It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride watching Class this year. It certainly had a lot to live up to with it being the first spin-off to Doctor Who since 2011. On top of this we had no Doctor Who content all year besides the brilliant work of Big Finish Productions. So maybe this all contributed towards my harshness towards Class. Who knows? But at the very least Patrick Ness managed to pull something out of the bag by the end.
Looking back at this first series it was only really “Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Brave-ish Heart” that I consider to be of low standards. The rest of the episodes were actually rather good, with some of them being really engaging. This spin-off has certainly had its ups and downs but overall it hasn’t been too bad and has a lot of room for expansion. I still think the tone needs sorting out but that’s probably a gripe that’s down to my personal preference.
“The Lost” centres itself around all the core ideas that the spin-off has been building upon. Despite my disappointment with the Shadow Kin “The Lost” actually turns things around and makes them semi-interesting. Above all they actually appear threatening. I absolutely hated the Shadow Kin King because he felt bland, and too generic as a villain. This was made worse by the fact he was the main reoccurring villain of this series. But thankfully Ness gave him more character in this finale and the performance showcased that.
I liked how this finale challenged each and every character. There was a moment of dilemma for all them to face. This really challenged them emotionally and pushed them to new areas of development. With the Shadow Kin King going around killing their loved ones it became a game of chess. The pawns were set but it was simply a question of who would perform checkmate and what they were willing to do to achieve it.
Tanya became the most damaged due to her losing her mother. It had a lot of impact and you see the pain Tanya was going through, which ultimately affected her decisions. Becoming desperate to stop the Shadow Kin she turned to Quill for guidance, learning how to fight and find a way to convince Charlie to use the Cabinet. As this series has proven time and time again Tanya’s a strong character and certainly one of my favourites. She’s kind, and smart, but is able to make tough decisions in order to resolve a problem at hand.
The dilemmas of this finale rested mostly on Charlie and the million dollar question of whether he was willing to use the Cabinet. This question has plagued this first series and has slowly built up Charlie’s character. He has certainly come a long way since “For Tonight We Might Die”. Charlie’s no longer a ‘Luke Smith wannabe’ and has actually gained a character of his own. What I like the most is how his journey resembles that of The Doctor’s. He too is faced with the difficult decision of sacrificing his race to destroy his enemy.
When you consider the fact that Charlie is just a young adult it makes the decision more harsher. The Doctor was an old man when he had to make this decision. Not to mention he had seen so much darkness throughout the Time War to push him over the edge. Charlie may have seen his race slaughtered by the Shadow Kin but the hope of his people’s survival was right there in front of him. The Doctor didn’t have that leisure to begin with. But it also comes down to the fact that this is a massive burden to hold at such a young age, which only adds to the dilemma.
It was also nice to incorporate the challenges of facing ones decision. Like we had seen with The Ninth and Tenth Doctor they both suffered greatly by their decision, and this is something that Charlie and Matteusz contemplated should Charlie go down the path of murder. Then there is the saddening truth of what Charlie would have to sacrifice. He would have to let go of the idea of being the hero who brought back his race, as well as being the killer of his friend April who is still connected to the Shadow Kin King.
Quill continued to have some nice moments of progression, particularly now that she is pregnant. I was curious to see how she would act now that she was free from Charlie’s control so to my surprise it was intriguing watching her help out Tanya. In her moment of need Quill helped Tanya attack her emotional baggage and use it as a weapon against her enemy.
It was also interesting when Quill protected Charlie from death in the resolution. At first you think it is a noble act but in reality it is a cruel way to make him suffer just as she has suffered. In many ways this felt like a good punishment not only to get pay back but to also advance the narrative. Particularly with developing Charlie’s character and his relationship with his loved ones. I really hope in the next series that we can have another cameo from The Doctor in which he has a discussion with Charlie about his actions.
Unfortunately we still had our bad moments. April and Ram still remain bland, annoying characters. Although I will give April credit as she is now more likable. Also she did rise to the occasion when it came to admitting her love to Ram after getting past her fears and then choosing to sacrifice herself to save her loved ones. Both of these moments were very noble and true to her character.
