SJA: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith

I was apprehensive about watching an episode called Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith, knowing that I’m going to have to say that for real after just three more stories, and I’m not looking forward to that one bit. I’ve really loved taking this opportunity to spend more time in Sarah Jane’s company, but I’m always aware in the back of my mind that it’s not going to end happily.

There’s been a few moments along the way that have felt sad in hindsight, but this was the first time that it hit me in a big way. The episode was pootling along beautifully, with an intriguing new character who could have been either a new friend or the guest villain, and it genuinely felt like it could go either way. Clyde was running around with a big gun, which seemed a little bit strong for CBBC, even after we found out that it was unfireable. And it was revealed that Mr Smith films everything that happens in the attic, which made me ponder whether the show we’re watching is put together by him, like in Trial of a Time Lord.

And then the worrying hints that something was amiss with Sarah Jane came to a head, and Mr Smith told her that she’s “very ill indeed”. And then I was sobbing, for reasons that are obvious to anyone reading this, but that couldn’t possibly have been foreseen when this episode was made. It’s a horrible, cruel coincidence that adds a tragic edge to proceedings and it’s difficult to overlook. Objectively, I can see that this stuff is well-judged and sensitively handled, but my emotional response is far more extreme than the episode intends to give me.

But as always with SJA, there’s so much more going on. Clyde and Rani’s grief at hearing Sarah Jane was “gone” set me off again during Part Two, but when they themselves were put in peril – especially Clyde, as his perilous situation was so extreme – it made me realise that I do care about those characters after all. I think their budding romance is sweet (although I was wrong with my prediction of a snog in the finale), and being put further into the spotlight has served them well in the end – as the series has gone on, they’ve become much easier to empathise with.

Inevitably Luke shows up for the finale, having gained a poncey scarf and a slightly disconcerting aggressive streak. For once, K-9 was also allowed to join the party, albeit only via Skype, but I was glad that he was the one who rallied the troops and kick-started the fightback. It was also nice to give him and Mr Smith a little bit of closure, with a cessation of hostilities and a newfound mutual respect. Speaking of talking computers, I only realised after seeing the credits that Mr White was voiced by Eddie Marsan! What a bizarrely famous choice to play such a tiny role, entirely in keeping with the show’s proud history.

There’s another sad note right at the end, as a rejuvenated Sarah Jane vows to carry on forever, which is obviously supposed to be a happy note. This neatly illustrates the difficulty in knowing what to take from this story, but regardless of anything else, it’s an exciting, funny, high-stakes thriller, and a great way to end to another brilliant series.

RATING: 8

SERIES AVERAGE RATING: 7.83

  • SJA series watched: 4 of 5
  • SJA stories watched: 24 of 27
  • Individual SJA episodes watched: 47 of 53

I’m feeling slightly gloomy now, due to thinking so much about Elisabeth Sladen, and realising how little of Sarah Jane I have left to watch. But hey – next up, it’s Christmas. Again.

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