Class S01E04 “Co-Owner Of A Lonely Heart” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Through their shared heart, April starts being affected by Corakinus, while, back on Eternia (or whatever Planet Shadow Kin is called) Corakinus is being affected by April.
- It’s not clear who’s more distraught: April, because she’s started inflicting random acts of violence on furniture and condemning the soldiers at Dunkirk as cowards; or Corakinus because he needs a hug.
- Making matters worse for April is the fact that her dad is out of jail and even though there’s a court order forbidding him contact with her, he does exactly that.
- Bad idea. April goes all Shadow Kin on him and attacks him with some swords that appear from nowhere. He escapes unharmed but shaken.
- After a Shadow Kin scientist fails to “anchor” Corakinus’s heart, the Shadow King turns to a crazy medicine woman (or the Shadow Kin equivalent), Kharrus, who promises she can use the heart to locate April via the space/time cracks.
- Ram, concerned about April’s behaviour, convinces her to skip class so they can talk things through.
- Anyway, one thing leads to another (with the handy encouragement of the new headmaster) and they end up having sex…
- …which on Eternia puts Corakinus in the mood too, but Kharrus is mystified by his new tender approach to rutting.
- The new headmaster, Dorothea Ames, introduces herself to Miss Quill and pretty much confirms that the Governors who appointed her are not of this world.
- An alien, flesh-eating petal that multiples like randy Tribbles has fallen through the crack. The whole of London is now infested with the petals and they’re currently eating small mammals.
- Dorothea tells Quill that the carnivorous petals will soon be eating humans, ans breeding so fast they’ll suffocate the ones they don’t eat.
- Dorothea offers Quill a deal; if Quill helps the Governors solve the petal problem the Governors will remove from her head the creature that enables Charlie to control her.
- Matteusz and Tanya, meanwhile, criticise Charlie for treating Miss Quill like a slave
- Matteusz also learns how the Cabinet of Souls can be used as a weapon; each soul inside can be commanded to either kill one person or take over that person’s body. There are enough souls inside to kill/take over an entire planet’s population.
- Matteusz is appalled that Charlie could even consider using such a weapon, even though children’s stories back on Charlie’s home planet depict the wielder of the Cabinet as a hero, for bringing back the Rhodians back to life.
- April’s mum discovers April and Ram in bed together. She is not happy.
- Making matters worse April’s dad calls at the house to warn her mum that April is a sword-wielding maniac.
- This just makes April even more Shadow Kinny and psycho, and threatens to kill her dad.
- Ram calls the rest the Happy Super Best Sparkle Team (shame that never really stuck, we like it) and they all arrive in April’s garden to watch her struggling against her Kin-side not to slice and dice her dad.
- Back on Eternia it looks like Kharrus has failed to locate April, so Corakinus kills her, only to discover that she actually succeeded. Bad timing, mate.
- Corakinus orders his troops to prepare for an invasion of Earth.
- April hears his thoughts and decides she has to prevent him. First she he new powers to reach inside her mum’s chest to cure her paralysis. Then she uses a sword to open up a space/time crack to Eternia and leaps through.
- Just before it closes, Ram leaps through too.
Okay, that ending’s shaken things up a bit, and promises a very different episode next week. Quite how much of a gamechanger Ram and April’s vacation in Eternia will be remains to be seen (certainly the unresolved petal plotline suggests we’ll still be on Earth for much of the next episode) but at least the show hasn’t settled into a comfy, formulaic rut. What looked like a show that was going to be a monster-from-the-crack-of-the-week affair (it appears the show has sadly settled on “crack” as the correct terminology rather than “bunghole”) is going to be far more serialised than anyone expected. So much so it’s impossible to tell yet if this is the first of a two-parter of just another instalment in a longer serial.
And you know what? Not knowing is good, because the unexpected is good.
Just as the unexpected way that Matteusz, who was all loved-up with Charlie last week, is calling him out for callous views on slavery and possible genocide this week, is good
And the unexpected way that Ram and April are shagging already, and yet it feels natural, is good.
And the unexpected way that the new headmaster casually outs the Governors as alien, is good.
Okay, some things seem to be happening a little too fast, but the show only has a relatively short run, so there’s not much space for more nuanced relationships. And the rate at which plot bombs are being hurled at the audience certainly keeps us on our toes.
