SPOILER ALERT: This post contains details of tonight’s Deadly Class Season 1 finale.
“You know, I always joke that if we don’t get a Season 2 that this’ll be like Freaks and Geeks,” says Deadly Class executive producer Rick Remender as the Syfy series based on the acclaimed Reagan Era set comic he and Wes Craig created concluded its first season tonight.
“Deadly Class will be over but we’ll just have give birth to a whole generation of young adults who are going to go off and take the world by storm, because they are so goddamn gifted, and each one of them brings so much to their roles,” the co-showrunner added of the cast of the Benjamin Wadsworth-led ensemble of a school for assassins.
Having debuted at the beginning of this year, the 10-episode first season also EP’s by Avengers: Endgame directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo put a fork in it with a bloody ender worthy of some of the best frightfests of the 1980s.
Even though fans of the 2014 premiering comic may have a bit more of an inkling of where things could go, the Remender penned “Sink with California” episode threw in a classic cliffhanger as the killers in training tried to take out the deformed and degenerate Chester “Fuckface” Wilson (Tom Stevens) and grab back a certain decapitated old schoolmate.
Deadly Class hasn’t received an official Season 2 pick-up yet from the NBCUniversal-owned Syfy, but EP Remender made it very clear he is working on the assumption that the show is coming back. With that, the EP sat down with me to unpack the finale, what’s possibly next for Wadworth’s Marcus, the characters played by Doctor Strange alum Benedict Wong, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before star Lana Condor, María Gabriela de Faría, Luke Tennie, Liam James, and Michel Duval and how clichés sometimes say it all.
DEADLINE: So, let’s start with the end of tonight’s finale with Lex getting shot by El Diablo’s men, which is very much from the comics. Does Lex die like in issue #12 of Deadly Class the comic and where are things going next?
REMENDER: (LAUGHS) Well, I can’t tell you any of that. It would all be a terrible spoiler for Season 2. I can say that we have some surprises. There are some familiar elements from the book, and I’ve cooked up some new elements. So, without ruining the beginning of Season 2, I can’t say anything else.
DEADLINE: Looking at tonight’s finale, which you wrote, there is distinct theme of classic horror as the King’s Dominion gang’s raid on Fuckface and his hillbilly crew in their booby trap filled house. Is that what you were aiming for?
REMENDER: I have a theory about horror movies or any horror as a genre. The theory is that anytime you are going into a movie and you’re told that it’s horror, unless there’s some really, really incredible twists, I feel like I always sort of know what I’m expecting and that the most unexpected horror is always in other genres.
— Deadly Class (@DeadlyClassSYFY) March 21, 2019
DEADLINE: Like a certain Syfy show based on a certain comic you co-created?
REMENDER: Yeah, It’s when I’m watching a science fiction movie, and all of a sudden, it turns horror, or these students of King’s Dominion infiltrating Fuckface Manor when it turns into horror. I think that the impact is much greater because I didn’t know it was coming.
So that was always the plan.
Taking what I did in the book and then unpacking it a little bit, because we’ve got more real estate. That was a real treat because you get to revisit it, keep what works, and rethink what doesn’t.
DEADLINE: Were you drawing from a specific source?
REMENDER: Kind of. I had watched Evil Dead II right before writing this, and there are some loving homages to that movie that director Adam Kane and I got on the phone and cooked up. I think that every episode has tried to have its own sort of flavor so that each episode feels unique and fresh, and I’d say one of the biggest influences in this is Sam Raimi, for sure.
DEADLINE: Another big influence on Deadly Class this first season has been music, specifically the underground music of the late 1980s, though you threw in an INXS reference or two at one point. In the comics you are at Issue #37, whereas the show is around Issue #12, so how is music going to evolve with the show?
REMENDER: You know, I find that I was so defined and my friends were so defined by our music choices back then. It doesn’t seem quite as prevalent these days as it was in the ‘80s, when the music you chose, as some people, like Ian MacKaye called it, was social capital.
