The Thirst for Adventure

But I’m an adventurer. I like invention, I like discovery.
Karlheinz Stockhausen

In School Reunion, the Doctor and Rose travel to a secondary school and go undercover as a substitute physics teacher and a lunch lady. They soon discover that (as usual) something very strange is going on. The kids at the school are smart–abnormally smart. And  brainwashed. There also appears to be something fishy with the chips they serve at lunch. In the end, we figure out that the new headmaster of the school is a member of an alien race known for its ability to assume the characteristics of each race they conquer. This time, humans are the race in question. The principal and his staff of alien teachers are using the enhanced brainpower of the children (from the alien fishy chips) to try and solve the ultimate question of the universe–and thereby gain the power to rule it. The underdog of the school–a rather pudgy chap who was not allowed to eat the chips at lunch–ends up saving the day along with the underdog of the Doctor’s team (Mickey) and an actual (robotic) dog. Planet earth is safe once more.

Despite the rather campy plot, this episode raises a rather interesting question for the Doctor and his companions. In a side plot, we meet one of the Doctor’s former companions, Sarah. It is clear that she is still rather attached to the Doctor and for a while, she and Rose compete for the oblivious Doctor’s favor. But as Sarah tells her story, she and Rose begin to commiserate over the trials of traveling with a space alien–scenes which are at once humorous and poignant. Sarah raises a point. After traveling through space and time, seeing so many amazing and other-worldly things, and forming such a close relationship with the Doctor, what is one supposed to do afterwards, when it inevitably ends? The Doctor had essentially dumped her on the side of the road and left her to pick up the pieces, to start a new life in a world that was so much smaller than the one she had left. Sarah shares this experience with Rose, warning her of the dangers of attaching herself so completely to one person who will ultimately leave her behind. And, although Rose eventually comes to understand this, she and Sarah both know that it is impossible to stay away. The appeal of adventure is too great once one has had a taste of it.

The Doctor, despite his incredible intelligence, does not quite understand human emotion and is oblivious to their conundrum through most of the episode. He eventually sees Sarah’s dilemma for what it is and apologizes to her for leaving her behind–even though he knows he will do it again to Rose. This encounter and the resulting confrontations open up channels of dialogue that are important in the relationships between all three characters. We will hopefully explore this conflict further as it comes closer to the time for the Doctor and Rose to part ways.





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