3 December 2016

Class - The Lost

This is a finale solely aimed at those who have watched the previous seven episodes and as such works towards an emotional climax that contains no easy answers. By the cliffhanger ending not all of the characters have survived and some of the fatalities have been brutally despatched in a shocking manner. It’s almost too much stuff in what really needed to be a 2 parter if only to allow us and the characters to take it all in because like the characters we’re wondering what on earth will happen next!

Sadly it seems unlikely we’ll get to see that cliffhanger resolved or the ongoing Governors’ `arrival` plan develop as Class has suffered from terrible ratings. One does wonder exactly what expectations were by shoving it away in the middle of the iPlayer and not really promoting it much. Still us loyalists were rewarded with a finale that for me at least was far more satisfying and powerful than any recent Doctor Who season closer.
With the group separated after `Detained`, Patrick Ness gradually brings them together in a series of shocking moments that do make you leap off your seat. Deep breath- Ram’s father skewered on a football field, Tana’s mum seen off on her landing, Quill is –what?- pregnant. Wasn’t there a line last week about Quill babies eating their mothers? Ness delights in building a whole series of nigh impossible dilemmas that pitch our characters against each other as scheming Corakinus returns from his disgrace and finds a way back. The pace is frantic, the interludes between the danger peppered with regret and self doubt.
Yet just as interesting- and ultimately more satisfactory – is the episode’s roaming debate on the morality of the acts the kids might have to commit. The arguments are presented from each character’s point of view and here Ness’ literary past comes to the fore as we agree with all of them! It’s quite an achievement for a 45 minute episode to contain such material yet still reach an unexpected conclusion. There’s a hint of classic survival dramas in the narrative and how desperate people do desperate things. You might argue that Ness stacks up the thirst of vengeance by way of the characters having such a personal stake in matters but he is sure to add a scene where it is plain their own families are not the only victims of the Shadow Kin.  
One interesting new double act is Quill and Tanya; in theory the most extreme opposites but now drawn together to fight while everyone else is falling apart. It’s a pity there isn’t more time for their sparring banter which serves both characters well. Elsewhere you do ponder if Patrick Ness was once bullied by someone called Ram because the poor lad has lost his leg, his previous girlfriend, his father and now his new girlfriend has seemingly been killed only – wait a sec- she’s woken up as  Corakinus.
Ness also adds in some subtle touches that you wouldn’t imagine there is space for. One that sticks out is how in two different scenes both Quill and Charlie don’t know how to respond to another character hugging them when upset. Perhaps they are more similar to each other than they think. He also boldly introduces another plot strand with the reveal of the Governor’s room- well I say room but cathedral would be more accurate- and even an appearance by the Weeping Angels.
In fact there is so much happening, so many meaningful speeches that it seems too fast at times which another ten minutes might have helped with. Yet even if you don’t catch all the details the intent is clear to see and Charlie’s ultimate act is the cue for a dazzling visual display as energy crackles all over the place.  It really is a fabulous and powerful ending to a show that has bene inventive and interesting beyond the rather outdated `British `Buffy` tag that was ascribed to it before it was shown. The cast have worked hard and ideally needed more episodes for each character to make their mark but their performances have hit all the right notes. In the early episodes where the series hadn’t found its rhythm it was the cast whose performances made it work.
I don’t know why the series has failed to grab a wider imagination. Apart from scheduling it may simply be that 2016 is not the year for this sort of a show- even Doctor Who struggled a bit with ratings last year- which does mean that it may yet be re-discovered as in a few years. So to answer my question from seven weeks ago as to whether the show did live up to its name the answer is that it did. Class is first class! Yep I did type that but after such a serious climax we need a bit of cheering up!

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