Class S01E05 “Brave-ish Heart” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Ram and April make their way towards Castle Grayskull where April intends to commit regicide. Sadly Ram’s mobile can’t connect to a network so he isn’t able to Google “regicide”.
- April explains she cannot open a portal home. They are stuck here… here being Underneath, the realm of the Shadow Kin. Not Eternia, then.
- Dorothea asks Quill to force Charlie to use the Cabinet Of Souls to destroy the deadly petals.
- April’s parents are gobsmacked to realise that their daughter and her new boyfriend are now on another planet.
- Charlie suggests they all go visit Quill to see if she can help bring April and Ram back.
- Tanya goes to fetch Ram’s dad and tell him what’s happened.
- They all converge on the school, where Dorothea reveals the threat of the petals.
- Charlie, Matteusz and Quill go back to their house – Charlie refusing to let Dorothea follow them because he’s suspicious of her – while Ram and April’s parents and Tanya stay at the school and argue about whose child led whose astray. Tanya puts them straight; both April and Ram have minds of their own.
- A furious Quill disobeys Dorothea ans tries to get Charlie to use the Cabinet to kill all the Shadow Kin instead. He refuses.
- Dorothea, who has followed them, barges in and demands he uses the Cabinet to kill all the petals. He refuses.
- Dorothea pulls out a gun and threatens to kill Matteusz. Charlie reconsiders. He begins to prime the Cabinet for use. Luckily this involves some really long speeches…
- In the meantime, Matteusz manages to knock out Dorothea but Charlie still has a decision to make – Shadow Kin genocide or carnivorous petal genocide? Either way, he may be destroying the souls of his own people.
- On Underneath (In Underneath? Under Underneath?) April and the Shadow King meet up, trade insults and fight.
- If April wins she will become the new Shadow King. Which she does, remarkably easily.
- But before that, during the fight, she feels the connection she made with her mum last week when she healed her kick in. This provides the link she needs to open a space/time crack with her sword.
- She does this intending Ram to leap back home but instead her dad and his dad leap into Underneath.
- Having defeated the Shadow King she intends to kill him – which would kill her too because of their shared heart – but her dad, who once tried to commit suicide himself, talks her down.
- She has the Shadow King imprisoned instead and they all return to London which is now overrun by flesh-eating petals.
- April, the new Shadow King, commands her Shadow army to come through the crack and kill all the petals.
- She then commands her troops to return to Underneath and destroy the path between Earth and Underneath in the process.
- On Underneath, the Shadow King manages to destroy the “anchor” that was forging the increased link between him and April.
- On Earth, April loses all her new superpowers, but her mum remains cured.
- Later, a recovered Dorothea reveals that the Governors were using the petal situation to learn more about Charlie and the Cabinet and they guessed that Quill would betray them.
- Dorothea also says that the petals were a gestalt entity with only one soul, so Charlie would only have had to sacrifice one Rhodian soul to destroy all the petals.
- But Dorothea says the governors remain pleased that Quill helped lead them to the Cabinet so they will still help Quill get the creature that Charlie’s using to control her out of her head.
While the exact nature of April’s powers (anything handy for the episode, apparently) and how make her a better fighter the the battle-hardened Corakinus (who turns out to be a bit of a wuss in the final fight) remain irritating question marks throughout the episode, “Brave-ish Heart” is another Class episode full of fun and energy.
The carnivorous petals side of the plot is the more successful because it’s a simpler concept achieved well on screen. Meanwhile, the governors’ dabbling in Rhodian/Quill affairs also leads to some terrifically tense scenes for Charlie as he has to choose between genocide for a) the Rhodians, b) the Shadow Kin or c) the flesh-eating petals. That’s not a moral dilemma; that’s nightmares for life.
The Underneath scenes have their moments and benefit from some great cinematography and excellent effects. There also some really sweet character moments for Ram and April, especially their admission that they don’t love each other – yet – but let’s snog anyway and take it from there. Their discussion about religion was refreshing too; maybe a little didactic in tone but it’s so rare to hear anything like this on TV we’re willing to overlook such niggles.
