Getting detention in high school is the equivalent of the bell lady from Game of Thrones announcing to the world how bad of a kid you were. “Shame, Shame, Shame, you’re a delinquent and now everyone knows it.” Speaking as a person who only got detention once in his life… in elementary school… I am all too familiar with this feeling of being ostracized by your peers and teachers (*cough*). Those are the feelings of a normal high school detention experience, detention within a high school made for assassins is much different. For starters, it can only add to your rep. If you were a badass before you are a bigger badass coming out. It does beg the question though, how bad do you have to be to get detention in a murder school?! Episode four of Deadly Class, “Mirror People”, attempts to answer that question as it picks up from the fallout of the failed school dance. Marcus, Saya, Petra, Viktor, Chico, and a random red shirt named Jaden are sentenced to a forty-eight hour Breakfast Club themed detention that quickly spirals into deep character exploration and the impact of family ties on the key students at King’s Dominion.
Deadly Class has not been shy about its homage to ‘80s movies and flipping those classic tropes on their head. Just look at what this episode does to Risky Business. It makes sense that the show would tackle the iconic nature of the Breakfast Club, with this being a show about high school students and all, and the nods to the classic movie are fun but don’t overshadow the depth of the episode. We have Saya playing with her hoodie, Master Lin barging in like a bull in a china shop, the famous running hallway slide, and even a character in a flannel shirt similar to Judd Nelson’s. Those are the nods but underneath the surface there’s a story of teenagers who have been corrupted by family events. Whether directly or indirectly, it seems that everyone in detention has some kind of family baggage that they carry with them. Hell, most of the students at King’s Dominion seem to have some intense family baggage, but more on that in a bit.
What makes “Mirror People” such a tremendous episode is its ability to help flesh out some of the ensemble cast members. Each character in detention is given a beat to shine as we learn more about them. Chico, our resident a-hole, adds some depth and possible sympathy when we learn his younger brother was killed at a young age and he holds on to his favorite The Cure album to remember him. Granted, he throws all that away by trying to sell out Saya and continuing to predatory date Maria, but there’s some progression to his character. Viktor, our biggest douche after last week’s “once a rat…” set up of Petra, seems vulnerable and human for a minute while he lays on the floor bleeding from a gut wound. It’s almost enough for us to maybe forgive him for his actions last week or at the very least see that maybe Viktor isn’t all that he makes himself out to be…
Petra is again given a lot of material to shine in this episode. Detention throws her in a leadership role and Petra is really in her element as she leads the other students to the Valhalla Storage Room of confiscated weapons. It’s not until Petra is hooked in the back by a blade that we begin to get a better understanding of our goth queen. Coming from a religious family that one day lost faith and turned to satanic sex orgies, as it often goes, takes its toll on a young Petra. Finding her mother’s severed eyes in the refrigerator while searching for food is a breaking point. Literally, as she breaks the jar and is forced by her father to stare into her mother’s eyes. This leads to a dark obsession of eye gazing from Petra that anyone who has read the comics knows has huge ramifications down the line. That whole scene, which included another outstanding Wes Craig inspired animated flashback, made my heart sink into my stomach as Taylor Hickson continues to steal the show with her portrayal of Petra. It’s clear that she understands the source material and has taken the ball and is running with it.
Although, the episode, on the whole, belongs to Saya, who up until this point, has been spending the majority of her time lurking in the shadows and occasionally stepping into the light. Last week’s episode, “Snake Pit” was our first real glimpse of Saya the person opposed to Saya the killing tool being used by Master Lin. Her friendship with Maria helped humanize Saya enough where we’re able to peg her exclamation of wanting to rule the world and party as somewhat hollow. There has to be more depth to Saya than just being a superficial party girl with a sword, and “Mirror People” shows us that there is indeed a person hiding underneath all those tattoos and katana wielding.
The recent hit on Saya brings her past crashing into the doors of King’s Dominion, and it seems that Master Lin’s school for the deadly arts is more than just a learning experience for her. In fact, it appears that Saya’s running from her family as she didn’t leave them on the best of terms. We don’t get a slew of answers but we do learn that Saya’s katana blade was her father’s and is the only thing of his she has left. Her pursuit to reclaim the sword, taken away at the start of the episode from Master Lin, is beyond personal and directly ties in with the masked men stalking the detention halls. These masked men, from the Kuroki Syndicate are not only Saya’s cousins, but here to take her back home. From the sound of things this could be considered a death sentence, and they nearly succeed if not for Master Lin and Marcus’s pan skills giving a big assist.
Lana Condor’s performance breathes new life into Saya, one of my favorite characters in the comic. With the last two episode’s Condor is able to maintain that air of mystery while also exploring the depths of Saya who is more than just a sword. Her reaction to killing her cousin, sheer heartbreak to immediate coldness, was breathtaking as we watch a character struggle to suppress what makes her human. Not everything can be kept buried as her rooftop drink with Marcus puts more cracks in the façade as the two share a quiet moment together. If you want you can find the romantic implications, I’m sure shippers will, but the finger touching represents two damaged people quietly acknowledging they can’t do everything alone. One of my favorite scenes of the night and a fine place to end an episode, but this is Deadly Class and nothing can end that neatly.
Marcus stops by Billy’s dorm before crashing to tell him about the craziness only to find Billy bloodied and bruised. Billy helps bring the family theme full circle as he explains to Marcus who and what his father is, and how he worries for his mother and kid brother. Liam James is stunning here and delivers such a raw and emotional performance to conclude an already stellar episode. Billy needs his father dead but can’t do it by himself. He views himself too weak but with a little help from his friends, and a road trip to Vegas then he might be able to finally put this demon to sleep… hopefully.
Some quick thoughts before I leave you-
- I loved the interaction between Maria and Willie this week. The interactions may have been brief but the character work was crazy impactful. We see a Maria desperate to escape her captive boyfriend even if it means giving up all that she loves, and a Willie who brings down the gangster façade to help a friend. I especially loved Willie asking Maria not to mention the indie comic, Willie has a rep to uphold.
- F-Face is back and he’s hot on the heels of Marcus. This guy is bad news, you can almost smell it on him, and the final shot of him with Brian Posehn is all types of haunting. One has to assume that F-Face gets the information he’s looking for from Shab’s parents. What does that mean for Marcus though?
- I found it interesting that Master Lin has an offsite girlfriend who just so happens to be a woman who used to work at King’s Dominion. It appears that Lin has a soft spot for people he cares about as this seems to be the second person he’s spared from killing. As a comic fan, it’s fun seeing this side of Lin who is more of an evil headmaster in the comic. Benedict Wong is fantastic.
- Speaking of fellow comic readers, there are tons of foreshadowing in this episode. There were a number of scenes that resonated hard knowing what’s to come. I love how this show is planting those seeds early.
- Is it me or does King’s Dominion need better security? Those two Kuroki soldiers sure made an easy time of dispensing of those monks.
- I can’t speak highly enough of the performances of Liam James, Taylor Hickson, and Lana Condor. Absolutely killed it… pun intended.
- Vegas baby! This is where I fell in love with the comic series and can’t wait to see it come to life next week. Prep yourself for the Acid King!
There you have it Geeklings, what did you think of this week’s Deadly Class? What do you make of Saya’s past? Is Chico the worst? Who has the worst back story thus far? Sound off in the comments or if you’d like to talk more Deadly Class you can find me on Twitter @iamgeek32. Next week we reach the half way point of the season (already?!) and it’s going to melt your face. Maybe not F-Face style but close. Get yourselves ready and I’ll see you future disrupters of America here next week with a brand new episode review!