This Deadly Class review contains spoilers.
Deadly Class Season 1 Episode 2
Anyone who read our spoiler-free review for Deadly Class may have wondered why it received a higher score than the more critical review of the premiere, but hopefully watching “Noise, Noise, Noise,” which was included in the earlier, broader opinion of the show, cleared up that discrepancy. Pilots can be a tricky business, and this show introduced us to a host of caricatures in its warped schoolhouse drama last week. But now the second episode wonders aloud along with Marcus what the point of all the posturing is, and the journey he undertakes is much more enlightening this time around.
Even the small amount of characterization for minor characters like Professor Denke, who admires Marcus’ lofty goal of taking down the president because of own experience with friends who have died of AIDS and his obvious penchant for government conspiracies, adds to the richer broth this episode is brewing. Marcus has a better context for asserting that, “Hating what’s wrong is easy. I’m gonna do something about it.” We’re starting to see, as Denke notes, that the student body sees Marcus’ potential and will try to destroy him because of it.
The beautiful dramatic irony of this episode lies in the fact that Marcus thinks he feels no remorse after killing Rory, but his waking nightmares of the homeless ruffian skillfully illustrate that the opposite is true. The really powerful message that comes from Marcus’ response to Willie taking credit for the murder isn’t that he cares that Willie is lying or that he wants the rep himself; it’s that Willie is making light of an act that Marcus is deeply impacted by, despite his insistence that he feels nothing.
Likewise, the fact that Willie’s story of accidentally killing his father persuades Marcus to cut him some slack proves that the new Rat feels more sympathy for his fellow students than they do for each other. That’s what makes it so surprising when Master Lin takes Marcus to Rory’s funeral. Who among us didn’t think that Marcus would seek forgiveness for having exacted vengeance once he was faced with a grieving daughter at the graveside? But as Lin recognizes, it’s not the justification for the killing that’s worrying Marcus; it’s that he does not consider himself worthy to be the instrument of punishment. Lin knows that this “noise” is “just something you think you’re supposed to say.”
Weaving this strong thematic message in an episode that also deals with the social dynamics of a house party couldn’t have been easy for Deadly Class to accomplish. The distaste Marcus has for bullies is a great counterpoint to Lex’s need to insult everyone he encounters including his friends, reinforcing the emerging picture of Marcus as a worthy arbiter of justice. Amidst the fun of naked Russians and aging potheads, there’s also the realistically awkward encounter between Billy and Petra, which immediately has the audience rooting for misfit love to blossom amongst all the chaos.
And don’t forget the AP Black Arts make-up assignment. It was a bit odd that everyone conveniently forgot that Willie would have had a lab partner for the killing test everyone else failed to complete, but Marcus’ participation in the poison gas trial was obviously instrumental in highlighting his intellectual prowess with the fish riddle. The puzzle itself, though, wasn’t nearly as interesting as what it revealed about the students participating. Not only was the cooperation necessary to defeat the staff-wielding ninjas unfamiliar to most of the group; the mercy that Maria showed in administering the antidote to Chico gave us a sense of her morality as well.
Of course, she’s probably regretting that choice. Chico’s private dinner was initially framed as a manipulative arrangement that kept Maria from the party, but it became much more than that. The drama that built moment by moment as we realized that Chico knew about Maria’s attempt to pit Marcus against him was as creepy and menacing as it could possibly get, especially given how lighthearted and carefree Maria was with Saya earlier in the episode. Chico’s obsessive infatuation will no doubt be a point of contention in future episodes if not the whole season, and Marcus is bound to get pulled into it.
Ending the episode with Marcus being paired with Shabnam as a roommate plants a big question mark at the end of a pleasantly complex episode. What will be the fallout of Marcus’ short-sightedness in being kind to Shab and then allowing his home to be destroyed in what was supposed to be a small gathering of nerds playing Commodore 64 and drinking amaretto? Whatever comes of this, “Noise, Noise, Noise” will stand as the set-up for all of it. Deadly Class should be applauded for cramming so much important development into its second episode, and it gives us faith that more great storytelling is yet to come.
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.