Despite me finding many problems with the first two episodes of Class, the third episode, “Nightvisiting”, has actually given me real hope that the spin-off can finally find its feet. Tonally the episode was improved and there was certainly more focus where focus was needed, and it generated a narrative that was thought-provoking.
“Nightvisiting” dealt with the most impossible of situations, i.e. dealing with loss. This is a theme that certainly isn’t new to the spin-off as we have tackled this emotional experience heavily through Charlie and Ram through the first episodes, with Tanya now given her own tackle at the touching subject. This story-thread is introduced in the most beautifully edited montage where we see the journey of Tanya’s parents, from when they first met, to when they declared their love for one another, to when they got married, to when Tanya was born, to showing their happy existence together as a family, before ending it on her father’s death and the ramifications that followed. This truly was a well crafted piece of television which displayed everything it needed to and set up the rest of the narrative perfectly.
The threat in “Nightvisiting” is extremely personal through the alien Lankin using the memories of the dead to try and lure in their victims. Though this episode was spoilt because of my high sceptism (that and I am a bit of a veteran when it comes to criticising and analysing) so I naturally got what was going on from the very beginning. It seemed so obvious that the Lankin’s intentions was evil and so it took away a lot of the mystery as to whether or not the creature could be trusted. But none-the-less it didn’t take away the core tension which was whether or not the characters could trust them.
At the heart of this narrative was Tanya’s struggle to understand whether or not her father was sat before her. And this took up a huge chunk of the episode. Granted some of you may think that sounds rather boring but in fact it made for some very intense scenes, filled with emotional baggage and interesting dilemmas. These two characters constantly bounced off one another to convince the other of their deceptions.
Tanya proved to be very strong in this episode and it was nice to see her take on a more hands-on role rather than being pushed to the side-lines as a guidance character. You could feel her pain throughout as her emotions were tested to the core and at first you believe she’ll remain head-strong as she convinces herself that her father isn’t really there but she naturally begins to be subjected by her feelings and wishes the moment to be true, that her father has really come back to help her with her pain of loss.
It was also nice to see April finally get some character development. Though I have to say it is becoming rather repetitive, and far too convenient, that all four of the main characters are dealing with some kind of loss or dark past life. I know this makes the character’s more interesting, and engaging, for story purposes but it feels less real when they’ve all endured bleak experiences in order to create this darkened universe around them. Not everyone I know in Britain has a terrible past or has demons to face.
Nevertheless, it does make for some good additions to the overall spin-off and goes to explain why April is the way she is. In her eyes she isn’t being nice, nor sensible, simply dealing with the turmoil of war within her own emotional body. This all stems from her alcoholic father, whom she once looked up to, causing a car accident which rendered her mum paralysed and got her father put in prison.
Though not a true loss like the others it’s still a terrible experience that re-shaped her very being, forcing her to endure years of therapy. But true to her character she didn’t allow this to warp her existence and instead used her pain to make herself stronger, proving to herself and others that she wasn’t made of glass and wasn’t going to break from her father’s mistakes. What makes April even stronger is her not allowing her father’s sins destroy the things that she loved. Her father was a musician and thus this is where her love of folk music came from but she didn’t allow the experience to take away this passion of hers, despite it having a strong connection to her father. April understands that the world isn’t sensible and uses that to her advantage to keep herself strong and always moving forward.
It was a bit strange not to have another moment of development for Ram considering we had the brief appearance of Rachel, which added in a nice little jump-scare through the realistic lag within Ram’s and April’s computer conversation. It did seem kind of natural for him to run away from her in shock but I would’ve liked a more in-depth scene where he spoke to her and convinced himself that she wasn’t real, therefore showing that his talk with his father actually made him a stronger, and more developed person. Also I still think he can lay off with the attitude as that really does make him an unlikable character in my eyes. I hate people that go around hiding their pain and then channelling it through being negative to others in order to make themselves feel better.
Hopefully after all these speeches he’s had from Tanya and April he’ll begin to see that their methods of dealing with pain can help him channel his emotions in a way that will heighten his character. Also I did feel that his and April’s bonding session was nice but the conclusion that they might have “a thing” going on now did seem a little bit forced, even if it did feel slightly believable due to the circumstances of the moment. Maybe it’s just me but I can’t stand it when I see characters getting together when they are clearly going for the wrong person.
