united as a family.
In one fell swoop, this finale knocks out two major SJA villains, reinforces the major theme of the show, and swings around mythology by bringing back a long-time favorite and adding a major component that will come back in a few years time.
The return of Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was beautiful and is a great capstone to his forty-year legacy in Doctor Who, from The Web of Fear to Battlefield. Before this episode, it had been nineteen years since his last appearance, and this one is special because it is Nicholas Courtney’s final televised appearance in the role. He died in 2011, roughly two years after this story.
His views on UNIT say a lot about the evolution of the organization, as well as the views on the military and human rights between the 1970s and the early 2000s. Remember, good science fiction serves as a lens on the human condition, and Doctor Who is one of the best in that regard.
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
Keeping in mind that the Timestamps Project is following the franchise chronologically at this point…
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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.