This Deadly Class review contains spoilers.
Deadly Class Season 1 Episode 8
Although this week’s Deadly Class doesn’t meet the precise definition of a bottle episode, it served the same purpose. Unlike the Breakfast Club episode earlier this season which was more of a character study, this pause for reflection was an amping up of tension before the reckoning to come. While Petra and her punk companions provided a bit of comic relief, secrets were being dismantled left and right that will either bring people together in unified honesty or tear everyone apart through their feelings of betrayal. Either way, a battle is coming, and we are totally here for it.
The verdict has been out for awhile on the value of the teenage philosophical discussions in Deadly Class, especially in Marcus’ sometimes pretentious, often hypocritical voiceovers. But the more conversations these students have about, in this week’s case, Mad Max apocalypses made up of punks stuck living in a world they hate, the more it becomes clear that the writers remember having these exact discussions in high school. When Marcus poo-poos mainstream music, and Willie calls him a narcissist for not allowing anyone else to have an opinion, we all reflect on having dealt with a Marcus in our lives or having been a Marcus ourselves. This reflective dynamic has become a real hallmark of the series.
With the titular clampdown coming just as Maria is confessing to Marcus that she killed Yukio, a long fuse leading to a powder keg is skillfully lit. Because Gao gave Lin a final opportunity to solve the Chico and Yukio murders in order to keep the guild away from his daughter, the hammer descending at this exact moment felt perfectly logical despite being extremely inconvenient for the students, who were separated into random and in some cases volatile groups. Marcus rightly assumes that El Diablo won’t be content with her only taking out a Kuroki henchman, and his warning to Maria is just what she needed to hear before heading into confinement.
Of course, Maria scolding Juan for trying to eliminate Saya in the middle of the hallway makes sense, too. Yukio and Chico were killed off school grounds at least, and even poor Jaden wasn’t killed by another student. It’s good to see that Maria still has the presence of mind to make Juan believe that she’s calling for war while she writes a note to Marcus asking him to get Saya to agree to a truce, but the needle goes back and forth several times in dizzying fashion between friend and enemy for Maria and Saya in this episode. The cafeteria fight with toothbrush shiv and hairpin was convincing enough, but Saya’s rescue of Maria from her own Kuroki colleague reinforces how complicated this friendship really is.
The cafeteria break was no doubt just set-up for Madame Gao to find the real culprits, but her willingness to allow the students to solve the problem themselves seems at odds with her desire to bring order to the school. On the one hand, we see her encouraging Shabnam to spy on Marcus, and on the other, she seems to have recruited Brandy Lynn and Viktor to be her eyes and ears as well. She thinks she has found the “poison coursing through Kings” in Maria, but will she believe Viktor that Marcus is actually at the center of all the discord? Maria admitted to killing Yukio, but only because of his initial betrayal of Saya, so nothing about Chico was revealed… at least to Gao.
In fact, the key to this episode lies with Marcus telling his friends about Chester and the deadline he has set. He realizes that secrets were what got them all in this mess, and he won’t be able to defeat his old roommate alone anyway. But what’s interesting is that the disagreements weren’t entirely solved either between Maria and Saya or even between him and Willie, and despite the fact that Lin extracted a confession from Marcus about the Vegas misdeeds, he covers for the group with El Diablo, asking the crime boss to be content with Yukio’s death. It seems there’s still plenty of secrets and animosity to go around!
Which is what makes the fun between Petra, Billy, and Lex so enjoyable. Admittedly, the animated back story for Lex was a little out of place — evidently it was just his turn. We’re supposed to correlate his tendency to lash out at those around him with the bad influence of his unscrupulous brothers who caused their father to take the fall for their theft and murder, but it doesn’t exactly mesh. At least the disconnectedness fits well with the awkwardness of the proposed threesome, which Petra admirably seemed fully willing to go through with if the lockdown hadn’t ended. Interestingly, Petra toying with the boys gives her infinitely more charm than Maria and Saya combined.
So was this bottle episode of Deadly Class successful? We might be confused at times by the double-speak, the loyalty and betrayal, and the confessions lying alongside continuing secrets, but as long as it all leads to the inevitable confrontation, we’re okay with the contradictions. While at times we don’t know who to root for, episodes like this make us look forward to the showdown. With enemies at every door, the show might not even content itself with a resolution to Chester’s deadline, and the prospect of being surprised by duplicity from Madame Gao, the Guild, El Diablo, or even fellow students is what keeps viewers in a perpetual state of tension and anticipation.
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.