“A man gives his life to a thing. Years pass until inevitably, one day towards the end, he wonders if it was the right thing. But he’s already given so much to it. To quit would erase all his sacrifice.”
Relationships (and battle lines) continue to be sketched out as Marcus and his fellow rats grow closer, King’s Dominion loses an anchor on their faculty staff, and Willie and Master Lin make decisions that may have far reaching consequences, for both themselves and the Dominion’s culture.
For two weeks now, Deadly Class has been painting the narrative that, inside the walls of King’s Dominion, the class lines are vital to the foundations of the societal hierarchy within. It’s an iron truth, enforced by the Legacies and accepted by Billy, Lex, and Petra—the school’s Rats. Marcus doesn’t share those sentiments, in part due to his strong opinions on how closely these boundaries mimic the world as a whole. A world he strongly despises, most especially those aspects of America he identifies as a putrid refuse lacking the fundamental requirements he envisions in a society. In that regard, parts of “Snake Pit” offer Marcus the stage to define his ideals, both in his own words and, more importantly, his actions.
One of the major developments this week is that, after maintaining his badass persona for the prying eyes, Willie crosses over the invisible class lines when he saves Marcus from another beating at the hands of Chico (albeit during the Rats’ crashing the school dance and injecting several students with the hallucinogenic ‘Mellow Yellow’ toxin). That action itself didn’t confirm Willie’s decision to throw off his airs and publically flaunt his friendship with Marcus, but his later words on patriotism and how it doesn’t have to be defined as a love for one’s country, rather one’s community, is a profound idea that encapsulates the gentle giant’s own philosophy on life, community, and how “it’s about taking care of your people”. Sooner or later, Willie will have to face the scrutiny of the Legacy hierarchy and when that happens, we’ll get our answer on whether or not he’s ready to show King’s Dominion the man he is and the man he wishes to become.
Taking a step back from the student population, Jurgen Denke, Poison Arts teacher, makes his own landmark decision when, after conversations with Marcus, he admits that the principles that once drew him to King’s Dominion—the opportunity to train individuals to affect change in the world—has been lost, relegated to solidifying the status quo of those in power (see: Legacies). He wishes to walk away from the organization and his twenty-plus years of service, a decision that, as Master Lin (Jurgen’s close friend) reminds Jurgen that he “signed on for life”. It’s further proof that the Dominion is much like the world it fashions: you can enter into but only the sweet song of death can get you out. Lin’s conversation with a Guild member (amongst her human furniture) confirms this as she reminds Lin himself that their principles do not bend, not even for valued members of the Guild. Lin’s eventual decision to let Jurgen go will undoubtedly cause strife for him with the Guild questioning his commitment to the cause. Like Willie’s own path from the Dominion’s structure, Lin will eventually have to prove that he is still a part of the Guild’s vision and, in that, find himself in deeper or wholly cast out.
Finally, there is a side-by-side parallel with the relationship between Rats (Marcus, Lex, Billy, and Petra) and the besties Saya and Maria. Both have moments where one from the group threatens to break the dynamic. For the Rats, it’s Petra’s decision to attend the school dance with Viktor, only to be humiliated by Brandy Lynn and her crew (with an assist by Viktor). Her experience is a painful reminder that, no matter how much she wants to have a normal life, her classification will not allow that for her. Her fellow Rats rally around her, even taking revenge on the partiers, while also solidifying the fact that she will always have a place with them.
For Maria, it’s a similar reality. Confessing her own desires to have a normal life and family to Saya, her bond with the Yakuza Legacy is threatened by Chico, her craptastic boyfriend. Despite his cool and calm demeanor, Saya threatens the power he wields over Maria, thus he tries sabotaging it by casting doubt at the genuine nature of the girls’ relationship. Though it doesn’t appear to work—Saya reinforces the purpose of their night out together—there’s a chance those snake-like seeds may grow. Throw in the attraction both women have shown towards Marcus, and all bets are off.
- As if the 80s references in the first two episodes weren’t enough, “Snake Pit” piles on the pop culture mentions. They vary greatly: Drago, Chuck Norris, Drakkar Noir, “We Are The World”, Columbia House, Christie Brinkley. Hell, Lex even throws out a line from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (albeit originally from Moby Dick) in “from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee!” If Deadly Class is anything, it’s fun.
- And speaking of fun, I don’t think another actor on the show is having as much fun with his character as Jack Gillett is with Lex. Sure, he can be over the top, but he exudes such an infectious charisma that you can’t help but want more. In contrast, Liam James’ Billy can be over the top in a negative way but he shares the most genuine moment of the episode when, at the end, he comforts Petra, not with words, but with his thoughtfulness as they wordlessly dance to “Lady in Red”.
- Though we don’t get anything more than an animated past glimpse of Burned Face, Marcus’s former roommate, the show again sets up their inevitable reunion.
- That last stinger—a mystery student getting a contract to take Saya out—begs the question of just how safe the students at King’s Dominion are from their outside affiliations.