Class – Series 1, Episode 3

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  • #54452
    Avatar of CraigCraig @craig
    Emperor

    Nightvisiting

    Nightvisiting

    When London is infiltrated by a powerful alien Tanya is visited by her deceased father. Miss Quill is also visited by someone she thought long gone. The team get together again to stop Tanya from being lost forever.

    I liked this one a lot more than episode two as it was much more character focused, rather than plot driven. It’s one of those episodes that lets you breathe, take in your surroundings, and get to know people better. I hope this is the direction Ness’ is taking and we won’t be back to running down a lot of corridors again next week.

    Miss Quill continues to be fantastic and has all the best lines, and I thought the handling of Tanya’s grief and anger towards her father was done really well. Am beginning to see why Ness’ books, although I haven’t read any, are highly praised.

    #54468
    Avatar of JuniperfishJuniperfish @juniperfish

    This one is quite gory, and emotive, particularly for any kids dealing with bereavement. I would definitely put a warning on it for younger viewers (I know the BBC already suggests not below 16).

    Good opening song-sequence, although surely the folk version would have been better, given the April folk music strand of the narrative?

    Vivian Oparah as Tanya does a great job as the episode’s linchpin.

    “Alien invasion or teen angst?” “No one disgraces the memory of my sister by making her nice.”

    Go Miss Quill.

    Ouch, all the characters who the Lankin appear to as dead loved ones, have not “let go”. So Miss Quill does have a heart under that spiny exterior – this is how you do character development. She continues to be the best drawn of the ensemble.

    Souls, again? There is a whole book to be written on the scientific to spiritual turn in Who over fifty years (which, interestingly, also happened in parallel in Star Trek, from the original series to Deep Space Nine).

    I’d say the pace of Class feels over-rushed. Full-tilt into a Ram/ April kiss when the guy only lost his girlfriend a blink of an alien eye ago. And I’d have liked to see Charlie work up to coming out as Rhodian to Matteusz (I do really appreciate, in these unpleasant Brexit times, the inclusion of Matteusz himself however, as a character of Polish origin, reflecting another facet of contemporary Britain). But, that’s the nature of a scrambled pitch to win a following and ensure a renewal, when you’ve only got eight initial episodes to do it in.

    I would also have preferred more subtlety to the horror (as in the previous two episodes). The unpleasant Lankin umbilical cords would have had more impact, had they been revealed later.

    Overall, the best episode yet.

    #54474
    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark

    @Juniperfish

    The best of the three so far, I agree; and I was relieved that the horror element had been toned down a little after the in-your-face gore of the second episode. That said, the arms/tentacles of the alien entity, resembling a cross between umbilical cords – as you also noted – and strangling vines out of a tropical rain forest, were more than sufficiently unpleasant without the addition of mucous slime for extra yuk; alien slime has become a bit of a cliché and it seemed to me unnecessary.

    As @Craig says, there was a bit more focus on exploration of character, which is to the good, but in the case of the gang it strikes me as bit hurried and broad-brush still, so that there is a tick-box, stereotypical feel to it . What we learned of Miss Quill is indeed more nuanced and interesting.  So she is the survivor of an ultra-competitive and ruthless species in which siblings battled for supremacy in the nest, sometimes to the death, and ‘niceness’ is not an admired trait.  She is inherently and not just by choice a fighter, frustrated by the inhibitor inserted in her brain. Her ‘sister’ also confirmed that her human appearance is a disguise, facilitated by morphic resonance.  Ram’s verdict on her abilities as a teacher were also interesting: ‘She is the worst teacher I ever had, she does barely anything’  – and we have already seen her scathing sarcasm in and out of class, which tends not to be helpful in a teacher.  In the first episode her disconnection with the class was also signalled, with the glimpse of her looking at cat pictures on her phone* after having given them a problem to work on.  Overall, her cultural ignorance is less apparent than is Charlie’s, but we see her reading The Hunger Games and wondering whether it is a factual account. There is no doubting her resourcefulness and efficiency, however, when a threat to Charlie demands it – though we have been given no reason to suppose that she would come to the rescue if he were not involved. Maybe, just maybe, prolonged contact with humans will have a softening effect, as it did in the case of the Doctor.

    There remains some doubt as to whether the alien was really the Lan Kin. Miss Quill, confronting her ‘sister’ implied that it was not: ‘You made one mistake, that is not how the Lan Kin works. The Lan Kin aren’t a people; you’re a person’. The analogy she uses instead is a chameleon, using camouflage and catching prey with its long, sticky tongue.

