The year is 1987, or at least the year is 1987 in SyFy’s new original series: Deadly Class. The show is based on the comic book of the same name by Rick Remender and Wesley Craig about a school full of assassins, destined to kill bankers, CEOs and world leaders. This show has another link to comics too, the Russo Brothers (directors of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame) are the executive producers.
Note: I’m not going to talk about how well the show has adapted the comic, as I wanted to watch the show with an open mind before reading the original material. I’ll do that in a future article, so watch out for that!
We open on our main character, Marcus, who explains that he’s homeless after burning down the orphan boys’ home that he lived in. Twelve bodies were found in the wreckage after the fire, some of them children. That makes Marcus one of the most wanted people in the city. He lives under a bridge in a tent village with a load of other homeless people that is run by a bearded and long-haired thug called Rory who looks a little like Vigo Mortensen. Rory shakes Marcus down and when he finds no food or cash, takes the only photo Marcus has of him and his father.
Marcus then runs off in a rage, following a guy who drops a joint. Of course, he just picks up the joint off the street and starts to smoke it and things go predictably bad pretty much right away as the joint was laced with angel dust (a street name for PCP for those who weren’t around in the 80s). Marcus immediately begins tripping out, as a broken down TV starts talking to him as Ronald Reagan, then the former president comes out of the TV and chases Marcus towards a Day of the Dead parade. This effect is super cool, as is the way that the world looks through Marcus’ eyes.
He stumbles through the parade, unbeknownst to him surrounded by the rest of his future classmates at assassination school. During the parade, he’s made by the cops who give chase before they’re cut down by the assassin kids. He’s taken by them into the back room of a butcher shop where Benedict Wong as Master Lin tries to recruit him for the assassin school. In a surprise move, Marcus tells him where to shove it and leaves.
Marcus repeatedly tells us that Reagan defunding mental health facilities caused the release of loads of unstable people to the streets during this episode, and now we see why he’s so preoccupied with it in a very stylistic animated flashback. When he was a boy a mentally ill woman jumped to her death from a tower, landing on and killing his parents right in front of him. When this flashback ends Marcus is atop the same tower, intending to kill himself. He’s about to do it when one of the assassin kids, Saya (played by Lana Condor of All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jubilee from Fox’s X-Men movies) tries to talk him out of it. It looks like it isn’t going to work, but then she tells him he doesn’t have to be alone and kisses him.
After a brief motorcycle interlude, we’re back with Benedict Wong at the school, which we now find out is called King’s Dominion and was started by his great grandfather to train peasants to kill the privileged. Marcus signs up, then showers and changes into his uniform. He steps out into the corridor and is immediately blanked by Saya, called a racial slur by blonde bimbo Brandy and flirted with by Maria. Her boyfriend Chico immediately hates Marcus and is about to kill him before realizing he’s being watched by the headmaster, Benedict Wong. Chico then arranges to fight Marcus after school,
In his first class, Marcus’ homework is “kill somebody who deserves it”. More on this later. Next is martial arts and then poison class, with the latter taught by Henry Rollins. It’s a good cameo, and both scenes have some humor but no overall importance to the plot. They’re more about character and world building. After this, we’re introduced to the goths and weird kids, who hang out on the roof and call themselves the Rats. Marcus is immediately a part of their crew.
Later Marcus sees Maria with a black eye, which she tells him not to worry about. But as the “hero” of our show, he goes straight to Chico and sucker punches him, starting a short fight. Chico has his knife to Marcus’ throat when Marcus explains that his plan is to get Chico to kill him so he’ll get kicked out. Marcus has nothing to lose and Chico can see that, so he backs off and Marcus changes back into his homeless orphan outfit and leaves.
He’s followed by Willie, leader of the First World Order clique. Willie wants to partner up with Marcus and do the homework (see I said we’d get back to it) but Marcus wants nothing to do with King’s Dominion. Willie convinces him to get in the car, and they go together to kill Rory. He was the homeless bully who took Marcus’ family photo at the beginning of the episode. Willie pulls a gun on Rory but can’t do it, saying he’s a pacifist. A fight ensues and Marcus ends up brutally murdering Rory with a pipe. Willie and Marcus put his body in a dumpster and set fire to it. This particular scene has amazing music. A real standout even in a really well put together soundtrack.
They go back to the school and Marcus sees Maria without a black eye. She tells him she faked it and tells him she really likes him because he fought for her and not about her like Chico always does. She kisses him, but he pushes her away because he says his life is too complicated.
Finally, right before the credits Saya goes to visit Benedict Wong and asks him if “her assignment is complete” to which he says no.
Deadly Class is certainly a good concept, even if it is a little derivative of properties like X-Men, Harry Potter, and Umbrella Academy. Despite this, I had a lot of fun with the episode, and it was really well shot, acted and written. It certainly drew me in enough to pick up a copy of the first trade paperback of the comic and I’ll be watching the next few episodes to see if it continues to keep up this level of quality. The music is a real standout too, I looked up a few tracks to add them to my Spotify playlists!
All in all, I’d give it a solid 8/10. Room for improvement but still solid fun with an intriguing overarching story hinted at in the first episode.