The Lost Boy

Posted in Episode by - February 03, 2022
The Lost Boy

Aired 12 – 19 November 2007


As the final serial of the first series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, Phil Ford’s ‘The Lost Boy’ brazenly opens with the revelation that Luke is, in fact, a missing boy whose parents have desperately been looking for him and pleading with the public for any information. When Sarah Jane is forced to relinquish Luke to his parents, however, he soon learns that his parents are anything but, and an ally and an old enemy appear to have joined forces to put the Earth in imminent danger.

From the outset, taking Luke away from Sarah Jane is a strong narrative decision, not only by playing up the mystery that still surrounds Luke’s origins but also by revealing just how much Sarah Jane has changed since allowing Luke and Maria into her life. Luke’s proposed parents yelling at Sarah Jane about what she has done to him while still others assume the very worst about Sarah Jane are both strikingly effective, and Elisabeth Sladen is magnificent as she puts on a brave face while assuring Luke that returning to his parents will assuredly be the best day of his life.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for the Luke story to unravel as Clyde asks some pointed questions and remains sure that even family pictures can be faked, and the surprise reveal of the Slitheens’ involvement in this scheme to capture Luke works so well precisely because of the lack of usual visual or auditory cues to signal their presence. The Slitheen work very well to give a sense of continuity to these stories given how the last encounter with them ended, and while the performances of Jay Simpson, Holly Atkins, and Ryan Watson are appropriately over the top to capture the proud and flamboyant nature of these scavengers and hunters, their inclusion here is all the more effective because of the Xylok with whom they have allied themselves.

Mr Smith has been something of an obvious McGuffin in this series, a seemingly all-knowing entity that Sarah Jane can summon at will for help with any needed information or analysis. However, ‘The Lost Boy’ reveals that Mr Smith is far from any ordinary supercomputer. A crystal that had emerged from a volcanic explosion and that a geologist then sent to Sarah Jane, Mr Smith is in fact the result of a crashed alien ship’s memory cell that built itself up with Sarah Jane’s help under the auspices of helping her track alien activity. However, as Sarah Jane here investigates an organization’s research into harnessing the latent telekinetic power in every person, it becomes clear that Mr Smith has designed this whole setup in order to use Luke and his immense telekinetic powers to do his bidding by drawing the Moon to the Earth and releasing the others of his species from the planet’s core as a result. Holding Clyde hostage to assure Luke’s cooperation, this is a chillingly effective turn for a character that was so easy to take for granted. Motivated by nothing more than fulfilling his purpose, Mr Smith becomes a far more effective menace than the Slitheen alone ever could have, and although the visuals of his inner workings are somewhat suspect, the final moments in a battle with K9 are certainly worthy of a series finale and provide the means of essentially resetting this integral member of Sarah Jane’s team heading into the second series.

The computer virus element is rather convenient in terms of a resolution, and ‘The Lost Boy’ continues the trend of every episode to this point of painting Maria’s mother in the worst possible light, but the incredible sense of family that is brought out as circumstances try their best to tear this unlikely group apart is a strong underlying theme that likewise brings out the very best in its leads’ performances. The Slitheen will always remain polarizing aliens, but their surprising appearance that proves to be rather secondary in malevolence as they realize that even they are not guaranteed survival is an excellent choice that ends this first series that has so quickly found its footing on a distinct high.

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