Timestamp Special #13: Farewell, Sarah Jane

Farewell, Sarah Jane
(Doctor Who: Lockdown: April 19, 2020)

Timestamp S13 Farewell Sarah Jane

On the ninth anniversary of Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely passing, in the midst of a global pandemic, we were offered a chance to say goodbye.


It was a beautiful and fitting tribute to the character and the woman who brought her to life. Russell T Davies did an amazing job, especially with his bridge between the classic and revival eras. He also put the cap on his vision for The Sarah Jane Adventures which had been considered impossible in 2011.

I, for one, want to experience that adventure with Ace, Sarah Jane, and the Diamond Wolf Clan.

Until then, farewell, Sarah Jane.


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

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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.

Timestamp #SJA28: The Man Who Never Was

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Never Was
(2 episodes, s05e03, 2011)

Timestamp SJA28 Man Never Was

Slave trades and work simulations.

At Serf Systems, an office cleaner named Adriana Petrescu does her job as an advertisement for the new SerfBoard computer plays on overhead screens. A strange noise draws Adriana to the elevator. When she investigates, she’s pulled inside.

The Bannerman Road Gang is hard at work in the attic as Sky expresses her anxiety about meeting Luke for the first time. Luke notes that his room is no longer his and pops up to the attic for a reunion. He greets Clyde and Rani with the new pet name “Clani”, then has an awkward meeting with Sky. Luke had to leave K9 at the university as the robotic dog is backing up the entire Bodleian library. Mr. Smith is ecstatic at that news.

As the team muses about the SerfBoard launch, Sarah Jane breaks the news that she’s covering it as a journalist. Unfortunately, she only has enough passes for herself, Luke, and Sky. Once there, they meet Lionel Carson, Sarah Jane’s former editor and close friend. As the dress rehearsal begins, Sky tells Luke that she feels a strange buildup of electricity.

Each of the attendees gets a free SerfBoard, a device that sways the normally technophobic Lionel. Sky and Luke also note that Joseph Serf, the president of the company, glitches during his presentation. Luke stays behind after the rehearsal while Sarah Jane and Sky review the footage with Mr. Smith and the gang in the attic. Mr. Smith’s research indicates that, after an accident, Serf became a recluse. Serf also never holds anything.

Mr. Smith commences a deep scan of the SerfBoard while Sarah Jane arranges a rare personal interview with Joseph Serf. Sarah Jane takes Sky along as Clyde and Rani wait for the scan results. The interview is supervised by Mr. Harrison, Serf’s assistant, and Serf refuses to shake hands due to a supposed allergy.

The deep scan comes up with nothing special, so Clyde and Rani investigate the SerfBoard with a great deal of humor. What they find is a typical low-spec budget computer.

At Serf Systems, Luke and Sky discover a sub-basement occupied by Jawa-like aliens who are controlling Serf like an automaton. The controllers get overwhelmed by the complexities of the interview, eventually providing an opportunity for Sarah Jane to spot the glitches for herself. The controllers attempt to hypnotize her, but she sees right through it. As Harrison pulls a weapon on Sarah Jane, Luke and Sky are discovered and surrounded by the cyclopean controllers.

Luke and Sky are surprised when the aliens tell them to run. Sky saves Sarah Jane from being shot by manipulating the controls, but Harrison punishes the aliens. He also spots the intruders on the monitors as Sarah Jane is apprehended and has her sonic lipstick confiscated.

Harrison takes Sarah Jane to the sub-basement and punishes Plark, the lead alien. He reveals that the beings are Skullions that he bought on the black market in Central Asia. The Smiths are astonished at the slave trade, uncovering that Harrison’s plan is simply to make as much money as possible on the SerfBoard launch. Sarah Jane is locked in a storage room with Adriana while Luke and Sky are confined elsewhere. Sarah Jane and Adriana become friends and break out in short order.

Luke and Sky try to befriend a Skullion who brings them food and water, but the being is too fearful. We also learn that the Skullions are allergic to water and thrive on citrus juice. Sky devises a plan to use K9’s dog whistle to signal Mr. Smith. Meanwhile, in the attic, Rani comes up with a plan to crash the launch party as journalists. K9’s whistle, in Morse Code, signals Clani to steal Harrison’s pen.

