April MacLean receives an unwelcome blast from the past in this week’s visit to Coal Hill Academy, but it’s her more recent history that looks set to test her to her limits. Meanwhile, there’s a new headteacher in town, there’s something wrong with the petals… and parent’s evening is looming. Yikes. Basically, it’s all kicking off.
Let’s be honest, though, it’s been kicking off – to put it lightly – since day one. As we reach the halfway point of the series, the drama is notched up to an unprecedented level and all eyes are on April when a sudden outburst about war makes her realise that the connection between her and Corakinus is growing stronger by the minute. It’s a good job that Ram is on hand, then, to offer his moral support (cheesy pick up lines and all), but it suddenly becomes clear that their developing relationship might just turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth. The course of high school romance never did run smooth, especially when the ruthless King of the Shadow Kin is but a heartbeat away… Oh, why can’t things just be simple?!
Simple they are not in this episode, which largely feels like it’s setting up the events to come rather than standing its ground as its own individual story. We’re not complaining about that, because there’s still plenty of other stuff going on in the background to keep driving the narrative forward. A particularly intriguing development is the arrival of Coal Hill’s brand new headmistress and lady in red, Dorothea, as played by an actress blessed with what is quite possibly the greatest name in showbiz: Pooky Quesnel. It’s safe to say that Dorothea is introduced as somewhat of an enigma (don’t worry, she won’t bite…), but she’s not one to be messed with. It is an ever suspicious Miss Quill who discovers this first hand when her new boss offers her a proposition she cannot refuse amidst an escalating invasion of squirrel-eating petals. You literally couldn’t write it, but Patrick Ness has.
And once again it is Patrick’s writing that really stands out. The pre-title sequence takes us to an alien world to remind us that we actually are watching a science fiction drama after all, but thanks to its creator’s naturally flowing dialogue, the sinister Shadow Kin’s realm feels just as believable and ordinary as the corridors of Coal Hill. Just when you thought that our heroes were coming to terms with the events of the last few episodes (it really has been one weird month!), their loyalty and friendships are put to the test by their own suspicions and morals, although they ultimately have to agree to disagree when it transpires that there is a far greater loss at stake.
Overall, Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart is a slow burner but it’s one that we hope will pay off in the episodes and fall out to come. Its final moments are certainly dramatic, perhaps even a little too dramatic (her poor mother doesn’t know what the hell’s going on…), and its climactic cliffhanger left us wondering how on Earth April is going to get out of this one. We have no idea what she’s capable of under the Shadow Kin’s influence, but we have faith that the goodness in her heart will fight back. It always does… right?
Prepare for war.