Deadly Class is an ’80s-set drama about a bunch of high school misfits. How did it take them until episode four to do a Breakfast Club homage?
Of course, riffing on The Breakfast Club is a TV trope in itself — a mantle taken up previously by shows like Dawson’s Creek and Cougar Town and Community. There’s a reason TV shows keep returning to it. The Breakfast Club is a movie, but it’s also an ideal format for a bottle episode. A bunch of characters, stuck in a single room, are forced to hash out their conflicts, because there’s nowhere else to go and nothing else to do.
So it’s promising when this episode of Deadly Class begins by introducing a detention group that includes Marcus, his crush Saya, and his enemy Chico — as well as Petra and Viktor, who have beef following the prank he pulled her on in last week’s episode. (The detention group also includes a shaggy-haired glorified extra named Jaden, who popped up for a line or two in the past couple episodes.)
In theory, a school for sociopaths and killers should be the perfect place to push the tension and claustrophobia of The Breakfast Club to the next level. But having established the basic tenets of a Breakfast Club riff, Deadly Class promptly blows it up. It starts with Petra, who suggests the gang work together break out of the detention hall. Their target? A sealed room in which every item confiscated from King’s Dominion students is kept. After Marcus picks a couple of locks, the whole gang wanders into a stronghold filled with snacks and booze and swords and Pop Rocks and some American Gladiators sticks and one very cool dirt bike.
This is one of those Deadly Class episodes that lets the teenagers act like teenagers, so all the normal enmities are pushed aside so everybody can goof off for a while. Even Saya lets down her hair a little, jumping the dirt bike over a makeshift spike pit.
But as always on this series, death isn’t that far away. As teased at the end of last week’s episode, Saya is being tracked by two members of the Kuroki Syndicate. These guys have already invaded the school, and they’ll kill anybody who gets between them and Saya. And when the Breakfast Club of Deadly Class consists of Marcus, Saya, Chico, Petra, Viktor, and Some Guy Named Jaden, will it shock you to learn that Some Guy Named Jaden is the one who ends up getting killed?
R.I.P., Jaden. We hardly knew ye. (I mean it — we really hardly knew ye.) But if Deadly Class saves its deadliest fate for the redshirt, it’s still a pretty tense episode for the rest of the gang. Petra and Viktor both get slashed in the escape. Still, everybody except Jaden makes it to the relative safety of the detention hall. As the Kuroki gangsters attempt to break in, Chico embraces his “every man for himself” approach to life by finding a secret exit and locking it behind him.
The Kuroki guys manage to capture Saya, but Marcus tails them to a diner full of corpses. Master Lin is close behind, and after a pretty good fight sequence, Marcus and Saya manage to kill one of the masked Kuroki killers, who turns out to be Saya’s cousin.
This is a particularly traumatic revelation for Saya, who doubtlessly has a bunch more family bloodshed in her future. But she’s also a teen, which means she’s resilient enough to drown her sorrows by slugging back some whiskey and holding hands with Marcus on the roof of King’s Dominion.
All’s well that ends well? When Marcus gets back downstairs, his buddy Billy is waiting for him. Billy is bruised and bloodied after an ill-fated trip home, where he was attacked by his abusive father, Gene. As it turns out, Gene is also the reason Billy ended up in Kings Dominion in the first place. When Gene racked up a $1 million gambling debt with the mob, he offered an unusual payment: his son’s service as an assassin for life.
But Billy — concerned for the safety of his mother and little brother — has finally had enough. He’s ready to go to Las Vegas to kill his father, and he wants Marcus to join him. And that means Deadly Class is poised to cross off yet another teen-movie staple: road trip!
• This week’s animated flashback sequence is a conversation between Petra and Viktor when they’re both convinced they’re about to die. Petra reveals that her WASP-y parents were drawn into some kind of Satanic death cult, hosting wild orgies while neglecting to buy food. Digging in the fridge, she finally found a jar containing her dead mother’s eyes — cut from her head — which her father insisted she stare into. So yeah, hard to fault Petra for the grumpy goth thing.
• The first scene of the episode revisits Shandy, the metalhead played by Brian Posehn, as he continues to party (and does a passable Risky Business homage) in the trashed Shabnam residence. Later, it’s revealed that Shandy has been taken hostage by Marcus’s burn-scarred, bestiality-loving nemesis, who has stripped him down and made him act like a dog.
• In another barely-there subplot, Maria gets Willie to make her a fake passport, which she plans to use to escape Chico while he’s in detention. Her plan is thwarted when she breaks out early, but she manages to stash the passport away for a rainy day.
• This week’s big ’80s cut is “In Between Days” by the Cure, from The Head on the Door. Chico reveals it was his dead brother’s favorite album.
• More comic-book homages: Marcus and Saya speak at the relative speeds of Superman and The Flash, and Willie reads an issue of the cult series Grimjack.
• There’s also a spirited discussion about how much of RoboCop is robot/man. (Per the poster, for what it’s worth: Part Man, Part Machine, All Cop.)
• In the midst of the episode, Marcus finds a moment to mansplain the basics tenets of Buddhism like … well, like a smug freshman in a high school might.