The Smith family is soon reunited and they enter the Skullion control room. Sarah Jane signals Mr. Smith to arrange a rescue mission for the Skullions while Clyde and Rani snag Harrison’s pen. Sarah Jane and Adriana shepherd the Skullions to the roof while Luke and Sky monitor the control room. Unfortunately, Harrison retreives his pen so Luke and Sky have to drive the Serf simulation.

After some humorous Toy Story-infused hijinks, Luke and Sky use the hypnotic power to secure the pen and destroy it. They also tell everyone at the party that the SerfBoard is garbage before ending the simulation. Harrison arrives on the roof just in time for the Skullions to leave. Harrison inadventently jumps into the transmat beam and is taken for an intergalactic ride.

With the day saved (an Adriana referred to UNIT for a job), the Bannerman Road Gang retires to the attic. Luke has decorated Sky’s room with a custom banner, a signal that he fully accept her. Sarah Jane muses about the adventures she and her found family have shared in a farewell montage.

“I’ve seen amazing things out there in space, but strange things can happen wherever you are. I have learned that life on Earth can be an adventure too. In all the universe, I never expected to find a family.”

And the story goes on…. forever.


The story is a good take for a children’s show on slavery and greed and the cruelty associated with both. It also closes the loop on Luke and Sky, bringing the whole family together for one last adventure on Bannerman Road.

The discussion on slavery is not a new one for the franchise and this take still packs a lot of weight. I also really enjoyed the twists of the puppet president and the enslaved Skullions looking out for the Bannerman Road Gang.

The special epilogue was unexpected and brought several tears to my eyes. In its short span, it covered beautiful milestones of Elisabeth Sladen’s journey with Doctor Who, from The Time Warrior to Journey’s End and The End of Time, as well the scope of her wonderful adventures on Bannerman Road.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Five Summary

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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.

Timestamp #SJA27: The Curse of Clyde Langer

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer
(2 episodes, s05e02, 2011)

Timestamp SJA27 Curse Clyde

Where were you on the day of the storm?

Clyde shows Rani the superhero comic he created, The Silver Bullet, and she’s impressed. She’s less enthused about his idea for story starring an adventurer named Susie June Jones. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane and Sky meet with Haresh Chandra about enrolling in the school. They are interrupted by a storm of fish raining from the sky.

The Bannerman Road Gang consults Mr. Smith on the unusual storm. The supercomputer comes up with a possible link to a Native American totem pole on display at the Museum of Culture. Legend says that when the artifact was removed from its hiding place, a storm of fish soon followed.

The team arrive at the museum. After Clyde gives Sky a lesson about homelessness, they inspect the totem pole. Clyde gets a nasty splinter and tries to remove it while Doctor Samantha Madigan, an anthropologist, relates the tale of Hetocumtek. A scan of the totem pole shows no alien activity.

Clyde returns home and has dinner with his mother, after which he finishes his comic book and goes to bed. After he nods off, his name starts to glow on anything that bears it.

The next morning, he visits Sarah Jane to show her his comic. She praises it until Clyde says his name aloud, after which she becomes furious and forces him out of the house. Confused, he crosses the street and consults Rani, but after Haresh says Clyde’s name, the Chandras turn on him as well.

As Clyde retreats, Sarah Jane tears up all of the pictures from Clyde that she can find. Mr. Smith is concerned about Sarah Jane’s attitude, and Sky has a calming effect on her. Sky mentions Clyde and Sarah Jane bans her from seeing him ever again. She orders Mr. Smith to set an alert for Clyde’s presence, Sky seems unaffected by whatever is going on.

Clyde calls Luke only to find that he is affected too. Clyde’s old friend Steve offers to play football until he says Clyde’s name. The footballers turn into an angry mob who smash Clyde’s phone and chase him until Clyde hides.

