Think back to your time in high school for a minute. For some, like myself, it seems like a lifetime ago. It’s hard to think back to a time when you were so young, fragile… maybe more impressionable. For others, that time could be now as you read the words of a man who is almost twenty years removed from what you’re experiencing. Well, that’s not entirely true. My high school is different from your high school with social media and the evolution of the internet. But at the end of the day there is one experience that we share that is common within the social structure of all high schools. There was always a clear division between the “popular” kids and the “unpopular” kids. A division that often “defined” you as a person whether you had the choice or not. Things are no different at King’s Dominion. Sure, a school that specializes in training kid assassins is an automatically different high school experience from you or me, but the blueprints are the same. Either you’re popular or unpopular… a Legacy or a Rat. Of course there are subdivisions within the social structure. You can be a jock, valley girl, nerd, or goth but at the end of the day you’re still popular or unpopular. A Legacy or a Rat.
There’s one thing that can make the unfair social system of high school even remotely bearable… friends. This isn’t a review to explain to you the importance of friendship, that would be preachy and boring, but Deadly Class’s third episode, “Snake Pit” is an episode about the importance of friendship and raging against the social hierarchy that dictates where you fall within the hallways of your school. Whether it’s built for assassins or not.
One of my favorite aspects of Deadly Class thus far is that underneath all the punk rock, grime, katana blades, tattoos, and incredible soundtrack is a story with a lot of heart. All those things are window dressing, something Marcus would clearly shred in his notebook of despair, in the same way that King’s Dominion is window dressing to something darker. As a fan of the comic, it’s important for you to know that what Jurgen (Henry Rollins) discusses with Marcus is crazy important. There are layers being spoken there but it’s our first real chip in Master Lin’s armor. That maybe this school isn’t what it says it is if one of its longest-tenured teachers wants out because he believes the school is too wrapped up in the social structure of the Legacies. A conviction that he holds strong enough that he understands it forfeits his life. But it’s his friendship with Lin that allows him to live. Lin, by all means, should have killed Jurgen, a plot point that will probably resurface later this season, but allows him to live because of their history.
The Rats don’t have it easy at King’s Dominion, especially during “haze week” where the Legacies go out of their way to be bags of D’s. Any group of people who find it alright to serve another group of students rats for lunch…. are not okay. The problem is the Rats gravitate to other Rats and the Legacies gravitate to other Legacies and round and round things go until nothing changes. Until the school values the concept of a Legacy student more because of what they bring to the school opposed to how they can change the world.
What happens when a Rat tries to befriend a Legacy though? In the case of Marcus and Willie, there’s a lot of pretending. Friends behind closed doors. Any time Marcus attempts to speak to Willie within the hallways of the school he is quickly dismissed as a Rat. A person not worthy of time, and that time of friendship takes a toll on a person. Especially when that person is as volatile as Marcus. Luckily, by the episode’s end, Willie is willing to put his rep and standing aside to stick up for Marcus when things escalate, again, with Chico. What does this mean for Willie going forward? It probably puts his social standings on shaky ground, but I’m sure there are a group of Rats who are more than willing to adopt him as one of their own. The thing is, can Willie survive something like that? Not just reputation wise, but literal survival. His whole reputation is built on a lie that seems that it could quickly topple over if the right person knew where to push.
On the flipside of this, a Rat trying to fit in with a Legacy seems like it should be an abomination, but Petra seems to make some serious headway with her sort of relationship with Viktor. This is a standout episode for Taylor Hickson (Petra) who sheds off all the dark eyeliner and mesh clothing and shows us some real vulnerability. That underneath that middle finger exterior is a girl who wants to belong but is saddled by her classification as a Rat which Viktor and Brandy (deliciously played by Siobhan Williams) exploit. It’s clear that Petra is extremely guarded, you can see how quickly she runs from Billy’s declaration of love, so seeing Brandy and the rest of the Murder Cheer Squad pull a reverse Carrie (dressing the goth girl in a bright dress and make-up) and presenting her to the school is only reaffirming the reasons why Petra stays guarded in the first place. “Rat will always be Rat” seems like something Petra has been hearing her whole life. Although I wonder if she’s had people like Marcus, Billy, and Lex around to help stick up for her.
Within this social structure it’s interesting to see who falls where. The Saya and Maria relationship is especially interesting because you have two Legacies with very different thoughts of what their lives can be. You have Saya who wants to rule the world which seems like a very Legacy way of thinking opposed to Maria who would rather own a nice home and start a family. A pipe dream saved for normal people it seems. The relationship between the two is touching as it really always Lana Condor to stretch her legs as Saya a bit and start to mold this character who has been lurking in the shadows since episode one.
Shab is another character who is considered a Legacy but treated as a Rat. A student who thinks buying friendship is the same as earning it and doesn’t seem to mind how disingenuous the bond is. Money is power and his standing within King’s Dominion is something to keep an eye on. It’ll be important to see if money or loyalty holds more ground.
At the end of the day, these characters need each other. Petra needed Marcus, Lex, and Billy to take a stand against the Legacy kids. Willie needs Marcus so he can be real with someone. Maria needs Saya to maintain her sanity, and Saya needs Maria to feel like she belongs somewhere. King’s Dominion is a dark and brutal place, and friendship seems to be the one light that could help everyone survive their studies.
Some other quick thoughts before I leave you-
- Seriously, everything Henry Rollins says is important.
- Who knew that French Stewart could be so punk rock? I want to punch his character in the throat though.
- I loved how this episode explored the classroom a bit more. Blow darts. Stealth attacks. Poisons… Murder Hogwarts classes are insane!
- I enjoy how the show has changed the appearance of Master Lin. Benedict Wong has been incredible in the role and adds a new layer to this character. Buuuuut, you’re going to try and poison the poisons teacher? Come on…
- Loved seeing the Rats get back at the Legacy kids using the Yellow Mellow poison from the start of the episode. Nice to give the ragamuffins a solid victory.
- Billy and Petra dancing to “Lady In Red”… my heart. It hurts.
- These animated flashbacks are awesome. Molded after Wes Craig’s incredible art, we get our first look at F**kFace and Marcus in the orphanage. Notice how a certain someone’s face isn’t burnt off. Also, what is Marcus holding there?
- Has anyone actually beat Kid Icarus?
- Saya isn’t buying any of Chico’s crap as he tries to drive a wedge between Maria and herself. Now that Chico has her marked for death which I’m sure will go swimmingly. This is a girl who brings her sword to a house party. Chico’s boy doesn’t stand a chance.
There you have it Geeklings, another episode of Deadly Class is in the books as we start to get a better look of the structure of the school. Will the Rats feel any blowback from poisoning the Legacy kids at the dance? What are your thoughts on Petra? What’s going to happen to Henry Rollins? Sound off in the comments. If you’d like to talk more Deadly Class, yes please, you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. I’ll see everyone back here next week. Until then, here’s to the future disrupters of America.