In ‘Snake Pit,’ King’s Dominion holds a dance. Meanwhile, Jurgen makes a tough decision, as friendships are soon tested.
The episode opens with an animated flashback at the boy’s home. Marcus’ old roommate seen at the end of last week’s episode, is watching a dog pageant on TV while verbally bullying a recently beaten up Marcus. He glamorizes a dog he once had sex with, all the while, touching himself in bed. He mentions that his father never understood: the nature of loyalty in animals over humans.
In the corner, we see Marcus cowering with his back turned. But upon closer look we see what he is really doing: building a makeshift pipe bomb.
At present day King’s Dominion, Marcus plays a boxing videogame with Willie in his room. The behave like best friends, at least, until Shabnam gets out of the shower.
Startled by Marcus’ roommate, Willie changes demeanor and acts like he’s accosting Marcus for money owed to him – leaving the room after giving Marcus a bogus warning. Shabnam scolds Marcus for getting involved with F.W.O. Marcus then apologizes to Shabnam about not backing him up when he was beaten with his mother’s dildo by Lex in the party episode.
Moments later, while traversing the halls of King’s Dominion together, Shabnam breaks down the school’s classist hierarchy to Marcus: the rats, being on the level of measly servants. Despite this, it’s evident that even though he was born wealthy, Shabnam is the school’s biggest loser.
Soon after, Shabnam picks up a ticket for the school’s Legacy dance. He mentions to Marcus that the Rats (students without gangs or legacies – like Marcus) cannot attend and that the event is specifically known for its hazing of them. Suddenly, we see Billy get his hand caught in a painful mousetrap set by one of the Hessians – a good example of the type of hazing expected in this episode.
At Blow Dart Workshop, the class showcases their skills. Saya is amazing as always. Marcus completely sucks. Meanwhile, Petra and victor take this time to discuss their little ‘hook-up’ in the last episode. Victor asks Petra out to the Legacy dance, but she says no. He tries hard to win her over.
At Poison Lab, the class works on cooking some ‘Mellow Yellow’ – a drug known for its terrifying hallucinogenic effects. Brandy reams Petra for sleeping with Victor and mentions she made the right choice in rejecting his invitation to the dance – as Petra doesn’t belong with the legacies.
Seconds later, Billy manically laughs at the Hessian who broke his fingers with the mousetrap. In an act of chivalry, Marcus intentionally spills mellow yellow all over the same Hessian – causing him to enter a delirious frenzy.
Immediately, Jurgen dismisses the class. Everyone except Marcus. The two share yet another heart-to-heart, Jurgen referencing that perhaps he lost his ways. Something about Marcus inspires Jurgen, so he bestows Marcus some advice: that things will only get worse, so he should learn what he can and get out – especially before finals. It’s an ominous warning, but a great hook, especially for fans of the comic who know what he’s refering.
In the halls, Saya and Maria talk about attending the dance. Marcus tries to talk with Willie about Jurgen’s warning, but Willie immediately rebukes him – as he has his F.W.O. crew with him and can’t be seen speaking to Marcus. Finally, Petra agrees to go with Victor just to spite Brandy.
At lunch, the Rats tease Petra for sleeping with Victor and accepting his proposal to attend the dance. Suddenly, everyone in school begins staring at the Rats as they eat their meal. Chewing cautiously, they pull out of their mouths… a tail. The legacies just fed them… Rats.
At the bathroom, Lex and Billy throw up their meal. Marcus remains calm, as it’s ‘not his first rat stew’. Lex and Billy playfully declare ‘war’ on the legacies – vowing that this hazing will not stand unpunished. Moments later, Lex delivers packaged mail to everyone’s dorm rooms – which turns out to be dye-packs that explode, ink utterly ruining the legacy kids clothing.
Meanwhile, Maria sits in her room listening to music. Chico enters and says hi. Maria requests that she needs a break. That she wants to attend the dance with just Saya, as a girl’s night out. Chico reluctantly agrees.
Jurgen calls Master Lin in for a meeting. He gives him a resignation letter. Lin tells him that it’s basically a suicide note. His father took considerable risk in breaking Jurgen out of prison. Signing into the academy is a commitment for life. Jurgen is upset that the school seems to only benefit the legacy kids now. He feels that the work they do no longer makes a difference. And the rats won’t pass their final exams…
At Fundamentals of Psychopathy, actor French Stewart plays instructor and serial killer, one with a notorious reputation much like Marcus. He asks the students about the thing they hate most, eventually, calling on Marcus – who admits that he loathes bullies – including ones such as his teacher. The two, part on bad terms.
At atypical Combat Skills, the students must rescue a hostage. Saya carefully sneaks in, followed by Maria who is donning her day-of-the-dead attire. Marcus, on the other hand, stumbles immediately upon entry: ruining their element of surprise. The trio fights the captors, and though outmatched, Marcus improvises: choking the soon-to-be-revealed instructor out with a phone cord. Marcus passes with flying colors in class for the first time.
Master Lin crawls into a strange executive styled room to address the issue with Jurgen to his superior. The furniture is made of living people: servants standing in poses serving as tables, chairs, and various fixtures. Lin tries to reassure his master, an Asian woman of strong authority, that Jurgen is loyal and that they should let him go peacefully. She reminds him that the institution is a lifelong commitment and commands Master Lin to kill Jurgen anyway.
