This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
1.4 Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart
Who else feels as though we’ve just skipped twenty episodes to get straight to the two-part season finale? By my count, before the winsome young couple have it off and leap through a portal into a shadow dimension, there should have been at least one misguided comedy romp, a crossover ep, a guest star vehicle of dubious merit, and a handful of filler episodes.
You can’t just fast-forward to the good stuff. Can you?
Class can. Its UK-size run of eight episodes pretty much demands that it does. Even if the side-effect is the audience suffering whiplash from the speed at which things accelerated to Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart’s dramatic conclusion.
Let’s recap. April has gone to the Shadow world to get her heart back. Ram, being Ram, has gone after her. A species of carnivorous alien tree blossoms is eating squirrels and threatening to engulf the earth (I’m not sure which is more upsetting). April’s dad is out of prison. April’s mum can walk again. Coal Hill has a clued-in new head teacher. Quill knows the Cabinet of Souls isn’t empty and has a chance at regaining her free will. Charlie and Matteusz are fighting over political philosophy. Tanya…well, Tanya got all that screen time last week.
There was enough story development in this episode to power a series twice or possibly four times the length of Class. That’s both exhilarating—who likes wheel-spinning?—and frustrating. With more time spent establishing Charlie’s imperious treatment of Quill, the dangling carrot of her freedom would doubtless have had greater impact. The same goes for April’s mum’s cure. Having barely met the woman or explored her situation, the power of the transformation is obviously lessened. It’s hello-goodbye storytelling, moving things along apace but failing to leave behind much of a mark.
To right a previous wrong done to Class (my suspicion that its best ideas have all been done before), praise has to go to the shared heart situation. While there’s nothing new about a mystical link connecting a young hero to a villain—Earthsea’s Ged and the shadow creature, that other young wizard and his scar, Farseer’s Fitz and the Skill—the space-travelling heart feels like a strong, original concept.
It also allows Class to do its thing by telling a story about its characters’ emotions through a fantasy lens. “You can’t have my heart” screams April at both the Shadow King and her dad, conflating her anger towards one with the other. It’s neat and meaningful and entirely fitting with Class’ emerging identity as a kind of school counsellor to its young audience, helping them to work through their feelings with socially responsible messages and empathetic exploration of feelings.
What Class isn’t trying to do is scare anyone by the looks of this episode. The comedy sex scene with the Shadow Kin (sort of volcanic Klingons) drains away whatever apprehension they aroused in episode one. Yes, their planet looks hellish, but that nagging pound of humanity beating away in the Shadow King’s chest is sure to save the day. That, we have seen before. (Where? Buffy of course. The season five finale.)
That’s another downside of this early dramatic series peak; we know they’re going to get out of it. You don’t kill off one of your leads in episode four.
At least I hope you don’t. These characters are likeable sorts. No, with their tender, supportive heart-to-hearts and over-use of each other’s names (“We can help you April, I’m sure we can”, “Oh, April”, “April, is this really okay?”) they’re not real-life, FIFA-playing, farting teenagers; they’re better. They’re TV teenagers, like the ones on Dawson’s Creek, just with robot-centipede legs.
Assuming she does survive, will April be left, as Ram was in episode one, with a souvenir of her adventure? Her hanging on to the Hulk powers could be a profitable development at the end of all of this. It’d certainly make it easier for her to persuade volunteers to help decorate the next prom.
It was a surprise to see this histrionic an episode so soon in this show’s lifetime. Packed with incident and ideas, Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart was marked change from last week’s quiet, emotionally resonant instalment. An uneven mix of romance, comedy and high-stakes drama, it may have struggled to find the right balance of tone and even tipped over into unintentional silliness at times but it proved one thing: Class certainly has the courage of its convictions. And with only eight episodes, where’s the sense in playing it cool?