The Last Sontaran

Posted in Episode by - February 08, 2022
The Last Sontaran

Aired 29 September – 06 October 2008


Following a strong debut series that perfectly reintroduced beloved former Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith and her continuing investigations into the strange and alien in a very family-friendly manner, The Sarah Jane Adventures begins its second full run of episodes with a sequel of sorts to Doctor Who’s ‘The Sontaran Stratagem’ and ‘The Poison Sky’ two-parter with Phil Ford’s ‘The Last Sontaran.’

Reports of strange lights around the Tycho Project radio telescope that searches for alien life lead Sarah Jane, Luke, Maria, and Clyde into the forested Goblin’s Copse whereupon they discover that one remaining Sontaran has taken refuge to plot his revenge upon all of humanity in a bid to restore his honour. Of course, Sarah Jane has a long history with the Sontarans thanks to her encounters with the race alongside both the Third and Fourth Doctors, and Elisabeth Sladen magnificently displays the inherent fear that this militaristic race evokes as well as a steely determination and defiance that allow her to stand up to that fear and to instill confidence in all of those around her. Sarah Jane has always been a resourceful and intuitive companion, but bringing her face to face with a Sontaran once more proves just how much she has developed as a character over the years and solidifies what a truly heroic character she is in her own right.

Countless times in this series already, Sarah Jane has shown just how much her time with the Doctor has influenced her as she slowly begins to open herself up to the first people she could call friends and family in so long, and just as the Doctor must carry on whenever a companion stops traveling with him for whatever reason, she must likewise learn to carry on when Maria reveals that she intends to leave with her father for America. Given that Maria- and eventually her father- came to be such a driving force for the franchise, this is a genuinely surprising turn of events. Yasmin Paige quickly established herself as a dynamic and endearing actress, and it’s not hard to believe that genuine emotions poured into the scene in which she reveals to Luke that she will be leaving. Maria was Luke’s first friend and an integral component in his development after finding a home with Sarah Jane, and both Paige and Tommy Knight superbly showcase the profound sadness and despair that losing such an integral part of their lives should entail.  

‘The Last Sontaran’ is a genuinely engaging and strong story, and even though the single Sontaran persistently chasing his prey while waiting for the satellites to perfectly align for his destructive plan to come to fruition is ultimately secondary to the character work on display, the end result is a monumental reintroduction to the series and stirring farewell for a beloved character. In fact, the story even goes so far as to make Maria’s mother relevant and even likable for the first time as well, highlighting just how deeply she cares about her daughter and how much she trusts her ex-husband when she implicitly knows he is telling the truth. It’s fitting that Maria should be surrounded by a fully supportive family here, and the idea of Chrissie now knowing about Sarah Jane’s true adventures is an intriguing prospect that could potentially re-emerge in future stories in some form. Still, in a story that very much marks the end of the beginning, The Sarah Jane Adventures returns on firm footing and boldly steps into the future via a fitting foe returning from Sarah’s past.

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