Eye of the Gorgon was the third story in the first series of The Sarah Jane Adventures. It consisted of episodes 3 and 4 of the series. Alan Jackson had his first encounter with alien life in this episode, but at Sarah Jane Smith's insistence he was made to believe he dreamt the whole thing up.
A haunted nursing home leads Sarah to a mysterious order of nuns with an ancient — and alien — secret...
At the local nursing home, Lavender Lawns, elderly women claim they have seen a mysterious nun who appears and vanishes like a ghost. Clyde informs Sarah of the story and she, Clyde and Luke investigate. Meanwhile, Chrissie Jackson moves back into her ex-husband's house, but only makes more trouble for the family. Chrissie tries to catch up with her daughter, but the touchy subject of how she abandoned the family comes up and Maria calls out her mother for being thoughtless, only thinking about how divorce would affect her. Maria turns angry at Chrissie and yells at her mother, telling her to leave. Some of this anger later gravitates towards Alan, and she runs off to Sarah's house to avoid any more uncomfortable conversations with her parents.
Back at Lavender Lawns, Luke encounters an old lady who peers at him through a window. He learns that her name is Bea Nelson-Stanley, and she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Luke finds Bea outside, where she gives him an ancient talisman, but has trouble explaining to him her reasons for doing so due to her condition. It is really the key to a portal in space and time. An order of nuns are hiding an ancient creature, the Gorgon. Meanwhile, Clyde is stuck doing favours for Mrs. Randall. He, Luke, and Sarah leave Lavender Lawns to figure out the mystery of the apparent nun hauntings.
As Maria arrives at Sarah's residence, Luke, Clyde and Sarah are upstairs. Sarah asks Mr Smith about any evidence of ghosts at Lavender Lawns. He disproves her concerns quickly, but instantly detects the talisman and reveals Luke has brought an alien device into her house, causing Sarah to confront him. Luke explains he had to keep it a secret to avoid breaking a promise with Bea. Sarah takes the talisman and holds onto it for safekeeping from the nuns.
Mrs Gribbins, one of the caregivers at Lavender Lawns, is involved in the fishy activities, and after Sarah and the gang leave, she speaks with the nun who has been stalking the nursing home, Sister Helena. Gribbins tells Helena that the talisman they have been searching for has been passed on to the boy who just visited the nursing home by Bea. Annoyed by Mrs Gribbins's oversight, when she had previously described Bea as barely knowing her own name, Helena turns against Mrs Gribbins. She has Gribbins escorted to a room where a hooded woman sits in a wheelchair, with gnarled fingernails and wrinkled, orange skin. The woman lifts up her hood, causing Mrs Gribbins to scream in terror at her countenance. A blue light fills the room. When it fades, Mrs Gribbins is revealed to have petrified into a statue.
The next day, Sarah Jane and Maria go back to Lavender Lawns to speak with Miss Nelson-Stanley about where she got the talisman. However, this proves difficult, as Bea's Alzheimer's hinders their success. Bea does mention a past where she was an archaeologist with her late husband Edgar, who found and gave her the talisman. Sarah also perks up when Bea speaks of Sontarans, going as far to make a remark about their potato-like appearance and use of ray guns, which proves she has knowledge about alien life despite a cloudy memory.
While Sarah and Maria are gone, the nuns track down Luke and Clyde, arriving at Sarah Jane's house. Luke, not knowing he shouldn't speak about the talisman, attracts Sister Helena's full attention. Alan encounters Sister Helena, thinking her to be an ordinary nun, and donates to their cause. However, when he leaves, Helena and the other nuns kidnap Luke by force and put him in a hearse. Clyde chases after the hearse in vain as it charges down the street. He immediately calls Sarah and warns her about what just happened, making her and Maria depart Lavender Lawns and come back home.
