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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Tom Marshall
    November 28, 2016 @ 10:06 am

    Wow, really going against the grain on this one. General consensus is that it was far and away the best.

    And no, not just because it had monsters and alien planets in.


  2. Chris C
    November 28, 2016 @ 11:36 am

    There was one major plot development, specifically that she’s preggers now. With a Hybrid, even.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      November 28, 2016 @ 2:24 pm

      Oh, yes, rewatching it I see that they did that.

      OK, well that’s another mishandled aspect of the episode given how utterly easy to miss that is. (I blame the shitty M.I.A. musical cue.)


      • Tom Marshall
        November 28, 2016 @ 3:12 pm

        No offence Phil, but it’s not THAT easy to miss. My Twitter feed was full of people freaking out about it.


        • Lambda
          November 28, 2016 @ 3:16 pm

          That’s not particularly strong evidence, if 50% of the audience miss a detail, then it’s easy to miss, but the other 50% will still be capable of filling up a Twitter feed.


          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            November 28, 2016 @ 4:21 pm

            More to the point, I think its ease-of-missing can be established fairly objectively. It’s a purely visual reveal (inherently easier to miss) that occurs alongside another attention-grabbing event (Quill’s collapse) and coincides with a big, jarring musical cue. So you’ve got three things competing for the viewer’s attention in a couple of seconds of episode, and nothing that subsequently “checks” the reveal by reasserting it.

            That’s easy to miss. I’m not denying that some – perhaps even most – people got it. It’s still a fucking clumsy reveal.

          • Max Curtis
            November 30, 2016 @ 9:31 am

            Late to the party, but I’d also add that it fails to establish why this reveal matters for this character in this show. It’s certainly not a narrative collapse. Quill with a baby doesn’t fundamentally upend how the show functions, or how the character sees herself. It feels like the trappings of soap opera without the drama that makes it matter.

          • Harlequin
            December 1, 2016 @ 5:50 pm

            Very few cliffhangers are narrative collapses πŸ™‚

            As for drama, for one thing we now have the prospect of Quill being eaten by her child if it’s born (although that danger might not exist if it is half-Law).

        • John G. Wood
          November 28, 2016 @ 5:44 pm

          As a point of reference, I was in a room with four other people watching it, and precisely one person missed it. So, a 20% miss rate here. On the other hand, I was that 20%, and by the end of a 45 minute episode my concentration is always flagging as it becomes harder to override my body telling me it’s time to go lie down.


          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            November 28, 2016 @ 5:48 pm

            A 20% miss rate is also massive for what’s supposed to be your cliffhanger.

          • John G. Wood
            November 28, 2016 @ 8:55 pm

            Oh, absolutely – but then, five people is perhaps a slightly small sample size for making meaningful observations (something I almost added to my comment above). Even 5%, though, would be too big, and the fact that two people contributing to this thread missed it is significant.

          • Jim
            November 30, 2016 @ 5:25 pm

            I missed it too. I noticed a few people mentioning it on Gallifrey Base, but I assumed it was just speculation.

          • Daru
            December 6, 2016 @ 11:00 am

            I missed it too, I had not idea it had happened until I came here!

  3. Luca
    November 28, 2016 @ 1:36 pm

    Honestly, it’s been a while but I don’t remember Torchwood’s Season 2 ever getting this bad.


    • Harlequin
      December 1, 2016 @ 5:58 pm

      I liked both this episode and Torchwood Season 2 πŸ˜›


  4. John G. Wood
    November 28, 2016 @ 6:00 pm

    While acknowledging all the flaws Phil brings up, I liked it. This was basically the equivalent of a Baker & Martin script, but more up the Claws of Axos end, where the production team handled the flurry of ideas well even if they were rather thrown at the screen – I really liked the alienified version of the forest from Merlin at the start as well as the Quill nest.

    I don’t particularly mind that it starts and ends at the same point as last week (disregarding the blink-and-you-miss-it pregnancy moment). I do mind that the whole business with Ballon went nowhere. Yes, there was no question that Quill was going to survive, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have found a way round the whole “only one may live” bit. At least they waited until the end to kill off the black guy. My heart also sank a bit seeing the shadowkin in the trailer, but what can you do?

    My rankings:
    1. Detained
    2. Nightvisiting
    3. The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did
    4. The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo
    5. Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart/Brave-Ish Heart
    6. For Tonight We Might Die


    • dm
      November 29, 2016 @ 12:24 am

      “This was basically the equivalent of a Baker & Martin script, but more up the Claws of Axos end, where the production team handled the flurry of ideas well even if they were rather thrown at the screen”

      Nothing written about this show has made me keen to watch beyond episode three, but this just might. Sometimes I’d rather being barraged with concepts explored superficially, than focusing on one concept explored superficially.


