WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Episode 3, "Snake Pit," of Syfy's Deadly Class.
Syfy's Deadly Class has done a tremendous job of adapting the Image Comics title from Rick Remender and Wes Craig, depicting the tutelage of Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) as a homeless teen taken in to become an elite assassin.
In the 36 issues so far, the book has focused on Marcus, his friends, rivals and, of course, his love interests at the King's Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts. The TV show, however, has made a smart change, not just to differentiate it from the source material, but to make the series better in general. It does this by establishing that there is a civil war brewing among the school's faculty.
Let's be honest, the concept of a school for gifted soldiers is well-worn at this point. We've seen it with Mark Millar's Wanted, not to mention Marvel's X-Men training under Professor Xavier. Heck, the fantasy realm has done it to death with the Harry Potter franchise, and Syfy even got in on the act with The Magicians.
Now, don't get us wrong, as awesome as the Deadly Class comics are, we can only take so much of Marcus and the various school cliques fighting, sleeping with each other and pulling off sneaky betrayals until finals. To shake things up in a way the books never did, the show steps back from the student population and adds depth to the staff, giving us quite literally a deadly faculty.
Poison Arts teacher Jurgen Denke (Henry Rollins), after conversing with Marcus, realizes rats (kids with no family legacy at the school) are being taken advantage of, and King's Dominion is no longer about justice through anarchy. It's about elitism, and due to the money these families pay, the school's become the very thing it stood against.
Denke then makes a crucial decision, resigning after over 20 years of service to Benedict Wong's Master Lin (Jurgen's close friend). The headmaster is torn, warning Jurgen that he "signed on for life," and reiterating the Dominion is very much like the world it shapes -- the only way out is in a box.
Their background is quite sentimental and surprising, as the audience is led to believe the staff rarely interact. But, at the same time, this dark aspect of the fraternity could add another potential enemy to Marcus' list. When Lin eventually meets with the mysterious Guild Mistress, she reminds him their principles cannot be adjusted, not even for such a valuable friendship.
Filled with regret, Lin tries to poison Jurgen in a farewell drink, putting sodium cyanide in his wine, but Jurgen quickly susses out the trap and a brawl ensues. Lin gets the upper hand, but just as he's about the strangle his friend to death, he lets Jurgen go, warning him the school will not stop coming for his head.
Seeing the faculty as a death trap adds an extra dimension to ensure the show doesn't run stale, giving it an even more intimidating air. This freshens things up so that the chances of the show getting tedious are drastically reduced, thus keeping us invested in the staff just as much as the students they're training.
Lin's moment is a critical one because, in the comics, he's cruel and sacrifices students he sees as traitors to the cause, but here, he's sympathetic and, well, human. His choice to let Jurgen go will undoubtedly cause strife in the Guild regarding his commitment. We can already see him having to prove he's still part of the Guild’s lethal vision, something that could result in Lin being cast out or, worse yet, marked for death just like a rat.
Based on the comic book series of the same name by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, Deadly Class stars Benedict Wong, Benjamin Wadsworth, Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James and Michel Duval. New episodes air Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.