Alex Moreland reviews the eighth and final episode of the Doctor Who spinoff Class…
Look at you, in your little circle. Pretending to be heroes and never expecting to pay a price.
‘The Lost’ proves to be a disappointing finale to Class – one that, ultimately, is unable to deliver upon the promise of the series as a whole, and leaves the show’s future looking rather uncertain.
In some ways, the flaws of ‘The Lost’ are part of broader, systemic weakness with Class, which one episode was unlikely to be able to escape the weight of, or remedy on its own. Once again, the Shadowkin prove to be an issue; they have, frankly, never worked. Not in the opening episode, nor the two-parter event episodes, and not now, in the finale. It’s largely because they’re such simplistic villains; evil in an ill-defined yet cliché manner, just because they are, and reliant on a particularly tired fire-and-brimstone aesthetic that is neither original nor effective.
It’s possible that they could have been compelling had the idea been taken further, positing them as an almost Lovecraftian embodiment of evil; indeed, much could have been made of the circumstances of their final defeat, with the symbolism of stopping them through use of light, yet the fact that they had to be stopped through an evil act, i.e. genocide. None of this, sadly, was explored; the Shadowkin were a painfully one note and unsubtle group of adversaries, who’s frequent reoccurrences quickly began to feel repetitive. It’s a shame that ‘The Lost’ was unable to, in these final moments, given the Shadowkin something to actually do – it’s a fundamentally disappointing end to that particular arc, when we should have seen a far more resounding conclusion.
Yet, while some of the flaws of this episode are mitigated by virtue of their being problems with the show at large, it’s not quite the case with every problem faced by ‘The Lost’. As an episode of television in its own right, it’s simply far too crowded – in attempting to tie off the various plot arcs of this season, while introducing a new arc for a potential second season (more on which shortly), it does rather seem that Patrick Ness over reaches himself. ‘The Lost’ moves far too quickly between different beats, creating a real tonal mishmash that can only be described as a disaster; one almost gets whiplash in moving from the unnecessary gratuity of the murder of Ram and Tanya’s parents to the teen romance aspects of the show.
Worse, though, this leaves the drama largely unable to breathe or be processed properly – because of the demands of the plot and the need to keep the episode moving, we’re entirely unable to take the time to dwell on these deaths. Not only does it totally rob them of any impact, leaving it feeling rather trite, it also reflects poorly on the characters; rewatch April’s conversation with Ram immediately after his father’s death, and see how long it takes her to stop giving exposition and actually ask if he’s okay. Much the same is true of Tanya’s mother’s death (making her an orphan now, notably) – for a group who are supposed to be reasonably close friends, there’s a real lack of support here, which undercuts a lot of the character work we’ve seen so far. Disappointingly, this also constrains the performances of our leads; they’re clearly doing the best they can, but there’s not a lot that they can do, under the circumstances.
It’s perhaps also worth picking up on the episode’s conclusion, and paying heed to that scene: the revelation that, in some capacity or another, the mysterious Governors are in league with the Weeping Angels – with the talk of pure belief and preparations for ‘the Arrival’, it almost appears like a religious order. Somewhat ironically, this overshadows our Shadowkin plot – but then, it was always going to. Quite apart from the fact that the Weeping Angels are an iconic Doctor Who alien, there’s also the fact that this essentially confirms the growing suspicion that the Governors were a far more interesting antagonistic force than the Shadowkin could ever have been – something we hadn’t seen before, something new, and by extension something exciting. And this is very much the wrong note to end the episode on – and indeed the wrong note to end the series on. In some ways it feels like a dismissal of what’s gone on before, an entirely unearned moment of saying “actually, all the good stuff will be next year”. If there is a next year, anyway.
This has been an overwhelmingly negative review, and perhaps unfairly so. It’s not as if there weren’t plenty of lovely moments in this episode: Katherine Kelly is as wonderful as ever, once again elevating Quill into something quite special; Charlie and Matteusz have some excellent scenes, with a particularly sweet one by a staircase standing out; there’s an interesting, albeit rushed, follow up to some of the Rhodian myths and legends Charlie had spoken about previously.
And, you know, the country song at the beginning was pretty cool.
However, those lovely little things weren’t enough – certainly not for a series finale, in any case. After the high quality of Class up till now, ‘The Lost’ can only be termed a let-down; hopefully, if a second season does manifest itself, it’ll improve upon the mistakes of ‘The Lost’.