      • dm
        November 29, 2016 @ 12:59 am

        Also comparing it to Keys of Marinus is always going to pique my interest- there’s some real fun in watching a bunch of great ideas get mostly wasted (The Velvet Web, case in point)


    • The Flan in the High Castle
      November 29, 2016 @ 11:09 am

      I suspect Ness may have modelled this one, at least in part, on Heaven Sent – both penultimate episodes where unknown forces isolate the hero for an arbitrary sequence of gruelling tasks, with a twist that they’ve spent far longer there than they thought, then setting up the finale by sending them crashing back into the previous episode’s climactic moments. There were also some directorial parallels – the same flashy, avant-garde, non-literal camerawork, and even a similar palette.

      In places, though, it slipped into Five Doctors territory, especially with all that teleporting about. The sudden killing of the Quill god rivals the Doctor’s bathetic reunion with Susan in terms of sheer wasted dramatic potential.


    • Riggio
      November 30, 2016 @ 10:49 am

      Clearly in the Baker-Martin model of Doctor Who, most definitely. It’s part of a long tradition the show has of just throwing as much batshit crazy at the screen for the sake of partying in the spectacle.

      I found there was an even freakier thing going on in the episode, though – Quill was basically taking over as the protagonist of Class. It was more than the sense of when the Daleks or the Master would do this on Doctor Who, because those situations are always a crisis, when a villain takes over the production of the show. But because this episode is the first time we’re literally seeing Quill in her traditional mode as a freedom fighter – fighting for her own freedom from servitude to the Rhodian monarchy, just as she did as a guerrilla leader – she also takes the ethical high ground from the under-25 cast.

      More details here, piggybacking as usual.

      One thing regarding Phil’s note on the use of songs from 2010 in the show. When I looked up the ages of all the cast members, I discovered that the teenagers are all being played by people in their mid-20s. Only Vivian Oparah is an actual teenager, and she’s a 19 year old playing 14. So songs from 2010 are literally from when the cast themselves were in high school.


  5. Trey Lane
    November 29, 2016 @ 1:31 am

    I am much more tolerant of torrents of great ideas that don’t necessarily pay off, but this was my favorite episode of the season, albeit for definite junkfood/Torchwood type reasons.


  6. kevin merchant
    November 29, 2016 @ 7:22 am

    I wish they put subtitles on these. The music drowns out the dialogue half the time


    • Tom Marshall
      November 29, 2016 @ 10:07 am

      There’s subtitles on BBC iPlayer?


      • Harlequin
        December 1, 2016 @ 5:58 pm

        Yes. The letter S in the white box between the video position/length and the full screen button to the right of the control bar.


        • Tom Marshall
          December 2, 2016 @ 5:29 pm

          Sorry, my post was supposed to be a statement not a question!


  7. Anton B
    November 29, 2016 @ 10:20 am

    I’m really running out of reasons why I’m still watching this. All expectations of it improving or having any interesting story to tell having been dashed it’s just become car-crash TV for me. So, what’s left? What’s keeping me tuned in?

    1. Quill’s extraordinary face, though her tendency to deliver every line as a snark and allow her mouth to do that half open/half sneer thing is getting wearing. Also her unfortunate hair style which might be all the rage on the Quill Nest but screams 1980s pop backing singer to me.
    2. Coal Hill school. My inner fan boy demands references. Wither Ian and Barbara?

    3. The possibility that Capaldi might turn up and just destroy the lot of em.

    4. The excruciatingly bad dialogue which has ascended to ‘so bad it’s good’ level for me. Particularly every character’s tendency to finish the other person’s over-complicated statement for them. Something like this –

    “You couldn’t possibly understand what it means to feel…”

    “Abandoned in a dark dimension with the shared heart of a demonically generic monster I think I do! Anyway I’ve just worked out the macguffin it’s…”

    “A dimensionally transcendental wave portal tuned to the vibrational frequency of the thoughts of EVERY ONE OF US! Of course! That’s it! We just need to…”

    “Wait here until another plot inconsistency turns up. Did anyone bring Chekov’s gun?”


  8. Janine
    November 29, 2016 @ 2:48 pm

    Well, isn’t that interesting? Because I loved this one. It was everything the series so far hasn’t been, but also everything it’s building towards. It settled my concerns about Quill (that Ness was working up to a horrific hero/villain dichotomy between Charlie and Quill), focused more on the ‘showing’ than the ‘telling’ (which isn’t always a good thing, but Ness is AWFUL at telling – no nuance at all), and got rid of the young leads for an episode, which is good because I feel nothing for them at all.

    Sure, it didn’t advance the plot, but it added to it. It was almost like stepping out of the story, watching it from the outside before stepping back in again for the finale. Which some might have found jarring, but I really loved.

    And I guess I just found it a really sweet story about belief. Not that I’m a believer myself, but I really respect what Ness said about the power of belief. It’s an obvious thing, in 2016, that our beliefs have a power over the world- but still, worth saying..

