“So tired from the climb, I can’t enjoy the view.”
When you’re on the hunt for a serial killer and there’s no Dexter or Mindhunters around, where do you go? Well, when you have one sitting right in your school’s basement, why not take advantage of the amenity?
Now that Marcus knows that Chester’s out there and has the 411 on what went down in Vegas (Chico’s murder and his body)he and the gang have to track Chester down to prevent the latter from spilling the beans. With Maria dangling on the edge of a breakdown, Marcus taps Saya to help him deal with Chester. If it hasn’t been obvious before now, the fact that Marcus puts his trust in the sword-wielding Yakuza-born Saya says quite about of what he thinks about her. Not only does Marcus explicitly state that he trusts her, he doubles down on that by offering her a peak into his journal and what really happened at the Boy’s Home. Once again framed with an animated narrative, Marcus’s break from the abominable orphanage may have been violent but the ensuing brutality exercised by Chester went far beyond what Marcus had even thought of.
Keeping the focus on Chester for a minute, one of the issues I’ve had with this character is the over-the-top glee that hasn’t really offered anything captivating about him as an antagonist. Yes, he’s psychotic with a penchant for animals and a drive to be on Donahue. It’s not until during a bathtub confession to Chico’s head where Chester showcases the first spark of emotional depth. It’s difficult to feel any sort of empathy for a mass murderer but, at least for a moment, Tom Stevens does that when his character thinks back to the cruelties of his father. Add to that his feelings of loss when the Boy’s Home—the only place he felt safe—was destroyed, one can’t help but feel the deep-seated pain masked by Chester’s unpredictable, violent, and cruel ways. Not only does it show Stevens’ has the acting chops to make more of this character, but why dialing back on his character’s overly exaggerated hick exuberance would actually make for a more captivating Chester.
It seems that Chester’s not the only serial killer whose screen time comes across as too much. French Stewart is just as guilty with his Scorpio Slasher. And yet, despite Stewart’s less-than-consistent performance, there’s something—dare I say?—endearing about his psychotic character. There are moments here and there where his charm shows out; whether it be holding a knife to Saya’s neck after taking offense to her name-calling or his efficient disembowelment of Chester’s cousin, even the sometimes wooden delivery by Stewart doesn’t take away from the Slasher’s potential. Part of what makes him work is that, unlike Chester, the Scorpio Slasher has been given to us in much smaller doses and, even still, he offers more moments of interest than Chester with four times the screen time.
One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Deadly Class has been its inconsistency. Every episode, while having moments of brilliance—Marcus’s narrative, the use of animation to play out character history, the connection between Marcus and Saya, Benedict Wong’s as Master Lin—too often the direction comes across as spastic. Whether it be performances that are purposefully caricatures of reality or the sometimes choppy editing, what gets lost is the massive potential for this to be a great genre show. Still, even with its faults, it has been an entertaining ride. On its own, “Rise Above” doesn’t do too much for the narrative arc of characters. In a way, it comes across like a filler episode introducing new conflicts but not doing that great a job expanding on the current ones. Save for Gao discovering her brother’s secret, there’s nothing truly memorable about it. In truth, “Rise Above” is a microcosm of what’s affected the series thus far but to a greater degree. All the pieces are there; they’re just not quite being put together in the right way.
- Willie was used sparsely this time around though it looks like his relationship with Gabrielle is moving along quite well. His connection to Gabrielle and her stance that Willie can put this life he doesn’t want aside, will no doubt be a point of contention for him, the FWO, and his mother that runs it all very soon.
- After being in the spotlight in the last episode, Maria’s on the periphery this time around, though she has her own issues. Namely, El Diablo, who makes his first appearance, looking for answers on his son’s disappearance. His presences forces Maria’s hand and she eventually kills Yukio, the student responsible for the Kuroki’s gaining entrance into King’s Dominion a few weeks back. Her actions here will cause a cascade of problems for her and the rest of the crew.
- The duel of wills between Lin and Gao continues. Worse still for Lin is that Gao knows he lied about his family’s fate. This will inevitably force Lin’s hand and he’ll have to decide on giving Nahia to the Guild (it is, after all, a family tradition) or silencing his sister in the most absolute of ways.