Sunday, November 6, 2016

Class, Season One, Episode Three: Nightvisiting

What would you do if someone you loved desperately had died and then they suddenly showed up? What would you do if they offered you their hand while telling you that they were there to take away all of your pain and that you could be together again?  This is the true horror of Nightvisiting.

It begins with a flashback to Tanya's parents meeting and then quickly shifts to birth of her and her siblings. As we watch, the family leads their lives and even celebrates Christmas, before culminating in the death of her father by a stroke two years ago.  At is turns out, today is the anniversary of her father's death and Tanya is still grieving and in a lot of pain.  She goes with her family to her father's grave site and leaves flowers in remembrance of him. When Jasper (her father) suddenly appears in Tanya's bedroom, the lure of her father is difficult to resist.

All over town, people are being visited by their dead loved ones and are told all they have to do is reach out. They are told that the Lankins, an alien race, collects the souls of the dead and that if they take the hands of their dead loves one, they can be connected to them forever.  Tanya is of course suspicious and asks all kinds of question trying to get Jasper to slip up.  Jasper knows everything about Tanya, including how she got the nickname Puddle.  Tanya however isn't at all convinced and believes that Jasper could be reading her mind.  You see, despite all of the emotional pull, Jasper, like all of the dead are connected to this plant like being.

All though the Lankin feature greatly in this episode, Nightvisiting isn't about them per say. Ram for instance continues to be extremely troubled by the death of his girlfriend Rachel.  We learn that April's mother is paralyzed because her father in a fit of depression drove his family off a cliff.  April survived unscathed but her mother ended up paralyzed from the neck down. April's father was sentenced to time in prison, though he explained why he did what he did. Miss. Quill gets a visit from her sister, who tried to kill her in the nest. And finally, Charlie sees his parents briefly but they don't actually reach out to him because their bond was never that close.  Charlie reveals that he has much stronger bonds now and this is evidenced by his relationship with his new boyfriend Matteusz.

I want to stop for a moment to talk about Charlie and Matteusz, who arrives at Charlie's home after being thrown out by his parents.  Matteusz explains that as long as he didn't have a boyfriend, his parents (his father in particular) was able to pretend that he wasn't gay.  In Charlie's case, he was more of a political tool than anything to his parents and they never actively chose to bond with him. Together, they are able to give each other what they both have longed for - love and acceptance. I really think that this is an important point because far too many LGBT youth are discarded by their parents as though they are refuse when their sexuality becomes known.  In Charlie's case, we don't know if the bond failure is because he's gay, particularly given that we don't know his culture's take on homosexuality but that's certainly the case for Matteusz.  I'm very much impressed that Class chose to not only include gay characters but to deal with the effects of homophobia, even as it brings Charlie and Matteusz together.

Alongside the growing romance of Charlie and Matteusz, Class chose to show the budding relationship between Ram and April.  Ram only reaches out to April after he cannot get Tanya on skype.  He starts out very disdainful of her and slowly opens as she reveals herself to him.  At this point, I'm not sure that I like Ram very much because he seems to use women.  I'm not sure he reached out to Tanya because it is the anniversary of her father's death because when he got a hold of April, the first thing he asks about is homework. I very much recognise that he's the only one actively suffering with PTSD and he's the only disabled character but they really need to do more for Ram, so that he can stop coming across like an opportunist.

From the very beginning, it's clear that Tanya is the smart one.  When the Lankin traps Ram and April, after they fail in their attempt to save Tanya, she finally gives in and offers Jasper her hand.  Instead of offering Jasper her grief however, Tanya offers him her rage.  Yes, Tanya is sad that her father died but she's also mad as hell at him for leaving and ruining the happiness of her family.  It's this anger that serves to poison the Lankin.  Tanya's anger however is not enough to kill it. Thankfully, Ms. Quill is crafty enough to steal a bus and drive through the vines, which pulls Jasper out of Tanya's home. The Lankin then disappear back into the void.

When it's all said and done, no one remembers the visitation.  The crew realise that this is probably so that the Lankin can return and feed.  There's a general sense of relief from the crew but Ms. Quill is oddly silent.  Until recently, much of the Doctor's story has been about his pain because he was the last of the Time Lords.  The Whoverse has clearly decided to resurrect the idea with Ms.Quill.  She may not be as emotional and soft as Charlie, but she's clearly not as unaffected by the visitation of her fake sister as she originally appears.  The very fact that the Lankin came to her and not Charlie speaks of the bond that Ms. Quill had with her sister.  There's a loss there and it's brilliantly portrayed by what we don't see rather than what we do see.  I really look forward to seeing more behind Ms. Quill's awesome snark and killer abilities.

As monsters/aliens of the week go, the Lankin isn't particularly original.  Class clearly borrowed this from Buffy.  It's only differentiated itself by the Lankin needing the grieving person to reach out of their own accord. As emotional as this episode is, the constant borrowing from other sources is clearly a shortfall for Class. In order to have staying power, it's going to have to come up with monsters/aliens that are unique to it.  Placing their characters in these situations does offer a twist but it won't be enough long term.  Class needs to develop its own voice and its own threats to really stand out in a genre that's already crowded, particularly given that it's fighting for the same audience.