The Mad Woman in the Attic

Posted in Episode by - September 05, 2022
The Mad Woman in the Attic

Aired 22 – 23 October 2009


Following a startling look into the inner workings of Clyde in ‘The Mark of the Berserker,’ Joseph Lidster turns his sights to Rani Chandra in ‘The Mad Woman in the Attic.’ In 2059, in the neglected attic of 13 Bannerman Road, an aged Rani reveals the story of the day her life went terribly wrong after meeting an alien named Eve.

Through this strong framing device that allows a more introspective Rani to reflect upon her past and the people and events she has all but forgotten, her young visitor and thus the audience are introduced to the young Rani’s feelings of loneliness an exclusion. She tells Adam that Sarah Jane is not someone you want to get on the wrong side of, and in a brilliant moment that further highlights Sarah Jane as a real person rather than a flawless heroine, Sarah dismisses Rani when she brings forth an intriguing story and is quick to chastise her when she realizes Rani has been openly communicating with an old friend about her new life and adventures. While it would have been all the more satisfying to see more snippets of these feelings interjected into earlier episodes, she can hardly be blamed for feeling second best as her friends continue to talk adoringly about Maria, and the fear that she isn’t living up to her parents’ hopes and expectations is all too relatable and allows Anjli Mohindra to explore a tremendous amount of nuanced emotion that is not always necessary during Rani’s adventures.

Rani has naturally learned a tremendous amount from her time with Sarah Jane, and though her methods are still comparatively unrefined and at least somewhat driven by a desire for attention as she seeks interviews and information, there is little doubt about just how much each of the leads has developed due to his or time spent with others. Even Luke, the boy who was grown and had had to learn everything about social interactions from scratch, is now able to pick up on social cues and is confident enough to try to console another person in need, and the strong friendship between Sarah Jane and Clyde is on fine display as they continue their search at the abandoned amusement park. And while it’s unclear exactly how Rani came to be the so-called mad woman in the attic fifty years on since she would assuredly have worked with Mr Smith or reached out to other individuals to continue a semblance of her previous life given how proactive she is, the mirroring of Eve’s own story with Rani’s as both feel capable of doing so much more works to surprisingly good effect; similarly, not having the aliens intent on dominion or conquering absolutely works to the story’s advantage in maintaining a much more personal element to its narrative.

‘The Mad Woman in the Attic’ is brimming with incredible visuals, the red eyes of the controlled individuals and Eve’s effect on the rides’ increasing speeds particularly effective. Along with a dramatic score that perfectly accentuates the intense feelings in each moment and with a brilliant direction that expertly brings together the two disparate times while leading up to the reveal of Sam’s true identity, this is a story that utilizes its focus on Rani to effectively explore each of its leads in both big and small moments. While some of the dialogue is a bit overdramatic at times, the glimpses of the future and the power of words spoken in a moment of raised emotions rather than from the heart create a strong backdrop for a confident, emotive, and ultimately uplifting and optimistic exploration that is sure to bring the leads- now with K9 who has completed his mission guarding the artificial black hole- much closer together with a more complete understanding of each other.

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