Luke is still struggling to find his place, not understanding the behaviors of other kids. Clyde brings him to Combat 3000, a laser tag chain that has just opened, to teach him the importance of games.
Sarah Jane and Maria investigate the disappearances of children across England, linked with brief storms. They discover that the freak storms occurred as a reaction from a teleportation device, which all occurred in the vicinity of branches of Combat 3000. They take their investigations to the laser tag center (read: sonic and enter and go poking around) and are confronted by the manager, Mr. Mark Grantham. They discover that he and an Uvodni (a humanoid, insectoid alien) called Kudlak are abducting the children for an unseen "Mistress" to turn them into an army of Child Soldiers
against their enemies, the Malakh. They are too late to save Luke and Clyde, who have been transported to the Uvodni craft in orbit and are trying to rally the other kids in an escape.
Various sci-fi shout-outs are made and various anvils are dropped.
Luke wires Clyde's mobile into the craft computer system and accomplishes feats of tech that would make the Doctor proud.Sarah Jane and Maria trade off being generally awesome in confronting, escaping, and later capturing Grantham, forcing him to teleport them to the Uvodni ship where they and the kids confront The Mistress and her troops. They discover the Mistress's true identity as a face appearing on a computer screen, with no real person behind it. Kudlak is stopped by Luke before he kills anyone. Luke reveals that The Mistress concealed a message in the mainframe from the Uvodni Emperor from ten years ago. It declared that an armistice had been reached with the Malakh. As a computer, the Mistress has no programming to understand the concept of peace, so the Mistress buried the message and continued to command Kudlak as before, even though her missions no longer had any real point to them. With the truth revealed, Kudlak destroys The Mistress, releases the children and swears to do what he can to reunite all the surviving recruits with their families.
- Adult Fear: Missing children
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The computer.
- Anti-Villain: Despite his modus operandi, General Kudlak is one of the more honourable antagonists Sarah Jane has faced. He takes no genuine pleasure in his actions but commits them to ensure the Uvodni aren't crushed, and desperately desires peace. When he learns the truth, he is enraged and remorseful for his actions, dedicating the remainder of his life to reuniting the families he broke apart.
- The Atoner and Must Make Amends: General Kudlak
- Child Soldiers: The aims of the Mistress and the Uvodni.
- Continuity Nod:
- Sarah Jane mentions her UNIT training in this serial.
- The Slabs from the Doctor Who episode "Smith and Jones" are in the employ of the Uvodni, minus all the leather.
- Grantham states that "Kids love war games!". No surprises how it turns out then.
- Cool Old Lady: Sarah Jane, as usual. Grantham even begrudgingly calls her a 'cool old bird.' Twice
- Everyone Has Standards: Kudlak is actually disgusted with Grantham sheer sliminess and Lack of Empathy
- Go and Sin No More: Sarah Jane to Kudlak.
- Heel-Face Turn: General Kudlak
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Unfortunate Implications for a kid's show, the Uvodni are kidnapping human children because they are one of the most aggressive races in the galaxy, as evidenced by the many wars that humans fight and war games that children play.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Luke
- Karma Houdini: Discussed. Grantham didn't stick around after sending off Sarah Jane and Maria, but they implied he would get what was coming to him 'eventually.' And for what it was worth, they did get a chance to beat up on him, see below.
- Little Miss Badass: Maria electrocuted Grantham. Nothing fatal, but she succeeded in dropping him while he was holding Sarah Jane at gunpoint for the second time that episode. He should have taken the hint the first time around, when Sarah Jane shorted out his comm device with her sonic lipstick.
- My God, What Have I Done?: General Kudlak
- Old Soldier: Kudlak in spirit. And he longs for peace
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Uvodni.
- Shout-Out: Lots. Maria mentions Planet of the Apes, Clyde mentions Captain Kirk and Obi-Wan Kenobi.
- Grantham says 'A galaxy far far away' and when the kids are on board the ship, one girl says "That's no moon."
- Smug Snake: Grantham.
- Techno Babble: Sarah Jane has to translate for the kids whenever Mr. Smith is guilty of this.
- The X of Y
- Thousand-Yard Stare: Kudlak in his most unguarded moments has a version of this. He's tired and just wants to go home, away from the war
- War Is Glorious vs. War Is Hell