So there’s a lot to enjoy here, especially new headmaster Dorothea and and her threat to Charlie’s little status quo; the Ram/April scenes; and Corakinus coming over all peculiar and touchy-feely. There’s so much fun and energy crackling from every scene, even if the pop culture reference count has reduced and Quill doesn’t get as many entertainingly acerbic put-downs as usual. Luckily Matteusz is here to fill the breach. His and Tanya’s objections to Charlie’s morality add some intriguing depth to the comic strip action. The killer petals are a brilliantly bonkers “monster” too.
The only real problem (other than some iffy reaction shots in the final fight in the garden and Sophie Hopkins looking considerably less at home with scimitars than with a violin) is the “magic” science. Not everything has to be explained, we get that, but it might be nice to know where the swords come from, or how April knows the can open space/time cracks. This isn’t just nerdy stuff that anal SF fans want to know; they’re the kind of things you’d expect Ram or Tanya to ask about. Maybe we don’t even need answers, just some evidence that the characters are asking these questions too.
- Killer petals sound – on paper – like a really naff idea, but on screen it’s a simple concept that works brilliantly.
- Plus, the half dead squirrel – with its leg still twitching – is a deeply, deeply disturbing image. Dead animals on TV aren’t supposed to twitch!
- Although she comes across a bit “Missy-lite” new headmistress (headmissy?) Dorothea Ames makes an instant impact. Seems we were right about the headmasters as Coal Hill knowing more than they let on.
- Ram and April make an unlikely but surprisingly convincing couple.
- Plus, whether by luck or judgement, Ram telling April’s mum, “She’s my friend,” is probably to most sensible thing he could have said at that moment to make sure he wasn’t pouring oil on water. It’s the only thing in that situation that would come across as genuinely honest.
- The question mark over Charlie’s ideas of justice is a very interesting theme for the show to explore. Will he turn out to be the Big Bad in the season finale? We doubt it, but we reckon that he’s going to have to go to a dark place at some time before the series is over.
- Why isn’t more screen time devoted to Matteusz? His dogmatic sense of morality, droll cynicism and willingness to call Charlie out (“Duty is another word for bad government”) even though their romance is still in its honeymoon period is great fun to watch.
- The Shadow King having problems – ahem – getting it up and asking Kharrus for a cuddle is the most brilliantly Buffy-esque moment of the show so far.
- The Shadow Kin look even more impressive than they did in their debut.
- “Is he all human… like… down there?”
- “Ram said April’s body has been taken over by the Shadow Kin. His voice sounded kinda funny. I think they had sex.”
“Ram and the Shadow King?”
- “The Shadow King wants your heart. And that’s one battleground he is going to lose.”
“That was so cheesy. I know I should be laughing, but I’m touched.”
- And, of course, Ram’s heroic leap into the crack – the one of the end of the episode we mean (fnarr, fnarr). Sure it was cheesy, but we think April will be touched.
- Not so much “bad” as “sadly missed”: where have all the witty pop culture references gone? We expect at least one mention of Castle Greyskull next week.
- We never get a really cool “money shot” of April with her swords – she’s either shot in close-up so you only see bits of the swords or from odd angles.
- April’s parent’s “dumbfounded” expression in the last few moments are a tad goofy.
- Where the hell do April’s swords come from? The sudden revelation that the swords can open a space/time crack comes out of nowhere too!
And The Random:
- “I don’t see so many Smiths these days. It’s rather like John. Have you noticed no one under the age of 35 is called John any more?” says new headmistress Dorothea Ames. John Smith is, of course, an alias the Doctor regularly uses Doctor Who.
- Dorothea Ames is an anagram of “oo, headmaster”. Back in the classic series the Master’s appearance was often accompanied by anagrams such as Tremas and James Stoker (Master’s Joke) and since Dorothea is a headmaster… well, let’s just say, the rumours start here.
- Not many teenagers have Steeleye Span posters in their bedrooms but April did say she like playing folk music.
- There’s a definite butterfly motif going on in Dorothea’s office – an subtle hint that she might transform into something else later in the season, perhaps?
- The Governors’ fact file doesn’t reveal anything we didn’t know already, other than confirmation of the fact that Coal Hill’s Governors seem very universely-wise. The post office stopped using the code N1 0HR in 1995, but it used to cover Barnsbury in London.
- Director Philippa Langdale has good form for directing Class; back in the late ’90s she helmed numerous episodes of London-based school drama Grange Hill. More recently she’s worked on high profile dramas such as Waking The Dead, Skins, Breathless and Dickensian.
Review by Dave Golder