Ram on the other hand is still whinny and somewhat selfish. At least he seems sincere about his love for April. But honestly when it came to his father’s death I wasn’t bothered. Maybe it was because I don’t care about Ram. More likely it was because there was little development for his father, therefore little reason for me to give a damn. He was also quick to become the coward at nearly every turn by wanting to run away and hide from the Shadow Kin.
I also disliked the way he blamed Charlie for April’s death. He should have known that she was going to die in order to stop the Shadow Kin. He became more hypocritical when you remember that he himself wanted the Shadow Kin dead because of his father’s demise.
Looking at this episode more carefully you really come to realise just how much burden The Doctor placed on these teenager’s shoulders. The pressure of teenage years are troublesome at the best of times and now they have to confront the terrors of time and space. I felt this finale really emphasised that idea perfectly. Especially in how personal this narrative got.
Their families where in danger. Their lives were affected deeply. And the hope of the future rested on their shoulders alone. They had to become The Doctor. When you look at it like that you begin to question the Time Lord and why he ever thought it was a good idea to give these young adults such responsibility. You have to wonder if he still remembered Clara would he have made such a decision. It’s certainly something that she would’ve told him off for because it placed innocent lives in danger.
Let’s not forget about the consequences of someone becoming too much like him (i.e. “Earthshock”, “Facing the Raven”). This is another reason why it would be interesting for The Doctor to return in order for him to see what has become of Charlie and his friends because of his actions. It’s another example of what happens when The Doctor isn’t around to save the day. Made worse by the fact that he could’ve but chose not to. Instead he left them with a dangerous burden that has warped their lives.
Overall “The Lost” was a great ending to a shaky first series. It was filled with many engaging moments and personal dilemmas that developed the characters and narrative perfectly. These advancements truly pushed the spin-off in the right direction. In fact it’s actually made me look forward to what happens next.
I want to see how Charlie’s actions haunt him. How Matteusz can still love Charlie after killing his own race and the Shadow Kin. How Tanya moves on from her mother’s death. And what happens to April (since, you know, she’s now in the body of the Shadow Kin King).
Above all I am mostly intrigued with The Governors. After an entire series of questions I now have a little insight to who the Governors are and their purpose. They remind me a little of The Family from Torchwood: Miracle Day. A secret order that uses alien technology for their supposed noble course. From what little we see of them it’s fair to say that they will become an intriguing adversary not just for Class but the Doctor Who mythology as a whole.
Despite Ness stating that Class wouldn’t use already existing monsters it comes as a delightful surprise when the Weeping Angels made a cameo. And it was a great cameo. Due to Dorothea Ames failing to stop Charlie from opening the Cabinet The Governor’s have her killed by a Weeping Angel. This introduces us to the mysterious ‘Arrival’. And from what I can gather it has something to do with a strange, incomplete stone picture of an angel.
Having the Weeping Angels included in the show might seem like a cheap cop-out to gain more viewings but I’m not going to complain. Perhaps this move is what the spin-off needs to make it a more solid series and bring it closer to its source material. And besides, how great will it be to see the Weeping Angels enter a darker territory? All I will say is I’m glad Ness proved me wrong and won me over in the end. So do me a favour and don’t disappoint me in Series Two!
Final Grade: B
Pros and Cons:
+ Loved the opening sequence. April’s song acted as a great juxtaposition of the current events going on with each character.
+ Loved the personal dilemmas of each character and how they played out.
+ Great pay-off to the Shadow Kin story-arc.
+ Some nice teases towards the future, particularly concerning The Governors.
+ Weeping Angels!
– Ram’s still a dick (wish he’d die already).
What a journey we’ve been on. So many rants, so little time. But at least Patrick Ness gave us some kind of pay-off in the end, and lots of nice teases towards the future. What do my fellow Whovians think of this finale, and the first series of Class as a whole? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter!