TV One of the problems with antidepressants, at least the anti-depressants which I've been prescribed is that they leave you with a generally pleasant feeling all of the time. In a week when the emotional reaction should be sadness and anger, my mouth has continued to be slightly pointing up at edges, each new twist of the metaphoric political knife making an impact on the factual storage areas of my brain rather than the emotional centres. As the election results inevitably revealed themselves on Tuesday night (inevitable because its 2016), I was generally just numb and in subsequent days, I've found myself laughing at barefaced cheek of the everything. I want to roar like Katy Perry but instead, I'm rolling my eyes, shaking my head and moving on to the next thing.
Another side effect, not including the grogginess, intermittent nausea, headaches and diarrhea is that it's short circuited my reaction to film and television. Dramas which are supposed to be sad or scary barely register as such because I simply can't cry, which is a strange given that before this, tears were my favourite release. The nearest I've come to wet face was watching Spock die in The Wrath of Khan the other week, but there's a good chance I was simply pretending or at least, feeling sad for not feeling sad enough. You could argue this is a small price to pay for not enduring the horrors of an anxiety which have gripped me for nearly a year, only just about able to commit to being human some days, but I gave up drinking so I could be sure of my own sense of self and now this.
As a result, I'm second guessing my reaction to Class or at least this two parter. On the one hand I'm enjoying it while it flickers away in front of me, but not to the level of caring much about the characters or becoming engrossed in the storyline. Everything looks spectacular and shiny but some of the scenes seem to proceed far further than is required in enunciating the action, speechifying to a level of redundancy and a general sense, as with the first half, that the writer had an idea of what was supposed to happen in the episode but couldn't quite manage to calculate how to construct it within the constraints of budget and time and having to service his range of characters. In other words, why aren't I enjoying this more?
The blossom story hits against the usual shared universe problem of having us wonder why, if this is threatening the planet, neither UNIT or Torchwood or indeed the Doctor aren't on top of it. At a certain point I wondered if Ness was going to confront this head on and have them indeed dissipate without the kid's participation as a way of reflecting what it must be like to be in that world, with global terrors coming and going. But on reflection that would have been undramatic within the sphere of a show which is trying for the most part to remain self contained. It's never a threat which quite has time to establish itself though, the half-hearted body horror never really expressing how it must be affecting the wider population.
April and Ram's trip the Shadow Kin's homeworld coalesced better, partly because of the inherent retreat to a more Whovian structure of a Doctor-figure talking a companion through the world on which they've landed. Some of the humour felt more belaboured than usual - it's inconceivable that April wouldn't know what Lord of the Rings is, even if (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it was released around the time she was born. When they reached the Shadow King's lair, it wasn't quite clear how the battle was to be structured and there was much standing around waiting to fight, swords aloft almost as though the characters were waiting for the parallel storyline to catch up with them before heading off into the fray.
Nevertheless you can't criticise the ambition. As with previous episodes, and as I said last week, it's packing a lot in, like an old WB show's narrative in warp speed. On top of this the Prince's moral decision about the fate of his own kind and the interloper from
A couple elements of the writing left me a bit squinky. Despite what I said last week about the show not having a typical white cis male character, it is disappointing this week to have the trope of a gay character threatened even if it doesn't lead to the nauseating prevalent cliche of having them die in the regendered equivalent of fridging. Then there's having April, for all her talk of having her own strength, albeit augmented through alien intervention eventually being talked into deciding not to kill the Shadow King by her abusive father apparently having to remind her of how she only became that way due to how he treated her and her mother. The potentially more exciting approach would have been for her to ignore his advice and kill the King anyway. But having set up the tone of the show and the characters, Ness has to write himself out of a cover in a less than satisfactory manner.
Glancing across other reviews indicates that the general sense is that was sub-par in comparison to previous episodes, so it's quite reassuring that this isn't just the drugs talking and that I haven't missed some vital connection. The performances remain superb overall, especially Sophie Hopkins, who lends April a real sense of awe, her eyes positively agog at what's happening to her, the power coursing through her. Ditto Katherine Kelly, who finally revealed the anger and grief burning in Quill's soul. But perhaps in trying to break out of the more modest ambitions of previous installments and creating something epic, the show loses some of the intimacy which could make it distinctive. A show called Class should be spending more time at school.