Clyde notes that his finger still hurts and makes the connection back to the totem pole. He asks Doctor Madigan about Native American curses but he’s soon cut off as Sarah Jane arrives to research the totem pole. He finds out that anyone who mentions his name becomes affected by the curse. That includes his own mother who kicks him out of the house.

Now homeless and begin pursued by the police, Clyde tries to get some money from an ATM, but the screen only fills up with his name. As night falls and a thunderstorm begins, Clyde seeks refuge in a doorway. He breaks down in despair but finds solace as the homeless girl he helped earlier beckons him to join her.

After a bit of sleep in a “cardboard city” under a bridge, the girl introduces herself as Ellie Faber. Clyde, inspired by a discarded pizza container, takes the name of Enrico Box. Ellie’s been on her own for two years after her father died and her mother remarried. She tells him of the “Night Dragon”, a threat that causes homeless people to disappear without telling anyone.

Sky investigates the new hatred of Clyde, but Sarah Jane and Rani aren’t forthcoming. At the museum, an electrical storm surrounds the totem pole, so Doctor Madigan calls Sarah Jane to help. The artifact appears to be alive and teeming with alien energy. Sarah Jane urges the anthropologist to close the exhibit.

Clyde and Ellie try panhandling but fail, so Ellie decides to find something to eat. They visit a soup kitchen and meet Mystic Mags, a woman who sees things in tea leaves. She warns that the something worse than the Night Dragon is coming and has put its mark on Clyde. He runs to save Ellie, but she pursues calling him her lucky charm.

Sarah Jane tells Mr. Smith that the totem is no longer dormant. Additionally, Sarah Jane, Rani, and Clyde’s mother are aware that they’ve lost something special but can’t quite figure out what. Sky visits Clyde’s mother and notes the glowing name on an envelope. She connects the dots as, back at the museum, one of the totem pole’s faces starts to move.

Once again sheltering from the rain, Clyde decides to light a fire with his Silver Bullet artwork. They discuss the fish storm, signs, and portents. Ellie tells Clyde that she had lost hope of ever reclaiming her life. Clyde has given her hope again.

Sarah Jane and Rani discuss their feelings of loss in the attic while Sky consults Mr. Smith about the splinter and Clyde’s curse. She forces them to be analytical and they realize that Hetocumtek needs Clyde to be isolated in order to gather power and break free. To break the curse, Sky encourages Sarah Jane and Rani to say Clyde’s name aloud. Acting against their instincts, they do so, break the curse, and resolve to get Clyde back.

Clyde shows Ellie a sketch he made of her, offering to draw for money. Ellie kisses him and leaves to get them a coffee. After she departs, the Bannerman Road Gang arrives and reunites with their missing family. Clyde resolves to find Ellie when the crisis is over.

They return to the attic where Mr. Smith transmats the totem pole. It fights as Clyde confronts it, yelling his name into the artifact until it dissolves into dust. The gang celebrates, then Clyde returns home to an emotional reunion with his mother.

Clyde then embarks on a mission to find Ellie, worried that she’ll think that he abandoned her. He finds out that she took the name from a famous singer’s poster. He also spots a truck labeled “Night Dragon Haulage” which works with a shipping company. A nearby homeless man explains that the drivers often take the homeless to different locations, offering a new chance in a new location.

That night, Clyde lies in his own bed and thinks of Ellie. He hopes that she’s found a better life. All he has left of her is the picture that he drew.


This story digs deep on so many levels.

First is that, as a children’s television series, it is legitimately tackling the subject of homelessness. Moreso, it puts a human face on the epidemic, both from a Clyde’s new perspective and Ellie Faber’s long-term view. It’s a subject that I’m keenly aware because of where I live and where I grew up. Atlanta, Georgia has a huge epidemic of homelessness, driven by a lack of affordable housing, unemployment, and poverty, and much of it can be linked back to the strings of financial crises in the United States. The State of Utah put a different spin on it in the 1990s and 2000s with religion and homosexuality, particulary among the teenage population who came out to their Mormon parents and were promptly disowned and disavowed.

