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‘Deadly Class’ recap and review: Episode 1, “Reagan Youth”

The show continues the trend of great comic book adapted television!

Until January 16th, the official premiere of Deadly Class, the pilot episode will be available on Syfy.com, Syfy On Demand, and the Syfy and USA apps commercial-free.

Image: Syfy

“I’ll give your rage a voice loud enough to be heard around the world.”

The pilot, “Reagan Youth,” introduces us to the full cast of characters and their life at King’s Dominion, a school training killers. Marcus Lopez Arguello (Benjamin Wadsworth), our main character, is an orphan who lives on the streets of San Francisco. The boy’s home he lived at burnt down, killing many people, a crime that the police think he did. Marcus is living off nothing, and he’s constantly in fear of being targeted by Rory, a homeless man that torments and murders others. 

The only thing pushing him forward is his dream of revenge, but even that is waning. Marcus’s parents were killed when he was younger by an insane woman who jumped off of a tower, landing on them. Because of a decision from Reagan to release a lot of mentally ill people to the streets, his parents are gone. Marcus blames their death on Ronald Reagan, and hopes to one day kill him for what he did. Turns out some people noticed this anger and need for vengeance, and soon Marcus is kidnapped and recruited by King’s Dominion, led by the charming Saya (Lana Condor).

Marcus meets his future classmates

He is introduced to Maria Esperanza Salazar (María Gabriela de Faría), Willie Lewis (Luke Tennie), Billy Bennett (Liam James), and Master Lin (Benedict Wong). Lin offers Marcus the chance to learn the “deadly arts” of killing at King’s Dominion, the secret school that he presides over. Just like the police, they think he is responsible for the deaths of the people at the boy’s home. Marcus has to decide whether he wants to stay or not.

Image: Allen Fraser/Syfy

At first he leaves, going back to the streets. But Master Lin doesn’t accept that. He instructs Saya to bring him back, and he won’t accept failure. In order to do this, Saya plays on Marcus’s need for affection and acceptance, kissing him. Thinking it’s real, it works, and Marcus becomes a student at King’s Dominion. He doesn’t seem to take the fact that he’s at a school for assassins seriously. He’s surrounded by gangs: Yakuza, Final World Order, Neo-Nazis, and more. Everyone around him is a threat. Saya ignores him, but he finds a friend in Billy, another outcast. Billy introduces Marcus to other students like them, who aren’t in any gang.

He accidentally makes an enemy on his first day

Maria is a part of the Sotos Vatos crew, led by Chico (Michel Duval), her boyfriend. At first, Maria approaches Marcus under the guise of inviting him to join, given that he’s Nicaraguan. Then Chico comes over and threatens Maria. While trying to defend her, Marcus starts a fight with Chico, who tells him to meet him after school to finish it. Soon Marcus realizes that his life is actually on the line, and the people around him are really killers. Desperate, Marcus goes to Saya for help. He admits to her that he didn’t really kill all those kids at the boy’s home. It was someone else. Saya’s advice: run. Marcus listens, intending to leave, but then he sees Maria with a bruise on her face, and that fuels his anger enough that he decides to face Chico. Marcus punches him, but soon Chico’s got a knife to his throat. Thankfully, he is saved by Master Lin’s interruption, but that’ll only hold Chico off for so long.

After, Marcus leaves like he was going to, back on the streets. Then Willie appears, asking for help with their class assignment. Master Lin told them to find someone in the city deserving of death, and kill them. Believing the rumors about him, Willie thinks killing will be easy for Marcus. He agrees to help, bringing him to Rory, but Willie can’t pull the trigger. Rory sees them and starts chasing after Willie. Luckily, they split up, and Marcus appears behind Rory with a pipe and hits him in the head. Marcus hits him again, killing him and completing their assignment. It’s a strangely bonding experience, and Marcus goes back with Willie.

Marcus starts thinking maybe King’s Dominion can help him

Back at the school, Maria comes to talk. Turns out, the black eye was fake. She tricked him to fight with Chico, hoping Marcus would kill him. Maria wants to be free from Chico, but she tells Marcus that her flirting wasn’t fake. She kisses him. Although he kisses her back, Marcus tells her he has enough problems already. Instead of pushing it, Maria invites him to a school party that night. In his office, Master Lin has a meeting with Saya. She asks if her assignment is over. Giving her a picture of Marcus, he says, “Not yet.” At the party, everyone’s on the roof. Finally feeling like he might fit in, Marcus talks to some friends and flirts with Maria, until Saya appears, drawing all his attention.

Image: Syfy

Questions for the rest of the season:

-What is the assignment Master Lin gave Saya?

-Will Marcus be able to fight Chico and the Sotos Vatos?

-What really happened the night Marcus left the boy’s home?

Deadly Class is a worthy adaptation of the acclaimed graphic novel

The first episode successfully sets up the premise fully, without feeling rushed or messy. Set in the 80s, there’s a distinct style to the show. There’s a major punk feel, and music is a huge element, featuring songs like Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.” The colors are bright and high contrast, in line with the sharp style of graphic novels. In the scene showing Marcus’s parents’ death, it even shifts into animation, showing the scene as it looked in the comics. The show is based around teenage drama, especially the relationships between the main group, but there are very real, dark stakes. With an abundance of action, style, and a diverse and well-developed core group of characters, we have high hopes for Deadly Class season one. 

Watch the full season on Syfy, starting January 16!

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Devon Forward

Devon is an artist, writer, and current student of film/television development. She loves anything science fiction or fantasy, and her favorite show is Charmed, which kick-started her obsession with powerful yet imperfect female characters. You can usually find her somewhere analyzing a tv show or reading a good book. On Twitter @dev4wrd

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