Now this is more like it. This is the kind of intelligent, thematic, high-concept storytelling I was looking forward to from Class. It’s a welcome sign that Class will not feel itself constrained by its YA-ish concept and premise, that it will dare to experiment and test itself and try out interesting ideas. It’s learning from the experiences of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures in this way, both of which played it fairly conventional and safe in their first seasons before becoming more innovative and bold, and therefore interesting, in subsequent seasons. Class looks like it’s skipping the “play-it-safe” part and is eager to try out the interesting ideas of its writers without unnecessary ado. That’s very satisfying.
And the idea behind Nightvisiting really is interesting, and the show ought to be congratulated not only for having the initiative to try it out but also for executing it so successfully. The idea of people’s deceased loved ones coming back and visiting them in the night is on a special level of freaky, a level I’m really pleased that Class is prepared to play on. Not only that, but the way this concept was brought to life was utterly freaky. Jasper, Tanya’s father (or rather, the Lankin imitating Jasper) was a profoundly creepy and unnerving figure. He was positively ghoulish, with his dead gaze and his moaning voice. It’s the kind of thing intended to scare adults as well as children—children are easily scared by ghosts and zombies, but adults will be scared by the idea of their deceased loved ones appearing at their windows as ghouls like Tanya’s father. It’s what makes the idea of the Lankin so wonderfully frightening even after being stripped of its supernatural affectations—no one wants to find their dead father, girlfriend or sister sitting at their window, ghost or not.
Another strength of this episode is the character writing, which is, as I thought, turning out to be this show’s standout feature. Tanya was not reduced to a passive plot device by being tempted by the Lankin’s deception. She was written consistently with her character’s perceptiveness, intuitiveness and emotional strength by remaining aloof and sceptical of her “father’s” overtures, notwithstanding her grief and her obvious desire to connect with her father again, even if her defences did begin to melt eventually. A weaker and less perceptive person would have given in to the Lankin, as we saw. And Vivian Oparah delivers some exceptional, absorbing acting to vindicate her character’s writing, the moment in the denouement where Tanya channels all her resentment and anger at her father into the Lankin especially stirring.
Moreover, it’s a welcoming sign of Ram’s emotional growth and healing that his first reaction to seeing Rachel again, over whom he was grieving intensely in the previous episode, was to go “NOPE NOPE NOPE” and run to find his dad—and, failing that, April. It’s a gratifying development from the “Nobody understands my pain, I’m shutting everyone out, just let me wallow” that we saw from Ram in the previous episode. Ram is quickly becoming the show’s most interesting character, even if he still is a bit of a twat, and I’m very intrigued to see where his character will end up by the end of this season.
And, oh my god, let’s talk about April. There’s an emotional strength and depth of character there we would never have guessed in the first episode, April revealing the hidden emotional turmoil that we now see defines much of her character. It’s an absorbing and touching revelation scene that sees April and Ram bond in, er, more ways than one. Who the hell saw that kiss coming? I’m not criticising—it was unexpected but it does actually make sense. April’s explanation of the way she puts up defences against the inner turmoil surrounding her father in order to stop her father continuing to hold influence over her and control her life speaks to Ram, who’s trying to recover from the trauma and the suffering he’s recently experienced. They bond on a very intimate, emotional level over their shared experiences with trauma and coping, and, in the passion of the moment, kiss. It works. It was a gamble which, although it could have failed badly with worse writing, actually worked out well.
Even Miss Quill is — slowly — becoming more layered, even if she’s still the show’s single-note comic relief at the moment—not that I’m necessarily complaining. I’m thinking particularly of the scene at the end where Miss Quill appears to express her disgust at the kids’ sentimental post-victory bonding session before stalking off, but, was it just me, or did it seem like Miss Quill was just a tiny bit disappointed that she wasn’t included in the kids’ celebrations? I think she does long for real personal connection like Charlie has found with the others, even if on some level she does resent the “arses of smart” she’s been charged with looking after. What else are we to make of Miss Quill’s insistence that she’s “deranged with grief” for her people, and her disbelief in Charlie’s apparent aloofness? If the show continues to write its characters well, we’ll see much more of Miss Quill before the season is over.