It amazes me that this episode exists, especially as one in a children’s television program, and is hardly mentioned in today’s era of (shall we say?) vigorous discourse about political and social justice topics in Doctor Who. It’s also worth noting that one of the executive producers on this show was Russell T Davies, a man who is no stranger to political and social topics in science fiction.

The second level that I admired was the power of names. Across many cultures and time periods on this planet – spanning Muslim, Jewish, Egyptian, Vedic, Hindu, Christian, ancient and primitive, and more – there is a belief that knowing the name of something or someone gives one power over it. I have met people in recent years that weren’t comfortable telling me their full names until we had gotten to know each other because, in their beliefs, I could use that power for evil. It’s a fascinating belief and it is given life here since the curse of Hetocumtek doesn’t fully engage until Clyde signs his comic. After that, the use of his name sparks the senses of dread, anger, and pain, eventually leaving Hetocumtek as the one who controls it.

The third level was Native American curses. In particular, the mention of the Curse of Tippecanoe. It’s also known as Tecumseh’s Curse, the 20-year Curse, and the Zero Curse, but the basic idea is that Presidents of the United States who were elected in years that end with the digit 0 and are divisible by 20 are cursed to die in office. The curse references then-Major General William Henry Harrison’s military expeditions, specifically when defeated Native American tribes led by Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811.

Historians claim that the curse is coincidental, but adherents will point to the presidents who followed the pattern: William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840), Abraham Lincoln (1860), James A. Garfield (1880), William McKinley (1900), Warren G. Harding (1920), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1940) and John F. Kennedy (1960) constitute seven of the eight American Presidents who have died in office. The presidents who meet the criteria and were elected after 1960 – Ronald Reagan (1980), George W. Bush (2000), and Joe Biden (2020, incumbent) – did not (or have not) met the curse’s destiny.

It’s a fascinating piece of Americana.

To wrap this up, the obvious bit of Doctor Who trivia is Pyramids of Mars. After all, it’s not the first time that an alien has posed as a god, is it?

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Never Was

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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.

Timestamp #SJA26: Sky

Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky
(2 episodes, s05e01, 2011)

Timestamp SJA26 Sky

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 FearBoom 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?”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer

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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.

Timestamp #204: The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End

Doctor Who: The Stolen Earth
Doctor Who: Journey’s End
(2 episodes, s04e12-e13, 2008)

 

The return of a long-dead enemy and the rise of a family.

 

The Stolen Earth

The Doctor and Donna race back to Earth to find that everything is fine. It’s a calm Saturday, but the Doctor knows that the walls of the universe are breaking down because Rose has been able to travel between realities. When they return to the TARDIS, the planet begins to shake. When the violent tremors subside, the Doctor and Donna look outside to find themselves in space.

The TARDIS is in the same place, but the Earth has been stolen.

Far across the universe, Martha Jones wakes up in New York with her UNIT team. In Cardiff, Torchwood Three are picking up the pieces. On Bannerman Road, Sarah Jane Smith and Luke dust themselves off before Mr. Smith tells them to look outside. Sylvia and Wilfred look upward as well.

The planet Earth is among twenty-six other stolen planets, all of them visible in the sky above, and Rose Tyler has just arrived with a big freakin’ gun.

Back in Earth’s orbit, the Doctor and Donna puzzle over the mystery before setting a course for the Shadow Proclamation. On Earth, Torchwood Three discovers that the planet still maintains atmosphere and heat. Both Torchwood and Mr. Smith detect a space station and a fleet of ships. UNIT spools up their alert status as the two hundred ships enter orbit.

As rioters swarm the streets, Rose stops a pair of looters before using a stolen laptop to get an update.

Martha calls Jack as the planet intercepts a single repeated signal: EXTERMINATE! It rattles all of our heroes to their very cores as Dalek saucers open fire on Earth. The Supreme Dalek declares that they are now the masters of Earth.

