In this episode of Deadly Class, the gang pays homage to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by dropping a ton of acid, all while traveling to the city of sin to assassinate Billy’s abusive father. Similarly, romances are finally embraced, and story arcs wrap-up in rather bloody ways.
Now, the ‘Vegas’ storyline was always going to be the most intense episode of the series. If you listen to TheWorkprint podcast on itunes, in our first (and only) episode of ‘TV Talk’, I briefly talk about how difficult it would be to adapt this episode.
Between the blatant drug usage, cold-blooded murder, and death of a major character… I wasn’t sure how this episode could be adapted. At best, I figured it would be a three-episode arc, divided up to really weigh in the beats of the story and flesh out some of the comic scenes.
I was completely and utterly wrong.
The series does an incredibly faithful job adapting the comic – literally translating comic-to-screen, virtually scene-for-scene. I haven’t seen something this purist in adaptation since Zach Snyder’s Watchman.
A lot of this could be due to Rick Remender’s influence as showrunner. And though this made me tremendously happy seeing how faithful of an adaptation it was, this episode also left me feeling… disappointed.
You see, I thought it could have been better. There was just so much material in this arc that could’ve easily been spaced out through several episodes. Billy’s relationship with his dad, Saya and Maria’s best friendship, Marcus’ oddly reflective drug trip, and Willie… well, they could’ve given him the assistive friend role – and it would’ve been great for character development.
In the comic a lot happens during the Vegas arc, and many of the actions here have longstanding consequences for the series. Although it’s tremendously fun, it’s also incredibly fast. Something I wish the TV series had paced out better.
Yes, this episode is fun because it’s a bunch of teens doing drugs. But one of the qualms I had with both the comic and show, is that the acid-dropping diffuses responsibility for everyone… particularly Marcus and Maria.
What they do this episode weakens the characters decisions because a lot of the blame can be placed on drugs. Something which works well in the comics, as the timing is more relaxed, but when a major story arc and revelation are placed together scene-by-scene while placing your main characters under the influence? I don’t think that’s good decision making.
Simply put, drugs are forcing the narrative forward, not decision making.
Unlike in the comics, Marcus has now had four episodes to establish a voice. One that we’ve come to know yet are still sort of learning about in an ambiguous, drug induced way in this episode. We get in Marcus’ head, which is good, yet at the same time, nothing during his drug induced trip leads us to any real revelation – it’s like a message that almost got a point across but instead got lost in translation.
Atop that, we have had such a detailed Maria and Chico storyline that we’ve built up over the series that ends… rather abruptly. Especially, as we’re just getting to know Chico, his little brother storyline being mentioned in only the last episode.
To make matters worse, our gang is on this big impulsive drug trip. Where acting on desires highly outweighs logic. The episode is just so trippy, it’s almost… confusing. Marcus passively just arriving to these major events rather than actively doing something to act on them.
Some other issues:
- Disposing of Billy’s father seems unaddressed and highly unrealistic. While the story arc itself I think has a great payoff and excellent acting… they get away with it all too easily, especially given the level of mistakes that are made by everyone in this episode.
- Chico’s duel with Marcus, with him giving him a second chance to grab the gun and make a move, seemed oddly honorable and very out of character to me. Especially with how we’ve established him as a cold-hearted killer in the last few episodes.
- Willie’s moment at the end of the episode felt a little anti-climactic. Repeating the same exact conflict that has been built up several times since the beginning. Maybe if they showed a little more push that could’ve worked in the scene’s favor.
Things to Lookout for:
- There are a lot of great homages to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The people, the dialogue, even the road trip in the car. The entire first half felt like an homage to the movie.
- I don’t know about everyone else, but I actually do love this love triangle that slowly developed and felt so authentically sad for Saya – whom we’re starting to learn is just a girl who wants to have fun but can’t or else her daddy will assassinate her.
- Billy and his storyline are becoming the most heartfelt emotional beat in the series. His cries felt so real, and his conflicting feelings over the deed is much more emotionally weighted here rather than in the comics.
- Say goodbye to a fan favorite and hello to a more prominent antagonist.
Overall, I thought it was awesome that they were even able to adapt the storyline as faithful as they had. But I do think it should’ve been spaced out better.
Final Score: 8.9/10
‘Deadly Class’ Recap – “Saudade”
The episode opens on Marcus in a police station. He’s looking at officers with glazed eyes, mind incredibly phased out on drugs. He thinks the officer knows what he did. Suddenly, Master Lin arrives and Marcus looks down, noticing blood stains on his hands.
We cut back to earlier. On the late night road trip to Vegas, Saya drives a convertible with the gang, with Marcus sitting passenger side. He is a bit socially anxious, sharing his beliefs that human interaction is just a manipulation dance – popular kids being the best at it.
Defensive, Saya argues that she’s a well adjusted. Marcus questions, “Do well adjusted people go on drug-fueled road trips and use fake IDs to illegally gamble?”
