Warning: This article contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Deadly Class. Read at your own risk!
Billy (Liam James) got his wish on Wednesday’s Deadly Class.
Last week’s episode ended with Billy telling Marcus (Benjamin Wadsworth) that they needed take a trip to Las Vegas to kill his father, and the duo definitely followed through on that in “Saudade,” an adaptation of the climactic fourth and fifth issues of the graphic novel upon which the show is based. With Saya (Lana Condor), Willie (Luke Tennie), and Maria (Marìa Gabriela de Farìa) in town, the Kings Dominion boys drove to Sin City, where they confronted Billy’s corrupt cop of a father. In the ensuing brawl, Marcus — who was experiencing the worst acid trip of his life — hit Billy’s dad over the head with an ashtray, which sent him falling back, and he bumped his head on a table and died. (Read our postmortem on the episode’s other major death.)
Unsurprisingly, though, Billy wasn’t immediately relieved by his father’s death. In the aftermath of the fight, Billy knelt down beside the body and proceeded to cry, because at the end of the day, this was still his father.
Below, EW chats with James about shooting the emotionally intense scene, how he prepared for it, and what this means for Billy going forward.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Vegas episode is a big one for Billy. What was it like to shoot that whole fight sequence?
LIAM JAMES: It was a little bit crazy, because I’m just meeting the actor who’s playing my father for the first time, and we hadn’t really rehearsed this fight sequence yet because it’s still in the gray area between like a big fight sequence and like nothing, you know what I mean? It was a medium-sized one. So when we got there on the day, I [was] thinking a lot about the emotional stuff that’s coming up and things like that. Then, I remembered, “Oh yeah, I actually have to do all of the fighting stuff prior to the scene,” It was crazy. I just hopped on my new dad’s back and he ran me around the room, kind of like a piggyback ride. A darker piggyback ride. [Laughs]
Was that scene as physically and emotionally exhausting to shoot as it looked?
I don’t really remember. I was just trying to hold it all together and not feel anything but what was going on in there. I’m sure afterwards I probably had a bit of emotion once the adrenaline wore off, but yeah, I think it was both, for sure. I think we just wanted to make sure that we got everything that we had to. From the beginning, it was weird. I read the comic books, and that happens fairly soon in the comic books and it’s the biggest thing in all the comics for Billy. I always knew somewhere deep down in the back of my head that it was going to happen. It wasn’t until the night before that I all of a sudden got nervous and started to really think about exactly what it all meant. I think my body was just waiting until the last moment to feel all of that stuff.
How did you prepare for the scene the night before?
I thought about it a lot. It’s kind of hard to describe in your mind because every time you get fearful and afraid, you know, every time those thoughts arise in your mind, you have to keep just talking to those thoughts and sending out the good, brave thoughts back at them, and it keeps building, right? I think what helps to build that emotional release — if it is there, it will be because the material is so great in my mind. I’m a big fan of Billy and who he is as a person. That build inside your mind, just the weight of carrying about it, the more you think about it, the more you care about it. That’s how I think you prepare — just by spending time with it.
Once Billy’s father is dead, he has this big breakdown next to his body. What did you make of that reaction when you were prepping?
It didn’t feel fake to me that he would have that reaction. So that was really good, because how are you supposed to have that kind of reaction if you don’t believe that’s what would really happen if it was happening to you? I just tried to channel my own empathy and my own feelings into what Billy might be feeling. Thankfully, I had such a talented and yet empathetic and warm director and crew and actors around me that really helped me to feel comfortable, because I think people can be very talented but they can also be jerks. To me, it’s more impressive when someone is talented and a nice person, because I think personally that really helps my performance.
How does this trip to Vegas affect Billy going forward this season?
I think this is a really big moment for all of the cast. I might be wrong, because I have a layman’s understanding [and] I haven’t seen it in a long time, but it kind of reminds me a little bit of Stand By Me. It’s one of those life defining moments where something so big happens and so much action happens around you and who you are is just forever changed and shaped around it. For Billy, that’s especially true because there are physical ramifications for that. But I think for everybody — we all have those trips that change us, but this one is like a real defining point. Going forward, I’m interested in seeing where it has to go for Billy. I think at this point it definitely brings him and his friends a lot closer together, and it sort of sets forward that dynamic. You hope that in losing this father figure and this family figure in his life that he can replace it with something less toxic and bring his friends closer together, and hopefully lead towards a family in that. I think that’s what his goal is. I don’t know how well it’s going to work.
Deadly Class airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.