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REVIEW: Class – Episode 7 – Where There’s a Quill, There’s a Way

Class - Ep7 (No. 7) - Picture Shows: Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Chris Lobina
This week, we’re going out of the classroom and into the impossible. It’s time for Miss Quill to take the spotlight in the most unbelievable Class adventure yet…

First things first, an adjustment ought to be made to our review for the previous episode. What was deemed a fairly flimsy set-up premise there, retrospectively, now makes perfect sense. For you see, this penultimate episode of Class, and Detained before it, are actually two sides of the same story. The Metaphysical Engine runs parallel to last week’s events, beginning and ending in exactly the same places. But what of the journey in between? Well, that’s very, very different…

Class - Ep7 (No. 7) - Picture Shows: Ballon (CHIKE OKONKWO), Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Simon Ridgeway
Class – Ep7 (No. 7) – Picture Shows: Ballon (CHIKE OKONKWO), Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

As you can probably tell by the title, this week is all about Miss Quill. Pretty much exclusively, in fact. Aside from the opening and closing scenes – which are ripped straight out of Detained – the rest of the cast are absent throughout. Instead, we follow the mysterious teacher on her quest to regain her freedom. Teaming up with Dorothea and new character Ballon, she travels into the unthinkable (literally). Cue the most fantastical and (again, literally) out-of-this-world episode of Class yet. Excluding The Doctor’s cameo in Episode 1, this is the most Doctor Who that the series has felt – and that’s not just because of the Zygon and UNIT references. Rather, there’s alien worlds to explore and mind-bending visions aplenty. It doesn’t hurt either that the Metaphysical Engine itself is basically a small, ramshackle TARDIS (and one that’ll even fit in your pocket!).

Class – Ep7 (No. 7) – Picture Shows: (L-R) Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY), Dorothea (POOKY QUESNEL) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Chris Lobina
Quill of the Warrior

Much like Detained, this is an episode with a key concept at heart. Instead of truth and confession, though, here we have belief. It’s a fitting theme: for Quill, this mission is all about determination. The only way she can lift her curse is to put mind over matter. On this quest, visiting impossible realms and performing unfeasible feats is simply par for the course. We always knew that her struggle to be free would be difficult, but this is something else. Don’t underestimate Quill’s desperation for her cause. Oh, the places she’ll go…

Class – Ep7 (No. 7) – Picture Shows: Ballon (CHIKE OKONKWO) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

Of course, none of this would be a success if it weren’t for Katherine Kelly’s magnificent performance. We’ve seen flashes of her personality in the series so far – funny, alien, vengeful. But here we get the whole caboodle, and she steals the show. Her darkness and emotional past unravels before our very eyes. Quill is very much like The Doctor in many ways, and this is the closest we’ll get for now to seeing a female version of the Time Lord. She’s a multi-faceted role played by a highly skilled actress – and she means business. Thankfully, Dorothea and Ballon are no slouches either. The latter is especially convincing – we’ve only just met him, but you feel heavily invested in his tragedy by the end. Overall, while there’s definitely nothing wrong with the younger Class actors, it’s certainly refreshing to have an episode with a fully adult cast at the helm.

Class – Ep7 (No. 7) – Picture Shows: Dorothea (POOKY QUESNEL) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Chris Lobina
Final Grade

That’s not to say that this episode is without its faults though. The theme of belief could have been pushed a little further, and the glimpse of other worlds makes us wish we could have seen just a few more. The plot itself can also sometimes get a little too convoluted and meandering for its own good. But, as has consistently been the trend with Class, it’s the acting that sells it. Follow the narrative along as best you can and eventually it all culminates in a badass, triumphant climax. Things seamlessly tie back into last week’s denouement – and, unexpectedly, there’s even one more surprise left in store.

Class – Ep7 (No. 7) – Picture Shows: Ballon (CHIKE OKONKWO), Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

In conclusion, The Metaphysical Engine is the best of Class’ many individual character studies. Miss Quill – by default, the hardest character to relate to – is the one that needed this story most, and it pays off beautifully. Patrick Ness and Katherine Kelly have done a tremendous job of bringing this character to life. It’s also the perfect companion piece to Detained, following up one amazing episode with another, back-to-back. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that locking those kids in detention was the best thing that Class ever did. It’s given us by far two of the best entries in the series, and a real chance for everyone’s characters to shine. Individually the two episodes stand strong, but together they form an incredible sense of duality.

So then, where do we go from here? The stage is set at last for a tense and dramatic finale. The kids are at each other’s throats and there’s big trouble brewing on the horizon for next week. But perhaps most frightening of all, the real Quill has been unleashed: and she is war itself…



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