I’ve said it before, but Deadly Class is my favorite comic book series and the show’s been extremely loyal to the books, but there are few places where I found myself wishing the show wasn’t so loyal this week, not because I disliked these plot points in the series but because they’re not playing as well on-screen.
“Stigmata Martyr” is the first episode where F*ckface (Tom Stevens) feels integrated into the story, instead of a figure lurking in the shadows, and that’s an improvement, but after having seen so many other shows do their own renditions of F*ckface, there’s something draining about watching another irredeemable, psycho antagonist. It’s not that the psychopath well is dry (see The End of the Fxcking World and Killing Eve) but that F*ckface isn’t written that deeply and while Marcus’ opening monologue is a nice nod to the fact that viewers know more than him at the start of the episode, the whole keeping Shabnab’s parents in cages and animal costumes doesn’t need any more emphasis.
Then there’s the “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” framing of Maria’s bipolar disorder. Deadly Class is an ensemble show and, when it’s not, it’s led by Marcus, but it would’ve been cool if “Stigmata Martyr” could’ve been told entirely from Maria’s point of view. She is the featured character, and the episode title refers to her backstory, and what happened to her parents at Chico’s father’s hand (this week Maria tries to push a pencil through her hand to mirror her father’s crucifixion), but instead of trying to help her, all her friends are concerned about is whether or not she’s going to blab and ruin their one-month good streak.
Is the show being honest? Sure, and Marcus doesn’t know Maria’s bipolar and, even when he does, it wasn’t Saya’s place to tell him so he can’t really show that he knows. Saya’s the bigger disappointment, given all the show has done to beef up their friendship (hers and Maria’s). She calls Marcus out for making it all about him, but the sucky part is the show is making it all about him – Maria’s not going to be the one who gets them caught. It’s Marcus’ baggage with F*ckface (though, where that is concerned even more so, F*ckface isn’t a rational person and it doesn’t sound like Marcus threw the first punch).
In the end, the best part of the episode is something the comics didn’t spend as much time on and that is the teachers. From learning more about Master Lin and the sister, Master Gao (Olivia Cheng), he doesn’t trust with the knowledge his wife and child are alive, to Master Zane (Christopher Heyerdahl) being undermined in front of his students with a scarlet A on his forehead, to Miss. DeLuca (Erica Cerra) calling Billy’s bluff and Kings Dominion giving her the leeway to do so and actually commending her for her actions, instead of finding them fireable. The dynamic, between teachers and students at Kings, never stops being enthralling and where on Runaways it took a while to warm-up to the increased adult presence on the show, Deadly Class is seeing immediate benefits.
Other thoughts on “Stigmata Martyr:”
- Willie’s new love interest, Gabrielle (Kelcey Mawema), is a complete wild card. Marcus and Willie worked at a comic book shop but she didn’t exist in the comics.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend recently did a storyline like Maria’s, where Rebecca stopped going to therapy for her borderline personality disorder after entering a new relationship (“I Need A Break”).
Deadly Class airs Wednesdays at 10 PM EST on the Syfy Channel.