"Yes, there are amazing things up there in the universe, but they've got some very stiff competition down here on Earth."
IN THIS ONE... It's Clyde, Rani and a returned Luke against Ruby the succubus to get Sarah Jane back!
REVIEW: An alien succubus with an unattached giant stomach is a weird idea, yes, but I like Qetesh/Ruby's end game. She wants to take Sarah Jane's place, but help the alien invaders bring their plans to fruition, turning the Earth into a non-stop Doctor Who plot and toasting on the resulting emotional chaos. Maybe she could do something in television? This is, of course, another episode where the kids are left to their own devices while Sarah Jane is out of action, and the virtue in this is that it allows things to get desperate in indeed. Sarah dying of a generating brain disease in a basement, Clyde running out of air in orbit, Mr. Smith reduced to spewing out coded messages when Mr. White isn't in the room, and a breakdown of the kids' friendship brought on by all this stress. But though things get bad, and that's good drama, it also means the kids have to figure things out for themselves, which usually produces a greater triumph than when an adult (Sarah, the Doctor) does all the heavy lifting for them. As it comes out in the end, Ruby didn't underestimate Sarah Jane, but she did underestimate the kids, and that was her downfall.
To their credit, they didn't buy Ruby's story for long. If she made a mistake, it was in misunderstanding Sarah's relationship with each of the kids. Clyde immediately rejects the notion of Sarah leaving in the night, and anyone even giving an once of credibility to it. Rani believes at first, but her mother's right, there is a mother-daughter bond between Rani and Sarah that can't be denied, one Gita freely accepts and endorses, and that makes such a departure improbable. And of course there's Luke, Sarah's son, not from her womb, but nevertheless who she's come to live for. Though I'm a fan of letting Rani and Clyde do their thing without the benefit of robot dogs or boy geniuses, I think we're happy to see Luke and K9 here. It makes sense, for one thing, and reaffirms the core tenets of the show - friendship makes people stronger.
Not coincidentally, the character left alone is the one that comes closest to dying. Clyde even leaves a message on his phone, as if knowing his friends WILL win, even if he pays the ultimate price for failure. Else, how would they ever get his message. And yes, it does contain something special for Rani, though he passes out in the middle of it. Clyde, stop playing Tenth Doctor to her Rose and just tell her. (Well, THERE'S advice I've never been able to follow! Fine, keep doing what you're doing, my boy.) The pacing doesn't seem to allow for a rescue, which is a failure of the editing, but it's the result we want, and Clyde is up and about to get slimed in the very end. I also want to mention Rani's use of emotional manipulation to distract Ruby, turning the woman's own weapon against her, even if she shows her hand in the end. It all makes me think the show could have continued with just the kids and no Sarah, had they wanted to go that way.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Excellent action adventure stuff with an emotional core. I would have liked to see Ruby again.