Enemy of the Bane

Posted in Episode by - April 17, 2022
Enemy of the Bane

Aired 01 – 08 December 2008


As the second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures draws to a close with Phil Ford’s ‘Enemy of the Bane,’ Mrs Wormwood has returned and kidnapped Gita Chandra in hopes of luring Sarah Jane to settle old scores with the help of another of Sarah Jane’s many enemies.

Nor for the first time in this series, Sarah Jane is quick to dismiss the suggestion that aliens could be behind one of the mysteries she is called to investigate, a nice nod to her overall journalistic credentials and history but also a viewpoint that is becoming increasingly illogical as Bannerman Road continues to be so integral to so many extraterrestrial plots, schemes, and devices. Nonetheless, Sarah Jane is absolutely determined to find out the truth, and the return of Mrs Wormwood allows for another brilliant exploration of just how much Sarah Jane has changed since bringing Luke into her life and just how profound the nature versus nurture conflict can be. For his part, Luke has done an admirable job trying to find his way in modern society, but it’s completely understandable that he laments not being completely normal and is searching for who he truly is. Wormwood offers him just such an opportunity, and while it never seems as if Luke might genuinely decide to go with her, Tommy Knight impressively conveys that inner conflict before Luke comes to realize and accept just how wonderful his life is and can continue to be with Sarah Jane.

Wormwood’s scheme to rule via Horath is grandiose and overcomplicated, but her alliance with the similarly disowned and discredited Sontaran Kaagh presents a truly menacing and credible menace fueled by a mutual hatred for Sarah Jane following their respective prior encounters with her. Naturally, these two each have incredibly strong viewpoints and mindsets, and so it’s not surprising that there are disagreements that cause rifts in their partnership, Kaargh being less careful around Luke than Wormwood would like being a prime example. However, while the visual effects used for the Bane are sadly lacking by this show’s own standard, the tension and danger are palpable and culminate all the more satisfyingly with Kaagh’s surprising sacrifice that even Sarah Jane was not expecting. This is by no means the deepest or most engrossing villainous plot or turn, but it’s filled with plenty of memorable moments and a strong chemistry between Samantha Bond and Anthony O’Donnell.

Of course, ‘Enemy of the Bane’ will forever be most remembered for bringing Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart firmly into the modern Doctor Who universe. Nicholas Courtney gives an incredibly energetic and powerful performance that exudes a constant sense of nostalgia, and his more measured steps and personality mark a nice contrast to the freneticism that so often comes to define modern storytelling. He’s certainly willing to listen to others, but he is practical, has a wealth of experience to draw upon, and is unafraid of any challenge before him. Much more than just a nod to the past or a means of advancing the story by allowing Sarah Jane access to the Black Archives of UNIT, the Brigadier is an essential and triumphant component to the story and indisputably proves just why he remains such a beloved and respected character. Whether alongside Elisabeth Sladen or Daniel Anthony, Courtney’s adeptly steps up to each scene he is in and pitches his character perfectly to seemingly effortlessly portray every level of emotion required.

Even with Rani less prominent than might be expected given her mother’s role in these affairs, ‘Enemy of the Bane’ manages to be much more than any of its individual parts. The performances and sound design are uniformly strong and allow an immense range of emotions to show and develop, and Mrs Wormwood and the Brigadier show that Sarah Jane’s history both recent and so long ago continue to hold an immense amount of potential for this series that continues to subtly tackle very weighty material in the guise of adventures for children.

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