This Class review contains spoilers. It original appeared on Den of Geek UK.
Season 1, Episode 8
In keeping with last week’s metaphysical road trip, the Class finale began in another hellish location: the open mic folk night. April’s sweet song was the soundtrack to a brutal start.
Ram’s dad, Tanya’s mum… “The Lost” tossed multiple victims on the pile, topping it off with Dorothea (Coal Hill heads evidently share the longevity of Defence Against The Dark Arts professors, Magic Box owners and Spinal Tap drummers), who perished by order of The Governors.
By order of The Governors, but not by their hand. That task fell to the Weeping Angels (those evil ‘don’t blink’ monsters from the parent show who’ve surely been rinsed clear of danger through overuse by now), for whose Arrival on Earth The Governors are busily preparing like a good little cult. Unfortunately for humanity, the aliens this lot are waiting for might actually arrive. If, that is, Class is granted a second series.
To judge by effort alone, it deserves one. This show has been working its socks off over the past eight weeks, cramming ever more ideas, events and impassioned speeches into its episodes as it went. Not least in this packed finale, which didn’t let up in intensity from the moment Ram’s dad was turned to dust.
In that respect,”The Lost” suffered from the same problem as the previous Shadow Kin two-parter: an excess of urgency and earnestness. When every note is emphasised and there’s no dynamic range, the result is… tonal blandness. “The Lost” was so keen to raise the stakes, keep raising them, then raise them some more, it became a struggle to care about one thing in particular. At each point in the story, everyone was either just about to die, did die, or sacrificed themselves, died and then came back to life as a massive volcano monster. Imagine watching an ant colony run from a torrent of water versus watching a single ant doggedly fight its way to safety. Without an individual focus for the peril, it’s harder to feel.
And feelings are Class’ speciality. They’re where this show lives. Its teenage characters are singularly, often bizarrely, eloquent on the subject of their emotions. In “The Lost” they shouted themselves hoarse about what they were going through, and the resulting din made you—or two-decades-older-than-the-target-demographic-me—wince.
Speaking of wincing, the finale was brutal. In one scimitar-slash, Class orphaned Tanya and murdered yet another of Ram’s loved ones right in front of him. And it didn’t stop there. Ram was left cradling the corpse of the girl he loves while her soul—it appears—took up residence inside the Shadow Kin next to it. And as for Charlie, he’d not only emptied his race’s heaven to commit genocide, but also murdered one of his only friends and potentially lost his peacenik boyfriend in the process.
You have to admire that kind of gutsiness. Tentative? This show doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
Words, or language, are another of Class‘ specialities. It has an especially good nose for the sort of bloviating rhetoric you find in modern schools and political organisations, as prodded in the creation of The Governors. The latter were discovered behind a door labelled “Ever Upward Reach” (you can hear the project announcement from Whitehall now, can’t you?), and killed one of their member after “regrettable mistakes were made” despite her dying plea about having a “positive vision”.
I love Class’ satirical side (incidentally, if anyone would care to make a series of spin-off shorts about Quill’s dealings with modern life, from referendum doorsteppers to—imagine it!—the maternity ward, I’d watch it in a shot. A sort of warrior-porcupine-out-of-water deal. With violence and killer heels.)
Other than proving that it’s entirely possible to rock both a baby bump and over-the-knee dominatrix boots, Quill was tied up this week playing Mr Miyagi to Tanya’s Karate Kid. Once again, points for effort, but Tanya’s training was too rushed for the pay-off of her saving Quill’s life to feel as triumphant as it could have done with more time or a stronger basis in character. (As an academic overachiever, wouldn’t it be feasible for Tanya to have an extra-curricular black belt in Taekwando or similar lined up for her UCAS application?) The surprising alliance between the two though, was appreciated.
To conclude, Class gave its all in the finale. A little too much for my taste, but then I’m at the age where I have leave shops when the music’s too loud, so make of that what you will.
Fittingly for a Doctor Who spin-off, a lack of space and time was this gutsy, crammed series’ main issue. A second series commission would cure that. Perhaps the Doctor can write a prescription?