The self-contained episodes of Deadly Class appear to be their best. A house party, a trip to Vegas, a lockdown at the school. When the structure doesn’t allow for too much meandering or over-written monologues by Marcus, the show focuses in a way that allows its strengths to surface. Such was the case with “The Clampdown,” a nice bounceback after last week’s disappointing episode. I called last week transitional, and, well, this was the payoff. It wasn’t perfect, but the structure and the writing made it work.
The set-up for “The Clampdown” is undeniably appealing. The deaths of Chico and Yukio – both at the hands of Maria – have pushed Kings Dominion to the edge of a gang war. With Saya and Maria about to kill each other to protect their sides of the school, Lin calls for a lockdown, pushing each of the students into separate rooms until he can solve the murders. The Scoobs are mostly divided and we end up with four trios. Let’s look at them one at a time.
Each of the four rooms has what could be called a third wheel, and the extra appendage here is Brandy, forced to try to decipher what Juan and Maria are saying to each other. If she had studied harder in Spanish class, she would have known that they’re talking about the fact that Saya is going to kill Maria as vengeance for Yukio’s death, and Juan thinks it would be wise for Maria to get first blood.
Willie, Marcus, and Viktor are thrown into a room that probably smells like raging testosterone in about two minutes flat. Viktor finds Shabnam’s spank material and Willie talks about the date he won’t get to go on, but Marcus remains focused on getting a message to Saya. Willie gets one of his best scenes to date when he yells at Marcus for being a narcissist. He’s not wrong.
Shabnam is the third wheel in a room with Saya and Riku, who get to discuss what to do about their dead friend Yukio. Saya promises that she will deal with it, but Riku wants blood.
The best room belongs to Petra, Lex, and Billy– a trio that finally gets to work out their love triangle with a potential threesome. Petra offers to have sex with both punk bros at the same time, but they can’t negotiate their sexuality enough to go through with it for most of the episode, and the lockdown ends just as they’re about to do so. Anyone else think it would have been more interesting to this growing love triangle if they had actually been allowed to go through with it?
On the Outside
Two key events lead to the end of the lockdown. First, Marcus tries to get to Saya, but is caught by Lin, who ties him to a chair and basically tortures him for information. He beats him and forces him to watch old home videos of his parents, ending in footage of their dead bodies. The Clockwork Orange treatment works, and Marcus spills his guts. Maria killed Chico. Lin then figures out that Maria killed Yukio to cover up the first murder. Lin covers for his favorite pupils by telling this story to Chico’s evil pop. Yukio killed Chico; Yukio is dead. There’s no need for further bloodshed.
Meanwhile, Master Gao lets everyone out to get some grub, probably knowing that tensions would boil over. Saya and Maria get into a knife fight, and Maria ends up tied to a chair in a room that looks a lot like the one Marcus was just tortured in (they must have a bunch of these rooms with dripping water and overhead lighting in Kings Dominion). Riku comes into exact vengeance but Saya stops her. They seem to find some temporary peace, but Saya and Maria are not exactly BFFs.
Finally, the Scoobs are reunited on the roof, and Marcus realizes that the stakes are too deadly at Kings Dominion for secrets. He reveals that he’s not the murderer everyone thinks he is and that a villain named Fuckface is the real sociopath. And now Fuckface, who knows they killed Chico, is coming for all of them. His final line is ominous: “We’re already out of time.”
- It’s interesting to see Shabnam is an informer for Gao here as he was a mole for Lin in the source material from early in the introduction of his character.
- Lex’s back story was a nice touch. He’s seemed like a secondary character so far, but his tale of a father who took the fall for him means we can expect him to get more screen time going forward. Secondary characters don’t get back stories.
- Some cool music cues this week, including “Transmission” by Joy Division, “Lips Like Sugar” by Echo & the Bunnymen, and “Well I Wonder” by The Smiths.
- One thing that’s been nice to see about the first season of Deadly Class is how well they’ve navigated the episodic structure. Each episode could have just been an issue or two of the book, but they’ve split it up in such a way that each chapter feels like it stands alone instead of just flowing from one to the next.
- Anyone surprised that the kids play Monopoly? Yes, it was pretty popular in the ‘80s, but wouldn’t you expect assassins to play something a little more thrilling?