    Souls, yes; but that can be interpreted many ways. The alien is obviously exploiting the belief that the essence of an individual survives death but, as the cautious Tanya observed, another explanation is possible. My take on the matter is that the alien, Lan Kin or otherwise, is telepathic and empathic, drawing on the memories of the targets and the emotions attached to the memories to construct images of the dead, but exploiting empathy in a negative way to feed on the psychic energy of unresolved grief.

     

    *and as everyone knows, the internet consists of tubes, and the tubes are full of cats.

     

    #54477
    Avatar of tardigradetardigrade @tardigrade

    I’m afraid I found this episode a bit of a grind. The story seemed very slow – lacking in both pace and suspense for me. Which meant it lived and died on the character development. The episode centred on Tanya, and I didn’t feel the payoff there was very great. The sequence with Miss Quill, though much shorter, was much more revealing and satisfying. The others didn’t have very much to do, and unfortunately that was in some ways for the best, as the actors for the other characters haven’t hit their stride. I’m feeling impressed by Vivian Oparah as Tanya though- if her performance hadn’t worked in this episode, it could have been a very turgid affair.

    The April/Ram kiss was out of the blue, and caused me a groan when it was coming- not that I had much warning for that. I didn’t feel that the series was that much in need of a second unconvincing romantic connection. Particularly with Ram seeing (the simulation of) his dead girlfriend in this episode, it seems very rushed.

    I understand that some thought this was a positive direction for the series, but I found it frustrating enough that it has me struggling a little for motivation to watch the remainder of the series.

    #54479

    In Ram we had, last week, the denial stage of grief.

    Here, in Tanya we, bargaining followed by anger. Lan Kin/Lankin failed to spot the threat of fury because the 5 stages do not always manifest consciously – and also, Tanya is one cool customer under the most intense pressure.

    In Ram it is full-on bargaining, of which the snog was perhaps a played card. He knew instantly that Rachel was a fake and what better way to show contempt than snog the first cute girl along. Rebound grief, so to speak. That might not end well.

    And of course, poor Matheus being chucked out for being who he is. Metaphor, much?

    Poor Quill is, perhaps, doomed to be stuck in anger, but demonstrates that anger can be focused to useful end.

    Contemplative in a way the teen-oriented storytelling is not often allowed to be. I liked it.

    #54482
    Avatar of JuniperfishJuniperfish @juniperfish

    @Mudlark

    “Her ‘sister’ also confirmed that her human appearance is a disguise, facilitated by morphic resonance”

    Yes, I think the flash-vision of Miss Quill with quills and Charlie with other protuberant face-markings in “For Tonight We Might Die” was of their actual forms, because (as others have said on the “For Tonight We Might Die” thread) April’s earlier imaginings of them were of humanoids in school uniform, so that felt like a reveal for us, the audience.

    I’d love to see an episode where their morphic resonance malfunctions and their true-forms keep phasing in and out in the middle of the staff room and at other inopportune moments.

    Vs a vs the Doctor’s decision not to free Miss Quill from her bondage to Charlie – he has form for leaving folk in “punshment learning situations” to teach them something, as when he posted Strax to that future-time to be a nurse [A Good Man Goes to War] in order to learn about the art of healing rather than his habitual Sontaran art of war. Twelve clearly believes that Charlie and Miss Quill have something to learn, together, from working with the Coal Hill Bung Hole Gang  (CHBHG). Of course, the lesson is about empathy, as it usually is, with the Doctor.

    @Pedant – Yes, you’re right, grief is an arc theme. Charlie and Miss Quill are both grieving for their whole planet and their people, and each of the CHBHG kids are dealing with grief too (Ram’s loss of a girlfriend, Tanya’s loss of a father, April’s complicated loss of her father to alcoholism, then prison, as a result of his murder-suicide attempt).

    The Doctor knows what he’s doing – these people, these beings, through their shared endeavours, will come to know each others’ grief, and thus will be better able to grapple with it and make their peace. It’s actually very touching, and connects with the larger Who arc very thoughtfully (well done, Ness) when you think that the Doctor’s Nu Who arc has taught him this.

    Beginning with Nine’s connection with Rose, at a point in time when he was (or believed he was, depending on your timey wimey theory about how The Day of the Doctor worked) responsible for the genocide of his people and the destruction of his planet, the Doctor gradually learned that what gets you through terrible grief, is emotional connection with humans.  Now he’s gifting that to Charlie and Miss Quill.

    #54484
    Avatar of tardigradetardigrade @tardigrade

    @juniperfish Yes, I think the flash-vision of Miss Quill with quills and Charlie with other protuberant face-markings in “For Tonight We Might Die” was of their actual forms, because (as others have said on the “For Tonight We Might Die” thread) April’s earlier imaginings of them were of humanoids in school uniform, so that felt like a reveal for us, the audience.

    I interpreted that to also be part of April’s imagination, in that case running wild, rather than a flash of reality. I have a feeling that the true reveal is being held back for later.

