Class: “For Tonight We Might Die” Episode Review

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The debut episode of Class “For Tonight We Might Die,” starts us off very similar to how many Doctor Who episodes have previously; with a scary monster, a fleeing victim, and a dark or abandoned space. Viewers right away are able to connect that Class is indeed a spin-off series for Doctor Who, and so we know to expect fun, aliens, drama, and adventure. Though the premise might be similar to it’s parent show; I think that we can expect Class to really stand out on it’s own.  And to be an invigorating series with it’s own authentic identity.

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A bit of background about Cole Hill Academy, it has been in the Whovian universe since the era of Classic Doctor Who in the 1960s. Several Doctor Who alumni have either been students at, or employed at the school throughout various time periods. Now, let’s meet our Class-mates shall we? We start off with April, who is trying to persuade any other student help her our by volunteering to decorate for the school prom. We meet Tanya, who declines the volunteer position because even though she is technically in the correct “grade” to attend, she has skipped ahead and really is 2 years younger than the rest of the students in her class. After failing miserably to gather volunteers, April bumps into the new kid in town, Charlie, and asks him if he might be interested in being her date for the school event. Charlie declines this offer, being a bit socially awkward in his response and a nearby student, Ram, chuckles at the entire exchange. All four of them attend their next class together, (big hint here at what is to come in regards to this particular group), with a new, standoffish and strict teacher, Miss Quill.

Image Credit: BBC

After school they all go their separate ways: April attempting to recruit for prom decorators again, Tanya home to her strict mother to complete her homework, Ram to football practice, and Charlie (after asking another male student, Matteusz to be his prom date) to the home that he shares with Miss Quill. At this point in the episode both Ram and Tanya have peculiar interactions with shadows, both of which they brushed off, but clearly something more is developing here. We also are now realizing that something is different with Charlie and Miss Quill, as he is accusing her of being responsible for a missing student and she admits to not only giving that student her gun but also that student then vanished into black smoke.

Ram video chats with Tanya, which seems to be a fairly regular activity for the two and they work together on some homework. Tanya is then attacked by a shadow figure that stepped out in her room and Ram is able to witness the whole thing, suggesting that she try shining light on it and desperate to help save his friend. Meanwhile, April is decorating for the school’s prom all alone in a sightly darkened room. She too gets attacked by a shadowy figure and Miss Quill shows up with a strange looking gun begging April to help her destroy the monster, an alien known as Corakinus. April takes hold of the gun and aims to shoot when Charlie runs in and pushes her arm off direction, she doesn’t hit the creature head on, which both saves her life and potentially dooms her at the same time.

We learn that Charlie and Miss Quill are both aliens, from a world called Rhodia, Quill was the leader of a resistance group against the main regime, which Charlie is actually a prince of. She was captured and is now bound to protect Charlie and is unable to use any weapons unless he is in danger. Corakinus is the leader of the Shadowkin and while the two factions of Rhodia were busy battling each other they didn’t stop to realize that the Shadowkin had quietly invaded, destroying all but Charlie and Quill, as The Doctor arrived and was able to save them. The gun that Quill tricked April into using would have killed April but also sent Corkinus back into the shadows, because April technically missed, she only ends up destroying Corkinus’s heart. Like any good alien weapon should, the catch to April using it and missing, means that she and Corkinus now both have to share her heart.

Image Credit: BBC

The next night at the school prom, the Shadowkin make another appearance, as Corkinus is determined to steal “The Cabinet of Souls” that Charlie brought with him from his home planet when they relocated to Earth. With all the kids at Cole Hill Academy under attack we see some pretty dramatic changes in the Class-mates. Ram witnesses his girlfriend, Rachel, be murdered by Corkinus and then gets his own leg sliced off from the knee down. Tanya, remembering that the lights worked against her attacker the night before tries to turn all the lights on in the gym to drive the Shadowkin away but the lights just aren’t bright enough. On Rhodia, the belief is that when you die, your soul is added to the cabinet to rest in a beautiful afterlife with all the other souls. Corkinus believes that he can take the raw energy from all of those lives and turn the cabinet into a huge super weapon.  Charlie admits to bringing the cabinet with him when he fled from Rhodia, but only for sentimental reasons, that the cabinet is actually empty…

Image Credit: BBC

When all seems lost, we hear that distinct and comforting sound that the TARDIS brings and The Doctor steps in to help save the day. Though the ending overall is a bit anti-climatic, (Doctor uses his sonic to turn up the lights and the Shadowkin are driven back into the darkness) this first episode was extremely well done in introducing us to the world and to the characters. The Doctor announces that this select group of students, with the help of Miss Quill will be in charge of protecting Earth and whatever might slip through the rift at the academy. The Shadowkin were a great villain to start with in introducing us to the characters. Though the ending of this pilot episode didn’t quite do it for me, we are given an interesting hook at what’s to come this season for the Class-mates, as Charlie opens up the Cabinet of Souls at the very end, revealing that it’s not actually empty.

I can’t really pick a star of the episode, as everyone did a fantastic job. Each character gets their own small tease of an individual story arc that we might see play out in subsequent episodes, along with an interesting group dynamic that I’m intrigued to see develop. There is always a fear in the back of my mind that with a show dealing mainly with teenagers, the acting might not quite be there or that the dramatic scenes might be a tad overdone, but I was pleasantly surprised that this was not at all the case in Class. Overall, this was a solid first episode into the show with both an original plot and compelling characters. Based off this first episode, I think it is safe to say that Class might be in the same universe as Doctor Who, but will be able to stand on it’s own.

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Michelle Harvey