Saya and Maria saunter the suburban streets before the dance. They share some of their hopes and dreams with each other. Saya admits she’s a bitch but wants to party for the rest of her life. Maria acknowledges that she’s crazy but does seek a bit of a normal life. It’s a little odd seeing Maria Condor in such a role reversal from ‘To All The Boys I’ve loved before’ – but it works, given our characters.
The girls arrive at a liquor store. Maria tries to use a fake ID to distract the man at the counter. It fails, and so Saya kicks a bottle towards the man as Maria slams him to the counter. They steal bottles of strawberry wine – showing that though these girls are deadly… they’re also very inexperienced (Really, strawberry wine?).
Meanwhile, Marcus journals a deep diatribe to himself about the need to fend for yourself, taking Jurgen’s warning to heart. Suddenly, Willie comes over to hang out but Marcus rejects him, given Willie’s own rejection earlier in front of his F.W.O. cohorts. Willie gets defensive to Marcus, saying that he can’t help the legacy he was born into.
At the dance, Maria and Saya have a good time. While Shabnam sadly dances by himself. At the graveyard, the rats launch fireworks from the rooftop – having a good time of their own.
Chico shows up to crash the Dance, ruining Maria and Saya’s evening. He pulls Saya away and tells her that the little personal story the girls shared on the suburban streets: all meant to manipulate information out of her. He admits that he’s using Maria to spy on Saya, as she’s the leader of the Kuroki Syndicate.
Petra seems to be very much enjoying Victor’s company. He then takes her to the bathroom, where Brandy secretly awaits. He reveals to Petra that she’ll always be a rat – rejecting her in a heartbreaking scene. Moments later, the newly dressed Petra, stripped of her gothic attire and dressed as a valley girl, is humiliated on stage.
Petra joins the rats on the roof after being completely embarrassed. The rats decide to team up together yet again to take part in more shenanigans against the legacies. Hating how they bullied Petra, Marcus agrees to join this time.
Maria asks Saya what Chico said to her. Saya replies that it’s exactly as Maria said – implying that Maria already informed Saya, or that Saya is keeping Maria unaware that she knows. We’re not certain who is telling the truth – but either way, it seems Saya has the upper hand. The girls decide to ditch the dance together.
Marcus and the rats disguise themselves as the Monk Security. They infiltrate the dance and use blow darts to poison all the legacy students with Mellow Yellow. The revenge seems to be going well until Chico arrives and begins to severely beat up Marcus. Willie arrives to intervene and gets right in Chico’s face.
It’s a very tense moment: the two alpha dogs of the school butting heads. Chico, leading the Soto Vatos, Willie, the F.W.O. Just as it looks like they’re about to go at it, Lin arrives with his monks and breaks up the dance.
Later in the evening once all the crowds have cleared out, in a sweet and sentimental moment, Billy arrives and plays ‘lady in red’ to cheer up a saddened Petra. The two are the only ones left at the dance. They dance cheek to cheek in an adorably way.
Over video games at his dorm yet again, Willie hangs out with Marcus – admitting that he is one of his ‘people’. It’s obvious the two are good friends now.
In a tense scene, Jurgen talks with Lin. He reiterates again, that he is mad how the legacies already have a set path, and that his lessons serve an utterly meaningless purpose. The two men look meaningfully at each other, knowing they are at a crossroads.
Jurgen requests a head start. Lin nods and pours a farewell drink to toast with his friend. Jurgen sniffs the drink: potassium chloride. Lin tells him… that was his head start.
The two masters exchange blows in an epic battle. Lin gets in a position to deliver a killing blow but spares him. He gives Jurgen a warning: “Mark my words. They will come for you.”
In the last scene, a student finds a large stack of money and a picture of Saya, all contained in a message box. We’re left uncertain as to what it means.
Honestly, this was the episode I was expecting in episode 2. It did a fantastic job of world-building, hit hard on the class differences, showcased more of the school’s deadly arts, and emphasized the divide between factions – all things I thought they should have addressed in episode 2.
Atop that, it also brought up some new plots: explaining the subtle issues with the rats and what functions they serve in school. It also brought to light a major character conflict with Jurgen and Lin. Atop of, introducing a new hierarchy, as it’s evident Lin takes his orders from someone.
Really, this episode does a great job building upon the story. But that’s not all. It also does an even better job developing Marcus. His voice-over is more distinct this episode – with solid reasoning as to why he is brooding. This is in contrast to last week’s whinier/Holden Caulfieldesque attitude Marcus had, where he self-destructively antagonized almost every character with a greater-than-thou demeanor. We even see Marcus finally excel at something: his untraditional fighting style.
My only qualm with the episode is that it’s a little hard to follow. It took a re-watch to understand how it establishes the Rats vs. Legacies mentality. I also think it’s a problem that the dance high school trope has happened this early. Three episodes in and two of the biggest high school tropes have already been spent in the Party and Dance episodes – neither of which are in the comics, meaning that this was a TV development call.
It also took me out of the moment, the fact that they’d even have a dance at what’s essentially a school for killers. I was really upset at the logic behind it until I realized, on my third watch through that it’s because it’s a LEGACY dance. The children from families with privilege most likely wanted it.
Overall, a big step up from the last episode.
Final Score: 9/10