"The universe is full of nightmares and you make fake ones."
IN THIS ONE... Our friends help Eve to her Ship, K9's back as regular, and Rani's bad future comes to pass and is undone.
REVIEW: On the one hand, I appreciate the fact they've attempted a story without any villains. Eve is misguided, but sweet, and only wants friends - zombie friends, but presumably, her telepathic nature makes the relationship more satisfying than it appears. The theme park's caretaker isn't the creepy sort you'd expect from such a story, and serves as Eve's well-meaning, if overwhelmed, father figure. And Ship is only a threat because it is damaged, and is otherwise only trying to protect Eve whose powers can so easily spin out of control. The episode unfortunately goes too far in this direction, and the ending is at once saccharine sweet and cheesy (that's... not a taste I want in my mouth). I can stand a happy ending, but this is over-happy to the point of unjustifiable bliss. Ship is healed, Eve is freed, lonely Sam is encouraged to go with her and does, same with the old caretaker, and K9's freed from his mission monitoring a black hole for good measure. Once the heroes find Ship on the beach, there's really very little for them to do. The happy ending just unfolds, and no one seems to think effectively disappearing a teenager and a senior citizen is of any concern to anyone. It's like this strange back-door pilot for something that never went to series. The only real tension at the end is based on Rani's bleak future and how it will be realized despite all that happiness.
On that score, the episode does much better. We have to suspend quite a lot of disbelief that Ship has these incredible wish-granting powers - if Eve's people can indeed manipulate the time line to this degree, no wonder the Time War got them - but the ending makes it worthwhile. Adam, the boy who came to see older Rani in 2059 is revealed to be Eve's son (well, the clue was there) and Sam's (which is why he HAD to leave with her), with an apology from Ship and a way to make it right by undoing the wish. The new future is a much brighter one, and again there's a nice transition that tells the tale visually, a future that serves as a coda to the entire series. This is especially important given that Lis Sladen sadly passed away before the series ever came to a natural end, mid-season 5. We'll never get proper closure, but this sequence takes some of the sting out of it, and is precious in the overall narrative (see Theories for the particulars).
K9's back for good - I guess a deal was worked out with Martin & Baker - and you might remember I'm not a particular fan, but the passive-aggressive sparring between him and Mr. Smith that's already started could provide some entertainment. I just don't want him to be the team's deus ex machina, given how resourceful the kids have proven. K9's not the only link to the parent program in this episode. Sarah is shown her past and future, so there's a rare flashback sequence with footage from her days on the classic series (a treat) and shots of the TARDIS materializing in her future (the very next story) that take on a strange sense of foreboding. Is she thinking about leaving Bannerman Road to go gallivanting with the Doctor again? What's all the hand-wringing about, eh?
THEORIES: In the future, Rani has apparently inherited Sarah Jane's house, had kids (at least one son) and grand kids (at least two). She's just returned from a trip to Washington D.C., where she and Luke went to visit Maria. So Luke and Maria definitely do not end up together, but it's what's not being said that's interesting. No mention of Clyde? Well, we do know there's been some flirtation between Rani and Clyde, and while her having dark-skinned children and grandchildren is no proof of her winding up with him, the fact that she doesn't name him could. She's not with Luke, because she calls him "Luke" in front of her son (it would be "dad"), so it looks like either he stayed home to keep an eye on things (can't all go off to America at a moment's notice), or he's since died (some time ago given everyone's high spirits and the fact Maria didn't come to THEM). The fact the Attic is still the group's base of operations 50 years from now means we can fill those years with any narrative we care to, so long as it ends on this positive note.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Way too cheery and cheesy, but I wouldn't part with a single second of the coda.