“Inflicting your pain on other people doesn’t help fix you.”
Chaos, violence, and blood.
If there are any three words to better describe “Sink with California”, the Deadly Class season one finale, I don’t know what they’d be. And while those three words hint at the wonderful possibilities a full-on hour of mayhem, there also lies danger. Poor or uninteresting choreography, subpar dialogue, and lacking a truly emotional payoff is a reminder that, while chaos may be a ladder, it’s damn easy to fall off and break some vital bits.
As last week trailed off, we were left with only two real stories: Lin’s flight from a murderous El Diablo and Marcus and the gang’s confrontation with Team Chester. If there is one good thing about “Sink with California”, it’s that it goes all-in with the insanity and turmoil of both plot lines.
Starting off with Lin, his retreat through the city with Nahia is fast-paced and manic, as a man fleeing for his daughter’s life would be. Though it feels somewhat incomplete, there is a satisfying arc to this chase. Knowing there is only so far he can run, the tired and injured Lin uses cunning and violence in his rabid imperative to protect his daughter but even those defending family aren’t without limits. Lin’s meets his own at the end when, finally making it back to the school, he finds Gao waiting for him. He can do nothing as his sister cruelly takes Nahia, promising Lin that his daughter will be taken to the Temple and partake in the great exam, a fate Lin had hoped to spare Nahia from experiencing. He can only watch—powerless—as his daughter is dragged away, to a potential fate that will kill the sweet child she is and transform her into something more akin to Gao.
Though Lin’s run through the city is a vital piece to the narrative, everything ultimately comes down to the confrontation between Marcus and Chester. Along the way is a bevy of violence and deaths (thanks to the hillbilly ‘redshirts’) at the hands of the Vegas crew. Lex, Billy, Petra, Maria, and Saya all have their moments though the latter two have the second most important clash in the entire episode. It’s not just that Maria would have let her best friend die because Saya slept with Marcus, but the resolution Saya achieves after both fighting against and with her former friend. “You people,” she says,” you’re all ticks…draining me. Pulling me down with you.” Her decision to leave not only Maria but Marcus behind despite the outcome of this assault still up in the air scratches any questions of loyalty or bonds from the ledger. If Saya’s willing to let fate decide what happens to her friends, even if she believes them to be dragging her down, what does that say for her own code of honor? But she will find no safety back at the Dominion because, after losing his daughter, Lin will have but a single focus for his rage: the woman he had left to protect his wife and daughter, the same one that has abandoned those depending on her twice in the same night.
As important as the above two plot strands are to a follow-up season, it appears that the Marcus/Chester arc has come to a close. During a rather over-the-top confession, Chester confesses that the happiest moments of his life were with Marcus as his roommate and “first friend”. Considering the terror he put Marcus through at that time, it’s a testament to just how far off Chester is from the confines of reality. Like Maria, he is a human black hole, taking from others in relief of his own pain, unable (or unwilling) to tap into the empathy needed to see his effect on the lives of others. In all the huzzah of Chester’s talk show presentation, Marcus seems to have come to terms with his own similar issues. No longer is he blaming others for the chaos infecting his life, recognizing that even in pain, you’re still responsible for your actions. Neither Chester nor Maria has reached that point of self-realization and both end up facing a painful yet incomplete end. While Chester is mauled by one of his pet dogs, Maria comes face-to-face with her greatest fear: El Diablo. And with Marcus holding Chico’s head, there doesn’t seem to be a way for this fractured pair to escape the devil’s wrath.
- Up until the last few minutes, what should have been a hoot of mayhem and violent fun was…well, boring. The fights were not captivating, the dialogue pedantic and, for large swaths, it seemed as if there were zero attempts at any sort of emotional payoff. But man, those last ten minutes were—despite Chester’s ridiculous talk show segment—pretty strong. The questions created as we theorize on the fate of our characters turn a very bad episode into something that’s, at the very least, decent. It may sound a bit harsh but the potential this episode had to be a rockin’ finale was somewhat squandered, albeit saved by the open-ended questions remaining.
- So, are Chester and Lex both dead? With the former being torn apart by a very pissed off dog and the later shot in the chest, neither situation is resolved. Though I love Lex, his character was not used to the fullest this season and axing him from the cast would be a waste. For Chester, his arc has been completed and bringing him back in a main antagonist capacity would hamper the show from moving on to more compelling villain arcs.
- It was never a question to me that Maria would figure out the Marcus/Saya thing but still, Saya abandoning the team as the battle raged was the biggest surprise for me. What that means for her relationship with Marcus remains to be seen but those two cannot be separated for long; their chemistry has always been the best part of the show. Losing that would handcuff the Deadly Class dynamic…though, to be fair, both will have plenty to worry about when (if) season two picks up.