I love how I have long lived in dread of a Yet Another New Kid horning in on my established trio adventures, but then when it happened I could not have been more overjoyed. Sky is perfect. Perfect. Everything about this idea was perfect. I don't know who came up with it, but I love you. Sarah Jane has the daughter she's always wanted, she has a few more years of sharing the house with someone (especially important as Rani and Clyde near graduation), and all together, they make an even more perfectly complete little family.
(The only thing that twinged a bit was Sky taking over Luke's room -- seriously, I'm positive she has more than two bedrooms in that place, and I don't know how many times I have to say that just because a person goes to uni doesn't mean they do not still frequently come home and expect to have a bedroom in which to stay. Especially their first year. Super-especially if they are still underage when they go to uni.)
I think my very favorite thing about Sky is that Sarah Jane is, once again, basically living the parenting dream. I can assure you I would like very much to find an abandoned baby on my doorstep -- thus establishing that important parent/child bonding nonsense you can't fully replicate if you adopt, say, a 5-year-old with prior memories -- who then takes less than 24 hours to, pop!, magically transform into a mature 12-year-old girl. (OK, possibly in my ideal world she would only jump to the age of 6-8, but I would be very happy with 12)
Anyway. Sarah Jane/Luke stuff has always been the #1 best thing about the series, but I went to a whole new plane of happy with the words "My son and my daughter." SO PROUD. Hang on, I gotta break this down by episode...
(snarky sidebar: The only thing wrong with the season was that it seemed a bit, er, heavy-handed with the morals, didn't it?)
Social Message #1: Killing Is Never Justifiable, Even In War And/Or To Save Others
One of my many favorite things about Sarah Jane is her reaction to the baby. Improbable wish come true! I thought she looked adorable holding her, perhaps because she was wide-eyed and frazzled and terrified by the more-alien-than-regular-aliens thing in her arms. The panicky text to Rani (and subsequent desperate pleas for help once the two showed up) made me laugh. The way the girls fobbed her off on Clyde at the earliest opportunity made me laugh harder (also: awwww).
Clyde: Little kids are cute! Aren’t you, Sparky?
Sarah Jane: You think so? I always think babies look a bit rubbery.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (+ ALL OF THE WORLD'S HEARTS FOR BEING A WOMAN AFTER MY OWN)
I'm not quite sure I bought Sky's biological mother as The Most Evil Person Of All, though. Seemed to me like the Metalkind started a rage-based revenge war out of nowhere, and there is no hope of reasoning with them, and while I'm not clear why the "Fleshkind" couldn't have built a non-living or at least non-sentient doomsday device, it seems understandable. Jack Harkness did it. I may have compared him to Hitler and shunned him forever for it, but at least he did something while the Doctor just runs away from these sorts of choices. Or at least he did back before I stopped believing in his existence. I don't actually expect this show to do anything other than what they did -- I'd probably be disappointed in them if they had -- it just raises philosophical questions I can't resist arguing. I felt sorry for the lady, okay?
Also, high five for Mysterious Shopkeeper & Parrot. If only there'd been time to explain them.
In conclusion, just when you think there cannot possibly be anything more wonderful than Sarah Jane as a mother, there is Sarah Jane as a mother to a little girl. Or, right now, more of a protective guardian in the way you'd adopt a shelter dog than the instant bonding visible with Luke, but I expect that'll take roughly fifteen minutes to start changing.
Social Message #2: The Homelessness Awareness Project
a/k/a "The Curse of Clyde Langer"
Though redundant, I'll point out again how Clyde has never particularly been my favorite character, but I didn't mind this at all, if only because I will side with anybody when they're friendless, down on their luck and/or crying (preferably on the street, at night, in the rain). I particularly liked Sarah Jane seething at him; if her change in emotion hadn't been so quick and such a 180, you could almost believe it was real.
It also helped that this episode was as much a girls' piece as anything -- I love that Sky wasn't affected (more screen time for her!), and I especially loved the existence of Ellie, who was fascinating, likable and lovely (Clani shippers cry and shake their fists. I beam happily at the first time I have ever felt even modestly inclined to ship a thing on this show). Am just not clear on why Clyde couldn't have taken ten extra seconds, instead of arguing with Sarah Jane, to leave a note before dashing off.
I REALLY especially loved how they were so focused on their Message of Social Justice that they didn't bother attempting to make this particularly alien at all. In fact, as I recall, there was nothing to suggest it could not have been mythology, gods and curses (with a dash of tea leaf reading) all the way. (Sarah Jane's scanner? Please. Easy to fool). So good!
By the by, I am also enjoying Rani's default girl-to-girl mentoring role.
Social Message #3: Slavery Is Evil And So Is Big Business
a/k/a "The Man Who Never Was"
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for bringing Luke back for a whole full-time adventure.
The kids look sharp together, yes?