The TARDIS touches down at the Shadow Proclamation and is greeted by a squad of Judoon. The Doctor meets with a member of the Proclamation and learns that twenty-four planets have been taken. Donna reminds the Doctor that Pyrovillia and Adipose 3 are missing. Adding the lost moon of Poosh, they have twenty-seven planets taken out of time and space and formed into an engine. The Doctor recalls that someone tried to steal the Earth a long time ago, but it can’t be…

The UNIT forces decide to activate Project Indigo, their top-secret project that Jack doesn’t think will work. Martha puts on a backpack apparatus, is handed something called the Osterhagen Key, and teleports away using Sontaran technology. Jack believes that she is scattered into atoms because the technology lacks coordinates and stabilization.

On the Dalek station, the Supreme Dalek orders the fleet to commence landing and rounding up of humans for “the Crucible”. A familiar-looking form asks about the Doctor, warning the Supreme Dalek about his pride and that Dalek Caan has an uneasy prophecy: The Doctor is coming.

Donna is deep in thought when a member of the Proclamation gives her sustenance. She knows that something was on Donna’s back and is sorry for the loss that’s about to come. The Doctor asks Donna what he’s not thinking of and she reminds him that the bees have gone missing. The Doctor says that it means that they were going home to the planet Melissa Majoria before the Earth vanished. The Doctor uses that to trace the planet’s course – an act that forces the Proclamation to order him to join their war fleet, which he declines – and the TARDIS is off to the rescue.

On Earth, the humans in Wilf and Sylvia’s neighborhood resist. The Daleks respond by destroying their homes. Wilf uses a paintball gun to try blinding a Dalek, but it doesn’t work. Before the Dalek exterminates Donna’s family, Rose rescues them by destroying the Dalek with her gun.

The TARDIS materializes in the Medusa Cascade, a place that the Doctor hasn’t visited since he was ninety years old. They’re in the middle of a rift in time and space, but there’s no trace of the missing planets.

Torchwood and Bannerman Road listen as the United Nations surrenders the planet to the Daleks. Their sorrow is interrupted by a mysterious (familiar sounding) signal from a “subwave network”. The caller is Harriet Jones (former Prime Minister) and she links Torchwood, Bannerman Road, and Martha Jones (who materialized at her mother’s house). Rose can only listen in since Sylvia considers webcams to be “naughty”.

Introductions are made around the table – Jack admires Sarah Jane’s work, but Sarah Jane has been staying away because of all the guns – and Harriet Jones warns that they will not use the Osterhagen Key under any circumstances. Rose is a bit jealous.

Using a sentient computer program from the Mr. Copper Foundation, the subwave network can boost the signal to reach the Doctor. Sure enough, the Doctor’s Army pools their resources and opens a channel, but the Daleks are hot on their trail. The TARDIS locks onto the signal as the Daleks blow a hole into Harriet’s home. She transfers control and faces them down before they exterminate her.

The TARDIS materializes in the middle of the missing planets, now one second out of sync with the rest of the universe. The Doctor opens a channel and makes contact with everyone but Rose. Moments later, Davros breaks into the signal and reintroduces himself to the Doctor. The Doctor saw him destroyed in the first year of the Time War, but Davros was rescued by Dalek Caan after the mad Dalek hybrid shifted through the time lock and rescued him. Davros returned the favor by donating his own DNA to rebuild the Dalek Empire.

The Doctor pilots the TARDIS to Earth while Dalek Caan predicts death for the most faithful companion. Jack uses Martha’s coordinates to fix his vortex manipulator and teleport to her location as the Daleks descend on Torchwood. Ianto and Gwen mount a defense.

Sarah Jane leaves Luke in Mr. Smith’s care as she races to the TARDIS’s landing point. Rose also teleports away with a wish of luck from Donna’s family, appearing behind the Doctor and Donna on a street full of abandoned cars. The Doctor and Rose race to each other, but a Dalek rounds the corner and shoots the Doctor. Jack appears and destroys the Dalek, but they’re too late.

Rose, Jack, and Donna take the Doctor back to the TARDIS. Rose and Jack know what’s coming, but Donna has no idea. The Doctor’s hand begins to glow.

Sarah Jane is trapped by Daleks. Torchwood is under assault.

The Doctor begins to regenerate.

