2.03, School Reunion

I don’t know if it’s what the writer intended but what stayed with me from this episode was the absurdity of the educational system. There is a trend now to push younger and younger students to do well in school, and it is a challenge that many children are taking on, possibly at the risk of their overall health. The students here exaggerate the obsession on achievement and high marks. These are kids who rejoice at the end of recess, for goodness’ sake. I refuse to believe that is considered normal in any part of the world. It turns out that something else is occupying the students’ imagination – the cracking of the code. I loved the little part Kenny, the school dunce, plays in the rescue of the school. It actually fits really well with what is now a recurring theme in Doctor Who: the glorification of the underdog. He is naturally drawn to the chavs, the backbenchers and the tin dogs, and sees the potential in them.

Speaking of tin dogs, our current one, Mickey, was upstaged in this episode by former companion Sarah Jane Smith and (literal tin dog) K9. I like how Mickey figures out his role in the team but I would’ve wanted to see the Doctor/Rose/Mickey dynamic explored in this episode without the distraction of Sarah Jane. But I can’t complain too much because the arrival of Sarah Jane gave us some interesting insight about the relationships and the very structure of this show.

Every companion eventually leaves the Doctor. This is another episode where knowledge from the previous series would have been helpful so I could fully appreciate the situation between Sarah Jane and the Doctor. It’s implied that Sarah Jane didn’t leave by choice because she mentions “waiting” for the Doctor to return, which he never did. Made me curious on how the other companions parted ways with the Doctor. Even more interesting is their post-TARDIS life, if they managed to survive traveling with the Doctor. What do you do after all that excitement? Rose herself had a difficult time returning to the daily grind in the last series’ finale. But in this episode Sarah Jane shows us that, while her travels with the Doctor have had a profound effect on her (enough for to investigate her own cases), she’s been able to carry on without him. Also, if Sarah Jane’s return isn’t a giant hint of Rose’s eventual departure, I don’t know what is.

I thought casting Anthony Head as the baddie in this episode and making the school a sanctuary for those monstrous aliens were also nice throwbacks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, if that’s what the writers intended. That plus Sarah Jane made this a decent episode for the science fiction nerds, I imagine. The way the Doctor Who writers can use their own canon from decades past to create a story that is current is admirable, I think. The aliens are again not as menacing as I’d like them to be, but the emotional aspect really carries this episode for me.