So that is a huge part of this show’s DNA.
Honestly, a lot of this is cooked together the same way that Alan Moore cooks together The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen using all of these famous literary figures. Part of the joy of it in Deadly Class is you can also then give the characters the clichés where they need the clichés, but then have them trying to shake that cliché off and see who the people are underneath all of those things.
As for choosing the music, I mean, that was 50% of the reason I wanted to make this show.
REMENDER: Oh yeah, I wanted to get an authentic snapshot of the scenes and the music that I grew up with in the ‘80s. I probably spent as much time in editorial playing different songs over every scene trying to find the right ones as I did editing. I just really love doing that, and the inspiration for the music in the finale was I wanted to catch all of the scenes
DEADLINE: How did that play out in tonight’s music packed finale?
REMENDER: We open with The Smiths, and then we’ve got Ozzy (Osbourne), and then we’ve got some Willie Nelson, and then we end on The Smiths. So it is like the widest possible swath of capturing a snapshot of different aspects of the era. That Smiths track, “Asleep,” is one of my favorite songs. I remember being a 13-year-old sitting in my room listening to it, and writing journal entries, and drawing, and being a sullen Marcus type.
DEADLINE: It is a real pull at the emotions as Benedict Wong’s Master Lin loses his daughter just hours after his wife was killed…
REMENDER: …Yes, It was also very important to Benedict that we could find a Smiths track that would really work in an emotional way over the scene, and it did. It’s also the breakup of Marcus and Maria. It just fit, and that was after I probably tried 20 or 30 songs in that scene. After all that, “Alseep” was the one that seemed to fit the best tonally.
DEADLINE: While you are very specific in the soundtrack choices being tied to the Reagan era, it feels a lot like the political topics Deadly Class touches on reach across the decades. How did you want that to resonate in the Season 1 finale?
REMENDER: Look, there’s an aspect of that, of course. In the ‘80s, the fear of censorship came from the Christian right, and it came from an idea that there were two Americas, like today.
Back then, at least to me and my friends, the Christian right and Ronald Reagan, who had sort of teamed up with them, seemed culturally to be disinterested in the poor, disinterested in civil rights, disinterested in protecting the gay community from AIDS, and disinterested in seeing anybody who wasn’t part of their scene as American. So in Deadly Class, Gunther and some of these mutant hillbillies around Fuckface embody that in a monstrous way.
DEADLINE: Chester “Fuckface” Wilson is a big part of the original comic series but like The Walking Dead the comic and The Walking Dead the TV series, you deviated from your and Wes’ source material on several significant occasion on the series. Were there some instances that you think worked better than others, and how much would you do that going forward?
REMENDER: There are elements in the plot structure of the book that I feel very passionately about holding onto, absolutely. There are others that, in hindsight, I go, oh, you know what? I bet if I’d had a little more time, I could’ve done something better with that.
I think that the joy of making the show is then having the time, and the budget, and the staff to really reinvestigate those stories, and keep what works, and make better anything that could be made better.
REMENDER: Well, my rule in running the (writers’) room has always been we’re not moving anything to go lateral. We’re certainly not moving backwards, but if we can move something forward, then we’ll do it.
So I think that in terms of Petra and Lex getting development in the first season and having the space to develop them, that made me very happy. I think that, obviously, building a big Master Lin story that will end in tragedy, ultimately, does a better job of earning us what I have planned for Season 2.
I think that we also have a better idea who Master Lin is and the internal conflicts that he’s up against. We got to unpack the faculty a good bit more and really make a meal of the Jürgen Denke character with Henry Rollins, who I’d love to have…well, I don’t want to spoil it but who obviously has a bigger story to come.
