TARDIS Thoughts: NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 3, "School Reunion"

8.31.2013

NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 3, "School Reunion"

Well...way back in February I sought to cover Series 1 and 2 via an event called National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). I failed miserably, only managing to post daily for about half the month before I fell completely off course. Now, 6 months later, I'm still catching up. So, "Allons-y!", as Ten would say. (I have to say, that is my favorite Doctor catchphrase so far. Not just cause Ten is my favorite Doctor, but because it's French, and I love French).

Next up is episode 3 of Series 2, "School Reunion." This is an interesting little episode that not only fits well with the New Who series but pays homage to the past as well, with guest appearances by Elisabeth Sladen as The Doctor's former companion Sarah Jane Smith and by John Leeson as the voice of K-9, a faithful robotic dog that became a staple of Tom Baker's era as The Doctor, being seen with Leela, Romana I, and Romana II.

So, basically, The Doctor and Rose have gone undercover at a school to investigate some strange stuff going on there (this is set up in the special "TARDISode" accompanying this episode), which Rose's boyfriend Mickey alerted them to. Their cover is already underway when the episode begins (though when I rewatched this episode with the audio commentary on, it was revealed that set-up scenes of The Doctor and Rose in the TARDIS, like you would normally see at the beginning of an episode, were actually written, but ultimately not used). The Doctor is masquerading as a substitute physics teacher named John Smith (of course he pulls out his usual alias) while Rose is working as a lunch lady. When she and The Doctor meet during lunch to share intel, she remarks that the children seem unusually intelligent and that they are eating a lot of french fries. (We see an example of this unusual intelligence in a boy in The Doctor's physics class as well). Soon after, Rose is called back to the kitchen by her "boss," and sees a fellow lunchlady get severely burned by the french fry oil. Around this time, we also learn that the whole school's staff was replaced within the last few months, including the Headmaster, Lucas Finch. (The episode's token Torchwood reference appears here too: Mickey's screen shows the words "Torchwood: Access Denied").

Later the same day, The Doctor is hanging out in a staff area when Mr. Finch walks in with a woman in tow, who he introduces as an investigative journalist writing a profile on the school. The journalist's name? Sarah Jane Smith!


Albeit older than when we last saw her 23 years before in The Five Doctors. (Or 13 years, if you count Dimensions in Time as her last appearance before this). The Doctor clearly recognizes her, though, by the overjoyed look on his face:


But he has to maintain his cover, so he addresses her casually (but without familiarity) and introduces himself as John Smith, a teacher at the school. Sarah Jane, however, sees through his bluff:
SARAH: John Smith. I used to have a friend who sometimes went by that name.
He attempts to still bluff his way through the awkward conversation:
DOCTOR: Well, it's a very common name.
SARAH: He was a very uncommon man. Nice to meet you.
DOCTOR: Nice to meet you. Yes, very nice. More than nice. Brilliant. 
Still, you can tell The Doctor can barely hold in his excitement at seeing Sarah Jane again after all these years, and as she leaves, he says to himself:
DOCTOR: Good for you. Oh, good for you, Sarah Jane Smith.
That night, The Doctor, Rose, and Mickey break into the school to investigate. Unbeknownst to them, Sarah Jane has also broken in on her own. The Doctor sends Rose to get a sample of the fry oil and Mickey to investigate the math department (all the new teachers being math teachers). He meanwhile goes off on his own.

Elsewhere, Sarah Jane wanders the hallways and finds a storage room. When she opens the door, she sees...the TARDIS!


Surprised, she staggers back into the hallway, where Ten - trenchcoat and all - is waiting for her:


They have a sad, but sweet reunion:

DOCTOR: Hello, Sarah Jane.
SARAH: It's you. Oh, Doctor Oh, my God, it's you, isn't it. You've regenerated.
DOCTOR: Yeah. Half a dozen times since we last met.
SARAH: You look incredible.
DOCTOR: So do you.
SARAH: Huh. I got old. What are you doing here?
DOCTOR: Well, UFO sighting, school gets record results. I couldn't resist. What about you?
SARAH: The same. I thought you'd died. I waited for you and you didn't come back, and I thought you must have died.
DOCTOR: I lived. Everyone else died.
SARAH: What do you mean?
DOCTOR: Everyone died, Sarah.
SARAH: I can't believe it's you.
The Doctor's line "Half a dozen times since we last met" is significant, since it cements that he is in fact the Tenth Doctor (The Doctor Sarah Jane last traveled with was Four, and 4 + 6 = 10). Since the terms "Ninth Doctor," "Tenth Doctor," "Eleventh Doctor," etc., while official, are generally not actually used in the series itself, that they put this line in is definitely worth noting.

