CLASS: CO-OWNER OF A LONELY HEART
Is it just me, or would it be difficult to do battle with an alien overload right after losing one's virginity?
Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart, the first of a two-part Class story, has another unintentional Class element: really lousy titles. I'm sure that none of our hot twenty-somethings were around when Yes released Owner of a Lonely Heart, so given that Class is aiming to be Doctor Who for the young adult set, why echo such an 80s song? Writer/creator Patrick Ness could have picked Break Your Heart by Tao Cruz with Ludacris, or even Heart of Glass or Total Eclipse of the Heart if he wanted to be more contemporary.
I'm just being a picky Gen-Xer.
Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart still can't find the balance between science-fiction and teen drama, shifting madly between the two. Moreover, an element of one crowds into the other, leading to one of the most hilarious moments in science-fiction television history, one of those 'am I really watching this?' situations that should make people break out into laughter.
The Shadow Kin King Corakinus (Paul Marc Davis) wants to break free of sharing a heart with April (Sophie Hopkins). This sharing of a heart is causing them both problems, particularly for April, our sweet folk music-playing girl who is becoming more aggressive, and with reason too.
Her father Huw McLean (Con O'Neill) is now out of prison and despite warnings continues to try and make contact with April, which she does not appreciate. In fact, her aggressiveness, mixing with Corakinus' own, makes her violent and able to reproduce Shadow Kin scimitars to threaten Huw. To help her out is Ram (Fady Elsayed), both whom have grown amorous with each other. So upset and agitated is April that Ram takes her home, and then just takes her.
April and Ram make love in a surprisingly soft-core montage that seems more fitting for a Danielle Steele adaptation than a YA science-fiction show. In perhaps the wildest crossover effect I've seen, this impromptu deflowering has an effect on Corakinus too. As they share one heart, April's metaphorical giving of it to Ram causes the Shadow King to have a little sexy time with Kharrus (Kelly Gough), the Shadow Kin attempting to help Corakinus release himself of April's heart.
This Coitus Corakinus does not help either him or April break one from the other.
We'll get back to our teen angst to move into our alien invasion story. Miss Quill (Katherine Kelly) is suspicious of the new Headmistress of Coal Hill, Dorothea Ames (Pooky Quesnel). All this talk of the Governors and how they so admire Miss Quill has her thinking.
However, there is little time to actually look in on things, as Bonnie Prince Charlie (Greg Austin) and his sexmate Matteusz (Jordan Renzo) continue discovering each other.
Personally, I think one should discover one's sexual partner before schtupping, but I'm rather old-fashioned in my views on sex.
Charlie tells Matteusz about the Cabinet of Souls: it's not empty, far from it. It possesses the souls of every deceased Rhodian, and it will respond to the Rhodian leader (that being our Prince) to seek out and eliminate whomever the enemy is, a single-time use weapon. The knowledge that the Cabinet is not empty infuriates Quill and makes Matteusz dubious about using this Doomsday Device. The legend about it being possible to bring the dead Rhodians to life in the form of new bodies if used by a 'hero' is also not to Matty's liking, as he is not convinced his lover is capable of being a hero.
Charlie does not display any actual heroic traits, culminating in his abuse of Quill. He orders her to attend Parents Night for his other classes as they live together, and Quill has no choice in the matter due to the creature controlling her free will.
It's here that Quill learns a few things from Dorothea. First, she notes what Matty has already brought to people's attention, but since he's nothing more than Charlie's sexual release no one pays attention to him: a curious invasion of petals out of season. These petals, Dorothea informs Quill, are capable of reproducing at a rapid pace, and they also are carnivorous. Second, she asks Quill if she'd like to have that monster removed from her head, something The Governors can do if she helps them with the killer petals.
Back to our teen drama. After Ram lived up to his name to April, who happens to wheel herself into the room but her mother Jackie (Shannon Murray). It's a bit surprising for her to find a hot young naked Sikh in bed with her equally hot young naked daughter to say the least, and Jackie is none too thrilled about that. Jackie is also not thrilled to learn Huw has contacted April, and more outlandishly seeing Huw arrive at their home too. April's anger allows Corakinus to finally track her down, but it also unleashes a fierce aggression in April to where she attacks both her parents.
By this time the rest of the Class Scooby-Doo Gang has arrived at the MacLean home: Mattlie and Tanya (Vivian Oparah) to witness April going bonkers and thrusting her hands into poor Jackie's heart. This allows April to give her mother the ability to use her legs (which I suppose is better than her going up to Jackie and shouting, "BE HEALED!") but it also allows Corakinus to rip time and space to her. April jumps into the void and Ram follows before the gap is closed.
Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart continues a very bad trend in Class. Actually, it continues a lot of bad trends and throw in some new ones.
Bad Trend Number One is with Matteusz, who halfway through the first series shows he really has no function outside of screwing Charlie (as we learned last episode, Matty is the top in this relationship). In the episode, he does not interact with any other character save Tanya, and even then it was in relation to Charlie. Tanya asks Matteusz "Is he all human, down there?".
As a side note, Tanya does seem a little sex-obsessed. Not only does she ask someone with whom she has barely shared a conversation with essentially if Charlie has a penis, but she also adds this bit, which leads to Bad Trend Number Two: Charlie's inconsistent characterization.
