The most recognizable face in the Deadly Class trailer is probably Benedict Wong, who’ll appear as the malicious Master Lin. He’s the headmaster of King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, and apparently the show will have him as a teacher also, as we can say from the trailer, where he harshly punishes one of his students, Brandy. In the comics, Lin doesn’t teach, not during the protagonists’ first year at least, and he’s physically very different, looking a bit like Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China. Needless to say, he’s a character you’ll have to keep an eye on. Let’s see together why.
The life and past of Master Lin, even his complete name, are predictably shrouded in mystery, but we know some things about him nevertheless. He was born in the United States of America, in an unspecified city but most likely San Francisco, and was the heir of a glorious family of assassins of Chinese descent. His ancestors lived when Chinese people in America were treated as cattle, and they founded a school of assassins to give the weakest and last members of society the means to defend themselves and to make their lives mean something in a world that disrespected and neglected them. Since the day he was born, Lin was destined to inherit the guidance of the school, King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts, but despite this he attended it like a regular student (albeit a legacy student, of course), and graduated there without any form of privilege received from teachers and masters, excelling in all disciplines, and becoming a proficient assassin. He made a name for himself, and when the time came, he came back to King’s Dominion as the teacher of martial arts, one of the many disciplines he excelled in despite his stature. Then, he became the headmaster of King’s Dominion, an already respected (and feared) professional. He surrounded himself of trusty cooperators, other assassins who had much to teach to the students: Master Zane he chose as his replacement in martial arts, Miss De Lucca he chose for crime psychology, and many others followed, all of them personally selected by Lin. It was time for a new run of the centuries-old school.
Master Lin was deeply respectful of the school’s traditions and of its declared goal, and he took upon himself to train his students to be remorseless and highly efficient killers: in a world where children were commonly used for war, it was just humane to help them prepare for it. Upon the traditions he fully and gladly embraced, there was one that gave the possibility to unknown children to earn their place as legacy students, despite not being sons or daughters of renowned assassins: the Hunt for the Rats. Master Lin personally selected kids from all around the world who had distinguished themselves for episodes of violence, and offered them a place in his school, without requiring them to pay the expensive tuition. He treated them like everyone else in the school, but made sure that everyone knew who they were, as during the year he had his guardian monks deliver to each one of them the skeleton of a dead rat that identified them. Then, just before the newbies finished their freshman year, he ordered all the legacy students to kill the rats, earning their place in the school and obtaining positions and popularity depending on how many they managed to murder, putting at good use the skills learnt during the year. The rats who managed to survive the carnage, though, were allowed into the school and treated with all the honors and respect due to a legacy student, and their children would have been considered legacy in the future. This way, Master Lin made sure that the social ladder was as mobile as possible, depending on the skills and abilities of the ones eager to climb it. This was the way Master Lin respected the traditions, ruled the school and formed his kids: this was his way to give the poor ones a voice, or at least a bullet to be heard.
Master Lin is a cruel and malicious man, driven by the sacred fire of justice in a quest, to his eyes at least, to make the world’s weak and poor able to defend themselves. He’s merciless and brutal, a highly intelligent tactician who controls every move of everyone in his school (and even outside…). Despite his old age and short stature, he’s a terrific martial artist, but he’s also an expert of poisons and a master in the use of several weapons. Master Lin lets people underestimate him as an “old and frail man”, but he’s actually one of the most dangerous and terrifying people on the planet, a man responsible for the death of hundreds and hundreds of people, most of them kids, and who’s long lost the ability to feel any form of human feeling. He is, in every sense, the perfect assassin his students hope to become.