Interestingly, when Sarah Jane first meets the Eleventh Doctor in "Death of the Doctor," an episode of the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures that Matt Smith guest starred in, they have a very similar conversation:
RANI: You bring him back, whoever you are.
SARAH JANE: No, no, no. Rani, don't you see? It's you, isn't it? You've done it again.
DOCTOR: Hello, Sarah Jane.
SARAH JANE: Doctor.
If you watch the episode (or just the clip referenced above), and you've seen this episode, you'll notice Matt gives the line "Hello, Sarah Jane" the same emotion and enunciation that David Tennant does in this episode. Like, spot-on.

I'm not sure how Sarah Jane recognizes The Doctor even after he regenerates, but they were VERY close during the time she traveled with him. And mind you, she's met seven Doctors -- she traveled with Three and Four, met One, Two, and Five in The Five Doctors, met Ten in this episode, and met Eleven in "Death of the Doctor" as noted above.

Anyway, their moment is interrupted by Mickey screaming, and The Doctor and Sarah Jane regroup with Rose, allowing Rose and Sarah Jane to meet for the first time. The conversation that follows is described in the commentary by writer Toby Whithouse as a "Sex and the City moment":
ROSE: Did you hear that? Who's she?
DOCTOR: Rose, Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane, Rose.
SARAH: Hi. Nice to meet you. You can tell you're getting older. Your assistants are getting younger.
ROSE: I'm not his assistant.
SARAH: No? Get you, tiger.
(This may also be a commentary on the fact that, when Sladen was on Doctor Who, the Companions were called "Assistants," whereas now they are called "Companions" - although the term "assistant" for the Companions is still frequently used in the UK. Sarah Jane's line about The Doctor's assistants getting younger could also be meant to be a feminist sort of remark, since Sarah Jane was always portrayed as openly feminist in Classic Who).

They catch up with Mickey, and learn he screamed because he found a bunch of vacuum-sealed rats (the sort they use for dissections in biology class). The four then head for Mr. Finch's office, where they are shocked to discover several bat-like creatures hanging from the ceiling. This scares them off, and they leave the school.

As the four head to Finch's office, Sarah Jane and Rose have yet another spat:
ROSE: I don't mean to be rude or anything, but who exactly are you?
SARAH: Sarah Jane Smith. I used to travel with the Doctor.
ROSE: Oh. Well, he's never mentioned you.
DOCTOR: Oh, I must've done. Sarah Jane. Mention her all the time.
ROSE: Hold on. Sorry. Never.
SARAH: What, not even once? He didn't mention me even once?
MICKEY: Ho, ho, mate. The missus and the ex. Welcome to every man's worst nightmare. 
(Noel Clarke [who plays Mickey] has commented that he really liked saying the "missus and the ex" line).

They then head to a nearby diner, but not before we learn Sarah Jane has a surprise for The Doctor in the trunk of her car:


Yep, the faithful robot dog K-9 has reappeared! Only...well, he's broken.

Nothing The Doctor can't fix, though; at the diner he catches up with Sarah Jane while fixing K-9 with the Sonic Screwdriver as Rose and Mickey look on:
SARAH: I thought of you on Christmas Day. This Christmas just gone? Great big spaceship overhead. I thought, oh yeah, bet he's up there.
DOCTOR: Right on top of it, yeah.
SARAH: And Rose?
DOCTOR: She was there too.
SARAH: Did I do something wrong, because you never came back for me. You just dumped me.
DOCTOR: I told you. I was called back home and in those days humans weren't allowed.
SARAH: I waited for you. I missed you.
DOCTOR: Oh, you didn't need me. You were getting on with your life.
SARAH: You were my life. You know what the most difficult thing was? Coping with what happens next, or with what doesn't happen next. You took me to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, you showed me supernovas, intergalactic battles, and then you just dropped me back on Earth. How could anything compare to that?
DOCTOR: All those things you saw, do you want me to apologise for that?
SARAH: No, but we get a taste of that splendour and then we have to go back.
DOCTOR: Look at you, you're investigating. You found that school. You're doing what we always did.
SARAH: You could have come back.
DOCTOR: I couldn't.
SARAH: Why not?
Shortly after this, K-9 revives, and The Doctor gives him some of the fry oil to test. K-9 confirms that the oil is Krillitane oil.