    #54485

    Oh, forgot – handy message for the target demo: resisting being talked into something that is against your best interest by smooth-talking liars.

    If only it had been shown before the brexit vote.

    #54503
    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark

     

    @Juniperfish

    I think the flash-vision of Miss Quill with quills and Charlie with other protuberant face-markings in “For Tonight We Might Die” was of their actual forms,

    The question remains open, and certainly I would not rule out that possibility. Quill, the name of her people as well as that adopted by the woman herself, could be a direct translation of their own name for themselves, and derive from the fact that they were spiny; nevertheless, still lean towards my original view, which is the same as that of @tardigrade . The flash glimpse we got of the alien forms followed immediately on April’s realisation that, since they claimed  to be aliens from another planet, their original forms might be different, and it seemed consistent with her immediately preceding mental pictures in that it was a trifle derivative – humanoid, but with added spines and nodules suggested by the name.  I agree that it would be fun if the disguise were to slip fractionally when they were under stress, and we may yet learn the truth of the matter. Miss Quill spoke to her sister of when they were ‘in the nest’, so why not avian, or reptilian, or arthropod?  :-)

    The fact that all the members of the gang have suffered some form of traumatic loss is indeed a potentially powerful factor in the dynamics of the group and their development as a team but, for me, the pace of the episodes so far has meant that the way in which their back stories have been established has seemed a bit forced and contrived. Equally contrived is the way in which the only four human members of the gang happen to represent four different ethnic or national groups – not inherently unlikely in a school in Shoreditch, or even in the school round the corner from where I live in Norwich (also converted recently into an Academy), but it might have looked less neatly artificial if they had coalesced from a larger group. No doubt it all comes down to budgetary considerations and the practicalities of TV production, not to mention the expectations of an audience impatient of slow drama, and I am probably being hypercritical 😕

     

    #54507
    Avatar of winstonwinston @winston

    This episode was my favourite so far. The back stories helped me understand the student characters a bit more but also to want to watch and see what happens to them in the future. I also like the very angry Miss Quill ,she just does not want to be there. There was more humour in this episode even if it is pretty dark. Charlie bringing Quill a screwdriver and snips because he doesn’t  like knives for example. I am really starting to like it.

    I wonder why only aliens with bad intentions find the tears in space. Couldn’t a nice cuddly alien stumble into the rip  in the fabric of space and time just once?  Oh maybe that was Captain Jack.

    #54515
    Avatar of MiapatrickMiapatrick @miapatrick

    I found this episode very interesting in places. A little boring in other places, I don’t think I was really in the mood to hear about other people’s messed up families and griefs ect, there were a couple of moments when I thought ‘oh please don’t start talking again’- but all the information, I think is relevant and important.

    A strange thing about class is this kind of acceleration. People have pointed out how the first episode ends in a prom, almost like the end of a season/series. In fact, episode one was almost like an entire series in one episode, with, obviously, some bits left out. This episode felt rather season-twoish, where the writers decide to be a little more adventurous- it seemed to be in real time, or almost, delving back into the character’s backstories.

    I found bits a little- well I was unsure. Were they implying that of all the people on earth at that moment, Tanya’s grief is the most powerful of all the power sources? And that no one else had ever had so much anger mixed in to their grief? But then, if this was their first attempt at the human species, she might have been the closest really strong grief. And maybe human’s are the most angry grievers they have encountered? Probably not been to Gallifrey, then.

    What I liked is that we saw three people being tempted. Miss Quill (I only just discovered she’s Becky from Coronation Street! I don’t watch soaps regularly,  but she always was a standout actor in that.) Ram, and Tanya. Ram’s relatively easy escape is interesting. Of course, a schooldays girlfriend isn’t such a longstanding bond as a family member. Did Rachel shout for him to run because he had tried to cut one of the lines? Was that anger or protectiveness? Are they just a trap, mindreaders, or do they have something of the person who is dead inside them? Miss Quill seemed more tempted. She might have just been passing time till his lordship got up and was then under threat. But she also seemed quite angry, more at someone portraying her sister as ‘nice’- such an insult, than as a part of her grief. Tanya was quite sceptical, then she seemed more tempted by ‘we’ll end all your suffering’ than she was by ‘touch my hand so you can find me when you die.’ Was she banking on the power of her anger? Nice nod to Eleven, anyway.

    Charlie, his boyfriend (sorry, I can’t remember his name, but I was glad to see a bit of the old ‘gay agenda’, aka portrayal of non heterosexual relationships in mainstream television, aka the sky literally falling in for Express readers) and April aren’t, apparently, such targets. The boyfriend and April’s grief would relate to people still alive, their father’s have hurt them, and are alive. So Charlie? Why didn’t it fully materialise? Didn’t his whole family die? Does what he says about love (more of a combination) apply more to him and his family than Miss Quill? How different are their worlds and cultures?

