Recap: Doctor Who S28 E3 "School Reunion"
aka: Doctor Who NSS 2 E 3 School Reunion
"Oh mate, the missus and the ex! Welcome to every man's worst nightmare."
— Mickey Smith
The return of Sarah Jane Smith and K9 Mark III, who (on screen) last appeared in "The Five Doctors"
in 1983. This episode pretty much singlehandedly spawned The Sarah Jane Adventures
, giving another generation of children the gift of Elisabeth Sladen
. It also holds significance as the first episode of the modern era of Doctor Who
to confirm that the new series was set in the same continuity as the 1963-89 original series (prior to its broadcast, fandom was split on this issue).
So there's a certain Perfectly Ordinary Comprehensive
whose Perfectly Ordinary Students are absolutely whomping
the competition in the school ratings, with enough time left over in the school day to calculate pi to infinity, invent time travel, etc. They're led by new headmaster Anthony Stewart Head
, whose hobbies include looking Obviously Evil
, cackling maniacally
, Chewing the Scenery
and chewing on the kids.
Sensing high weirdness afoot, the Doctor has gone undercover as a Perfectly Ordinary Substitute Science Teacher, dragging Rose along to serve as a Perfectly Ordinary
Dinner Lady. Rose is a bit miffed that she pulled kitchen duty, but consoles herself with the happy thought of all the chips she can eat. In fact — childhood obesity epidemic be damned — at this P.O.C., school lunches are not only free
, but also mandatory
's weirdness detector has pinged, too: Intrepid Reporter
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen
), companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors, has turned up at the P.O.C. to see what's afoot. It's been thirty or so years since she left the Doctor, in her timeline, and several hundred years in his. He recognises her but doesn't give himself away, only to come clean when Sarah Jane sneaks into the school at night and finds where he's parked the TARDIS. Here the picture goes all swimmy and blurry for some reason
By the time it clears up again, the Doctor has provisionally identified the cafeteria's chips as the source of the kids' mysterious intelligence. K9 (pulled out of Sarah Jane's car boot, and fixed by the Doctor) identifies the frying oil as "Krillitane Oil", which identifies the baddies as Krillitanes, a bunch of nefarious shapeshifters.
So, OK, villain identified — but what's up with making the kids smarter? Why, so they can solve the Skasis Paradigm, of course! The Skasis Paradigm is a grand unified theory of everything that can rebuild the universe and space and time. The Doctor is eye-rollingly annoyed at yet another
group of beings who want to take over the universe and remake it in their image... but then the head Krillitane surprises the Doctor by offering him
the top job.
Also, Sarah Jane tells the Doctor that she spent the last few decades waiting for him, unable to fall in love again, unable to forget him, unable to trust and unable to live happily as a normal human. The Doctor mumbles something almost resembling an excuse as Rose looks on in horror at what apparently awaits her. Noticing what the Doctor now means to Rose, Sarah Jane gives Rose some pointers on having "a relationship" with the Doctor, and the two bond after some initial awkwardness. Meanwhile, Mickey gets acquainted with K9 and realizes that he's not much more than The Team
's "tin dog".
With the Villain of the Week
appropriately vanquished by K9, having blown up the Krillitane oil and a portion of the school as well as himself, the Doctor prepares to once again make his departure without so much as a proper goodbye. Sarah Jane isn't having any, and finally gets the goodbye for which she's been waiting three decades.
Sarah Jane: No, say it. This time, please, say it.
The Doctor: Goodbye — my Sarah Jane.
Here he picks her up off her feet in a hug for the ages, and for a moment, we catch a glimpse of a much younger Sarah Jane Smith....No, whacking the screen is not going to make it less blurry.
He vanishes again, but leaves his beloved Sarah with two things: badly-needed closure, and a new K9 model. However, this isn't the last we've seen of Sarah Jane
, and she'll return in series 4.
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": This is "The One Where Sarah Jane Comes Back". Any other details are inconsequential.
- Arc Words: Torchwood block Mickey's investigation of the UNIT website.
- Badass: Sarah Jane has fought mummies, lots of robots and THE. LOCH NESS. MONSTER!
- Badass Adorable: K9 the toy-like robot dog with the lasers.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The Tenth Doctor effectively sums up the direction he will be taking this regeneration in a single sentence.
I'm so old now. I used to have so much mercy. You get one
warning. That was it.
- Berserk Button: Never take the piss out of K9. Ever.
- Big Damn Heroes: K9, of all things, saves everyone by application of laser blasts.
- Blatant Lies: One of the cafeteria workers gets oil all over herself, and is quickly rushed off into another room. Rose is calmly informed by the head dinner lady that she's fine. Even as the worker starts billowing smoke and screaming.
- Brick Joke: A brick thrown thirty years ago finally lands; when we last saw Sarah Jane, she suspected the Doctor had left her in the wrong part of Britain. Turns out that, in fact, he had.
- Buffy Speak: "Forget the shooty dog thing." Said by Giles.
- The Bus Came Back: Sarah Jane Smith has been gone for thirty years.
- Butt Monkey: Lampshaded, as Mickey compares Rose to Sarah Jane, and himself to K9 in their relationship with the Doctor...
Mickey: (realization dawns) I'm the tin dog.
- Captain Obvious:
Okay, no time to explain, we need to get inside the school. Do you have, like, I don't know, a lock picking device? K9
: We are in a car. Mickey:
Maybe a drill attachment? K9:
We are in a car. Mickey:
Fat lot of good you are! K9:
We are in a car. Mickey Smith: Wait a second
. We're in a car. K9:
- Car Fu: As K9 so aptly put it...
K9: We are in a car.
- Cargo Ship: Mentioned by Sarah Jane.
Sarah Jane: Tell me, does he still...stroke parts of the TARDIS?
Rose: Yes, yes! I'm like, "Do you two want to be left alone?"
- Cat Fight: Not the physical Fanservice-type, but Rose and Sarah Jane engage in a verbal pissing contest through much of the episode. In the end, the girls come to a (very giggly) compromise when they start comparing the things about the Doctor that bug them which in turn makes the poor Doctor wonder if them getting along isn't even worse for him, since now they seem to be in conspiracy against him. As Mickey so aptly puts it:
- Continuity Cavalcade: Sarah Jane and Rose trying to one-up one another. Sarah Jane wins.