Simon Ridgway/BBC America

One very long school year comes to a close

June 03, 2017 at 11:05 PM EDT

Independent Study

KELLY: So, “Just this once, everybody lives” this was not. That was a little bit brutal! This episode ended on two unexpected reversals: April seemed to die and was “reborn” as the Shadow King, while Ames was murdered by a creature that usually just sends you back in time. And with all respect to the “April is now a giant lava monster” twist, I want to talk about the other one.

It’s fitting that a Weeping Angel would be Ames’ executioner; she toyed with people’s fates, and now she’s at the mercy of an alien race that essentially dictates the rest of your life with the touch of a hand. But this Angel doesn’t do that to Ames; it just kills her. Even if the explanation is simple — she’s not human — it still seems significant. What do you think? Why trade time travel for death?

NIVEA: Well, considering they’re at Coal Hill, which is time and space rift central right now, the Angels should be more than well-fed on that energy at this point. So I figure it’s just the Angel acting on its anger. Since that stone bas-relief sculpture is still missing a huge chunk (that head), having the Cabinet of Souls full and ready to go seemed like it was a large part of whatever this “arrival” business is about.

Though, like you said, Ames’ death probably hints at both the Governors and her being inhuman. Also, that man at the end TOTALLY blinked, and the Angel didn’t seem to move. I will say that I wish this season had a few more episodes — not only to actually space out some of this episode’s huge beats but also because I want to delve into what the Weeping Angels’ master plan might be if not to find a food source for themselves. But I digress. Let’s circle back to April becoming an actual Shadow King. How do you feel about her being trapped in that form?

KELLY: I think she and Ram are going to have some new things to work through, but overall, I’m not thrilled by it. The way I see it, the two most basic options are: She stays as a Shadow Kin (at least for a while), or she finds a fairly quick fix to get back in her body. (There is a third option, which is: There is no season 2. But for the sake of teasing out this cliffhanger, let’s ignore that one.) I’m hoping she doesn’t have to stay as a Shadow Kin for long because this show is good at grounding itself in human emotion and the Shadow Kin feel like cartoons. But the quick fix also feels like it goes against this show’s very admirable tendency to avoid quick fixes.

That’s the danger of being unafraid to let your show make big moves and live in the consequences — not all of the consequences are fun to live with. (Is this a me problem? MAYBE.) What did you think?

NIVEA: I’m a big fan of consequences in storytelling — and like you, I am a fan of Class’ consistent ability to revel in the human. But I think this hour was a little too full of big moves, a lot of which have huge consequences. April’s mum can’t walk again, Charlie is wracked with guilt and grief, Ram has officially seen three people he loves die (even if April’s didn’t quite stick), and Tanya has now been rendered an orphan. In terms of the last two twists, not only were they gut-wrenching, but they felt on a similar level dramatically, so we didn’t have as much build-up between each new and equally shocking development — we didn’t even get to fully appreciate Quill’s newfound pregnancy, especially since it probably means her death. Part of me wonders if this ties into our discussion last week about how Quill, as the last of her kind, can remake this “tradition” or myth. Maybe her baby (babies?) won’t have to kill her. If they’re Ballon’s, could they be half-shapeshifter?

It didn’t strike me until Quill and Tanya’s exchange in the library, but what she’s going through is not only what we saw her goddess go through in the last episode (making her an embodiment of her own creation myth), but it can be considered a metaphor for one reading of the mother-child relationship — especially since she might literally lose her life for her kids to live on. In the same way, Tanya represents the flip side of that, where she is now a legacy of both her father and mother. Did this take a weird turn? Yes. But this episode is full of big turns. I guess my question is: Am I reading into it a bit much? Because it might have to do with how much I enjoyed seeing Tanya and Quill bond and respect one another.

KELLY: I don’t think you’re reading into it any more than Quill is; she’s the one who points out that her culture gives strength by dying, whereas humans share their strength with each other while they’re alive, which makes Tanya’s situation all the more tragic. Tanya is living a Quill reality, and she shouldn’t have to. The line between the Quill experience and the human one is blurry: When April decides to die so others can live, isn’t that basically what Quill is facing? Death is coming regardless (“all of us die, genius”), and the only say anyone has in the matter is who dies and how they handle it.

But as much as I appreciate that none of the choices these kids have to make are easy, this episode is so overloaded with death-or-death problems that little moments never have a chance to land. Charlie and Matteusz are, like, telling each other how good they smell while Tanya is recently orphaned. It makes the characters feel somehow less important than all of this high drama they’re stuck in, which I think is the opposite of what the show is going for. Tanya is the only one who rises above it because she recognizes it; she calls out how ridiculous it is that the boys expect her to put her friendship with them over her feelings for her mom.

On that note, I feel like the best conversations this season all had the same subtext: “Just because we’re on a show together, that doesn’t mean I have to listen to you!” Which I love, but it’s kind of self-destructive. Which might be why I love it! This show is so weird. I’m interested in letting the kids question how much these friendships matter in the face of trauma, but right now the answer is, “Not much,” and I don’t know how sustainable that is beyond season 1. Especially since everyone else is pretty much dead now.

NIVEA: I’m totally with you there; I felt like the schism from the detention episode was never really overcome before we were thrown into this super sudden Shadow Kin invasion. If we’d had a chance to see the kids reforge those bonds and just maybe have a chill day or two off, I would feel like there was breathing room (and grieving time) between each big moment. I will say, Matteusz and Charlie renewing their feelings wasn’t as effective for me because we didn’t see how much pain they were in apart — though I do admire the show’s commitment to addressing teenage romance issues on the same scale as life-or-death ones. It’s in keeping with previous episodes. I also high-key love that April got a chance to sing. It was the most CW thing to happen on Class.

But stepping back to the Shadow Kin stuff, I’m actually a little confused. Shouldn’t April have retained her kingliness? I assumed the title sort of still held even though she abdicated her throne. (Did the Shadow Kin go full-on democracy and elect Corikinus back?) And wouldn’t erasing that path have taken April’s mum’s ability to walk in the first place?

In any case, April being in Corikinus’ body presents us with a metaphor for how being a teenager can make you feel like an alien. I feel like that’s been one of the strengths of this series in general, giving us solid visual depictions of feelings. In this way, it’s very much a true descendant of Buffy. But it also gave us one of the most interesting and timely explorations of metaphysics on television, which I think was something truly original. I’m just a little sad we never got to see that expressed in action.
(Recap continues on page 3)

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