‘Class’ Episode 7 review: ‘The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did’

If last time Class was all about the kids and their personal truths, this week it was Katherine Kelly’s Quill who took the spotlight for her own personal journey.

While modern Doctor Who has often “double-banked”, time-saving by filming two stories simultaneously and spreading the principal cast between them, these two episodes have doubled-banked in a narrative sense, playing out the trapped-in-a-classroom claustrophobia of ‘Detained’ alongside Quill’s quest to rid her of the Arn, the creature embedded in her head by the Rhodians to maintain her subservience.

For all its wanderlust, this was no less a compact script with only three principal characters. Quill was conducted on her adventure only by Dorothea (Pooky Quesnel), Coal Hill’s quirky headmistress who amusingly seems to have styled herself on an Edwardian adventuress (top marks, costume department), and Ballon (Chiké Okonkwo), a taciturn shapeshifter imprisoned and confined to a single form. Promised his freedom, his part in the proceedings was that of Quill’s surgeon.

Class 1 7 Dorothea (POOKY QUESNEL)

Together, they left from the school hall and headed down a metaphysical rabbit hole, travelling inside what appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, a magical clockwork lantern.

Travelling on the wings of belief seemed like fresh territory, and although we were initially as sceptical as Quill (who to be fair, did not have the benefit of already knowing the outcome), her defrosting, emerging hope and subsequent slow-growing bond with Ballon was well presented and enjoyable to watch; confronting his fears, then hers on their engrossing journey to a rather thorny survival dilemma at the story’s conclusion.

Visually, the succession of contrasting locales were a treat, especially given that we  have been restricted to only Shoreditch and its environs, plus the dark volcanic landscape of Shadow Kin home world so far. The Arn’s dream heaven was a candyfloss inspired forest, while the Quill nest seemed like a cosy and safe place – until Ballon ripped off the head of the emerging goddess, that is.

Class 1 7 Dorothea (POOKY QUESNEL)

In the conclusion, Quill was of course brought back to her senses, as a soldier and survivor, albeit someone to fight for now if her newly appeared baby bump comes to fruition. While Katherine Kelly has been in the back seat for much of the season, leaning in occasionally to deliver scene-stealing one liners and eye-rolls, this was her opportunity to shine, and shine she did.

Throughout the episode, we enjoyed the references to UNIT and the Zygon truce, not just as fannish nods but as they root Class within the current status quo of the Whoniverse.

For all Dorothea’s involvement in the story though, and once again she took the role of devious instigator, we still know very little of her paymasters, the mysterious Governors of Coal Hill Academy, also known as EverUpwardReach Ltd.

We did prick up our ears however at the suggestion that Coal Hill’s incursions might not be random, and cannot help but wonder if hints were being laid for a potential second season before the drama of next week’s finale. We hope so!


Available from 10am on Saturday 26 November 2016 on BBC iPlayer.

Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon here.

Order Season 1 on Blu-ray on Amazon here.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let us know below…

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  • Bardotti

    This show has made Katherine Kelly an absolute star. Where is the petition to get her to work with Peter Capaldi? This one and episode 6 stand up to the best television shown anywhere this year While I can hardly wait for next week, it’s tinged with sadness about the likely long wait until series 2. Good to see they are putting out some original novels in the interim and hoping maybe for audio adventures. Class is THE best DW spinoff without doubt. Well done Patrick Ness and your amazing cast. Love it, love it.

    • Ian McArdell

      Yes, I’ve really enjoyed Class… far more than I expected too given I’m well above the target demographic! I hope Patrick Ness can be persuaded to write for Doctor Who too!

  • Dr. Moo at christmas

    Loved this episode. Not quite a masterpiece since the early scenes were a bit slow and felt more like a series of unconnected setpieces – go to place, kill monster, get thing, repeat – but once those were done it really kicked off! The story has some great little twists and turns in it that you can’t see coming and Quill’s final lines last time take on a whole new dimension after seeing this. Overall then it’s an 8/10 and yet another brilliant episode.

    For Class to not be the uncontested king of the spinoffs it will really have to do something phenomenally bad next week, but I’m long past the point where I could possibly believe that this series could ever be bad. Best new show of 2016? Possibly!

    • Bardotti

      Has my vote as being equal to Victoria and The Crown as the best thing on television this year. Absolute winner for me. Would love to see Patrick Ness write for Peter’s Doctor on Who itself if we can include Ms Quill in that episode. These last two episodes lifted Class above SJA as the best spin off from Who. Hope the moaners who complained about this before it even aired are eating humble pie.

      • Dr. Moo

        Might be giving them too much credit there. 🙁