Recap: The Sarah Jane Adventures S4 E5-6 "Death of the Doctor"
UNIT comes to Sarah Jane's house to inform her of the Doctor's death.Featuring the Eleventh Doctor and old-school companion Jo Grant, with a long-time fanboy providing a script stuffed to bursting with Continuity Nods. Oh, boy.We start with a webcam chat between Luke and the gang. Luke casually refers to someone he's met at uni as his "best mate ever", and gives Clyde a few seconds to get rather adorably jealous before letting him off the hook. Mr Smith interrupts to warn them all that UNIT is converging on the house, with all the subtlety that well, a bunch of gun-toting, beret-wearing soldiers standing around in the middle of Ealing, can have. As you can probably tell by the title, they've got bad news.Sarah Jane refuses to believe it, even after seeing a message from the Shansheeth, a species of humanoid vultures whose hat is undertaking across the galaxy. Since the Doctor's home planet is long since gone, they'll be holding the funeral on Earth, working together with UNIT. Sarah Jane decides to go, but still isn't convinced.Rani gets a nice moment with her Dad, while Clyde's hand keeps crackling with the same energy he absorbed from the TARDIS when he met the Doctor. He keeps it between himself and Rani, not wanting Sarah Jane to worry (or UNIT to quarantine him). They're taken to a capital-B Base, complete with a rocket built with the help of the Groske (blue, non-mischievous Graske) to launch the Doctor into space after the funeral. One of the Groske keeps mentioning that Clyde smells - er, of time - and that it means "he's coming".UNIT's refusal to open the Doctor's coffin sparks Sarah Jane's interest, until they mention that he was very badly hurt. She starts to consider that maybe he really is dead, and since he's probably regenerated again, she wouldn't even recognise him. The funeral is less than crowded - most of the guests are old soldiers, as the Doctor's companions don't tend to hang around in groups. Liz Shaw is on the UNIT Moonbase (Clyde's running out of reactions for stuff like that) and The Brigadier is stranded in Peru again. He must really like it there.The Shansheeth play soothing music and encourage the guests to fill their minds with memories of the departed. Everyone starts having flashbacks: the kids can only remember the Tenth Doctor, while Sarah Jane's memory goes back to Four and Three. The Shansheeth keep encouraging them to remember, and start to seem rather insistent...At which point the melancholy of the funeral is interrupted by Jo Jones, nee Grant, dropping her vase of flowers. Classic Who fans breathe a sigh of relief as she proceeds to gush over just about everything and everyone. Sarah Jane, despite never having met her, doesn't take long to work out this is her predecessor, and they hit it off immediately, sharing stories of their lives with and after the Doctor. Sarah Jane admits it took her a while to get used to a normal life again, while Jo has never stopped running, spending the last few decades exploring and protesting everywhere, not to mention having seven kids and twelve grandkids (with number thirteen on the way). She's still caught off-guard when Sarah mentions that she's met the Doctor recently: she never saw him again after leaving the TARDIS.Santiago, one of Jo's grandkids, introduces himself to Clyde and Rani (and seems commendably unfazed by the giant space vultures - then again, they're pretty tame after Sycorax, Cybermen and Dalek invasions). His parents have been following in Jo's footsteps, and they spend so much time globetrotting he doesn't even go to school. When they hear what his journey was like, they're a bit humbled to admit they came from Ealing.Sarah Jane and Jo bond some more while the kids go exploring. Unsurprisingly, one trip through the air vents to the Shansheeth's chamber reveals the whole thing to be a trap: the funeral has been staged to lure the Doctor's companions, whose memories they need for something. Unfortunately for the kids, Clyde's artron energy acts up again, giving them away ("Shuffle for your life!").They meet up with Jo and Sarah Jane, who get the I Knew It moment they've been waiting for: if the Shansheeth are lying, the Doctor's still alive (high-five!)
- Clyde (with Matt Smith's voice): "Of course I'm still alive, Jo, I would have thought that was obvious, keep up."
- A God Am I: The Shansheeth plan to use time travel to prevent every death.
- Air-Vent Passageway: "That takes me back..."
- Oddly enough the characters say you can't turn around in the vents, there seems to be plenty of room.
- Badass Grandpa/Never Mess with Granny: In addition to Sarah Jane and Jo, it is revealed that Barbara, Sir Ian, Ben, and Polly survived battle with the Crucible Daleks.
- Big Good: The Doctor jokes that if the day ever comes when he does die, the universe itself might just shiver. Then brushes it off with a laugh.
- The Character Died with Him: Harry Sullivan
- Subverted with Barbara and Ben, who are both mentioned to still be alive, despite Jacqueline Hill and Michael Craze's deaths.
- Chekhov's Gun: "The coffin was the trap, the coffin was the solution. That's so neat I could write a thesis..."
- Continuity Nod: The fates of several companions, including the long-wondered closure for Ace. She became a charity worker.
- Ace's actor, meanwhile, complained that it's only in-character if said charity is a front for UNIT.
- Jo and Sarah Jane both reminisce about going to Peladon and seeing Aggedor, and Metebelis III is mentioned.
