After the series premiere got the ball rolling with a bang (and then some), Episode 2 of Class slows things back down as Ram takes the spotlight in a battle against his own personal demons, but it’s a battle that’s just as important – if not more so – as his showdown with Corakinus.
You’re always left to wonder where a series will go to next after the first episode, and more importantly whether or not it will be able to maintain the pace and momentum of its opening story. You needn’t worry about that in the case of Class, though, as The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo, while a very different kind of tale, still manages to draw you into the aftermath of the horrifying events of the Autumn Prom.
It is Ram who gets most of the attention in this episode, which is the least they could’ve done when you consider just how traumatic and psychologically damaging his experiences at the Prom actually were. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s struggling, both emotionally and psychically, to accept the sheer scale of his ordeal, and not even the distraction of his favourite pastime can help him this time. 1-0 to the Shadow Kin… or is it?
Described as a “football jock” in the official character bios, Ram proves here that he is far more than just a soulless sportsman. The story gave us the opportunity to crack away at his hard-faced exterior to delve deeper into the inner-workings of his mind, something which we’re sure we’ve still only touched the surface of. Fady Elsayed’s performance perfectly conveyed Ram’s overwhelming sense of mourning and grief, whilst highlighting his desperation to perform well on the pitch in what he feels is his only platform in which he can truly succeed (and let’s not forget to mention the fact that for the second time in as many episodes, he ends up with blood all over his face – he’s just getting careless now!).
Patrick Ness said that Class would be character driven, and an episode like this one just reaffirms it. The rest of the cast had their fair crack at the whip, too, as this story brings them one step closer to accepting their new found responsibility as Earth defenders. We’re sure they’ve all pretty much got their heads around the crack in time and space now (that is, just as soon as they’ve settled on a name for it – we’re getting ‘Bunghole of Time’ on a t-shirt!), and no doubt the rest of the protagonists will each get their chance throughout the series to rise to the challenge and escape the confines of the social stereotypes in which they are currently confined.
In a nutshell, The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo was a well-paced story with an interesting premise, although after such an intriguing build up, we couldn’t help but feel that the climax was somewhat anticlimactic. At least Ram got to find some form of acceptance, though, in a sci-fi ‘your football coach is skinning people alive’ sort of way. Miss Quill was on hand to offer some well-timed comic relief, too, as she got tongues wagging with a second, separate adversary who had taken the guise of an ominous Ofsted inspector. It looks like it’s only just the beginning of that particular arc, so it was a nice little teaser of what’s to come. Suffice to say, you’ll never look at your own coach in quite the same way again. Don’t worry, though. You are in control.