‘Class’ Review: The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did

November 22nd, 2016
Warning! This article and its comments may contain spoilers...
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We’ve reached the penultimate episode but the end of Class is still far from in sight as Miss Quill gets down to some serious business with a little help from the school headmistress… and all she has to do is believe. Be warned, though, because she’ll pluck the eyebrows from your screaming face. But just who is Miss Quill when she’s free…?

Well, she’s war itself, of course, but that much was established all the way back in Episode 1 (remember that? It feels like a lifetime ago…). Just how far this once great and powerful leader would go to retain her freedom is what makes this episode such a thrilling ride from the get-go as it quickly becomes apparent that she would quite literally die to reclaim what she feels is rightfully hers. She’s pre-warned that she’ll end up either dead or free, but it’s a risk that she’s obviously willing to take. At this stage, what has she got to lose?

After forcing Charlie & Co into a a spontaneous detention to keep them out of the way (although as we saw in Detained last week, being locked in a classroom was hardly a walk in the park for them…), Miss Quill and Dorothea join forces and, before she knows it, she’s being “buzzed atomically” to an extraordinary world by the means of a mysterious alien device that even its owner doesn’t completely understand… which isn’t exactly the sort of thing you want to hear from the designated driver, especially if they’re a learner.

Miss Quill goes with it, though, and if you’ve been waiting for the chance to delve deeper into her ever malevolent mind, then this episode is guaranteed to be right up your street. Not only is her name in the title, which is usually a tell-tale sign that she’ll play quite a big part in it, but the story itself is solely dedicated to her mission. We learn lots about her species, too (including their far from conventional birthing and celebration traditions), but it is ultimately reaffirmed that she does actually possess quite a lot of compassion after all. You know, in a weird, genocidal sort of way. Plus, she is quite the screamer…

And then it comes hunting. They’re not alone, though, as we’re also introduced to Chiki Okonkwo as Ballon, a shapeshifter who is enigmatic by design but joins the operation on a journey for his own kind of redemption. Whovians will punch the air with glee when it’s revealed what old school adversary he was masquerading as on Earth, which comes as a nice little reminder that, despite how bonkers this show seems to be getting, it is still taking place under the same umbrella as the Doctor Who universe that we all know and love (which is, in itself, pretty bloody bonkers!).

Ultimately, The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did is an adventure that showcases just how weird and wonderful Patrick Ness’ imagination can be when it’s really given the platform to let loose. The episode has one of those “it’s not really happening but they are really experiencing it” sort of vibes, which brings with it a side to Miss Quill that is both enthralling and terrifying in equal measure. We already knew that she was a force to be reckoned with but even she is full of surprises as the episode builds up to its climactic conclusion, which makes for one of the most spectacularly gruesome sequences of the series so far, followed by what is sure to be lauded as one of Katherine Kelly’s defining Quill performances.

We mentioned the nod to the Doctor Who mythology but this episode builds upon Class’ established narrative and adds another level of depth and drama to continue its rise as a fully-fledged franchise in its own right. After the events of this episode, the pieces have been perfectly aligned for what looks set to be the Earth-shattering finale to end them all. And just when you think it’s over, one of the biggest bombshells comes along to hit you right in the face. And we have no idea what to expect next. Bring it on.

The Metaphysical Engine, Or What Quill Did premieres on Saturday at 10am on BBC Three.

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