The Doctor's eyes go wide at this, and we then go to the next day, where all covers are down and The Doctor is ready to face the Krillitanes as himself. He, Rose, and Sarah Jane infilitrate the school, leaving Mickey behind in the car with K-9, much to Mickey's annoyance. (David Tennant states in the commentary that there is a blooper from this scene where he was unable to get out of the car, and Elisabeth Sladen and Billie Piper started doing their "heroic walk" without him).

Sarah Jane and Rose go to investigate the school's computers while The Doctor confronts Headmaster Finch. Finch, by the way, is played by Anthony Head, who Joss Whedon fans will recognize as Buffy's mentor Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has since gone on to play many other roles, including Uther Pendragon in Merlin, the Prime Minister in Little Britain, and Baltazar in the Doctor Who animated special The Infinite Quest. He was also the narrator for Doctor Who Confidential from 2007 to 2009. Anyway, the two confront each other by the school's pool (David Tennant reveals in the commentary that much of the dialogue in this scene had to be re-recorded because the pool was noisy), during which Finch claims he and The Doctor are not enemies, and that in time The Doctor will embrace the Krillitanes.

Sarah Jane, meanwhile, struggles to get anything out of the computers. She and Rose then start talking about their respective times with The Doctor, which leads to what Toby Whithouse calls in the commentary a "Sex and the City b****-fight":
SARAH: Rose, can I give you a bit of advice?
ROSE: I've got a feeling you're about to.
SARAH: I know how intense a relationship with the Doctor can be, and I don't want you to feel I'm intruding.
ROSE: I don't feel threatened by you, if that's what you mean.
SARAH: Right. Good. Because I'm not interested in picking up where we left off.
ROSE: No? With the big sad eyes and the robot dog? What else were you doing last night?
SARAH: I was just saying how hard it was adjusting to life back on Earth.
ROSE: The thing is, when you two met they'd only just got rid of rationing. No wonder all that space stuff was a bit too much for you.
SARAH: I had no problem with space stuff. I saw things you wouldn't believe.
ROSE: Try me.
SARAH: Mummies.
ROSE: I've met ghosts.
SARAH: Robots. Lots of robots.
ROSE: Slitheen, in Downing Street.
SARAH: Daleks!
ROSE: Met the Emperor.
SARAH: Anti-matter monsters.
ROSE: Gas masked zombies.
SARAH: Real living dinosaurs.
ROSE: Real living werewolf.
SARAH: The Loch Ness Monster!
ROSE: Seriously?
A lot of previous episodes are referenced here. Sarah Jane references "Pyramids of Mars," "Robot," "The Sontaran Experiment," "The Android Invasion," "Genesis of the Daleks," "Death to the Daleks," "Planet of Evil," "Invasion of the Dinosaurs," and "Terror of the Zygons." Rose references "The Unquiet Dead," "Aliens in London"/"World War Three," "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances," and "Tooth and Claw."

(Sarah Jane is apparently impressed by the term "Slitheen in Downing Street," as she uses it later herself in the Sarah Jane Adventures episode "Revenge of the Slitheen":

SARAH JANE: The outcast Slitheen Family are scavengers, thieves of others technology. Known to infiltrate low-tech planets by hiding in the skins of the dominant native species. Slitheen in Downing Street.
LUKE: What?
SARAH JANE: Something a friend said once.
).

After this, Rose realizes how silly they are being to fight like this, and they start laughing and talking about funny things the Doctor does. The Doctor walks in on them doing this, and they are laughing like old friends:


(David Tennant reveals in the commentary that he was told they needed to make Elisabeth Sladen and Billie Piper laugh genuinely in this scene, so he had his makeup artist paint a fake moustache on his face to make them laugh. The moustache is not seen in the shots of The Doctor in this scene, as those were shot separately from Sarah Jane and Rose's side of the scene).

It's notable that Sarah Jane mentions The Doctor stroking the TARDIS, because, as I mentioned in my analysis of "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS," Eleven is seen doing just that.

