“Saudade” combines both the road trip and the drug trip along with some real consequences in the best episode of Deadly Class thus far.
This recap of Deadly Class Episode 5, “Saudade”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
In case you’ve forgotten, when we last left the students of King’s Dominion they were planning a classic road trip to Las Vegas, although admittedly for the slightly non-classic purpose of murdering a man. These are trainee assassins, after all, and while it was originally a scheme cooked up by Billy (Liam James) and his bestie Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) to off Billy’s abusive, gambling addict father before he can harm Billy’s mother and little brother, also along for the ride are Saya (Lana Condor), Maria (María Gabriela de Faría) and Willie (Luke Tennie), in part because a road trip is a good excuse for some extracurricular away-from-home fun-time.
Thus, they take acid. As it turns out entirely too much acid, at least in Marcus’s case, so “Saudade” mostly takes the form of a delirious animated trip through the its protagonist’s addled psyche. I haven’t mentioned the animated sequences in Deadly Class yet, mostly because they tend to be inconsequential. But here they form the basis of almost the entire episode, cycling through various styles and tones as Marcus’s chums attempt to drag him back to a strip hotel.
In truth, they’re still most inconsequential in “Saudade”, aside from some rather on-the-nose beats regarding Marcus’s parents, his killing of Rory in the premiere, and his weirdly psychotic relationship with Headmaster Lin (Benedict Wong), but they’re style over substance for the most part. But they’re very much homage of sorts to the show’s comic-book roots, and they’re undeniably fun, especially turned all the way up like they are here. In a show that already seems to be on an acid trip most of the time, there’s something quite enjoyable about seeing what it looks like on a real one.
“Saudade” is also smart to tuck the episode’s actual real-world events in amongst the hallucinations, raising questions over whether what’s happening is actually happening, both for Marcus and the audience. He and Billy visit Billy’s father, for instance, and after a nasty scuffle manage to kill him, and the scarred, goat-f*****g figure from the boy’s home confronts Marcus to deliver some classically outlandish villainous threats. Whether any of these events are real or not is somewhat up for debate, but I’d guess that they were; I hope so, anyway, otherwise “Saudade” would have made much ado about nothing, aside from the major plot swerve that occurs right before the end.
In many ways, acid trips aside, “Saudade” was designed to be the culmination of the on-going Marcus/Maria/Chico love triangle, and frankly I’m happy to see the back of Chico (Michel Duval), one-note, inconsequential baddie that he was. You’ll recall that Chico wasn’t even on the road trip, but he arrives in the nick of time to catch Marcus and Maria about to initiate the no-pants-dance, and promptly loses it. Thus far, Deadly Class has leaned quite heavily into the idea that students aren’t allowed to kill each other, instead offing nobody redshirts (RIP Jaden) to keep the body count up without having to make any major character commitments. But that’s all out of the window in “Saudade”, which sees Marcus and Chico violently scuffle along the Vegas strip, Billy get stabbed, and Chico get killed.
Because it took five episodes to properly kill one of the students off, this whole sequence struck me as a fake-out, so I was pleasantly surprised to see some actual commitment and closure to what has been developing over the course of the season. There was a moment for Willie to stand up and defend Marcus, although it only really served to reinforce the idea that he’s incapable of killing (I’m sure there’s a moment coming in which he has to), but just as it looked like Deadly Class was once again going to fail to follow through, Maria slashed Chico’s throat with her cool fan-blade. It was a strong, decisive moment, and hopefully indicative of the kind of stuff we’re going to see as the show progresses.
Exactly how much all this will matter remains to be seen. Lin has a habit of knowing everything, so there will no doubt be consequences, and it certainly means something to the characters. But whatever happens long-term, “Saudade” was probably the highlight of Deadly Class thus far, showing off both the show’s visual roots and its willingness to (eventually) take things in a bolder direction. It bodes well for next week.