Something of a holding pattern episode, executing a bog standard premise whose primary virtue is clearly that it’s cheap and depends primarily on interior shots in which two people talk or street scenes in which static monster tendrils are strung about. This is, of course, not something to complain about - “the cheap one” is a thing Doctor Who has always had to grapple with. Sure, it ends up being the downside to the decision to drop the first two episodes together, in that you don’t really want your cheap holding pattern episode to come on your second week, but that’s a pretty minor complaint. And on the bright side, Class is intelligent enough to burn off “people are mysteriously visited in the night by their dead relatives” as the cheap midseason episode, which is more than can be said for Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or, the most obvious comparison, Torchwood.
On top of that, “Nightvisiting” has what can increasingly just be described as Class’s usual instinct to avoid genre defaults in favor of more interesting routes. For one thing, at no point are any of the main characters particularly tempted by the Lankin, so that at no point does the drama hinge on the fact that the audience knows genre tropes and the characters don’t. Particularly satisfying, after two episodes focusing pretty hard on his trauma, is Ram’s reaction to Rachel showing up at his window, which is basically to go “nope” and run like hell. But Tanya’s consistent and intelligent interrogation of the situation and eventual self-rescue is good stuff as well.
There are certainly some ways in which the script is sloppy. The idea that Tanya’s family constitutes the biggest reserve of grief in London on the two year anniversary of Tanya’s father’s death is… sloppy, though wisely buried in the denouement when things are happening quickly enough that you don’t notice. On the other hand, the sequestering of Charlie and Matteusz in the bedroom, lampshaded explicitly by Ms. Quill when they finally make it down to involve themselves in the plot, is hard to treat as anything other than a particularly clumsy bit of storytelling that serves to keep Matteusz at an odd remove from the main characters, dropping out of the story for an episode and then popping up having been thrown out of his house, as opposed to us getting to see him get thrown out. It’s odd, because there’s no obvious reason for him not to be given roughly the same weight that Tanya, Ram, April, and Charlie get, and yet he very clearly isn’t. It’s also a bit puzzling to do this as your third episode, such that your ghosts are all characters we’ve never seen before, which ends up being somewhat underwhelming. Tanya’s father is at least well-set up by the previous episode and the intro montage, but Mrs. Quill’s sister is an utterly damp squib.
But for everything that’s clumsy there are bits that are deft and intelligent. The obvious thing to talk about is April and Ram’s conversation, in which April gives something like a full account of herself (at once re-expositing and expanding on her previous description of her mother’s accident) followed by some charmingly ill-advised (and against the run of tropes, which would have had Ram and Tanya hooking up) smooching. It’s not some extraordinary piece of television, but it’s a good character bit, and let’s face it, the dodgy bits aren’t searingly awful either.
So at the end of the day we have a very standard setup for a show like this that’s played close to textbook, but with enough differences to seem thoughtful and not rote. It’s not extraordinary, and is probably (spoilers) the weakest episode of Class so far, but if this is the show on an off-day, well, we’re on pretty good ground. I’ve remarked before that a spin-off tends to both be not as good and not as bad as the original, and certainly this comes nowhere near to Under the Lake/Before the Flood in its inanities and gaps of logic. (It goes without saying that we’ve not come anywhere close to Kill the Moon or Hell Bent in brilliance.) For a show that’s obviously grappling with the need to do a very cheap episode while also still figuring out what it wants to be, “not bad and occasionally pretty good” is a result that’s hard to complain about.