Meanwhile, Billy, Maria, and Willie sit in the back. Willie asks Maria how she thinks Chico is going to react when he realizes she snuck away. Surely enough, Chico’s car stalks close behind Saya’s. We see in his case in hand that he is armed with guns and his signature knife.
In the daytime, the gang arrives at the Creepy Daniel’s Hideaway Bar, during a gathering of hippies. The gang is looking to score some drugs. The others are surprised Saya is joining them. She mentions that she’s with the yakuza, and so she’s actually rather seasoned in drug usage – much to their surprise.
Showing his competitive side, Marcus mentions he can handle scoring his own drugs. Though it seems like an obvious attempt at impressing the group – especially, Saya.
Marcus talks to Billy about whether they’re going through with murdering his father. Billy says that he must, otherwise, his brother will end up in King’s Dominion and his mother will end up dead. Willie is rather uncomfortable, as the location is filled with weird jugglers and freaks – crowds he’s not used to. The group also mentions a rumor in passing: That Saya has to graduate Valedictorian or else she’s literally dead.
Marcus purchases some acid from a Hippie. He offers some to Willie, but he’s not a fan of psychedelics. Atop of this, from all we’ve seen of Willie, he might actually be straight-edge as well (in the party episode, he was drinking fruit punch after all).
Meanwhile, Maria and Saya enthusiastically do cocaine in the bathroom together in a scene that’s taken almost panel-for-panel directly from the comics. It’s friendly, with a girls night out sort of vibe the two seem two have shared multiple times the past few episodes.
Marcus is not having any sort of experience with the drugs he bought. The girls get out of the bathroom very overexcited on cocaine to say the least. Maria pokes Marcus repeatedly in chest – mentioning that the two of them are going to have ‘fun’ – sexual implications heavily implied. Saya scolds Marcus for purchasing bunk drugs, basically calling him out as a newb. Defeated, Marcus walks away.
He then goes to the bar to buy liquor, but his fake ID fails. Back at the table, Saya scolds Marcus even further. A hippie approaches Marcus and tries to sell them Acid. The hippie gives them ten tabs and the gang tries them out. Willie partakes reluctantly, due to the actions of an over-enthused Saya, who forces one down his throat.
Marcus ends up doing 7 hits of acid believing it to be fake drugs as well… but he is very, very wrong.
Moments later, Marcus is hiding under the car complaining about digital mountains. Maria and Saya tell him he’s out of his mind. Willie mentions that they’ll be there a long time if they wait for the mountains to leave.
Maria and Saya stare at each other, also tripping balls. Maria goes back underneath the car to sweetly reassure Marcus that he’ll be okay: the mountains won’t infect his digital consciousness.
Meanwhile, Billie returns after getting a blowjob from a Hippie. Willie explains to him that they’re all tripping on acid, Marcus, especially. Billy goes down to reassure Marcus he’ll take care of him…
We cut to LAS VEGAS, Billy now driving down the strip as he’s the only sober one not filled with a head full of acid. We see lights everywhere set to Vegas in the 1980s. Marcus is enjoying the scene, a giant gaping smile uncharacteristically etched across his face. He stares at the fancy colors which transform into kaleidoscope patterns. Billy offers Marcus a cigarette. While smoking it, Marcus tries making patterns out of his smoke clouds – some sort of Asian symbols.
Billy mentions he can’t fight the drugs or his head will explode – in a reference to Doctor Gonzo in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. Marcus suddenly notices an animated leprechaun that looks an awful lot like Ronald Reagan.
We then go full blown animated sequence. Acid level color scheme, strange nature-themed mushroom stylings, and oddly enough, some original artwork which looks directly made by Wesley Craig himself, artist of the ‘Deadly Class’ comic series.
It’s difficult to make out what’s happening during the drug trip, but some images are of Marcus killing his first victim, Master Lin as Confucius, and a strange little girl wearing a little red Ribbon hair tie. We also hear quotes from his parents. In the series’ most ambitious animated sequence to date.
It ends with Saya and Maria greeting Marcus in the car outside the entrance lobby to the ‘BigTop, BigTop’ casino – in yet another homage to fear and loathing in Las Vegas. Marcus tries walking, and they use a distorted reality and frozen effect, with messed up Ralph Steadman styled faces, and a distorted reality movement shot, including the spike Lee slow motion double dolly where the character remains still but the environment moves. We even get some slot machine backdrops and roulette wheel dissolving overlaps, in the series’ most ambitious set design and camera work to date.
Marcus walks the Lobby while holding hands with Saya – the two sharing some friendly bantering. At this point, everyone is tripping hard. Maria talks to a waitress, while Billie steals a bottle of beer. Willie asks why somebody shit in the ice machine and then asks Billie, whom he believes is Teddy Ruxpin, “Why can’t they be friends?” Marcus swims in the floor admitting that he’s not the acid king. Later on, Marcus gets to the room with the others and Saya leads him to bed, helping him settle down.