    Not looking forward to the finale. They’re probably going to kill off a character who shouldn’t be killed, it’s overloaded with characters, Charlie looks to be taking the lead, and the f—ing Shadow Kin are back. HOW did Ness think making them the Big Bad would be a remotely interesting or logical thing to do?

    1. The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did
    2. Nightvisiting
    3. Brave-Ish Heart
    4. Detained
    5. For Tonight We Might Die
    6. The Co-Owner of a Lonely Heart
    7. The Coach With The Dragon Tattoo


    • Chris
      November 30, 2016 @ 1:57 am

      The Shadow Kin exist to fill the ‘Obligatory Series Big Bad’ hole, rather than the other way around. Their lack of any distinguishing features is because they’re the vague space around which Ness hung all the things he was actually interested in doing.


      • ViolentBeetle
        November 30, 2016 @ 11:37 am

        He could have used something that he actually cared to do as the uniting theme. Especially having 8 episodes.


    • Jim
      November 30, 2016 @ 5:21 pm

      “Not that I’m a believer myself, but I really respect what Ness said about the power of belief.”

      As someone who is a believer, and knows a bit about other religions, the whole episode came across as written by someone who doesn’t really understand religion (either my own or other people’s). I guess this might not be apparent to someone not in my position.


      • Tom Marshall
        November 30, 2016 @ 9:21 pm

        (Anecdotal) evidence I know, but a Catholic friend of mine said she thought it perfectly summed up what she thinks about belief – which I suppose is the point: these things are often so personal that you’re never going to encompass everyone’s view.


  9. Daibhid C
    November 29, 2016 @ 10:56 pm

    One of those things I quite liked, but couldn’t meaningfully disagree with any of the criticism of. Although I thought the idea of the Metaphysical Engine being a pseudo-TARDIS was appropriate – or, as I prefer to think of it, a TARDIS is a limited form of Metaphysical Engine.

    Oh, and it turns out that the answer to my question “How are they going to handle having an actress in a wheelchair playing an able-bodied character?” is looking set to be “By not having her appear at all after the big standing up scene.” Which is, um…


    • Tom Marshall
      November 30, 2016 @ 10:22 am

      Well, she couldn’t very well have been in Ep 6 (all in one room, just the kids at school) or Ep 7 (Quill’s backstory and quest).

      So as you’d expect she is in fact turning up in Ep 8.


      • Daibhid C
        December 1, 2016 @ 1:31 pm

        Yeah, so maybe don’t have a big character development for a secondary character immediately followed by a bottle episode and a solo adventure? Maybe structure the series so you can actually follow through on it?

        But I’m sure there’ll be plenty of room to explore her story in the finale; that episode doesn’t look crowded at all.


        • Tom Marshall
          December 3, 2016 @ 7:58 pm

          At the end of the day, you don’t structure your series around character development for the secondary characters, but around character development for the primary characters.

          In any case (Ep 8 spoilers!) it’s been reversed now, anyway, and she’s back to being as she was before April tried to cure her.


          • Daibhid C
            December 3, 2016 @ 9:23 pm

            Ha! He referred to the main characters of Class and character development in the same sentence!

            Part of the reason I find the waste of this storyline so irritating is because IMO, it’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to anyone in the entire series. And if Ness doesn’t think it’s worth doing anything with apart from hitting the reset button as fast as possible, maybe he shouldn’t have bothered in the first place.

  10. Jim
    November 30, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

    This is an excellent putting-into-words of why I can’t agree with the seeming consensus view that this is the best episode of the series – though I will disagree with you on two points, cos it wasn’t the worst either, and it was still better than most of Torchwood series 2.

    The Metaphysical Engine is a good enough idea to be the premise of an entire series – and I can’t think it would be a much better (and certainly more original) premise than the schoolchildren-fight-monsters + rift-in-time-and-space ideas they’ve gone with. I’m rather hoping now for a radically retooled approach in Series 2, where Quill and the kids get hold of the Metaphysical Engine and it becomes the main driver of the plot, but I won’t hold my breath.


    • Rodolfo Piskorski
      November 30, 2016 @ 11:28 pm

      The things with season 2 of Torchwood is that even if it was bad as a season, it still had some of the best episodes ever.


      • Daibhid C
        December 1, 2016 @ 1:34 pm

        Give Class time. Once we see Season 2, we may well be saying Season 1 had some of the best episodes…


  11. Rodolfo Piskorski
    November 30, 2016 @ 11:27 pm

    For me it has to be:
    1. For Tonight We Might Die
    2. Coach with a Dragon Tattoo
    3. Detained

    And the rest is just such shit that I can’t even bother to order them.
    Oh who am I kidding, of course the Heart ones were the worst.


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