But the whole “going into battle against the Shadow King” aspect of the episode falls a little short, and not just because Corakinus is so easily defeated. The idea that any challenger who defeats the king is the new king is a hoary old sci-fantasy chestnut that’s handy for scriptwriters but rarely makes much sense. And the Shadow Kin as a whole – despite a brief insight into to their religion – remain a rather vague and, well, shadowy concept.
But the real battle of the episode was the one of wits between Quill and Dorothea, and that was enormously entertaining. The new headmaster makes out (nearly) everything went to the Governors’ plan at the episode’s end and you begin to wonder quite how “efficient” this lot are. Roll on more revelations about the Board next week.
Oh, and we really loved the look on April’s face when her mum asked what she needed an army for.
- The big moral argument between Quill, Charlie and Dorothea about the best use of the Cabinet Of Souls gives the episode some real depth.
- The twist about the petals only having one soul is a doozy.
- Matteusz being the first to note that the petals are now after human flesh, and his continuing role as Charlie’s Jiminy Cricket (“Plus, the whole mass-murder thing?”) makes this another good episode for the surly Pole.
- “You should never turn your back on an angry Pole.” Brexit humour?
- The ongoing mystery of the governors is very intriguing.
- The deadly petals were great and posed a really creepy and unusual threat. The moment with the bloody guy running at the window was an excellent moment of horror.
- The cinematography on Underneath was very moody and impressive. Great use was made of long shots and silhouettes which in some cases produced a look that was almost anime-esque.
- “I believe life tries to kill you from the moment you are born and the only proper response is to fight back at every moment.” The philosophy of Quill.
- The scene in which Ram’s tells April about his religious beliefs feels a little shoe-horned in, but the actual dialogue itself feels genuine and thoughtful, especially when April asks, “And what about all the bad things we do, one human to another?” and Ram responds, “I don’t know. I wish I did.” Most teens would either get defensive or try to bluff their way through an answer to that, but once again, Ram’s total honesty is his most disarming trait.
- The whole “don’t say it” exchange before Ram and April kiss is great as well.
- We seriously want to learn more about Shadow Kin religion!
- Quill hitting Charlie – we think it would be worth the pain feedback too. He can come across as annoyingly entitled.
- This shot below; it’s a relatively simple effect in these days of off-the-shelf CGI, but it’s really well composed.
- April appears to defeat the Shadow King because… well, because she really wants to. He’s a battle-hardened warrior; she’s been wielding her sword for a matter of hours. It seems really unlikely she’d get the better of him. The fight needed a more clever way for April to win rather than mere brute force.
- Ram’s dad didn’t have much to do after he leapt through the crack.
- A couple of April’s dad’s speeches could have done with some pruning, There was some good character material going on but sometimes it felt a little over-scripted.
- While the teen stars, Katherine Kelly (Quill) and Pooky Quesnel (Dorothea) have all nailed the Buffy-esque tone of the show (Tanya’s “I’m glad my mum didn’t come” was delivered perfectly), the actors playing their parents seem a little uncomfortable with what level they should be playing things at.
- The Shadow Kin’s rules of succession are pretty open to abuse by outsiders, aren’t they?
And The Random:
- We’ve seen the words “EverUpwardReach” on the plaque below the Coal Hill School sign before on the show as early as the first episode. But this is the first time it has been clarified in the dialogue that EverUpwardReach took over Coal Hill as an academy, and installed a new Board of Governors to make sure the school was “ready”. Ready for what is left unsaid. Oh, they have their own Twitter feed as well if you want to investigate.
- “EverUpwardReach” is such a clunky phrase it sounds like it may be hiding something in plain sight (like Dorothea Ames containing the letters for Headmaster), though we can’t work it out.
- UNIT gets another mention (Quill wonders if Dorothea works for them). Is the show keeping UNIT on our minds for a reason?
- When Ram claims Frodo is a character from some film his dad likes, anyone else get the feeling he’s secret Lord Of The Rings fan but too embarrassed to admit it? Also, anyone else surprised April didn’t get the reference? She has “I’ve got all Howard Shore’s sheet music” written all over her.