 

Journey’s End

The Doctor channels the regeneration energy into the hand in the bubbling jar, leaving his companions baffled. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane is rescued by the surprise appearance of Mickey Smith and Jackie Tyler, and Torchwood’s certain doom is stopped by a strange bubble in time. It’s a time lock developed by Tosh before her death, but it means that Ianto and Gwen are trapped in Torchwood HQ.

The Doctor used enough regeneration energy to heal himself, but refused to change his face. The Daleks surround the phone box and place it in a temporal prison before transporting it to the Crucible. Sarah Jane warns her saviors to put down their guns before they all surrender to the Daleks, intent on being sent to the Crucible. Martha uses Project Indigo, but only makes it as far as Germany.

Rose tells the Doctor about the coming darkness and how all the timelines are converging on Donna. The loss of power on the TARDIS also means that the capsule is as fragile as the wooden doors that it resembles. These are, after all, the Daleks that fought the Time Lords. The TARDIS lands at the Crucible, but Donna is lost in thought once more. The Doctor and his companions exit the TARDIS, certain of their fate as they face the Supreme Dalek, but Donna doesn’t leave the ship.

The TARDIS door closes and the Daleks eject the time capsule into the heart of the Crucible. The Doctor fears that it will be destroyed and begs for Donna’s life. On the TARDIS, Donna is enthralled by the hand in a jar, and she reaches for it, it glows with regeneration energy and explodes into a fully formed duplicate of the Doctor.

The new Doctor – the Metacrisis Doctor – pushes a button and the TARDIS vanishes. Everyone in the Crucible above believes it to be destroyed and Jack opens fire with his revolver. The Daleks exterminate him and lead Rose and the Doctor away as Jack revives and plays possum.

The Metacrisis Doctor fixes the TARDIS and bonds with Donna, discovering that he only has one heart. He’s a human-Time Lord hybrid, and he believes Donna to be special. They’ve been heading to this moment from the very beginning, from the runaway bride to the convenient parking of Donna’s car near the TARDIS during the Adipose incident. But time or destiny or fate or whatever is not done yet.

Martha arrives at a castle, one of the Osterhagen bases. The caretaker threatens her by gunpoint not to go through with the plan, but Martha presses on.

On the Crucible, Jack escapes disposal and is free to find his allies. Meanwhile, Sarah Jane and her new friends arrive. The Doctor and Rose are put in confinement beams and converse with Davros, who the Doctor calls the Daleks’ pet. Davros reveals Dalek Caan, the last of the Cult of Skaro, and says that the Supreme Dalek is afraid of the mad hybrid’s prophecies about the Children of Time. Davros revels in the darkness with the Doctor, but the Time Lord puts it away as quickly as it surfaced when he learns about the secret weapon: A reality bomb.

As the prisoners are processed, Sarah Jane and Mickey escape with her sonic lipstick. The Daleks test their reality bomb on the prisoners, using the neutrino energy channeled through the aligned planets as a weapon. Just as it’s about to fire, Jackie’s teleporter recharges and she escapes as the prisoners are vaporized. They literally vanished from existence.

Davros plans to destroy the entirety of creation, every single corner of reality in every universe. The only thing to remain will be the Daleks.

Jack meets up with Sarah Jane, Mickey, and Jackie. Jack and Mickey share a manly hug as Sarah Jane produces a warp star – a warp fold conjugation trapped in a carbonized shell, or an “explosion waiting to happen”, gifted to her by a Verron soothsayer – to destroy the Crucible. On Earth, Martha makes contact with the other Osterhagen bases and opens a channel to the Crucible, threatening to use a chain of twenty-five nuclear warheads around the globe to destroy the planet. Jack also makes contact, threatening to use the warp star to destroy the Crucible, and Davros is pleased to see Sarah Jane once again.

Davros is pleased that the Doctor, a pacifist, has honed his companions into weapons ready to kill. He asks the Doctor – the man who keeps running because he dare not look back for fear of the shame – to consider how many others have died in his name. The drama is a distraction as the Supreme Dalek locks onto all of the Doctor’s allies and teleports them to the Doctor’s location.