Tanya tells them that Ram called, saying that April's in danger of having her body taken over by the Shadow Kin. She also adds, "His voice sounded kind of funnier; I think they had sex". At this point a clearly puzzled Charlie asks, "Ram and the Shadow Kin?", obviously believing that Tanya was suggesting Ram had Coitus Corakinus.
Class does not seem to have any real idea of who or what Bonnie Prince Charlie is supposed to be like. Sometimes he's made out to be hopelessly naive and clueless. There's the aforementioned moment when Charlie thought Tanya was saying she thought Ram had sex with the Shadow Kin. There's earlier in Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart when, talking about Parent's Night, he says, "Don't we want to be better students to help our parents?" and then looks puzzled when Matteusz and Tanya give him and each other knowing looks.
Other times, he is extremely brutal, even vicious and imperious. He is particularly arrogant when it comes to Quill. "Do this. I command it," he tells her in a particularly cold manner. Moreover, when Tanya draws it to his attention that he is treating Quill like a slave, Bonnie Prince Charlie makes it clear he will not be questioned in how he treats her.
This inconsistency, along with the vague idea that he might either be a genocidal lunatic or a hero who brings his people back from the dead, is something Class should never have introduced, let alone try to keep making fit.
Things are not helped in the 'representation' department when April manages to make Jackie walk again. It is rather unfair to the disabled community to have their one representative suddenly healed, even if the paralyzed mother character seemed to be there just for 'representation'.
Bad Trend Number Three is in the imbalance between as Quill puts it 'alien invasion or teen angst'. This is the second consecutive Class episode where two characters are sidelined by lovemaking. It's already odd that Ram and April have become romantically involved given neither has shown anything that would indicate that they are in love. Here, we have this excessively lush lovemaking montage that borders on hilarious.
As Ram lives up to his name with April, he asks if he's hurting her. Our presumably virgin April says no, then asks if she is hurting him. Far be it for me to wonder about one's deflowering experiences, but...
If all that isn't bad enough, seeing Corakinus get it on because April is getting it on is hilarious. I'm not sure I think anyone thought Kharrus telling Corakinus, "Are you not into it?" when we get Coitus Corakinus would in any way not sound like a spoof of sci-fi teen dramas.
As a side note, Gough played Kharrus and Rannus, the Shadow Kin who first failed him to get his heart back. Shows the Shadow Kin are quite boring as villains if one actress can play more than one without making each distinct.
Bad Trend Number Four is in Patrick Ness' sometimes overwrought dialogue.
"The Shadow Kin wants your heart, and that's one battleground he's going to lose," Ram tells April. Her response is that she thinks that line is cheesy.
That might be Bad Trend Number Five: too much self-awareness.
At one point before Coitus Corakinus, Kharrus tells Corakinus, "I have a different way to cure your heart". Since April and Ram are in a sense controlling Corakinus, one wonders if this line is serious or equally cheesy.
Again, it is Kelly who holds the viewers interest, far about the One Coal Hill crowd. In her anger against Charlie (justified by now), her curiosity about the Governors, and the temptation to break free from Bonnie Prince Charlie's tyranny, we see Quill as a fascinating character. Kelly brings a mixture of menace and mirth to her role.
The only false moment with Quill is unable to figure out Dorothea is an alien but Ram and April are based on how she, after less than one day knows everything about everyone. It seems out of character for Quill to not go for the obvious.
She is equalled by Pooky Quesnel as the mysterious new Headmistress of Coal Hill. She is in equal terms charming and menacing, keeping her character mysterious about whether she is friend or foe.
As a side note, 'Pooky Quesnel' is perhaps the most elaborate name for an actress in a sci-fi story since Star Trek: The Motion Picture featured Persis Khambatta.
O'Neill as Huw was also quite strong in his brief moments, that sense of regret and fear coming through. As his former wife, however, Murray was bad, screaming unconvincingly whether finding her daughter was not innocent anymore or finding her daughter was a scimitar-wielding psycho.
Out of our Coal Hill Diaries cast, Hopkins scored the best for playing the 'kind' but also highly enraged April. Her moments where she is close to killing her father are quite intense and well-done. Whether attempting being gentle with Ram as he rams into her or screaming about why anyone would show empathy for that bunch of cowards (those cowards being the men at Dunkirk), Hopkins shows she can be stronger than her material.
Pity everyone else was not on her level. I cut Oparah some slack in that she had little to do, though she was generally expressionless here. Renzo continues Matteusz's sometimes dim manner ("You lie...because sometimes princes have to lie?" he asks his lover). Then again, Renzo is nothing more than Charlie's himbo, so I guess that works.
Elsayed struggles in making even the cheesy lines believable, but he's not bad in the lovemaking scene.
Take that any way you want.
Austin continues to look far too old to be high school student, let alone one this naive save for Coitus Matteusz, about the only thing the character has shown any aptitude for.
Unintentionally hilarious (Coitus Corakinus, apart from being a great band name, will be one of the most weirdly oddball moments in Class no matter what), with lines so frightful even the characters can't believe them, some bad performances and uninteresting characters save Quill and Dorothea, with the intriguing 'carnivorous alien petals' all make Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart another clumsy Class episode.
Teen drama and alien invasion can go together. It just can't during Class time.
Next Episode: Brave-ish Heart