So if this does become “a thing” I’m interested in seeing how this affects the group’s chemistry, what with Tanya being upset over her friend now getting with the guy she thought she was starting to connect to. Although to be fair Tanya is underage so maybe this was for the best. Still though, I hope the show doesn’t start falling back on itself to delve into more typical teenage problems because getting into arguments over relationship issues is the most pettiest element you can concentrate on (something best left to Hollyoaks).
Charlie also received character development in this story. We delved into his relationship with Matteusz which hasn’t been touched upon since the premier episode. In fact he was another character completely absent from the second episode. At least the spin-off is now starting to utilise their gay relationship and incorporate it into the narrative with an interesting scope on how this touching subject can still be seen as something “not normal”.
The spin-off does this through Matteusz’s parents being against his feelings towards men because of religious reasons whilst Charlie’s parents were against it because of his duties as Prince, and therefore being unable to produce a true heir to the throne. It’s a daft notion that we still have people out there that don’t understand the complexity of love and how people choose to show it but I’m glad Class is using this topic in a thought-provoking way and in a way that actually adds to the characters’ development rather than just being there for the sake of it.
Another fantastic pro to point out about this episode is our gang of characters actually worked together in this narrative! This is what bothered me a lot about “The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo” because the group didn’t feel like a team but here they are working together as friends which shows a great bit of progression for the spin-off. I suppose it was somewhat necessary for Ram’s development to show him distancing himself from the other’s and not necessarily wanting to join their team just because The Doctor instructed them to, having seen first-hand the horrors of his life-style. But it is much better now to see them actually coming together and starting to learn from one another. It creates a better vibe and a more interesting storyline to follow.
Even Miss Quill got in on the action as she too was tested by the appearance of her dead sister and though most of the time she appeared in control of the situation through knowing something wasn’t quite right there were still moments were she hesitated. It was good to delve more into her character and see her develop with the others. I think she has the best promise of character development due to her circumstance. She is Charlie’s enemy reduced to a slave and is trapped on Earth helping the gang through complicated rules that restrict her actions, especially in self-defence. I wouldn’t be surprised if she tried turning on Charlie and the others when she gets the chance, but perhaps will second-guess herself because she has grown attached to them.
What was interesting this week was seeing her layers fold back and her inner emotions starting to appear. It became clear that she was lonely and was perhaps suffering more than Charlie over the genocide of her people. This really showed when she aided in stopping the Lankin and got no thanks, or inclusion within the group victory at the end. Though she passed it off with her normal bitter sense of humour you could tell she wanted some sort of connection to the group to fill in her void of loneliness.
The resolution was quite powerful, if slightly underwhelming, when Tanya is forced to join with the Lankin, now exposed as a parasitic life-form that wants to absorb the souls of others to consume their energy. Tanya happens to attract them to Earth because of her overwhelming grief towards her father’s death on his two-year anniversary. Though there are flaws to this idea it still does make for a good piece for Tanya’s development and I liked how she used her emotions against the Lankin, explaining that she felt more anger towards her father’s death than sadness because she felt annoyed by her perfect family being destroyed by his sudden stroke. The scene is powerful in the way it explores the different ways young people react to loss.
It’s a tragic moment in anyone’s life and at such a young age losing their father and having all their happiness stripped away becomes a massive burden to carry, so it isn’t hard to imagine that Tanya would be angry about this, as well as upset. The resolution is made all the more poetic through Tanya sharing a moment with her mother, for the first time in the series, as they talked about how her parents met which ultimately brought closure to all the emotions enveloped throughout the episode.
Overall “Nightvisiting” was a better experience and I felt like the show was making a steady progression. Though I don’t think they’ll fix the tonal problems due to the demographic involved I do still think it’s something Patrick Ness and the other executives need to work out if they are to still call this a Doctor Who spin-off. Either-way I loved the character development, the narrative was engaging, and the blend of science-fiction and teenage drama was integrated better this week. I hope Class continues to progress and finally finds its place within the Whoniverse.
Final Grade: B
Pros and Cons
+ Excellent focus on Tanya through her emotional struggle to overcome her father’s death.
+ All the scenes between Tanya and the Lankin, they felt tense, emotional and always engaging. This is how I want every episode from now on!
+ Finally some development for April.
+ Nice usage of Charlie’s gay relationship to help enhance his development (as well as some nice subtle social commentary)
– It was strange that it took April so long to link the Lankin to the song “Nightvisiting” despite playing the song at the beginning of the episode. Also by the time she made the link it had lost its relevance and impact.
– With East London under threat of invasion it seemed rather strange that the authority didn’t get involved (where was UNIT?)
Sound off in the comment section below or on our Twitter page and share your opinions on the latest episode of Class!