Back at the police station, Marus wonders how much Acid it takes to kill somebody? His eyes are unrealistically red, as he’s nearing total mental and physical collapse. He admits that he’s terrified. That he’s afraid of being alone or spending another year without a friend.
On the TV at the police station, Marcus hallucinates and watches a nice version of himself and Billy in an oddly positive, sweater wearing version of the two. He then flips realities and sees himself at the station on the TV in the hotel.
Marcus talks to Billy about what’s going on as it’s clear time and reality is breaking in his acid induced state. Billy admits that his dad has good in him, but he’s an asshole who can’t help digging himself into a deeper hole. Marcus shares about his parental issues, though often through drug induced hallucinations.
Moments later, Billy gets into a scuffle in the adjacent room which snaps Marcus back into reality. Billy’s father says all he wanted of his son was obedience. The three get into a scuffle. Marcus kicks Billy’s father off of him, which leads him to trip and bang his head on a ledge – killing him.
Billy loudly weeps, unbelieving that his father is now dead. It’s awfully heartfelt tears that feel a little too authentic, a great performance by Liam James. Marcus mentions they must dispose of the body.
After the break, Marcus and Billy are locked out as he left the keys in the room while disposing the body. Still tripping, Marcus then starts talking to an Ice-T themed slot machine, who is telling him to play. His face lights up as he wins. But he is then taken away by a casino guard.
This brings us full circle to the cop reaming Marcus for his fake ID. He offers to let him go if he can keep the winnings. Marcus just wants to hide the blood on his hands.
Marcus can’t believe he got out. Master Lin tells him that he’s high on drugs – to call his mother and apologize for what he became. Lin disappears… turning into another guy, proving to be yet another Marcus hallucination. He’s given words of wisdom:
“What you don’t focus on will come true.”
Marcus desperately wants this drug trip to be over. He goes into the elevator where a man is looking away. Marcus is unsure of proper elevator etiquette in yet again, another homage to Fear and Loathing. It doesn’t matter though, as the man turns out to be his terrifying old roommate, Chester (Fuckface)- who is alive and confronting Marcus in person for the first time. Given that he just hallucinated a non-existent Master Lin, Marcus can’t tell if this is real or not.
Moments later, Marcus is banging on the door of a hotel room screaming that he can’t take it anymore. It opens, to a scantily clad Maria who is wearing nothing but a red bra and panties. He complains about the hallucinations, then notices her passport. The two share a moment of vulnerability, the two bonding over a desire to want to disappear and start over. They share in each other’s pain as it’s the thing that defines them both.
This leads to a passionate kiss. Maria asks Marcus if he’s ever been laid on acid. He mentions he’s never been laid. Suddenly, Chico enters the room, catching them in the act. He starts open firing his gun on Marcus in an angry fury. Marcus runs into the hall. Chico aims at him, but Maria cuts his arm with her fan. He knocks her down and continues chasing after Marcus.
Running across the Street, Marcus ends up outside a convenience store. Chico tackles him through a window. They duke it out. Marcus tries holding his own using his unconventional fighting style but he ultimately gets beaten up severely by Chico. Kicked several times in the face, Marcus wakes up in a daze, just as an older man holds Chico up with a pistol.
Marcus sees an animated creature interact with him. One who reminds him how unbelievably fucked he is. The old man gets beaten, as Chico get takes the man’s gun, and then murders the helpful bystander. Marcus runs for it, but Chico tracks him to a garbage can outside.
Chico tells Marcus when he found Maria, she was also just a rat. Angry that Marcus was about to screw his girlfriend, Chico tosses a gun towards Marcus so that he has a chance to defend himself. The gang arrives and tells Chico that he can’t kill Marcus due to Master Lin’s rules, but Chico doesn’t care. Each of them try to stop him.
First, Billy tries to calmly convince Chico not to kill him by gently trying to tlak him down. Chico stabs Billy in the gut in return, and Saya keeps pressure on Billy’s wound.
Maria stands up to Chico. He’s still very upset she betrayed him – as his family brought her up from out of nothing. She angrily defends herself, saying that his family used her: to kill, plant explosives, and be their whore. Angry, Chico punches her in the face.
Willie then grabs the gun has chance to kill Chico… but can’t find the courage to do it, as he’s still a pacifist. Suddenly, Maria runs up to Chico and slits his throat with her fan – in a dramatic executed fashion. The group runs.
Once they leave, Chester arrives just in time to find Chico’s body and picks it up.
On the drive home. Maria kisses Marcus and holds him. Everyone is worn for wear. Saya looks on at Maria and Marcus in the mirror, noticeably saddened. Billy looks on as well staring off in the distance – the today’s actions weighing on his conscience.