This Deadly Class review contains spoilers.
Deadly Class Season 1 Episode 4
Deadly Class seems determined to call up every recognizable 80s movie setting in its first season, from the house party to the school dance and now The Breakfast Club clique-bonding in detention. But you know what? The strategy has actually worked for the most part, and “Mirror People” gives us a glimpse behind the facades many of the characters depend on to hide their vulnerabilities. The theme of family that pervades the emotional moments of this episode creates a nice sense of depth to a story that brings much needed humanity to a series that has already had its ups and downs.
Perhaps the other film references should receive a note of appreciation as well, although, to be honest, no one really wants to see Brian Posehn as Dwight Shandy duplicating the Risky Business Tom Cruise dance in his underwear. Sometimes it’s all about a skillfully natural conversational snippet, such as the discussion about what parts of Robocop are machine. But Dwight’s comedic takeover of Shabnam’s house was tempered effectively by the reminder at the end of the episode that Marcus’ scar-faced roommate from the boys’ home is still looking for him. That kind of balanced humor and horror works well with the manic-depressive mood of Deadly Class.
It also ties in nicely with Saya being hunted by people from her past as well. Although it’s not entirely clear why the Kuroki Syndicate wants her brought in, it’s enough for her to say she didn’t leave Tokyo on good terms. Normally the vague nature of the masked kidnappers would be frustrating, but the fact that Saya kills one of her captors who turns out to be a cousin fits in just right with the family drama that comes out about several other characters. Plus seeing Saya let her guard down during the fun in the confiscation room contrasted nicely with the pain of her unmasking of her victim.
It’s like Marcus tells her: “Humans need to suffer. It’s how we know we’re alive. All we are is a compilation of damages.” Some of Deadly Class’ philosophizing has come across as pretentious, but Marcus occasionally has moments like this that feel much more authentic. His ability to pick locks also endears him to his peers who are glad to escape the library, and even Chico seems to let down his hair with his enemy a bit. That is until the danger of their situation causes the lowlife to sacrifice the red-shirt Jaden and leave the others locked in with the Kuroki assassins.
Lin also has time for a moment of reflection when he realizes that Denke was right about him having become something he never wanted. He even sticks with the family theme when he tells the woman with the tiger tattoo, “Our families took the vow,” reminding us that he is more powerless than he sometimes appears. The mysterious woman seems to indicate that she escaped whatever forces are seeking Denke’s termination, but we’ll have to wait a bit for that reveal. Enticing nonetheless!
Praise is due for the excellent fight scenes this week as well. The guards in the diner that disguises King’s Dominion’s entrance may have been taken out too easily by the Kuroki Syndicate off-camera, but the different fighting styles of Marcus, Saya, and Lin were marvelous to behold in their distinct but graceful methods of preventing Saya’s capture. With the pain of remembering and admiring the cousin who humiliated Saya to make her better still fresh, the moment of intimacy between her and Marcus feels much more real and earned.
Similarly, there’s an inordinate amount of chemistry between Petra and Viktor considering the Russian recently betrayed the Rat and they’re both badly wounded. Petra’s story of her cult-master father putting her mom’s eyes in a jar was haunting in an episode that could easily have become overloaded with tragic stories from characters’ pasts. But when she looks in Viktor’s eyes and tells him, “One you see a soul leave, you no longer fear death,” it’s chillingly believable, as is Viktor’s tearful admission that he’s done terrible things, despite us not knowing exactly what those things are.
Amazingly, Deadly Class finds time to revisit Maria’s desire to escape Chico, this time bringing tough but kind-hearted Willie into the mix. As nice as it was that he agreed to get her a passport for her to escape her abusive relationship, it was the manner in which he delivered the package that really stood out. Putting it in the Grimjack comic was a great way for him to communicate his respect and offer of assistance in a subtle and unobtrusive way. The tenderness of the scene again contrasts poignantly with the appearance of Chico, preventing Maria from fulfilling her mission. Although she still has that passport…
So the idea of family will obviously be carrying forward into the next episode as well, as we see Billy visiting his home to help out his younger brother. His abusive corrupt cop father will clearly be a future target, and Billy’s tearful tale to Marcus about how he was enrolled at King’s Dominion to pay his father’s debts to the mob was a stellar bit of acting from Liam James. Hopefully, Deadly Class will carry this momentum forward and keep the more even rhythm exemplified by this episode, the best one yet this season.