Things that are even greater than Sarah Jane as mother to a little girl: Luke having a little sister. For them, the shelter metaphor of bringing home a new pup to join an established single dog is even more apt, but since Luke takes about five minutes to quietly angst before accepting his new Protector Of The Small role, and she needs no encouragement to tag along after him, the family forms more or less immediately, as we need it to. And this episode goes about indulging my every hoped-for whim over and over and over again. They seem to have spared no effort in making sure that I see everything I have ever wanted to see in such a dynamic, including:
-"Please, let her go! She's my sister, she's just a child!" This is inherently laughable given the, what, 5-year age gap between them? And 12 is really teetering on the brink of childhood as it is -- but in practice it's gorgeous, terribly sweet.
-All the Smiths being taken prisoner. Mother separate from children, but kids together. ("No, you leave my children alone! Luke, you look after her!")
-Luke with his arm around Sky
-Too many hugs to count
Children held hostage...
"I can sleep somewhere else in the house."
"If you want your room back. I think it upset you, but you're not telling me."
"It doesn't matter."
...for multiple scenes.
-Aw, look who took off his jacket and put it around her
-And sits up extra-alertly at the sound of potential trouble, with the opening of the door
-Hugs for brilliant ideas! "You are so my sister."
Forehead kisses too
And other hugs that happened at various points! With the last panel out of order, but oh well.
What I'm trying to say is, I was head-over-heels for this dynamic, and given that I went in so spoiler-free after the first adventure that I even skipped the "Next time on..." previews, it was especially gratifying to see this come to life when I'd started imagining it my head as soon as it became clear Sarah Jane was keeping her. (sorry. the shelter dog metaphors will never end. Even her names does it -- I knew a dog named Skye long before any real people or characters)
Oh, and then some other things happened in this episode, like Sarah Jane's wonderful genial technophobe of a former editor and Clani going undercover as a married journalist couple (Rani, looking sharp in glasses!) and the Skullions being creepy but ultimately kind of adorable. Also Sarah Jane being one of the top 3 journalists in the country, and getting her awesome Cat and Mouse mode on (laughing forever), and meeting Adriana, who turned into one of the most likable one-note guest stars this series has ever had, and getting her hooked up with a fancy new UNIT job. All of things added to the excellence, it was just hard to concentrate on them in the smorgasboard of Family Outing Fun this adventure was.
Sidebar: A Smorgasboard (it's apparently my vocab word this week) of Funny Quotes
Luke: [K-9] wouldn't come back with me.
Mr. Smith: Oh good...ness me, what a shame.
Clyde: Hey! It was my idea.
Rani: It needs a delicate touch.
Clyde: Well, I'm delicate! ...in a very manly way.
Sky: (as it's crunched to pieces) That's my phone!
Luke: Welcome to the club. I've had 7 phones in the last 2 years.
Sarah Jane: I'm going to stop this. I'm going to stop you!
Harrison: What are you going to do, hit me with your handbag?
Sarah Jane: And you make a fortune. That's all it is. The slaves -- just money. Just profit.
Harrison: Shock, horror!
*snerk* Point to Mr. Big Bad, there.
I suppose the only thing left to regret is that we'll never see Sky go through the same transition as Luke, becoming a properly socialized young girl with a distinct personality and sense of self, instead of a still-imprinting slate incessantly asking what things are. We also don't have quite enough time to fully establish a mother-daughter bond -- however much I can see it happening in the future, right now it still feels more like she'd call her Sarah Jane than "Mum." More's the pity, I think we could have got on very well with a new generation of kids. But if that's all there is and these are my only qualms, I am more proud of the final result than I thought possible.
The way they ended it was beautiful -- just beautiful. Of course it goes on forever. It's a magical world, it's like a fairy tale, and nothing bad will ever happen to it so long as we keep the fantasy alive. (Are you listening, Mr. Moffat? That means you keep your paws off and don't go inserting verbal updates into the mouth of your Impostor. "Eleven" wasn't in the final montage for a reason.) The recycled voiceover coupled with a flipbook of Sarah Jane's Greatest Hits (plus the Doctor! The real one!) left me with such a sense of peace. If I ever said anything negative about this show, please strike it from the record, because as far as I'm concerned I'm honoring its memory as a piece of television perfection beyond even Doctor Who itself.
Yep, I am pretty OK with ending on this shot.
And now, to my sad regret, my adventures with the Whoniverse truly are over. The last corner has gone dark; there will be new material no more. There will be rewatches, of course; many memories to bask in and perhaps even some future posts about them, but officially it has gone to join Harry Potter in the great Lockbox Of Past Glories.
But at least we still have Lis Sladen's autobiography to look forward to, the one they've been promising since 2009. Maybe it's better this way, to have it finalized and complete. As of today, it finally went on sale! In the UK. America has to wait until ten days before Christmas, which means goodness knows how long I'll have to wait until Half Price puts some copies on the shelves. But I will get my little paws on it, so excited am I to read it.
No one's ever going to forget you.