“There will be magic in tears, but even they will never be bringing your mother back.”
A powerful and beautiful statement from the less than beautiful Randall Moon tops the Wizards Vs Aliens finale for sheer poetry and strikes the heart amidst the drama of an Earth invasion.
The Nekross, despite their walloping much-mentioned master plan being sprung into action (and has been bubbling away for some time by the looks of things), take a back-seat to the appearance of Helen – the boy wizard Tom’s mother.
As we discovered earlier in the series, she died some time ago – and, in the delightfully creepy opening scene, we relive the moment she was “killed” by The Entity through her son’s nightmare. But Tom’s nightmare bleeds into reality as he spots her in his real life.
For some time the notion that she’s a ghost, or a “pale shadow” according to the aforementioned Moon, or just part of Tom’s imagination seems plausible but we soon find that Helen is alive and real. Inexplicably she has returned, giving rise to a number of wonderfully touching scenes, reuniting mother and son, husband (Michael) and her own mother (Ursula).
For us adults, the pacing is perfect – fully exploring the family dynamic, letting the moments breathe as the cast impress with a strong emotional element (and not a simple one either). As a side note, and without being patronising, we do wonder what the younger audience would have made of the slower story and the emotional pull.
As the mystery of Helen’s return continues, we find exactly what the master plan is; that the former Mrs Clarke is, in fact, a clone. Worse than that, however, there’s more than just one clone – there’s squibillions of them! The reveal at the end of part one in the clone factory was a stunning bit of SFX.
Sadly, of course, the original Helen doesn’t exist (in the physical realm at least). Ursula, so sensitively played by Annette Badland, feels something is afoot when her daughter returns – “I know this cannot last,” she mournfully states. Likewise, Helen also knows – we know it ain’t gonna end happily for Tom and his dad Michael.
Jennifer Hennessy (who starred in the 2007 Doctor Who story, ‘Gridlock’) portrays the clone superbly; going from confused mother to wizard to saviour of the world. Michael Higgs, her onscreen hubby, also gets a chance to shine with depth and feeling presented here by writer Phil Ford.
Ford, who kicked off the series with two delightful bouncy opening stories, has penned a more serious piece here, akin to his previous work on The Sarah Jane Adventures such as the terrific ‘Eye of the Gorgon’ and ‘The Curse of Clyde Langer’. He deals with loss again and does so with heart and compassion, gifting the audience wonderful lines such as the opening quote.
The series denouement is not unreminiscent of a Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who finale – although the world is in peril, it’s the interpersonal relationships that shine through and steal your emotions. Though Tom loses his mother again, as an adult (almost) he finally has “closure” on the traumatic event. Of course, ‘The Last Day’ belies its title, setting up a possible return for Helen but a most definite return for The Nekross who are a pissed off as ever.
Series 2 cannot come fast enough…
Aired on Monday 3 and Tuesday 4 December 2012 on CBBC.
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