- When Clyde, Rani and Santiago find their way to the Groske's home in the ventilation ducts, there is a Jubilee pizza box lying around, a shout out to Torchwood and to the Big Finish audio play Jubilee.
- Once again, technology and the Doctor do not mix. Also, people with GUNS and the Doctor do not mix. Period. Unless it's Martha... she's the exception.
- The Doctor forgets Rory's name... and also calls them by his affectionately fluffy fanboy name of The Ponds.
- Once again, The TARDIS survives being directly inside a very big explosion.
- Crazy Awesome: Jo's entire life, according to the Doctor. Things like sailing down the Yangtze River in a tea-chest are the reason which is even when he tried to find her, even the TARDIS could barely track her down.
- The Danza: Finn Jones plays Santiago Jones. Coincidental, as Jo Grant's marriage to Clifford Jones had been established long beforehand in the expanded universe.
- Defied Trope: RTD specifically set out to avoid the gratuitous death and misery that many of the 1989-2005 Doctor Who Expanded Universe sub-continuities tended to pile on former companions. While Jo did miss the Doctor, this didn't stop her from having a fulfilling and extremely busy life. Every other companion mentioned has kept busy with important work of their own.
- Fan Boy: Even after all this time, we're not sure who was squeeing the most during this episode; Sarah Jane or Jo (who both give several actual squees in the episode) or the Doctor.
- Fandom Nod"Can you change colour or are you always white?""No, I can be anything.""And is there a limit - I mean, how many times can you change?""Five hundred and seven."
- Fanfic Magnet: The entire final scene, when Sarah Jane mentions looking up other companions. Fans kind of assume that "running an orphanage" or "running a charity" were similar to Sarah Jane's "freelance journalism," a small part of a much bigger (and more extraterrestrial) picture. That scene was ripe for SJA-like fanfic-spinoffs, with pretty much every single former companion up for grabs.
- Well, it is Ace; when has she ever been one to stand still and run a charity? She's probably using her time travelling bike to get donations... and kick alien butt at the same time.
- More directly, Jo Grant and her grandson.
- The scene with Jo and Sarah Jane in the coffin probably launched a few ships.
- Foreshadowing: The whole episode foreshadows the Doctor's apparent death in "The Impossible Astronaut" and Series 6 in general.
- For the Evulz: The Shansheeth want to make a TARDIS key by ripping it from Jo and Sarah Jane's memories, despite the fact that the Doctor would be perfectly happy to give them the real one.
- It was more that they didn't believe him.
- Fun with Acronyms: According to Sarah Jane, an ex-companion named Dorothy started the "A Charitable Earth" foundation.
- Genius Loci: The honeymoon planet.
- Genre Savvy: Averted. Do the Shansheeth and Karim really think the TARDIS - a sentient machine over millions (possibly billions) of years old with a very big brain and a lot of snark - will allow them any control?
- Happily Married: Jo and Cliff are still together, and Ian and Barbara apparently tied the knot some time after leaving the Doctor.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Game of Thrones fans will notice Santiago went on to play Ser Loras Tyrell.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Clyde himself is so ashamed of his "relations with Santiago" quip that he gives himself a Lame Pun Reaction.
- Jumped at the Call: Jo and Sarah Jane, when they realize the danger they're in.Sarah Jane: I think there's something wrong.
Jo: Wrong? As in — you mean "just like the old days" sort of wrong?
Sarah Jane: [excited] Exactly!
Jo: Oh, groovy! [they run off giddily, hand in hand]
- Meaningful Echo: Thematically, in "School Reunion" Sarah Jane was at first jealous of Rose as if she was the Doctor's favourite. This time, Jo is at first jealous of Sarah Jane as if she was the Doctor's favourite.
- Then there's the "Don't forget me" exchange, which echoes back to when Sarah left the Fourth Doctor.
- The Shansheeth's plan to use time travel to avert death? The Doctor tried this in Waters of Mars and oh boy, did that backfire.
- Never Mess with Granny: Sarah Jane isn't a grandmother, but never bring gun totting, beret-wearing UNIT soldiers to her house...
- Unless you're the Brigadier, in which case come right in!
- Also, never lie about the Doctor's death; you will die instead.
- Jo, however, is a Granny. Do not mess with her grandbaby.
- Painful Transformation: When Sarah asks if his last regeneration hurt, the Doctor replies that it always hurts.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: The Doctor is fairly displeased with the Shansheeth when he finds out what they have been saying about him.The Doctor: Have you been telling people I'm dead?
- Sadistic Choice: Karim forces the Doctor to choose between saving Sarah Jane and Jo, who have been captured by Shansheeth, or the children, who are trapped in a ventilator shaft that is overheating. He saves the children.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: The Doctor briefly sports one when Jo jokes that joining him again would likely get him in trouble with the Time Lords.
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: Discussed.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Shansheeth have seen so much grief and loss that they want to use the TARDIS to prevent death. Sarah Jane disagrees - remember her speech to the Doctor back in "School Reunion" ("Everything has its time, and everything ends").
- What Happened to Dodo and Victoria?