In which Sarah is given a gift from a Verron Soothsayer. She is asked to give the metal cube to someone whom she trusts, and so hands it to Maria. Back at the attic, Mr Smith informs everyone that it will divert a meteor which is approaching the Earth on a collision course, deflecting it safely away the next afternoon. That night, after a day out in the park where her father has shown off his skateboarding skills, Maria attempts to open the cube, but to no avail. It then opens on its own as she sleeps, just as a mysterious figure stalks the street outside. The being, clad in a black shroud halts outside Sarah's home. The following morning Maria goes across the road and is shocked to find someone else in Sarah's house - a woman named Andrea Yates, who recognises her as if she is an old friend. Pushing her way in, she finds no trace of Sarah ever having lived in the house. Alan comes over, and confirms that Andrea was there when they first came to the street. The photographs taken in the park the previous day now show Andrea with herself and Alan. She calls Clyde, but he is suspicious as to how she got his number, and claims not to know anyone named Luke. Maria tries to convince her dad that something has changed. She takes him to the library where they look up Sarah Jane Smith - and discover that she died as a 13 year old girl in 1964 whilst on a school trip to the seaside. Her friend Andrea Yates was with her when she fell from a pier and drowned.
Andrea goes to the attic, holding another of the cubes, and sees the mysterious black-cowled being reflected in the mirror. She knows him and tells him that her existence is threatened. The figure - an entity known as the Trickster - informs her that he will deal with Maria. He sends a diminutive alien creature called a Graske to attack her. Alan picks up her cube as she is caught by the Graske and transported through time. When Chrissie arrives shortly afterwards Alan is surprised to discover that she has no knowledge of their daughter. The cubes protect the holder from changes to the time-line. Maria has found herself back in 1964, where she meets the young Sarah and Andrea. It was Andrea who had died that day, but the Trickster had appeared to her and offered a deal - her life for Sarah's. Sarah meanwhile has been sent to a white void, where the Trickster explains that he thrives on chaos. With Sarah out of the way, she will be unable to stop the various alien threats to the planet - including the impending meteor collision. His ultimate aim is to destroy the Doctor.
Alan confronts Andrea about Maria, convinced she knows what has happened to her - leading the Trickster to send the Graske after him. He captures the alien, however, and forces it to return Maria. Andrea is having a birthday party that afternoon. Clyde is one of the guests, and he spots the news on TV about the imminent disaster. Maria confronts Andrea and points out that without Sarah the Earth is doomed. Sarah is able to appear in the mirror and is able to convince her that time must be put back on its proper course. Andrea tells the Trickster that she no longer wants their deal and throws her cube at the mirror, smashing it. Time reverts to how it should be, and Sarah is able to get Mr Smith to divert the meteor from striking the Earth at the last moment. As everyone celebrates in the attic, Maria suddenly discovers that her father is standing behind them - demanding to know how they come to know all about aliens...
Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane Smith? was written by Gareth Roberts, and was first broadcast on 29th October and 5th November, 2007. It was directed by Graeme Harper. It is the first of a trilogy of Trickster stories, all written by Roberts, which span the first three seasons. The last of these saw David Tennant guest in the spin-off series. This story shows us Sarah as a teenage schoolgirl, whilst the second story took us back to the time of Sarah's early childhood, and showed how she came to be an orphan, to be brought up by her aunt Lavinia.
The Trickster never made the transition to the parent programme but one of his agents did - the Fortune Teller in Turn Left, who uses a Time Beetle to make Donna Noble live in a world in which the Doctor had died defeating the Racnoss.
He's a wonderfully creepy creation, wearing a black funereal shroud and with a blank, eyeless face. He's played by Paul Marc Davis, who had played the leader of the Futurekind in Utopia, and who later played the Shadowkin King Corakinus in the ill-fated Class spin-off.
The main guest artist is Jane Asher, who plays Andrea Yates. Asher has had a lengthy stage and screen career, though is usually pigeon-holed as "ex-girlfriend of Paul McCartney". Early film roles included Masque of the Red Death alongside Vincent Price, and Alfie, alongside Michael Caine. She's married to the cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.
Overall, it is a great story, with a wonderful villain, which places Maria front and centre as Sarah is missing for much of the two episodes, and in this Luke never existed. Alan finally finds out what his daughter and her friends have been up to these last few weeks.
Things you might like to know:
- Jane Asher played the Doctor's granddaughter Susan on radio in 1994, in the similarly titled "Whatever Happened to Susan Foreman?".
- The Graske had featured previously as the villain of an interactive game, available on the BBC's Red Button digital service immediately following the broadcast of The Christmas Invasion. This piece was titled "Attack of the Graske", and was also written by Gareth Roberts. Like the Slitheen, the Graske - and their cousins, the blue-skinned Groske - would find their natural home in The Sarah Jane Adventures. One also featured in the "Music of the Spheres" segment specially recorded for the first Doctor Who Prom. Throughout, they are played by Jimmy Vee.
- Sarah says that she once defeated the Church of the Tin Vagabond - who were first mentioned by the Doctor in The Satan Pit.
- She has authored a book about UNIT - "Fighting For Humankind".
- Sarah's address is given as No.13 Bannerman Road. However, previous episodes had stated that she lived at No.21, and this is the number which is seen on screen.
- The Trickster tells Andrea: "Waking or sleeping. I am always with you". Turlough was also told this by the Black Guardian in Mawdryn Undead.