This Deadly Class review contains spoilers.
Deadly Class Season 1 Episode 10
To use an appropriate Las Vegas metaphor, Deadly Class has chosen to go all in on a pair of jacks in its finale. It’s a good hand, but are Chester’s ironic demise and Master Lin’s tragic losses enough to clear the table with so many dangling possibilities that viewers may have wanted answers for to make it a full house? Add to that the tragic death of Lex, and fans are likely either railing at the injustice or awakening to the fact that the life or death stakes were real, a realization that even the students themselves seemed woefully unprepared for. Looking back at the season, it’s a wonder that Kings Dominion has a reputation at all beyond the skills of star pupil Saya.
Saya’s final assessment that her friends are “all ticks, draining me, pulling me down with you,” seems accurate in that regard if a little heartless, but where else can she go? Will she even be invested in rescuing Marcus and Maria from El Diablo at this point? Plus, it was seriously bothersome that Gran-gran and her pitchfork kept Saya of all people so occupied while downstairs Marcus and Lex got a couple of able-bodied cousins to chainsaw each other, but at least the recognizable scene from the comic was preserved, right down to the hulking white nationalist who ended up falling to dear Petra and a hail of mello-yellow darts. Yes, it was all an ambush, but Saya should have cleaned out more hillbillies on her own.
The action sequences were otherwise quite worthy of a climactic finale, including the admirable plan to storm Shabnam’s house with explosives masked by fireworks. But whereas we’re repeatedly reminded that this whole caper is designed to keep Maria and Marcus out of trouble, it’s this moment when Maria chooses to confront Saya with, “You fucked him, didn’t you?” Thankfully, her ingratitude was canceled out somewhat by the scenes between Billy and Petra in which the latter explains her presence at the battle by saying, “You’re the only people I like in the whole world.” Petra definitely comes through the season with the least flaws in her character out of all the students.
Even Master Lin, his wife having been killed last week, garners less sympathy than what those who lost Lex will share with the audience. Like Marcus and Madame Gao suggest, Lin has lost his way and in his aimlessness has allowed his students to pursue their own dangerous paths. It’s he who must pay the price of deceiving El Diablo even though Marcus and Maria were in untenable but far from blameless situations. His attempt to escape with Naya was realistically difficult, however, and the fact that Naya saves her father’s life at one point speaks well of her future at the Green Temple. In the end, we almost wish her the best as she follows her aunt’s path in serving the Guild despite Lin’s grief.
Meanwhile, Chester was able to get Marcus to admit on camera that he didn’t kill the kids at the orphanage, and the conversation they had about how society breeds monsters because it needs them was a typically eloquent philosophical discussion that has been the hallmark of Deadly Class. The fact that Marcus began his manipulation of Chester by insisting that “sadness is rage turned inwards,” says as much about Marcus himself as it does about his enemy. The surprising truth that Marcus was Chester’s only friend was an appropriate confession before Fuckface was torn apart by his own dogs. This resolution and the conscription of young Naya provided the bulk of the closure for Deadly Class’ first season.
But with the departure of Willie last week, the capture of Marcus and Maria, the storming off of Saya, and the unknown fate of Billy and Petra, it seems like the show has decided to end with everyone scattered to the winds. Does this perhaps leave Deadly Class with the opportunity to reinvent itself in season 2 should it be renewed? With El Diablo replacing Chester as the main antagonist, could we see a reckoning in store for Kings Dominion? And what of students like Viktor or Brandy and the still missing Jürgen Denke? Or Shabnam who seems surprisingly unaware of what’s become of his home and his parents?
Granted, many of these questions are minor and not necessarily in need of answers in a finale that found resolution in other ways, but the question becomes whether or not the excitement of the action sequences and the defeat of a major enemy is enough to offset the tragedy of the loss of Lex and Naya and the dangling threads that don’t really qualify as full-blown cliffhangers. We’ve all become invested in many of the characters in Deadly Class, and the finale mostly left us feeling windblown and out of sorts rather than itching to know what would happen next.
So all in all, Deadly Class was a fun ride in its opening season with plenty to distinguish it from other shows with secret schools and students with special abilities. Chief among its selling points were Wes Craig’s animated sequences and the skillful writing of truly profound dialogue befitting young philosophers of a certain age. The series had a wonderful mix of energetic punk sensibilities and college-age humor, complete with sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll and a side order of 80s pop culture and comics references. If the show returns for a second season, we’ll be back on track for the Great Exam right along with the students of Kings Dominion.
Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and voices much of our video content.