The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo

Posted in Episode by - July 04, 2018
The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo

Aired 22 October 2016

On its surface, Class shouldn’t work nearly as well as its premiere suggested it could. With no character featuring an established link to the Doctor Who universe and no ultra-advanced technology, both of which Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures featured, the notion of a random group of students and a teacher saving their school and community from otherworldly threats is a more difficult foundation to establish. However, while this premise undeniably means casualties will ensue, focusing on one group of characters in one location at a time in their lives when emotions are naturally so high allows for an immense opportunity to fully explore the consequences of prior actions, a fact that ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo’ exploits to great effect.

The fallout of the dramatic events populating the premiere episode fuels ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo,’ the focus here primarily belonging to Ram who lost his leg and more importantly his girlfriend during the confrontation with the Shadow Kin. Every person will react to trauma and personal circumstances differently, but Ram has become withdrawn, hesitant, and angry, and Fady Elsayed delivers this unflinching look at post-traumatic stress disorder surprisingly successfully. Of course, this pain is crucial to saving the day against the dragon in what amounts to a near-suicidal scheme, but it’s quite telling that Ram cannot imagine things getting better for him or for anyone else and that he still acts primarily on a personal level without connecting with or involving the others he has come to be so closely associated with in such a short time period.

Miss Quill and Charlie are fairly inconsequential to the affairs on display here, their alien nature seemingly allowing them to accept the sacrifice of one life to save countless others, and with Tanya more focused on the damaged Ram for whom she still harbours feelings, April forms the major counterpoint for this episode. It seems as though April is being set up to be the most open and relatable character despite her strange past, and she provides the emotional voice of reason by stating that no death is acceptable or inevitable and that they are all complicit in the fates of those around them to some extent. This is very much a team in progress, and it’s clear that there is still a wide gulf in the individual beliefs and sentiments of its members, but these opposing strengths, weaknesses, and viewpoints only serve to further enhance the possible drama in what so far has been a very realistic portrayal of these young adults in such heightened circumstances.

With Coach Dawson being an unknown quantity to most of the team and his fate essentially determined even before factoring in whether his involvement in the previous deaths warranted his own, there is a missed opportunity for a slightly more impactful and nuanced threat. Instead, the dragon serves mostly as a conduit to explore the turmoil simmering within Ram, and to that effect it has to be deemed a remarkable success. Though much of the main cast is fairly sidelined to accomplish this feat in what could be considered a drug allegory with Ram suffering his own addiction, Class has proven perhaps with a bit too much gore that it will not shy away from the very real consequences that these very real teenagers will have to confront, paving the way for an engaging and insightful look into the many shades of humanity whether the show decides to continue with a monster-of-the-week approach like here or not.

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