OK, so, Eldrad isn’t trustworthy. That’s for sure, but this episode does something else besides dispose of that guy.
It says goodbye to fan favorite companion Sarah Jane Smith.
Yeah, Eldrad is evil. Big shock. After that spear hit her, she couldn’t move, so the Doctor and Sarah Jane took her down to a special healing chamber. The end result was Eldrad returned to his–yes, his–natural form. And that’s when it comes out there was no alien invasion that destroyed the shields on his homeworld. No, he did it himself.
In response, the people of his planet let themselves die rather than give Eldrad something to rule over. There’s some shock and awe. Then the Doctor and Sarah Jane end up tripping Eldrad into a seemingly bottomless pit using the Doctor’s scarf. That’s probably the end of him, even if he didn’t die when he hit the bottom.
But then we have to get to Sarah Jane’s departure. Basically, two things come up when the pair return to the TARDIS. The Doctor starts repair work on the TARDIS console while Sarah Jane complains about how the Doctor ignores her and how adventuring isn’t very fun. She goes off to pack.
Once the Doctor notices she’s not there anymore, he gets a telepathic flash to return to Gallifrey. Sarah Jane returns to learn this. After wanting to leave, now that she has to, she’s less happy about it.
See, humans apparently can’t go to Gallifrey. If Doctor Who had better continuity, I’d ask what Jaime and Zoe were doing there in the Second Doctor’s final episode.
That all leads to a much more touching departure as Sarah Jane exits the TARDIS for what was not quite the final time. Elisabeth Sladen, of course, returns for at least one anniversary show, a failed spin-off, and then as something of a regular in the current series before getting her own spin-off. Sladen would star in The Sarah Jane Adventures until her own death at the age of 65.
So, was Sarah Jane a good companion? That’s a good question. She wasn’t a dumb blonde like Jo or unnecessary like Harry. She could handle herself, and even if she didn’t have the same chemistry with the either Doctor she starred with as the all-time best pairing of Jamie and the Second Doctor, she could hold her own. Sure, she wasn’t as smart as the Doctor, but nobody is. However, she wasn’t stupid and was as likely to rescue the Doctor as the other way around. She came across as a true partner to the weird alien, even if he ignored her half the time because, well, he’s the Doctor. Essentially, she was the Doctor’s closest friend.
Basically, I can see why she’s a fan-favorite. A spunky gal who could hold her own, she was a good companion. And to make things a little better, apparently Sladen and Tom Baker personally wrote Sarah Jane’s final scene for the original series.
And because the TARDIS never works right, despite the Doctor’s best efforts, he doesn’t drop her off in her hometown of South Croydon.
So, next time we have the only Doctor Who serial to not feature any companions at all.