The Doctor investigates the computers and figures out the Krillitanes are using the children to solve the Skasis Paradigm, a "theory of everything," the solving of which would give the Krillitanes complete control over reality itself. Finch soon arrives to confirm this hypothesis, and attempts to tempt The Doctor with the possibilities of such power:
FINCH: Let the lesson begin. Think of it, Doctor. With the Paradigm solved, reality becomes clay in our hands. We can shape the universe and improve it.
DOCTOR: Oh yeah? The whole of creation with the face of Mister Finch? Call me old fashioned, but I like things as they are.
FINCH: You act like such a radical, and yet all you want to do is preserve the old order? Think of the changes that could be made if this power was used for good.
DOCTOR: What, by someone like you?
FINCH: No, someone like you. The Paradigm gives us power, but you could give us wisdom. Become a God at my side. Imagine what you could do. Think of the civilisations you could save. Perganon, Assinta. Your own people, Doctor, standing tall. The Time Lords reborn.
SARAH: Doctor, don't listen to him.
FINCH: And you could be with him throughout eternity. Young, fresh, never wither, never age, never die. Their lives are so fleeting. So many goodbyes. How lonely you must be, Doctor. Join us.
DOCTOR: I could save everyone.
FINCH: Yes.
DOCTOR: I could stop the war.
While David Tennant states in the commentary that The Doctor's not really that tempted here, the dialogue seems to suggest otherwise. The Doctor had already confessed to Rose earlier in this episode that he can't spend the rest of his life with her, because humans age and die while he must live on. And we already know how guilty he feels about the Time War. And Finch is offering him the chance not only to save Gallifrey - prevent the destruction of his home planet, his people - but also to never have to lose a Companion again. Don't you think The Doctor would jump at such a chance?

Thankfully, Sarah Jane saves the day:
SARAH: No. The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship, everything has its time. And everything ends.
This prompts The Doctor to throw a chair at the screen displaying the Paradigm and order Finch out angrily.

Mickey, meanwhile, is still sitting in the car while all this is happening. However, Kenny, one of the students who didn't eat the tainted french fries, gets Mickey's attention through the glass doors of the locked-down school. Mickey realizes something is wrong and, seeing as his only weapon is the car itself, crashes it through the doors (suprisiingly Sarah Jane is not upset at this, which you'd think she would be -- it is her car, after all).

Mickey then rejoins the others, and a fight ensues between the four and the Krillitanes, in which they are saved by the timely appearance of K-9. The Doctor realizes the Krillitane oil is toxic to the Krillitanes (ironically), and heads for the kitchens (where barrels of the oil are kept) with Rose, Sarah Jane, and K-9, whilst sending Mickey off to "unplug" the kids from the system set up to solve the Paradigm and evacuate them from the school. Which Mickey proceeds to do (ironically, all the computer wires are plugged into a SINGLE PLUG. Really?!).

The Doctor and co find the barrels of oil, but Finch has sealed them with a deadlock seal, which the Sonic Screwdriver can't undo. K-9 pipes up that his laser could blow them up, but adds that his battery power is failing. The Doctor sends Rose and Sarah Jane out the back way and lines the barrels up for K-9 to shoot at.

A sad scene between The Doctor and K-9 follows:
K9: Capacity for only one shot, Master. For maximum impact, I must be stationed directly beside the vat.
DOCTOR: But you'll be trapped inside.
K9: That is correct.
DOCTOR: I can't let you do that.
K9: No alternative possible, Master.
DOCTOR: Goodbye, old friend.
K9: Goodbye, Master.
DOCTOR: You good dog.
K9: Affirmative.
Aww...feels!

Sarah Jane is none too pleased by this, but later claims to accepts it, only to burst into tears:
SARAH: Where's K9?
DOCTOR: We need to run.
SARAH: Where is he? What have you done! 

...
DOCTOR: I'm sorry.
SARAH: It's all right. He was just a daft metal dog. It's fine, really.
The school goes kaboom (with K-9 and the Krillitanes inside), to the students' glee.

The scene switches to a nearby park to which the TARDIS has relocated (Whithouse says in the commentary that the scene was initially planned to take place in the ruins of the school, but appropriate debris for the background of the shot could not be found). The Doctor invites Sarah Jane inside the TARDIS for tea, and she wanders in, where Rose and Mickey are already present. She comments that he's "redecorated" (this is a huge understatement, if you know anything about Four's TARDIS interior) and admits she liked it as it was, but this is all right too. The Doctor invites her to travel with him again, but she declines. Mickey then volunteers himself, an idea Sarah Jane supports, saying playfully, "You need a Smith on board." The Doctor agrees, though Rose is less than ecstatic. Rose and Sarah Jane then have a tender parting:
ROSE: What do I do? Do I stay with him?
SARAH: Yes. Some things are worth getting your heart broken for. Find me, if you need to, one day. Find me.
The episode ends with The Doctor and Sarah Jane saying their farewells:
SARAH: It's daft, but I haven't ever thanked you for that time. And like I said, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
DOCTOR: Something to tell the grandkids.
SARAH: Oh, I think it'll be someone else's grandkids now.
DOCTOR: Right. Yes, sorry. I didn't get a chance to ask. You haven't? There hasn't been anyone? You know.
SARAH: Well, there was this one guy. I travelled with him for a while, but he was a tough act to follow. Goodbye, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Oh, it's not goodbye.
SARAH: Do say it. Please. This time. Say it.
DOCTOR: Goodbye, my Sarah Jane. 
He then hugs her and goes back inside the TARDIS, which begins to dematerialize. Sarah Jane begins to walk away, but as she looks back, she sees, sitting where the TARDIS stood...K-9!


