“Humans need to suffer. It’s how we know we’re alive. All we really are is a compilation of damages.”
Who would have thought that detention could be such a deadly prospect?
Once again, King’s Dominion reminds us that, no matter how blasé things may start out, by the end of it, blood will invariably be spilled. In “Mirror People”, Marcus finds himself in detention with fellow classmates Saya, Petra, Chico, Viktor, and Jaden. Somewhat of a background character through the first few weeks, Jaden invariably becomes the sacrificial lamb, the redshirt whose purpose is to the threat the main characters face when detention time is interrupted by the Kuroki, assassins from the Yakuza tasked with taking Saya back to Japan.
But prior to the blood flowing, Master Lin rounds up the detentioners for what any sane person would define as cruel and unusual: a 48-hour punishment locked in the library with a single box of food (and no visible bathroom facilities) to last the entire weekend. It’s an appropriate punishment from Lin’s perspective as these students “committed the cardinal sin: [they] got caught”. It’s a stark reminder that King’s Dominion is a training ground for would-be assassins, offering them the knowledge on how to complete assignments and remain blameless in the aftermath.
The episode itself clings to the 80’s tenets and references bountiful in previous weeks. This begins during Shandy’s minor ‘Risky Business’ opening scene and really plays out when the detentioners channel their inner ‘Breakfast Club’, breaking out of the library in search of food only to discover what I call the Confiscation Room. In it, they find a distraction, whether by donning armor and fighting with foam combat sticks or Saya going Evil Knievel with a dirt bike and a ramp made of books. More surprising than the characters finding mischief may be Marcus and Chico getting along in a way one wouldn’t believe was possible. In fact, for much of the episode, Chico, while still being a dick, comes across a bit more likable.
Don’t worry Chico-haters, that particular discrepancy changes quickly when, after the Kuroki appear, Chico falls right back into the selfish/gotta look out for me attitude that makes him the perfect target for our disdain. On the one hand, it comes across as derivative—the bad guy using others for his own gain—but it also makes sense. There are enough characters present in Deadly Class that don’t necessarily follow conventions set out for them, that you need someone who checks all the boxes of being the consummate antagonist without any depths of compassion for others.
Probably the most important aspect of “Mirror People”, in addition to the fact that Saya ends up killing one of the Kuroki (her cousin, no less) and knowing her brother wants her back in Japan, is her expanded relationship with Marcus. Though previous episodes hinted at a possible love triangle involving Marcus, Saya, and Maria, it’s shaping up to be more about Marcus and Saya. Not only does Maria have her own chaos to deal with in trying to find a way to leave Chico (Willie helps by getting her a passport), but there is a natural chemistry between Saya and Marcus that feels much more genuine. Though Saya tries brushing off her attentions toward Marcus as nothing more than him being her pledge (where whatever happens to him comes back on her) it’s much more than that. And while no kisses are exchanged during their last scene on the rooftop, it’s become the most intimate moment of the week as they end up holding hands and one another’s gaze as if to acknowledge the beginnings of something special.
It’s a bond that, by season’s end, will most likely save them from the coming storm. And make no mistake, that storm is coming…for both of them.
- Considering the blood and action pieces throughout the episode, “Mirror People” was quite a personal journey. In addition to the Marcus/Saya dynamic mentioned above, there were several other instances of intimacy. The most surprising had to be Master Lin’s visit to his own secret lover. Not only does he showcase a vulnerability with her that we’ve never seen but, during their conversation about Jurgen (Lin accepts that his friend was correct in how he’s lost sight of their initial purpose) it comes out that, like Jurgen, she has left the Guild and has evaded them ever since. Her introduction is that nugget of foreshadowing that, sooner or later, Lin will have to make a choice between his core ideals and the Guild’s current direction.
- Another episode, another animated backstory. Worse that Marcus’s parents squished by a suicide jumper, Petra’s tale as she shares with Viktor as they both lay dying from the Kuroki attack, is horrible. Once good Christians, as she says, her parents eventually fall into a cult with a man that dubbed himself the New Messiah. This ‘Messiah’ led her parents to destruction as the neglect and orgies eventually led to her mother’s eyeballs in a glass jar. It’s a reality where one has to question how the hell Petra stayed sane. It gives us a different perspective on her attitude and makes Viktor’s betrayal in “Snake Pit” even more pronounced.
- Once again, Billy provides an emotional moment at the episode’s end. This time it’s his anger and frustration with his father’s abusive ways. More than that, after opening up to Marcus, he realizes that his mother and younger brother will not be able to survive his father’s wrath for too much longer and that forces him to make the decision: his father must die.