Deadly Class premiers on January 16th on the SyFy Network. The pilot got an early internet release and was up on the SyFy website and briefly youtube (no longer available).
What is Deadly Class? I wrote about it a little while back.
My already high expectations were actually surpassed by the first episode. One of my big questions and something I was excited about is the music they would use in the episode. Music is a big part of Deadly Class. There are countless musical references including an entire panel about the B52’s in the comic. The cycles themselves are named mostly after songs e.g. Reagan Youth, Kids of the Black Hole, A Love like Blood, The Snake Pit etc.
So how important would the music be on the show? Could it match the comic books awareness? Would the music set the tone? Would they pussy out and use basic 80’s songs that everyone knows or would they find the appropriately deeper cuts that the show would call for? These are some of the questions I would have going in.
They would set the tone immediately with a PERFECT choice to open the show. This is going to be a theme for this Blog because on several occasion they will pick the perfect song for the situation.
Depeche Mode: Behind the Wheel
The long rhythmic opening thumps like a racing and irregular heartbeat. There’s the perfect amount of time before the lyrics kick in for Marcus to tell us his situation in voice-over. He’s living on the streets and wanted for multiple murders. The police think he’s burned down his boy’s home killing everyone inside. The song’s lyrics:
I’m in the hands of fate
I hand myself
Over on a plate
are quite literal to what Marcus is about to go through. As fate would have it the police are not the only ones looking for Marcus. A school for assassins called King’s Dominion has also heard of the boy wanted for multiple murders and they are looking to recruit him.
Marcus accidentally smokes some angel dust and wanders into The Day of the Dead Parade. He’s made by the police but assisted by his future classmates. We get
Agent Orange: Too Young to Die
The frantic pace of this song matches the frantic pace of the chase and Marcus narrowly evades capture by the cops. The song’s lyrics:
I didn’t expect them to know my name
Surrounding me like a black steel frame
are like Marcus not expecting all these King’s Dominion Kids to know who he is…but they do and they have him surrounded after he escapes the police.
I’m too young to die
We’re all too young to die
is a very literal reminder that we are dealing with teenagers here. Marcus initially declines a spot a King’s Dominion but he doesn’t have many options and Saya convinces him to go with her. Our initial arrival is met with
The Cure: The Holy Hour
It was only a matter of time until The Cure showed up. The Holy Hour is the perfect entrance song for King’s Dominion The deep and ominous bass echoes as the lyrics
Kiss the ground and slip away.
Tell us that Marcus is about to slip away to a completely different world and he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into.
Marcus formally is accepted into King’s Dominion and we get a montage of him showering and putting on his King’s Dominion uniform.
Echo and the Bunnymen: The Killing Moon
Up against your will
Through thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
Marcus is selling his soul to Master Lin and King’s Dominion. He knows he didn’t burn down the boys home, but he’s going to join anyway. And is it really his choice? Or was Master Lin not going to be denied. Was it fate? It’s fascinating how when you look at the lyrics to each song you can make very specific connections to the narrative. Also, this is just another fucking rad song from the eighties.
The montage ends and we are getting acquainted with what class is like in a school for assassins as Marcus makes his way through a day at King’s Dominion. When we get to the obligatory cafeteria scene where all the cliques and affiliations are explained to him by his new pal Billy.
This is where the music breaks from more sullen tones to remind us exactly where this is taking place in case you don’t already know we’re in the eighties.
Killing Joke: Eighties
I don’t need to dive into the lyrics here. We’re living in the 80’s.
From the Cafeteria, we go to the “graveyard” which is the nickname for the rooftop that the students go to party. In the comics, it’s an actual graveyard. On the rooftop with Marcus and Billy are Petra and Lex. The boom-box is playing, presumably Petra’s tape:
Sister’s of Mercy: Dominion / Mother Russia
This is another song that just carries the banner for the sounds of the decade and the fact that it’s Petra’s tape give us some insight into her taste. Billy doesn’t really care for her taste and takes out her tape and puts in Milo Goes to College.
The Descendants: Bikeage
How very punk rock of you Billy.
In the Graveyard Marcus reveals the answer to Master Lin’s question of who would you kill. Marcus wants to kill Ronald Reagan, which just gets him laughed at.
I’ve seen a couple other postings about the music from the pilot episode. Mostly they were just lists of the songs and they ALL are left one song featured off the list. I wonder if that is because it was the only rap song? For some reason none of the song-lists mention
Too $hort: Freaky Tales
This is playing in Willie’s car at around the 38-minute mark of the episode and it’s perfectly fitting for the character and scene. Too $hort being from Oakland and rapping about fucking is exactly what a 1987 brother in San Fran like Willie WOULD be listening too. Especially given the nature of the conversation where Willie admits he “knocked boots” with the ultra-racist Brandy, but their teacher Miss Deluca is his “white whale.”
Willie and Marcus have an assignment for class…kill somebody who deserves it. Marcus knows just the person and after the killing is done while disposing of the body, we get another song that fits the narrative and the time period like a puzzle piece.
New Order: Elegia
In many ways, New Order is the most 80’s sounding band in existence. Elegia is an instrumental written in memory of Ian Curtis. It was featured in Pretty in Pink and Stranger Things but given the sound of the song and the nature of the scene, I think it’s most apropos here. Ominous and forlorn are the word’s I’d use to describe Elegia, the perfect song to play while disposing of your first murder victim.
The last song of the episode plays us out of the show to perfection
The Damned: Melody Lee
You get the piano opening and Marcus’s voice optimistic voice-over as he locks eyes with the lovely Saya, then the song changes to an ultra-fast pace as we fade out to the credits. If you have read the comics the story moves at breakneck speed and this song should indicate a lot of action yet to come. Also, the audience knows that Saya isn’t necessarily sincere in her intentions towards Marcus, whatever they may be. We have seen that she is Master Lin’s pet and he has a plan for Marcus. So the false beginning of this song echoes the false intentions of Saya. Just another totally rad song and perfect selection.
This show is going to be a hit, that’s my prediction and I just hope that future episodes can feature music close to this level going forward. Watch Deadly Class.
One thought on “Breaking Down the Music of SyFy Network’s Deadly Class Pilot.”