Class: “Nightvisiting” Episode Review

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Class took us for quite the emotional spin with “Nightvisiting,” which easily can be considered the best episode yet for the series. The episode opens with a sentimental and dialogue free montage showing us the story of how Tanya’s parents fell in love and started their family. From there we seamlessly transition to that unfortunate morning when Tanya’s dad, Jasper, was found dead in the family home. Fast forward to the present, we’re now at two years later and Tanya is still working through her grief on the anniversary of his death.

Cue our creepy villain of the week, the Lankin, who have come to London to feed and Tanya’s grief is what’s for dinner. The rift at Cole Hill Academy has opened and the Lankins’ vine like tendrils are stretching out all over the city creating an assembly of impersonated dead. What makes the Lankin particularly horrid is that they want to harm you, but they’re going to disguise themselves as a lost loved one to gain your trust and then “persuade” you to willingly surrender your soul over to them. Tanya’s grief for her father is still so strong that she unwittingly acted as a siren call to the Lankin, and what she first assumed was her own inability to handle the anniversary well in fact turns out to be the Lankin sitting in her room, in the form of her father, waiting to pull her in.

Image Credit: BBC One

Tanya begins having a lengthy conversation with her “father” while she tries to decide if he really is her dad or if something else might be going on here. Meanwhile, Ram’s (what seems to be nightly) attempt to video chat with her goes unanswered. Quill and Charlie seem to just be enjoying a quiet night at home when Matteusz shows up at their door after getting into an argument with his father about his sexual orientation. Charlie and Matteusz head for Charlie’s room where they open up to each other about their home lives and their feelings for each other (among other various physical activities). Quill is pondering whether or not The Hunger Games are real, and probably if she could get away with pulling something like that off at Cole Hill, when the mysterious Lankin shows up in the form of her sister. Unlike Tanya, Quill doesn’t take any time at all in deciding that this visitor is nothing more than a terrible salesman with pitch that will lead humans right into a nasty trap. The only time that Quill does seem to waiver and actually want to reach out is when she is offered a gun from her home world, you can take a warrior out of the fight but you can’t take the fight from a warrior right?

When Ram isn’t able to get a hold of his BFF Tanya, he settles and calls April instead. They banter back and forth a little, kind of developing some sort of small friendship but their homework is soon interrupted by the Lankin tapping at his window. Though the connection quality of their video chat isn’t that fantastic, April is able to see that Ram is being visited by his very recently murdered girlfriend, Rachel. Thankfully, even though her death is fresh in his mind, Ram was able to see right away that something sinister was going on and leaves immediately. He discovers that there are tendrils, and vine wrapped sleeping bodies, all over the city. April and Ram then team up to figure out what is going on. Convinced that the world is ending, they call Charlie, but as he is otherwise engaged…the unlikely duo have to stick together for now. We finally get a little peek into April’s history, as she opens up to Ram about how, when she was just 8 years old, her father was an alcoholic and ran their car off the motorway, paralyzing her mother and sending him to jail. The monologue April gives as she describes that event and the aftermath to Ram beautifully captures many of her nuances while showing both Ram (and the viewers) how she personally has dealt with trauma, grief, and coping.  Ram and April do end up sharing a sweet, yet awkward first kiss; with the eerie dark sky and alien tendrils creating a slightly morbid, but I guess unique backdrop to whatever might be blossoming here.

Charlie comes downstairs to find a very annoyed Quill going back and forth with the Lankin in their living room, and now that Charlie’s life is in danger, she can finally act and attempt to figure out what really is going on here. Quill, Charlie and Matteusz begin interrogating the alien and learn that Tanya is in serious danger. Quill, unable to use a knife on the alien instructs Charlie where to stab the creature and Mattesuz lingers awkwardly in the background while this is all going down. Charlie communicates the danger to Tanya with April and so the entire crew is now headed to her flat in order to end this once and for all.

Image Credit: BBC One

Here’s where things kind of fizzle out for the episode, April and Ram stand up for Tanya and immediately get attacked by the Lankin. Quill, Charlie and Mattesuz are racing to help and take notice that all the tendrils seem to be connected to the one now coming out of Tanya’s window. They try and cut through the tendrils but realize that they just regenerate and the kitchen knives they armed themselves with definitely aren’t going to work against this Lankin. Tanya decides to “strike a deal” with the alien and willingly reaches out towards him. However something starts to go wrong and the Lankin grows increasingly weaker; we learn that Tanya still is grieving but that she also is still holding onto her anger and so she fed that Lankin that anger instead. Though this does slow him down, it wasn’t enough to kill it and Tanya was just as surprised as anyone else that it actually had any kind of effect. Enter Quill with a stolen double decker bus, she rams into the tendril coming from the flat and the Lankin is sent flying back towards the tear at Cole Hill. That apparently is enough to kill the alien, bringing the invasion to an end as all the tendrils retreat back into the rift. Conveniently the rest of the city has no memories of the invasion and everyone is just kind of stumbling about confused.

Nightvisiting was crafted very carefully to be a tense and heartrending episode. While the episode is more dialogue based than anything else, we are able to learn quite a bit about our main Class-mates through how they handle grief. The star of the episode belongs to Tanya and her interactions with “Jasper,” the uncertainty and thought that she might give into the Lankin, paired with his manipulation techniques and sheer desperation to bond with her, created a unique tension that ran throughout the entire episode. Quill comes in a close second, I feel we learned the most about her character this week, her emotions were examined not only in the interactions with her “sister” but also in how she seems to always be overlooked by the kids. There is a serious level of loneliness hidden beneath that front of anger she always seems to have; and a common recurring theme in the Doctor Who universe, of the effects and emotional toll of being the very last of your kind.

As much as I enjoyed this episode it also was a little bit frustrating, the ending just wasn’t up to par with the drama and emotion that built up the whole episode. I also feel like certain aspects of the character developments were rushed and therefore now feel like inorganic encounters.  Mattesuz and Charlie confessing their love for one another felt overly rushed and didn’t exactly add anything to the story line tonight. I appreciate that Class not only has a LGBT character in Mattesuz, but that he is also in an inter-terrestial relationship with Charlie, but we hardly even saw Mattesuz in the premiere episode and he wasn’t in the second episode at all, so the fact that he just kind of shows up at Charlie’s door out of thin air to declare his love just didn’t fit in with the feel of the rest of the story. April and Ram kissing also felt too rushed, they aren’t really even friends at school so that they immediately jump to a first kiss I think robs their characters the opportunity to develop some kind of friendship first. However, we are talking about high school aged kids here and it probably shouldn’t be a big surprise that some of them are going to either pair off or start relationships. The rift in time and space at Cole Hill Academy doesn’t have any kind of anti-hormone effect on the kids who attend there after all. I almost feel that this episode would have been better a tad later in the season, once we’ve had the chance to learn more about the main Class mates, but I still stand by that this episode was the best so far. That gives me solid hope for the future of the show and I am excited to see how next week could end up being even better.

 

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Michelle Harvey