But wait, didn't K-9 get blown up with the school? Yes, but The Doctor has rebuilt him - as a new model, but with the same memories as the one Sarah Jane had with her - as a parting gift:
SARAH; K9!
K9: Mistress.
SARAH: But you were blown up.
K9: The Master rebuilt me. My systems are much improved with new undetectable hyperlink facilities.
SARAH: Oh, he replaced you with a brand new model.
K9: Affirmative.
SARAH: Yeah, he does that. Come on, you. Home. We've got work to do.
K9: Affirmative.
Given that K-9 ultimately joins Sarah Jane on The Sarah Jane Adventures spin-off, this conversation leads into that series well (as well as the spin-off K-9 and Company, in which it was explained that The Doctor sent K-9, equipped with a special alien-scanning watch and a sonic lipstick for Sarah to use, to Sarah for Christmas). Sarah Jane's last line is also a nice homage to the final line of "Survival," the last Doctor Who TV episode before the hiatus:
DOCTOR [OC]: There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep, and the rivers dream. People made of smoke, and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea's getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do!
Overall, this is a very enjoyable episode! I really do like Sarah Jane; she's a great Companion! I think she is probably one of my favorites from the Classic series. It's a pity that Elisabeth Sladen is no longer with us; I would have very much liked to have met her. :(

This episode made me really want to watch The Sarah Jane Adventures (which it essentially leads into). I currently have all five seasons of it in my Amazon Instant Video queue (unlike Torchwood, it isn't on Netflix). I just have to watch it. I think I've watched enough Doctor Who that I can safely start watching it now. Maybe I'll analyze it too. Like I do Doctor Who here. Though not probably in quite the same way, to avoid unnecessary stress. (It may not sound like it, but at times it's been quite stressful to keep up the analyses here. I used to be so good with deadlines...I don't know what happened. College happened I guess). Still in a blog format, I mean, but I won't feel pressured to watch and analyze all the episodes in a short block of time, as I am currently with Doctor Who (I'm trying to be caught up on New Who by the anniversary, as I said before). I can take it slower. If I can find the K-9 spinoffs (the 1981 one-off K-9 and Company and the later 2009-2010 TV series K-9), I would like to watch those too as they seem interesting.

Well, till next time! Next up is my favorite episode of Series 2, "The Girl in the Fireplace"!

*** 

NaBloPoMo Special: 
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler 
Part Seventeen: The Missus and the Ex

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships. 

The Doctor and Rose's relationship is tested in this episode by the appearance of Sarah Jane, especially as it becomes increasingly evident that Sarah Jane still has romantic feelings for The Doctor. Rose also becomes upset when she learns Sarah Jane used to travel with The Doctor but was left behind:

ROSE: How many of us have there been travelling with you?
DOCTOR: Does it matter?
ROSE: Yeah, it does, if I'm just the latest in a long line.
DOCTOR: As opposed to what?
ROSE: I thought you and me were. I obviously got it wrong. I've been to the year five billion, right, but this? Now this is really seeing the future. You just leave us behind. Is that what you're going to do to me?
DOCTOR: No. Not to you.
ROSE: But Sarah Jane? You were that close to her once, and now you never even mention her. Why not?
DOCTOR: I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone who you
ROSE: What, Doctor?
DOCTOR: You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on. Alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords. 
As of the end of the episode, as mentioned above, Rose is uncertain whether to stick with The Doctor, but Sarah Jane encourages her to stay, saying "some things are worth getting your heart broken for."

And stay she does. What will happen next for these two? Time will tell!

"School Reunion" quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts. "Survival" quote also from The Doctor Who Transcripts. The quotes from The Sarah Jane Adventures came from The Sarah Jane Adventures Transcripts and can be found here ("Death of the Doctor") and here ("Revenge of the Siltheen").

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