Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky
(2 episodes, s05e01, 2011)
Welcome back to the attic.
Sarah Jane observes the star-filled sky and reminisces about all of the wonderful things that she’s seen. In that night sky, a meteor crashes into a nearby junkyard, startling a homeless man as a metalloid creature emerges from the wreckage. The newcomer scans the area before cloaking and walking away.
Sarah Jane muses about her found family as the Bannerman Road Gang talks to Luke via video. Sarah Jane misses her son, but finds solace in Rani’s assurance that he’ll be home soon. The next morning brings a doorbell in the early hours. Sarah Jane finds a baby girl abandoned on her doorstep, a baby girl who has the power to blow every light on the street with a cry.
Sarah Jane calls in Rani and Clyde, asking for her help as the Chandras muse about ley lines and electrical disruptions. The teens are hesitant, as is Mr. Smith, but Clyde soon settles the infant with a bottle and a cuddle.
At the Summerwell Nuclear Power Station, an orb of energy appears amidst arcs of electricity around the switchgear – an emergency that the nearby nuclear worker should have called away immediately! – and delivers a mysterious woman onto the plant floor. She is Miss Myers, she is looking for her child, and she enraptures the power plant workers. Miss Myers finds out that the baby is on Bannerman Road.
The Bannerman Road Gang attempt to get away but are intercepted by Gita Chandra. They find out about the meteor strike and inadvertantly name the baby Sky. Rani and Sarah Jane investigate while Clyde remains with Sky at the house. With the help of Professor Rivers, they find the homeless man and an eyewitness account of the metalloid creature.
By the way, that being is also headed for Bannerman Road.
The conflict reaches Clyde and Sky as the the metalloid being attacks them. They are rescued by Miss Myers and taken to the power plant. Rani and Sarah Jane chase after them with help from Mr. Smith. Miss Myers tells Clyde about the conflict between Metalkind and Fleshkind, but his skepticism forces him to run.
Everyone comes together at the power station. It turns out that Sky is a weapon, and as the baby primes herself, she transforms into a pre-teen. Sky then launches a lightning bolt at the Metalkind but refuses to finish off her oppponent. The girl is frightened and seeks solace in Sarah Jane’s arms.
Miss Myers reveals that she created the girl in a laboratory. Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road Gang escape with Sky, returning to the attic. There, Mr. Smith determines that Sky – who enters the scene hesitantly, without fanfare, eager to protect his circuits – is a bomb designed to destroy all of Metalkind across the entire universe and end a centuries-long conflict, an act that would kill Sky in the process.
Sky remembers everything from the moment that she met Sarah Jane. She bonds with Rani as she learns about Sarah Jane, Luke, and what it’s like to be a girl. She later learns about her true purpose and returns to the power plant with the Bannerman Road Gang. Miss Myers is the only person who can defuse the bomb.
Sarah Jane confronts Miss Myers alone while Rani and Clyde shelter Sky at the car. Miss Myers has connected the Metalkind being to the station’s electrical systems to act as a beacon drawing the entire species to Earth. This will force Sarah Jane to surrender Sky to fulfill her destiny since the bomb is programmed to detonate upon contact with the Metalkind.
Sky, Rani, and Clyde enter the plant and find Sarah Jane. Sky believes that she must do what she was created to do in order to save Earth. Sky runs off and Sarah Jane gives chase, tasking Rani and Clyde with shutting down the reactor and removing power from the Metalkind beacon.
Rani and Clyde play a video game to operate the plant – which is not how any of it really works, but let’s roll with it… – while Sarah Jane tries to stop Sky. Luckily, they do the thing and shut down the beacon, forcing a blackout in the surrounding area because the UK apparently doesn’t have any other electrical power facilities.
Sky is knocked out from the effort, but she recovers after the energy backlash reprograms her genetic code. She’s no longer a bomb. The galactic politics removes itself from Earth as the Metalkind grabs Miss Myers, opens a portal, and teleports them off the planet.
The nuclear workers are released from their trance. The Bannerman Road Gang leaves without a word.
Returning home, they are greeted by the Chandras. In return, they get a story about a mix-up between two children at the foster agency. Sky Smith will be staying for the foreseeable future. The gang heads to the Attic where they find the Captain and the Shopkeeper, the servants of the universe who left Sky on the doorstep because she would be safest with Sarah Jane Smith. They teleport away leaving Sarah Jane confused.
The adventure ends with Sky’s introduction to pizza.
Doctor Who and its spinoffs are no strangers to nuclear power, spanning at least The Daleks, The Tenth Planet, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Hand of Fear, Boom Town, The End of Time, and Exit Wounds. Science fiction, in general, takes a lot of shortcuts with nuclear power and the plants that generate it, and this story is no exception. It hits every trope in the sci-fi writer’s guide, from strolling around plants like a public park and being able to walk right into reactor containment to treating operations and control rooms like video games.
My nuclear operations background was screaming during this story. Electrical arcs would be called away as an emergency, access would be restricted by badge-locked doors, unauthorized personnel would be intercepted almost immediately by security officers wielding military-grade weaponry. Moving control rods is not like playing Super Mario Bros. and the electrical grid is powered from more than one power source.
At least the main gate guards were somewhat on the ball.
All of that to say this: Since the treatment of nuclear power and operations is so far off-base – it’s hardly ever in the same ballpark, really – I roll my eyes at it but don’t let it sour my opinion of a good story.
Thankfully, this story has a lot of heart. The ongoing theme of The Sarah Jane Adventures is found family, and it continues here with a new member in the Bannerman Road Gang. Sky picks up Sarah Jane’s nuturing, particularly compassion for everyone, and lets it shape her early on. Her wide-eyed innocence takes us back to the first series and almost pushes a reset button on the group dynamic. It suits the franchise well.
It was also supposed to bring the Eleventh Doctor back to the title in a story arc for Sky. Since he couldn’t balance this and A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith was replaced by the Captain and the Shopkeeper. Sadly, the story arc will be abandoned by the premature end of the series.
Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”
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.