Perhaps it makes sense but all the episodes seem to lead very smoothly to this moment. The relationships had to go through the first few episodes to establish their bonds, the last few have focused on the paranoia and insecurities of the Class while Quill gets her freedom back. But it all leads here; everything that happened, points brilliantly to this moment. Even Ms. Ames has to be right where she is to get the story set for the big finale. And what a finale it was!
April opens the story with a lovely song. I couldn’t make out the bulk of the words but I still found it fantastic. In no time at all, Ram’s father and Tanya’s mother are both murdered by the Shadow King. The friends are still suffering the effects of Detained which was only four days ago in story terms. As a result, they are isolating from each other and not answering each others phone calls. So the writing has set us up to see a real conflict: if the Class is not talking and the killings are taking place, how do you stop the Shadow Kind? It looks like Charlie will have to use the weapon of mass destruction (WMD) after all!
So this creates a hard episode to write about. I’m torn! It’s a great episode that leaves us desperate for more but the flip side is in knowing we can never have it! Unfortunately, this is again one of the episodes that relies on delay tactics. “I’m going to use the device”, “oh, no, don’t do it”, “I have to”, “but then are we any better than them”, “please get on with it already, the army of Shadows has arrived and you’re doing that thing in the background with your boyfriend that implies you have way more time than you do…” I do think Patrick Ness is a good writer, but this is not skilled writing, if you ask me. Maybe it plays out better on paper than it does in production. And the thing is, yes, there is a big difference between the humans and the shadows: the Shadows are actively attacking Earth. If Charlie uses the WMD, it’s to stop an attack that just keeps coming. April is not correct in saying that it makes us no better than them, unless we go on using it to dominate others. There is a big difference between self defense and actively pursuing someone to murder them. It’s like if you shoot and kill the intruder in your home who was trying to kill you: are you really the same as him? I’d say not even slightly! So when they finally did use the WMD, I was applauding. Finally, they had the guts to do something unexpected. It’s not that I wanted an alien race to be destroyed; I actually hate that it came down to that, but the writing surprised me!
Through this slow build, there are some great elements that would have really enhanced the series had it been allowed to continue. The EverUpwardReach room is where Ames goes to “manage time” and we do get a view inside which changes the very structure of the show. But boy, does it leave us with questions! Ames is murdered by the big cameo villain we’ve been waiting for: the Weeping Angels. They are preparing for “the arrival”, whatever that means, but it opens a whole litany of questions. We’ve been told they’ve studied the cracks in the universe and they seem to be more devious than they ever were during the Matt Smith era. What are they planning for? What do the cracks actually represent? Why are the humans helping them? And with the destruction of the Shadow’s, what will that mean for April, who has woken up in the body of the Shadow King?? Damn it all, there was such potential here for a really great second season. I was left on the edge of my seat. Despite feeling like the episode took too long to get to the point, when it did, it did so in style! Not to mention, last week the incidental music was noticeable. This week it hits an all new high. Wow was it good! I was completely engrossed as music and imagery blended perfectly, creating a treat that defied the slower elements of this story.
Tanya asks Quill if she’ll wake up and this will all have been a dream. Quill asks, “Does that actually happen to your species?” It’s a brilliantly funny line but it really hits home because this series ends up feeling much like a dream. The series was well written (most of the time) and had some great character chemistry, awesome music and an intriguing plot, but when it ended, it was like we woke up and found it was all a dream; none of it had happened. The Doctor Who universe never found out what was going on with The Arrival and the events depicted in The Lost. We are left with a show that was cut depressingly short and mysteries that will never be answered. Still, it was a fun experiment. Doctor Who may not always get it right, but it does take risks and more often than not, they pay off. It’s a shame the powers that be at the BBC – the “governors” – stopped us from getting the answers we were looking for! (Maybe that was because someone was a little to close to the truth? You never know!)
This has been a fun look at the last proper Doctor Who spinoff series, but the Doctor Who thread is not done yet. We’ll be back for a few more surprises, then we’ll complete our Top of the Docs list focusing on the 2005 reboot. But for now, Class… terminated! ML