The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo is the second episode of Class; opinion seems to be somewhat mixed on it, but for me it continues the trend of strong speculative story-telling that marked the first episode out.
In some ways, the episode feels like it’s replying to its older and more famous cousin Doctor Who, and the light it sheds on the earlier show is not kindly. Particularly, The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo deals with the trauma Doctor Who so often ignores: Ram is struggling to deal with the events of the first episode, including but not limited to his girlfriend’s death at the hands of the Shadow Kin and his prosthetic leg. In the first episode, these were things set up to be ignored: girlfriend Rachel got about thirty seconds of screen time, total, and of course the prosthetic leg is just a way of waving a magic wand and making everything better. So it’s refreshing that Class takes some time to pause, and gaze at the cracks of traditional SF television. What would it be like for a real person, not a badass action hero, to see such things as the Doctor sees every day?
And this is rather nicely woven together with the Monster of the Week plot, which sees Ram’s scary football coach mixed up with the antics of a murderous dragon from beyond the space-time rip. For Ram, football is a form of control; the fact that he’s struggling to play football because of his new prosthetic is bound up with Coach Dawson’s bullying tactics and increasing inability to control the dragons he’s made a pact with, in a rather satisfying exploration of trauma which unites emotional realism with a more Whovian science-fictional exuberance.
As you can probably tell, Class is already very much my favourite of the two shows. I actually cried in this episode (the first time round), which is more than I’ve ever done for Doctor Who. Class has roots: it’s giving itself time to establish its characters and think about their relationships. Doctor Who doesn’t even really invest in the relationship between the Doctor and his companion. I’ve still got one Class review outstanding, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to this week’s instalment.