Class: The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did
(1 episode, s01e07, 2016)
Meanwhile, not in detention…
Miss Quill locks the students in detention and then goes to see Ms. Ames in the school hall. The goal is to remove the arn, but Dorothea Ames warns Quill that the process may kill her. Quill replies with her best “give me liberty or give me death,” and they begin as a man named Ballon arrives. They are miniaturized and transported inside a mysterious device that Ames pulls from her satchel.
In a moment, the trio materializes inside an alien forest. Ames tells Quill to remember her earliest childhood memory while Ballon goes hunting. Ballon returns with a dead animal that he claims is an arn, lured by the bait of Quill’s memories. Extracts from the young arn corpse will help extract the creature from Quill’s head.
Ames adjusts the device again, explaining that it is a metaphysical engine capable of transferring individuals into a thought or belief. In this case, the forest is the idea of heaven for the arn. The trio warps out again as Ames explains that the Governors study the tears in spacetime at Coal Hill. She also reveals that Ballon is a Lorr shapeshifter (who posed as a Zygon before being frozen in one form and apprehended for murder) and Quill’s surgeon. They arrive in the Lorr version of hell and encounter the Lorr devil, from which they must extract blood to free his hands. Ballon overcomes his fear and completes his task with Quill’s help.
The next step in the fetch quest is finding the brain of a Quill so that Ballon can learn anatomy. They travel to Quill heaven – which Miss Quill says shouldn’t exist – to witness the Quill goddess’s birth. Once they find it, Miss Quill attacks the goddess in fury over her people’s genocide. Before the goddess can speak to Quill, Ballon decapitates it to rid Miss Quill of her fear.
The arn begins to pain Miss Quill, indicating that she believes that the surgery will work. The trio returns to Coal Hill and Ballon completes the surgery, having bonded with Quill over their shared sense of exile. The surgery results in an extreme disfigurement to Quill’s face, Ballon uses the flesh of the Lorr devil to heal her, leaving a scar behind. Quill sees this as a mark of honor for a soldier, then celebrates victory by having sex with Ballon.
When the couple rouses from their recreation, they explore the school in search of Ames. They eventually find her standing in a vast desert and she tells them that Coal Hill was an illusion. They are actually standing in the Cabinet of Souls and she is a hologram being projected from the outside world. The Governors only left enough energy for one of them to return to Earth and Ames suggests a fight to the death after giving Quill her trademark gun and Ballon the news of his niece – the only other living member of his species – living on Earth.
Oh, and time flows differently inside the Cabinet, so the time to decide is now.
They decide to fight and Ballon overcomes Quill before taking up the gun. Quill demands that he shoot her with honor, but Ames has left one last surprise: The gun is coded to shoot the person holding it. In the end, Quill buries Ballon’s body in the sand and gazes upon the souls of the Rhodians as they materialize around her. She tells them that she wishes that they were dead.
Quill returns to the real Coal Hill and discovers that several months have passed for her despite being gone for only 45 minutes in real-time. She tells her students about the arn and collapses, revealing that she is now several months pregnant.
It’s a shame that this much mythology comes so late in the game for Class, particularly since the concepts of the Governors and the afterlives visited in the metaphysical engine are so rich. I’m intrigued by the Quill and Rhodian people from before the show, and equally intrigued by the relationship between UNIT and the Governors. Sadly, with one hour left in the series, I feel that we’ll get none of it.
One fun thing was studying the metaphysical engine’s interior. It is obviously a redress of the Twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS console room with greeble-covered partitions to make the scenes more claustrophobic. In fact, the whole production seemed to be right out of the classic Doctor Who alien planet playbook. It’s easier to save money that way.
Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”
UP NEXT – Class: The Lost
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