Sarah, Clyde, and Maria concoct a plan to rescue Luke from Saint Agnes Abbey. At the entrance gate to the abbey, Sarah Jane poses as a reporter wanting to get a story about religious information concerning the nuns, and she is permitted inside — though the nuns have already prepared for her arrival and trap her in the abbey. She finds Luke, but is soon confronted by Sister Helena, who reveals Luke was never in any danger; Helena tries to coax her into giving up the talisman. Sarah Jane does not comply. Meanwhile, Clyde and Maria sneak out of Sarah Jane's car and infiltrate the abbey through an open window, soon reuniting with Luke and Sarah Jane. However, Helena is no longer willing to be so passive and makes Sarah Jane return to her house to get the talisman, keeping the kids in her possession as insurance. Luke and Clyde have to remain at the abbey while Maria is taken back to Bannerman Road with Sarah, with the Gorgon in tow.
When she gets back home Sarah Jane quickly fetches her sonic liptstick and the talisman while Maria remains with the unwelcome guests. When Helena reveals that the Abbess does not speak, Maria deduces that the Gorgon must be exerting telepathic control over the sisters, since looking after a Gorgon "isn't exactly normal for a bunch of nuns". Helena advises her to shut her mouth or the Abbess might demonstrate her idea of "solving a problem like Maria" (paraphrasing The Sound of Music) When Sarah enters with the talisman, Helena reaches for it only for Sarah to demand the release of Luke and Clyde or she will destroy the talisman with sonic disruption. Unfortunately, the Gorgon has other ideas and begins to unveil her face; distracted, Sarah has the talisman snatched from her. Unaware of the Gorgon's presence, Alan walks into the living room and gazes upon the Abbess's exposed face. Several blue streams of light in the form of serpents surge out of her glowing mouth and eyes, surround Alan, and turn him to stone, terrifying his daughter Maria.
Having gotten what they came for, the nuns and Gorgon leave. Maria is distraught to see her father petrified and falls to tears, wishing she'd never met Sarah with the alien in her yard. Sarah consoles Maria and gets her to accept that it was in her favour to learn about the truth, promising they can find a way to rescue Alan before he dies. Sarah Jane and Maria talk with Mr Smith to see if there is any chance to save Alan's life. Mr Smith tells Maria and Sarah that Alan's body is undergoing a slow molecular conversion into stone, but the process will not be complete until 4:00 PM; the time is 2:30 PM, giving them ninety minutes to undo the petrification. They conjecture that the talisman may be able to reverse Alan's molecules back to flesh if they can reclaim it from the nuns. Sarah returns to the abbey to take it back. On the way there, she drops off Maria at Lavender Lawns so that she may get Bea to break through her Alzheimer's and divulge answers about the talisman's alien properties.
Back at the abbey, Luke and Clyde ponder their escape. At first, Luke throws out a few facts about the history surrounding the abbey, making Clyde think he's getting off track with useless facts, until it becomes clear Luke's thoughts are leading him to an answer: he remembers that the abbey they are trapped inside was built during a time of refuge. It could have secret passages hidden away. He finds a bust of a Gorgon's head and twists it to the side, unlocking a hidden chamber. The boys escape via a secret passage. As Luke and Clyde sneak out of the abbey, they see the Gorgon stumble. Continuing their escape, they find the gardens in the courtyard filled to the brim with statues of the victims that were permanently petrified by the Gorgon's gaze, ushering them to make haste to save Sarah.
While Sarah and the others are gone, Chrissie arrives at her house and spies her petrified husband in the window, not aware that it is him. She barges into Sarah's house to get a better look at this "statue" that her obsessed neighbour made in his likeness. Chrissie, thinking she can speak in private, feels compelled to open up to the statue and say what she hasn't told Alan face-to-face. She regrets that she's screwed up the Jacksons' family life, berating herself over her mistakes, believing she's going to make more. She apologises and walks away. One of Alan's petrified eyes sheds a tear, a sliver of him still possibly conscious.
Sister Helena places the talisman in the side of a stone altar, joined by nuns chanting, "Serve the Gorgon. Serve the Gorgon." A green energy begins to swirl out of the altar, which is really a portal, beginning the process of joining the Gorgon homeworld with Earth. The Gorgon is a parasite inside the Abbess, a woman who has had her lifespan prolonged by its influence, though robbed of her free will and appearance. Her body is dying, and the Gorgon needs a new vessel — it chooses Sarah as its next host.
