Class Review: Episode 2 – ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo’

Episode Two of Class, ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo,’ is more than skin deep.

Coach Dawson in ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo’ (credit: BBC)

*** This review contains spoilers. ***

Click here to read our review of the first episode of Class, ‘For Tonight We Might Die.’

Premiering on the same day as the pilot, the second episode, ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo,’ keeps the motor of good quality running. While on the surface an average “freak of the week” story, upon closer inspection, it serves a deeper purpose aside from illustrating the truth of the Doctor’s warning in the previous episode. ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo’ delivers on the promise of an examination of how people deal with extreme circumstances after the Doctor leaves.

As the students and staff settle back into “normal” life after the incident with the Shadow Kin, our heroes have more on their minds than most. Ram, in particular, is suffering a great deal, primarily from PTSD and grief regarding his witnessing of the murder of his girlfriend, Rachel. He emotionally closes himself off from the world, with Tanya — whose father died almost two years prior — being the only person showing true understanding of what he is going through. The lack of empathy from other people, despite their own trauma, is a truthful representation of how different people deal with such things in different ways.

Ram is also struggling with the lack of agility that his new leg is causing both on and off the football field. Unfortunately, he is not given any downtime to cope with his issues, as Coach Dawson will prove to be trouble in more than one way. At first, it seems that he is only an unsympathetic jerk set on winning, but we quickly learn that there is something far darker and stranger going on — the source: a dragon tattoo. Unlike the tattoo in ‘Face the Raven,’ however, this one is sentient, can move, and manipulates its host to do its ravenous bidding.

Right after Ram finds Assistant Coach Carroll’s skinned, dead body in the locker room, it mysteriously disappears, without any trace that he can see. Adding to this Dawson’s lie about Carroll quitting, Ram starts to doubt his own sanity. After Ram actually witnesses one of the school’s cleaners being killed by a dragon, he confides in Dawson that there are “weird things about.” To this, the coach responds by questioning the boy’s sobriety. On top of everything, Ram is now being gaslighted by an authority figure whom he trusts and respects.

The Inspector and Miss Quill in ‘The Coach with the Dragon Tattoo’ (credit: BBC)

Meanwhile, Miss Quill is dealing with a mysterious education inspector going by the name of Paul Smith, of whom she is highly suspicious. There is a cute scene between Quill and Charlie in which she breaks down her observations and sleuthing of the man, Sherlock style.

Sadly, the genial Mr. Armitage — the only character originally from Doctor Who besides the Doctor to appear on Class so far — is killed by a dragon who comes through a space-time crack in the headteacher’s office. This is witnessed by Charlie, April, and Tanya. Somehow, Dawson is able to clean up virtually all of the mess before the students can show Quill. The camera pans to a close-up of a bloody knight on the chess board. In an earlier scene, she is shown pocketing another piece from the board, seemingly to use as a weapon. Would the arn allow her to use it in that manner?

Quill misinterprets the inspector’s interest as being romantic. When the dragon later destroys him, she learns that he is a robot. Still, she has no idea why he has been observing her. To her exasperation, nobody seems to care when she tells them. At the end of the episode, she finds an engraving on one of his parts which reveals that he is the property of “The Governors.” Could this have anything to do with the governors that Armitage mentioned earlier in the episode? It is likely.

Ram eventually puts the pieces together in his head after seeing the tattoo moving on Dawson’s arm. What he does not immediately realize, however, is that the kills have been a combination of both those Dawson and by the mate of the dragon trapped on his body. Once Ram learns the scope of the situation, he relates it to his own and uses diplomacy to convince the male dragon to take the coach’s skin to salvage the female. Afterward, our heroes discuss the ethics of this solution and whether or not they will continue to use such tactics going forward.

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