    Sorry about the long post, but I have a TMA due in tomorrow, a (depressingly, still, at the age of 37) bedroom to tidy and just so many other things going on that drain my energy to deal with either of the above. But I have dogs, so it’s all good, really.

    #54517

    @Miapatrick

    Ram’s relatively easy escape is interesting.

    I don’t think it was an ‘easy escape’. He just saw through the bullshit and never gave the seduction a chance. After all, he saw Rachel die in the most brutal way. He was heading straight to anger from last week’s denial (where Tanya was very much in the bargaining stage, while handling it like a poker player). But the episode was very much about bargaining, and not letting yourself get sucked into a fool’s bargain, even at your most vulnerable point.

    #54523
    Avatar of MiapatrickMiapatrick @miapatrick

    @pedant– true- though I did say ‘relatively’. As in, he didn’t feel compelled to stay and chat. Given that he is one of the three who qualified for night visits, it’s interesting that he seems to have moved through his stages of grief (complicated with nasty flashbacks and seeing another horrific death not long after) more quickly than Miss Quill and Tanya. Which makes Miss Quill’s visit intriguing, especially given that Charlie only seemed to get a flicker. Because Charlie seems so nice, unless you consider that everything he did to protect April previously put Miss Quill under equal danger to himself, with out the  option of refusing it. And the fact he’s just performed a masterclass in equivocation on the subject of ‘do you love me too?’

    So what stands out for me in this episode is that Tanya is still processing her grief (two years is a short time when it comes to the death of a parent) but is very strong (I agree about the poker player), Ram is rebounding right about now, that’s going to have repercussions, and Miss Quill is more moved by the death of her sister than Charlie is about his own family.

    #54524

    @Miapatrick

    OK, fair enough – I get that and wouldn’t argue with it.

    #54540
    Avatar of JuniperfishJuniperfish @juniperfish

    @mudlark and @tardigrade

    Yes, it could be that the flashvision in “For Tonight We Might Die” was April’s imagining of Miss Quill and Charlie’s actual forms. We don’t have enough information yet to be certain. Although we do know for certain they’re not as they appear on earth, following this episode. I loved Miss Quill’s actual quills, so I quite hope they’re part of her true-form.

    I have no doubt that the Doctor’s lesson, in leaving them with the Coal Hill Bung Hole Gang, is that, however different they look from each other, they are both from the same planet and have more in common than they at present can envision.

    In fact, we’re not certain they are separate “races”, Quill and Rodian, just that they have different cultures (and it sounds as if Charlie’s lot were oppressing Miss Quill’s lot, who then fought a bloody terrorist war back).

    My guess is that the Rodian Cabinet of Souls will turn out to contain the souls of all Miss Quill’s people as well as Charlie’s. Her people’s religious belief, that they do have souls but that they dissipate after they die, was very specifically brought up in her conversation with her fake Lankn-induced sister-memory this episode.

    My other guess is that the souls of Rodian and Quill can’t be distinguished from one another, and if Charlie wants to save (resurrect?) his people’s souls he’ll have no choice but to resurrect Miss Quill’s people as well.

    Cue – they learn either that they are the same species, or that they are not, but that they are of equal (symbiotic even) value to their world. And of course, they learn this by observing that the Coal Hill Bung Hill Gang, whilst of different skin colours, ethnic origins and religious beliefs, all get along and indeed form touching attachments to one another.

    It is, in the spirit of Russell T. Davies era Who, beautifully, emotionally, didactic, beneath the adventures-with-monsters.

    #54550
    Avatar of MudlarkMudlark @mudlark

    @Miapatrick

    The boyfriend and April’s grief would relate to people still alive, their father’s have hurt them, and are alive. So Charlie? Why didn’t it fully materialise?

    From Charlie’s conversation with Matteusz I gained the impression that his feelings about his people are ambivalent. In the first episode he said that they were learned and cultured, but what he says now suggests that they might also have been coldly rational. Love was a commodity to be traded and he, as a prince, was a pawn at their disposal – rather as, in medieval Europe, the daughters of kings were assets to be used to cement alliances in arranged marriages.  I guess, therefore, that Charlie’s sense of loss might not be as strong as that in some of the others in the gang.

    @Juniperfish

    What we have been told so far leads me to suspect that Charlie and Miss Quill might be of different but closely related species, rather as if H. Neanderthalensis had survived into the modern era alongside H. Sapiens Sapiens.  One is innately aggressive and combative, the other, as I have suggested above,  unemotionally rational.  The two might look very similar, but the inborn differences would give rise to very different societies.

     

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