The Daleks then initiate the reality bomb.

One the TARDIS, the Metacrisis Doctor and Donna rig a device to cause the reality bomb to backfire. The TARDIS materializes in the Crucible and the Metacrisis Doctor races out, but Davros strikes him with an electrical charge before trapping him. Donna picks up the device and is similarly dispatched before Davros destroys the weapon. Unfortunately for the Daleks, Donna stops the reality bomb, Davros, and the Daleks with knowledge that she shouldn’t have.

The creation of the Metacrisis Doctor was a two-way street. It created the Doctor-Donna, which was sparked by Davros when he shot her.

The Time Lords and humans send the missing planets home and round up the Daleks. Davros asked why Dalek Caan couldn’t see this coming, but the truth is that Dalek Caan put everything in motion to end the Dalek reign of terror. The Supreme Dalek tries to stop them, but Jack destroys it. As the Doctor rushes into the TARDIS, the Metacrisis Doctor decides to send a surge of energy into the entire fleet to prevent the Daleks from attacking the universe.

As the Daleks explode, the Doctor is appalled at the bloodlust of his duplicate, and he rushes his allies into the TARDIS. The Doctor offers sanctuary for Davros, but earns the name “Destroyer of Worlds” in return as his offer is declined. The TARDIS takes off but cannot break free of the time bubble, so the Doctor contacts Torchwood and Bannerman Road – including K9! – to break free with every companion on the console.

Just as the TARDIS is meant to be flown.

The time capsule tows the planet Earth back to its rightful place in our solar system. As they arrive, having saved the world in epic fashion, the console room erupts in a celebration that bleeds onto the planet below.

The Doctor bids farewell once again to Sarah Jane, who tells him that he has the biggest family on Earth. Mickey decides to stay behind in this reality as the Doctor disables Jack’s vortex manipulator. Jack and Martha walk away with Mickey in close pursuit.

The Doctor takes the TARDIS to Bad Wolf Bay in Rose’s parallel universe. Jackie tells the Metacrisis Doctor that she needs to find her husband and son, and the Doctor tells Rose that he’s leaving his clone with her. The Metacrisis Doctor is exactly how Rose found the Doctor, full of anger and fury, and he needs Rose’s influence to grow and change. The big difference is that he is part human and will grow old with her.

She asks the Doctor what he was going to say on the day he left her behind in Bad Wolf Bay. The Metacrisis Doctor whispers the answer to her and they kiss as the TARDIS vanishes from sight.

As the TARDIS flies, Donna’s Time Lord knowledge begins to overload her brain. She wants to stay with him, but if she does, the metacrisis will destroy her. She cannot be with him forever as she wanted. She begs him not to leave her behind, but he has no choice but to say goodbye as he wipes her mind.

He delivers her home and makes Wilf and Sylvia promise that she can never remember anything about her travels with the Doctor. If she remembers any thread of it, she will die. Wilf is understanding but angry, and he takes solace in the fact that she saved so many in her travels. For one shining moment she was the most important woman in existence. Sylvia says that she still is. The Doctor reminds her to tell Donna every once in a while.

Donna awakens and rushes in, but she doesn’t remember any of it. The Doctor bids her farewell as John Smith, and Wilf promises to look up to the stars on his behalf every night. The Doctor walks away in the rain takes flight in the TARDIS once more.

Time Lord victorious. Time Lord alone.

 

It is no secret that this story earns every last bit of a high rating.  The balance of action and dramatic tension as all of our heroes from the last four years come together to defeat one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies is masterful. They all bring strengths and weaknesses, and they leverage all of them together to save the world. The universe. All of creation.

The cinematography was quite impressive. I was blown away by the beautiful dichotomy between the close shots of the celebrating family and the long shots of the Doctor alone and somewhat defeated.

There’s also a great deal of attention paid to the franchise’s mythology, both old and new. It’s important for them to do so because, hey, it’s the Daleks. We met Davros in Genesis of the Daleks and watched him lose his hand in Revelation of the Daleks. UNIT gets another crack at the Daleks after their first encounter in Day of the Daleks. The Daleks tried to steal the Earth before in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which is also where we first encountered a Supreme Dalek.

