This Deadly Class review contains spoilers.
Deadly Class Season 1 Episode 3
After last week’s stellar episode of Deadly Class, one would think that the continued philosophical musings of “Snake Pit” would fit right in with the admirable character development for Marcus (and Lin somewhat) in the previous episode. Instead, this week’s episode was a writhing mass of pithy snippets worthy of the episode’s title, creating moments of insight among a series of scenes which, although they may introduce elements that will be explored in future episodes, go nowhere. There’s a sense that perhaps Deadly Class is taking itself too seriously too early.
The introduction of new teachers, though undeniably fun, is one such disconnected piece of the puzzle. As nice as it was to see Chris Heyerdahl (Van Helsing) and French Stewart (3rd Rock from the Sun) as instructors of cleverly titled classes like “Atypical Fighting Skills” and “Fundamentals of Psychopathy,” we didn’t really get much out of their scenes. Yes, Marcus came up with an innovative use for a telephone cord, and he stared down a restrained serial killer; but his ingenuity and hatred of bullies has already been established.
No doubt the professors will enjoy further development, as with Henry Rollins’ Jürgen Denke; after all, we’re still waiting on more from Miss De Luca (Erica Cerra of The 100) even after her blowdart instruction in this episode. But at least De Luca’s lesson as well as Denke’s poison lab were used later on at the dance when the Rats sought their revenge for the Legacy hazing. It’s amazing that Master Lin isn’t constantly breaking up fights despite the fact that they might be an essential part of the curriculum at King’s Dominion.
The dance and the hazing once again frame the narrative with a typically mundane teenage drama trope, specifically with the intent to subvert it as with last week’s house party. Petra’s initial refusal to entertain Viktor’s advances made as much sense as her eventual acquiescence to accompanying him to the dance. Everything from Petra’s forced makeover at the hands of the Dixie Mob to the slow dance in an empty hall between Petra and Billy was straight out of any number of 80’s movies which Deadly Class seeks to evoke. These moments could be seen as derivative, but instead they inspire nostalgia and an appreciation for the more violent take on high school drama.
Less effective is the tale of Maria and Saya, a friendship that feels forced in part due to some clunky dialogue. Although the impromptu robbing of the liquor store was fairly organic given the nature of their schooling, it was the only time their relationship seemed natural. Their philosophical conversation about the difference between being crazy and normal was particularly awkward as was the suddenness of Maria’s talk of the house with the books and niños running around. Is Chico telling the truth about Maria playing Saya with a story he’s heard many times before?
The interaction between Marcus and Willie makes much more sense, and it informs Marcus’ decision process during the course of the episode. Their camaraderie while playing video games is a thousand times more believable than the roommate banter between the girls. The fact that Willie must shun Marcus in the hallways should come as no surprise, but the fact that Marcus goes from picking his battles as advised by Denke to asserting, “There’s no point in having friends if you’re not going to stick up for them,” shows that Willie’s mistreatment has influenced Marcus’ choice of battles.
Not that Denke’s advice was bad; in fact, the poisons professor seems to be the only one that sees how the denigration of the Rats defeats the purpose of the school: to empower those who would bring down the corrupt. The bizarre scene that follows Denke’s resignation in which Lin must plead his friend’s case to a woman with slaves serving as fixtures and furniture hardly clarified matters. Despite the awesome fight scene between Denke and Lin, the Master’s powerlessness and eventual show of mercy only serve to confuse viewers as to who’s really in power.
Add this to the fact that there’s apparently now a hit out on Saya, and we have no follow-up to the scar-faced ex-roommate of Marcus at the boys’ home other than an animated sequence showing Marcus holding a bomb. On the one hand there’s mystery and suspense, and on the other there’s confusion and lack of cohesion with a fine line between the two. Deadly Class may be trying to juggle too many balls at once this early in the season, and all we can hope for is that the show will pull off the trick and bring everything into focus, sooner rather than later.
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.