Chatting with Bea, Maria struggles to get a breakthrough as the elderly woman's Alzheimer's disrupts her ability to think straight. Maria sees the clock on her bedroom wall reads 3:00 PM, warning her she has an hour left before Alan is lost forever. Desperate, Maria realises Bea is enamoured with thoughts of her passed on husband Edgar. She begins to ask Bea questions about Edgar, which proves to be the catalyst that jogs her memory. Bea's Alzheimer's clears up, and Maria is able to explain her plight. Bea reveals that she was once petrified herself, and Edgar saved her long ago, because the talisman can revert those turned to stone back to normal. Maria thanks Bea, who gives the girl a mirror. Maria doesn't understand Bea's intentions for doing so. As Maria leaves, Bea chides the girl's education for not realising it is to reflect the Gorgon's face.
Clyde distracts the nuns long enough for Luke to grab the talisman, closing the portal. However, Sarah and both boys are recaptured. The boys are locked in the supply cellar, while Sarah is taken and tied next to the portal. Luke sees Clyde standing on a barrel by some old canvas bags. He turns around to find a bucket, dumping out the contents. He fixes on a flat trowel from the supplies. Clyde asks him if he's going to dig a tunnel, but Luke has other plans. He improvises a screwdriver, using the flat trowel tip to notch the tool in the screws, turns it delicately, and removes the screws on the lock on the cellar door, letting him pry it off and open the door. Luke and Clyde escape again and join Sarah just as the Gorgon begins to transfer itself. Maria arrives and uses Bea's mirror to block the transfer and send the snake entities back at the Gorgon. She tries to block them by raising up her hands, but is too late. They turn the Gorgon — and Abbess — to stone. Almost immediately, the nuns release their captives and stagger back in horror at the sight of the statue; Helena, more pleasant now, openly demands to know what is going on. Sarah joyfully tells her that the Gorgon has lost its control over them, which goes right over her head. Helena then gasps in horror as the other Gorgons start emerging from the portal, but Maria disconnects the talisman and the portal shuts down, sending the other Gorgons back forever. Sarah then reminds Maria about saving Alan and they immediately run for the car, leaving the very confused sisters to ponder their lack of an Abbess and the sudden appearance of a very ugly statue.
The group rushes back to Sarah's house. With seconds to spare, Maria hangs the talisman around her father's neck. With a shimmering energy, the talisman brings Alan back to flesh and blood. He does not remember his ordeal, but Maria is quick to embrace him in a tight hug. Chrissie returns to Sarah's house right after Alan is released from the petrification, none the wiser. However, she protests that Sarah has gotten carried away by making a statue of Alan, but now that he has changed back to normal, she cannot incriminate his neighbour for this, finally giving up. Maria thinks it is better for her mother to remain uninformed about the strange alien happenings surrounding Sarah Jane Smith.
As Chrisse's stay at Alan and Maria's flat comes to an end, Maria apologises at Alan for yelling at him. He forgives her, since it was "only a tiff." The two hug, but Chrissie wedges herself between them to get in her cab, and return to Ivan. Alan tries to hasten her departure by reminder her the metre's running, uncomfortable around his ex. Chrissie ignores him, more concerned about patching things up with her daughter. Maria and Chrissie hug and say their goodbyes, promising to watch after each other. Chrissie hops into her cab, then waves at her family as it drives away.
After Maria witnesses the talisman restore her father, she goes back to Sarah and wonders if it will cure Bea of her Alzheimer's. Mr Smith implies it is possible. This encourages her to have Sarah take her to see Bea for one more visit, returning her mirror in the process. Bea initially repulses at the sight of the talisman because it has to stay hidden from the Gorgons. Sarah Jane tells Bea that the Gorgons have been vanquished, putting her at ease. Now accepting of the alien artefact, she places the talisman around her neck and hears the voice of her late husband Edgar telling her, "I will always love you, Bea." Misty-eyed, Bea smiles and remembers her husband, earnestly thanking Sarah and Maria for bringing Edgar back to her. However, her Alzheimer's does not subside.