We last saw Davros and the Supreme Dalek in Remembrance of the Daleks as the Dalek Civil War came to a close, and that’s a really interesting dynamic: Davros commanded the Imperial Daleks and the Supreme Dalek commanded the Renegades. After the Time War, it seems that bygones are bygones as there is only one faction of Daleks now.

Of course, in the post-Time War era, we’ve seen the Cult of Skaro. Survivors of the Time War, it adds a twist as a hybrid helps give birth to the new Dalek empire before destroying it.

In more comical callbacks, we’ve seen Daleks disabled by attacking their eyestalks – The DaleksPlanet of the DaleksResurrection of the DaleksRevelation of the DaleksThe Parting of the Ways – often screaming, “My vision is impaired!” This time, the trope was flipped to both humorous appeal and heightened tension.

The Doctor has been shot by a Dalek before, but this is the first time it was effectively lethal. When the Third Doctor took a hit from a Dalek cannon in Planet of the Daleks, he was only paralyzed for a short time.

In terms of the missing planets, the theft of Earth is nothing new since it was stolen by the Time Lords (and renamed Ravolox) in The Trial of a Time Lord. Earth’s twin planet Mondas was moved and became home to the Cybermen.

We heard about Adipose 3, Pyrovillia, and the Lost Moon of Poosh through this series. We’ve never seen Shallacatop or Jahoo, but three others have been mentioned in one way or another: Clom was the home of the Abzorbaloff (Love & Monsters), Woman Wept was the site of an off-screen adventure for Rose and the Ninth Doctor (Boom Town), and Calufrax Minor could be in the same vein as the miniaturized Calufrax from The Pirate Planet.

Then we get to the Children of Time.

I know that Rose is a fan favorite, but I stand by my assessment that Martha was superior in every way. Rose is a liability to the Doctor, almost costing him his life in the middle of a war. Sure, the reunion was touching, but her jealousy was nearly intolerable.

It’s a little ironic that an avatar resembling her will be the key to saving the Doctors, the Time Lords, and Gallifrey down the road.

The consequences of the Rose and Doctor relationship also gives us the notion that Time Lords have some degree of control over their regenerations.

Martha, Sarah Jane, and Jack continue to bring their strengths to bear in a conflict, each tackling the problem with their unique skillsets. I had the biggest grin at Sarah Jane’s line about Torchwood using their guns too often, and Jack’s fanboy nature over Sarah Jane was adorable.

Gwen (who gets the callback to The Unquiet Dead) and Ianto holding down the fort at Torchwood makes sense, particularly since they’ve never encountered Daleks before. The same goes for Luke and Mr. Smith. I was also pleased to see Mickey (“Us Smiths gotta stick together!”) and Jackie following Rose through the breach and, in a natural evolution since their debut, fighting for their planet.

That leaves us with Donna. Oh, Donna. Her departure is heartbreaking, particularly since she wanted to travel with the Doctor for the rest of her life. She considered him to be her destiny, and she was correct thanks to Dalek Caan. Now she doesn’t remember any part of her adventures with the Doctor, even though the universe remembers her.

Donna Noble was the Doctor’s conscience, saving him with her direct nature and wide-eyed innocence more than once. She reminded him of his empathy, which Davros tries to use against him by reminding him of those who sacrificed themselves for him and those he couldn’t save – Harriet Jones, Ceth Ceth Jafe, the Controller, Lynda Moss, Sir Robert MacLeish, Angela Price, Colin Skinner, Ursula Blake, Bridget Sinclair, the Face of Boe, Chantho, Astrid Peth, Luke Rattigan, Jenny, River Song, and the hostess – and how easily any of his Earth family could join those ranks.

None of the Doctor’s companions physically died to save the world, but the Donna that he knew is gone. She didn’t love him, but she loved everything about him. She believed in him. She saved him.

And he saved her in turn.

I’m going to miss her.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Series Four Summary

 

 

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.