There was a lot of new pieces, and obviously, there was Brian Posehn’s Dwight Shandy, the poor pot dealer who became Fuckface’s kidnap victim too. It’s just been a real pleasure to be able to open those stories up and add things, and unpack. And to set up new stories so that readers of the book have new information and some surprises coming up, while still maintaining the major landmarks of the book.
DEADLINE: With that, this was your first time showrunning or rather co-showrunning a primetime TV show, what were some of the lessons learned in the hindsight of the finale?
REMENDER: (laughs) Oh man. You know, I’d done this job at a much smaller animation studio years ago, and I, in my hubris, thought that it would just be the same, but a good bit bigger. I got that wrong.
I learned that, in the middle of the season, when you’re trying to run the writers room, and generate this scripts at the same time that production’s going on, and you’re filming the episode at the same time that post is going on, and you’re trying to edit the episodes, that there’s a reason that Old Hollywood loved cocaine so much.
And I’m not going to fall into that particular habit, but boy, I understood it. I understand why cocaine was so prevalent. This is 15 hours a day, seven days a week gnarly.
So, in terms of lessons off the top of my head, I think that it’s the same old cliché of hire good people and trust them to do their jobs. We got lucky, and I think it was a lot of fans of the books, coupled with having the halo effect of Joe and Anthony Russo behind us, that we drew nothing but top-tier directors, and cinematographers, and crew, and cast, and we had just a lot of passionate, kind, talented people by our side.
DEADLINE: Now, you said the words “Season 2,” so let’s lay that out there, how close is Deadly Class to a renewal from Syfy?
REMENDER: I don’t want to jinx it, but everything I’m hearing is very positive…
DEADLINE: Positive like, about to turn into a green light?
REMENDER: Well, I always move ahead with these things as if they are going forward and work with optimism. So I’m assuming that we’re going to do another one. There’s a lot of indicators that we are, but again, I don’t want to jinx it.
So, hopefully, everybody who watched it and loved it will hop online after reading this article and tweet about it and scream that their friends need to stream it and catch up can help push that along. I mean, think the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and things look good.
DEADLINE: Optimism noted, how far are you in putting a Season 2 together?
REMENDER: Now that we are out of production on Season 1, I have spent the last few weeks, while I’m working on the comic books, working in a morgue document where I take ideas that exist in the book, coupled with new ideas, coupled with, you know, various other aspects of what might work, and I sort of start loosely compiling an outline That way, in my head, I have a living document. So, I have started the first germs of an idea. I find that working slowly and building that way where it’s not under the gun, there’s no deadline, I’m just sort of slowly building it in the background tends to work best in most cases for me. Because then your brain is solving problems in the background. So, now, I’ve got a pretty good skeleton for what Season 2 would be.
DEADLINE: Season 1 clearly had its own surprises on another screen as Lana Condor’s career blew up just before the Deadly Class debut with the huge success of Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before…
REMENDER: Look, this is a cliché, and I feel like a cliché saying it, but this is a family, and, the cast and crew become very close. Everybody is just wonderful, enthusiastic, positive, great people that are all funny. They all love hanging out. So when Lana’s career blew up, if I’m honest, you just always knew that that was going to happen.
We had a hard time finding our Saya, and from the moment that Lana’s audition tape came in, we chased her down. It was immediate everybody, from Joe and Anthony to executive producer Miles Orion Feldsott and I, everybody just said go, go, hire her, hire her, hire her, and you just knew that that’s a superstar, it just is. She’s just not only talented, but exudes such a positive, beautiful energy.
But it’s not just Lana on this show, even though she’s had great success the past year.
DEADLINE: What do you mean?
REMENDER: I mean I think that what you’re going to see with this cast through the next couple of years is they’re all going to be superstars. They are. They’re just incredibly talented.
You know, I always joke that if we don’t get a Season 2 that this’ll be like Freaks and Geeks. Deadly Class will be over but we’ll just have give birth to a whole generation of young adults who are going to go off and take the world by storm, because they are so goddamn gifted, and each one of them brings so much to their roles.