Friday, August 28, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 1x06: "The Lost Boy"

Written by Phil Ford
Directed by Charles Martin

Alan (re the Staffords): “They’ve skinned someone, they’re cannibals.”
Maria: “They’re not cannibals, they’re Slitheen.”

In a way, it’s appropriate to bring back the Slitheen for the finale. Doctor Who pulled off this tack by introducing Daleks and Cybermen in early season episodes before having them come back en masse for the finale. The only difference, I care about the Daleks and Cybermen. Slitheen, not so much.

Of course that’s the only negative thing that I can really say about this finale. I may not like one of the villains in this story but I definitely like this story as a whole. From the title, it’s obvious that Luke was going to be the centre of everything really.

The last story had given him a break to be a more Maria and Sarah Jane piece but this finale threw a blinding teaser about the possibility of Luke being the lost child to the Stafford family. Sarah Jane didn’t want to believe it at first but when Mr Smith gave her deadly confirmation, she had no choice.

It was hard to watch Luke go away to another family because from the off, there was something afoot. It also genuinely made me want to hate Chrissie, in spite of the fact that anyone else would’ve done the same thing (i.e. calling the police on Sarah Jane) under the circumstances. It’s just Chrissie sounded more nasty than protective and that’s what pissed me off about the character’s actions.

It’s nice to see Sarah Jane’s UNIT connections prevent her from rotting in a prison cell, though somewhat convenient as well but it worked to the plot well. Sarah Jane went back to being abrasive to Maria, even to the point of trying to encourage to Maria leave Bannerman Road with Alan after all.

Sarah Jane even went out of her way to point out that she wasn’t cut out for motherhood. Okay, it was the grief talking but we have already seen enough evidence over the season to convey just how good she is at motherhood. Shutting Maria and Clyde out was understandable but essentially unwise.

You could even tell when Mr Smith was trying to give her a purpose by investigating Pharos that she was protesting too much. They may be kids but Maria and Clyde really have proved themselves to be as capable as any adult companion The Doctor has ever had and that’s saying something.

I’ve never viewed Clyde as a thick character, so I loved that this episode displayed some more cleverness for him. He didn’t buy into the Stafford family being the real deal and this was before the wife refused to let Clyde see Luke/Ashley. Plus Clyde made the connection of photos being faked and Luke’s crappy skateboarding skills. Remind you of a fiery Noble woman, perhaps?

The unfortunate thing is that Clyde’s clever deductive skills landed him in trouble. It would’ve been easy to have assumed that the Staffords would’ve locked him after Luke discovered his new family were actually Slitheen (not a shock) but the surprise was Mr Smith being the villain of the piece.

To be fair, it should’ve been obvious. He was deliberately cagey when confirming that Luke was Ashley and a little too insistent in pointing Sarah Jane towards the Pharos laboratory as well. His comment about Clyde not being as stupid as he looks was a little too snide as well.

Clyde’s cleverness also extended to him briefly being able to warn Alan about Mr Smith going bad. Having a masterful alien computer was always going to be suspect but having Mr Smith, a Xylok as the main villain, playing both the Slitheen and Sarah Jane for it’s own purposes definitely helped this story a lot.

The story gave a satisfying info dump on Sarah Jane finding the original crystal, being duped and the birth of Mr Smith the computer. Defeating the computer in the midst of it using Luke’s telekinesis to destroy the Earth by bringing the moon to smash into the planet with the assistance of K9 was another thing that worked for me.

K9’s appearance in this story may be brief but it’s long enough and it served as a wonderful retort when Mr Smith berated her for being lonely. Having Alan also be the one to come up with the corrupting virus that would change Mr Smith’s mission was neat too. He’s now part of the gang.

Alan’s contribution did dovetail nicely with Chrissie still being left in the background, though I got the feeling she heard more than she was letting on during the last scene. It’s nice that Sarah Jane has now come to accept that she has a family, even if she never thought one was possible.

As for the Slitheen part, well it petered out. The obnoxious Nathan Goss was really Karl from “Revenge Of The Slitheen” and didn’t get that much of an opportunity to exact revenge on Luke and Sarah Jane and the Stafford couple became more interested in saving their own skin when they learned that Mr Smith was using them.

In a first season, we’ve had a good selection of storylines. The ending of this story more than implied that Sarah Jane and the gang would again encounter the Slitheen, plus there was more interesting allusions to Luke’s alien properties as well as further demonstration to how much Sarah Jane is no longer alone.

Also in “The Lost Boy”

Luke being labelled as the title (if not actually onscreen) did stir reminders of The Doctor. A scene with those two brain boxes would be interesting to watch.

Alan: “Maria, you’re fourteen.”
Maria: “Dad, the world would’ve died.”
Alan: “I’m your father. You never thought I should’ve known about this?”
Maria: “It was difficult. Especially after you got turned into stone.”

Maria filled Alan in about the Bane and the Gorgons as well as the Slitheen and The Doctor to boot.

Alan: “This is too much to take in.”
Sarah Jane: “That’s the universe, Alan. Once it’s chosen to show you some of it’s secrets, you can’t ever turn your back on it. None of us can.”

Luke (re the Staffords): “I can remember every page of every book I’ve ever read, so why can’t I remember them?”
Sarah Jane: “I wish I had all the answers, Luke.”

Maria got a phone call from Clyde’s mother, who we would go on to meet in the series second year.

Sarah Jane: “Go home. You tell your Dad he was right, he should put the house on the market, and he and you and Clyde should forget all about me and everything you’ve seen.”
Maria: “What, how are we going to do that? What happened to never turning your back on the universe?”
Sarah Jane: “Sometimes you have to. Sometimes it’s the only way to survive.”

Maria (re Sarah Jane): “She’s devastated about Luke.”
Clyde: “Well, she’s not the only one hurting.”

Alan made some pretty appropriate references to Star Trek and Terminator when Clyde wasn’t namedropping Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys.

Alarm System: “You have been warned.”
Sarah Jane: “Noted.”

Alan: “Housebreaking, great. Maybe your mother was right about you hanging around with Sarah Jane.”
Maria: “Just keep quiet Dad and start looking.”

Chrissie called Sarah Jane, “Calamity Jane” in this story. It’s not her most original one is it?

Nathan: “I’m Slitheen and you are going to give me my revenge.”
Luke: “I’m not sure I want to do that.”

Mr Smith (to Sarah Jane): “I have a purpose. It must be fulfilled. The Slitheen have been useful and so have you but you are no longer required.”

The episode opened and ended with the same kind of monologue from “Invasion Of The Bane”. For me, it was a nice call back.

Nathan (to Sarah Jane): “Save your breath. You’ll need it when the screaming starts.”

Mr Smith: “What life do you have, alone in your attic?”
Sarah Jane: “Alone? You think I’m alone? You think I’m defenceless? Well, meet my dog. K9, protect me!”
K9: “Affirmative, Mistress!”

Chronology: Five months since “Invasion Of The Bane”.

For a season finale, it might lack the body count of Torchwood or the grand epicness of Doctor Who but “The Lost Boy” is a very satisfying way of concluding the show’s first season. This show found it’s feet and established an identity for itself with relative ease.

Rating: 8 out of 10.