As they leave Lavender Lawns, Sarah brightens Maria's spirits by letting her know the talisman has still helped Bea by letting her find peace. Maria comments on how lucky Bea was to have Edgar, then asks Sarah if she wished she had someone special to share her experiences with. Sarah assures her that she's found one for the second time, looking at Maria. The two rush back into her car to return home in time to watch the Viszeran Royal Fleet pass through the solar system, all 600 ships. Sarah says it "only takes a few seconds, but it is the most magnificent stellar light show this side of the galaxy."
- Sarah Jane Smith — Elisabeth Sladen
- Maria Jackson — Yasmin Paige
- Luke Smith — Tommy Knight
- Clyde Langer — Daniel Anthony
- Voice of Mr Smith - Alexander Armstrong
- Alan Jackson — Joseph Millson
- Chrissie Jackson — Juliet Cowan
- Bea Nelson-Stanley — Phyllida Law
- Sister Helena — Beth Goddard
- Mrs Gribbins - Sarah Crowden
- Mrs Randall — Doreen Mantle
- The Abbess — Audrey Ardington
Created by Russell T Davies
|Executive Producers Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson|
|General production staff|
Camera and lighting department
|Make-up and prosthetics
General post-production staff
Special and visual effects
|Not every person who worked on this adventure was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as broadcast, and does not relay information from IMDB or other sources.|
- Norah Connolly is a resident of Lavender Lawns.
- Edgar Nelson-Stanley is Bea Nelson-Stanley's husband.
- Mrs Pittman is Clyde's history teacher.
- Bea mentions the Sultan of Ishkanbar.
- Carlos is Chrissie Jackson's salsa teacher.
Cultural references to the real world
- Sarah Jane Smith, while attempting to guess where the abbey was, mentions Agatha Christie and her creation Miss Marple.
- Barbara Shelley and Christopher Lee appeared in a movie about Gorgons.
- On A Slow Boat To China is Bea and Edgar Nelson-Stanley's song.
- Clyde mentions Star Trek.
- Several figures from Greek mythology are mentioned, among those are Medusa, Poseidon, Athena, Perseus, Phorcys, Stheno, Euryale and Ceto.
- St Agnes Abbey is the home of the nuns.
- Gorgos is the home plant of the Gorgons.
- Bea and Edgar have been to Syria.
- There is a silhouette/scale drawing of a Jagaroth ship on the wall in Sarah's attic.
- Sarah and Maria want to watch a Viszeran Royal Fleet.
- Bea Nelson-Stanley says that "the Sontarans are the silliest race in the galaxy" and look like potatoes with ray guns.
- Bea also says that the Sultan of Ishkanbar saw a Yeti once.
- The building used as Lavender Lawns is the same building used as the hotel where Donna Noble, her mother Sylvia Noble and her grandfather Wilfred Mott were staying when London was destroyed on Christmas 2008 in TV: Turn Left.
- Part 1 - 1.1 million viewers BBC1,
- Part 2 - 411,000 viewers
to be added
- Sarah's house number should be 13 Bannerman Road, but in these two episodes the door number is 21.
- Sarah met the Sontarans twice before. (TV: The Time Warrior, The Sontaran Experiment)
- The Gorgon's attack on Alan Jackson resembles Petrifold Regression. (TV: New Earth)
- The Second Doctor encountered a fictionalised version of Medusa, another Gorgon, in the Land of Fiction. (TV: The Mind Robber)
- The sonic lipstick does not work on wood, similar to the Doctor's sonic screwdriver. (TV: Silence in the Library)
- The idea of the nuns hiding an alien is very similar to TV: Tooth and Claw, in which the monks hide the werewolf.
- The First Doctor encountered a different type of Gorgon in the company of John and Gillian. (COMIC: The Gaze of the Gorgon)
- Agatha Christie is mentioned. The Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble would later meet the famous novelist on 8 December 1926 (TV: The Unicorn and the Wasp)
- Bea tells Maria that the Sultan of Ishkanbar claimed that he had seen the Yeti. (TV: The Abominable Snowmen)
Home video releases
- This was to be released on a vanilla DVD along with Revenge of the Slitheen on 17 March 2008, but the release was cancelled. It is featured in the Series One box set, which was released in North America on 7 October 2008 and in the UK on 10th November 2008.
- Eye of the Gorgon at Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel)
- Eye of the Gorgon at The Locations Guide