Class is back in session for another week, and this time there’s some unexpected visitors in the night. After a strong first showing, is third time still the charm for the series?

You certainly can’t say that Class rests on its laurels. For the third episode in a row, the series shifts gears and hones in on something different. Last week had an all-out bonanza before focusing on Ram, and this week it’s Tanya who’s thrust into the spotlight. The show opens with a well-edited montage of her family’s past and her childhood, an effective and emotional journey told in only a few minutes. To cut a short story even shorter: what starts off happy and hopeful descends quickly into hurt and heartbreak. Which, ironically, isn’t a bad way of describing this episode.

Class - Ep3 - Picture Shows: Tanya (VIVIAN OPARAH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Simon Ridgeway
Class – Ep3 – Picture Shows: Tanya (VIVIAN OPARAH) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

Back to the present day, and Tanya is still upset by her father’s passing. It’s two years since he left the mortal world, but even death can’t keep a good man down. As night falls, Tanya receives an unexpected visitor in her bedroom – but could it really be her father? Is he a dream, a hallucination… or something infinitely more sinister?

Daddy’s Home

Well, this is a Doctor Who spin-off and there’s a strange new alien on the scene, so take a wild guess. This week’s baddie isn’t a big hulking beast like the Shadow Kin or the dragon, though, this is a much more passive threat. London is covered in a web of vines and everyone – well, nearly everyone – receives a visitor from beyond the grave. As if that wasn’t telling enough, the lost loved ones are all attached to some sort of higher being. Their purpose? To come in peace and offer freedom for our souls when we eventually pass on as well. If anyone’s ever seen the Futurama episode “The Beast With a Billion Backs”, you sort of know what to expect here. It’s an interesting premise with convincingly eerie acting, and the vine-laden London is an impressive treat for the eyes.

Class - Ep3 - Picture Shows: (L-R) Orla'ath (ANASTASIA HILLE), Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Simon Ridgeway
Class – Ep3 – Picture Shows: (L-R) Orla’ath (ANASTASIA HILLE), Miss Quill (KATHERINE KELLY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

Thankfully, the other characters don’t just sit on the sidelines – they’ve all got their own separate stories that intertwine. Charlie’s sexuality and relationship are explored in further depth, while there’s also some surprising developments for Ram and April. Miss Quill continues to serve as the (excellent) comic relief, and even she gets some welcome development as some of her past is put under the microscope. While Tanya is clearly the focus here, it’s commendable that everyone still feels relevant despite playing second fiddle.

Slow and Steady

However, the problem with Nightvisiting is that it’s simply too obvious from the get-go that everything is a trap. The audience soon finds out what’s really going on and even the characters are quick to question the “promises” of their loved ones. This wouldn’t be such an issue if the episode didn’t boil down to one central conceit: Tanya accepting or rejecting her father’s plea. Even though the consequences are painfully transparent, it drags on for far too long. It feels like the episode constantly builds to something, but by the time it does it misses the moment.

Class - Ep3 - Picture Shows: Tanya (VIVIAN OPARAH) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Simon Ridgeway
Class – Ep3 – Picture Shows: Tanya (VIVIAN OPARAH) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Simon Ridgeway

There’s a noticeable pattern across these three episodes so far. While Episode 1 was a fast, frenetic thrill ride, Episode 2 slowed down to focus more on character. Episode 3, then, grinds things to an absolute halt. This is a far cry from the action of the debut and it’s not a direction everyone will enjoy. It certainly gives more opportunity for exploration and development, but at points, it crawls along at a snail’s pace. There is some action here – and when it happens, it’s absolutely great – but for the most part, it’s a very static and talky 45 minutes.

The disappointment, sadly, doesn’t end there. Again like Episode 2, the resolution this week is more than a little underwhelming. It’s another emotional rather than explosive victory, and it falls right in line with many Doctor Who denouements – but not necessarily in a good way. After a slow, gradual build-up, a stronger ending would have helped to redeem the narrative. As it stands, it’s passable, but a little too questionable to ignore. That means Class has now failed to properly stick the landing on two out of three of its finishes – a trend we hope will improve before long.

Final Grade

In conclusion, Nightvisiting is an episode with strong and intriguing concepts that have unfortunately been spread incredibly thinly. It’s hands down the creepiest story to date, daring to offer up more unsettling psychological chills than in-your-face gore. Ultimately though it’s let down by its monster, it’s pacing, and its resolution – all key ingredients in the successful sci-fi pie. That said, it’s still not outright bad, and it’s still essential viewing for understanding the characters and their motivations – but, arguably, it’s Class’ weakest chapter so far.

1 COMMENT

  1. Third strike and you’re out when it comes to TV shows. Even though I’ve been a Who fan who put up with Torchwood, loved Sarah Jane from the start, and am an enthusiastic member of the Steven Moffat Defense Squad, Class did me in with this episode. I’m out. Too much unoriginality, too much sex, characters I realized I just couldn’t care about. Thank you for inserting the Clara reference in episode 1, Mr Ness (though how much of that was Moffat’s doing remains to be seen), but otherwise I hope you stay as far away from the main Doctor Who as possible.

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