The third season of Degrassi: Next Class ended on a heart-wrenching note (if you don’t count Tristan randomly asking to get pizza)— Katie Matlin saying that Maya had survived her suicide attempt and that’d she’d need all her friends by her side. On June 30th, the fourth season of Next Class aired exclusively on The Family Channel App, and I (alongside a friend) binge-watched the ten twenty-minute episodes to give you an episode-by-episode review of Degrassi: Next Class season four.
Here’s where we left off last season: Maya became depressed after the bus crash and began to be fascinated by death, with new Syrian refugee student Saad supporting her. She tried to kill herself at the end of the season, but survived. Miles cheated on Tristan (who was in a coma) with Lola, who got an abortion soon after. Miles also wrote a play about said affair and Tristan saw it and forgave him. Frankie and Jonah broke up for good after Frankie hacked into his social media to see if he was cheating on her with Grace. Zoe and Rasha are quite the happy couple, but Zoe’s moved in with Grace as her mom doesn’t approve of her relationship.
Season four is set after the winter break, presumably two or three weeks after Maya’s suicide attempt, and is rumoured to open with Tristan’s return to school. If you want to read the review of each episode rather than the recaps, CTRL-F “Review” or “Episode Review”.
Episode 1: #BackToReality:
Episode Description: Grace and Jonah keep their relationship on the DL and Tristan starts back slowly at school. Esme is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her man.
Grace is given a hickey by her new secret boyfriend, Jonah, who doesn’t want their relationship to be public. His reasoning is that he doesn’t want his ex-girlfriend Frankie to hurt herself. Even if she doesn’t seem like she will, Maya tried to kill herself and hardly anyone suspected she was having those thoughts, so he doesn’t want to risk it. Grace is fine until Zoe and Winston tease her about her moped lover– “Fun to ride on until someone sees you on it.” Winston makes a comment about Grace maybe being her new guy’s moped. An already insecure Grace snaps at Jonah at the fun fair after hearing Frankie say that she thinks Jonah wants to get back together with her because he said hi to her in the morning. “So how long are we gonna sneak around? Another month? Prom? Until I die?” Grace yells, reminding both Jonah and the audience of the deadline on her life. Jonah ends up hijacking the mic at the fun-fair and improvising a song about Grace, asking at the end: “Grace Cardinal, will you be my totally-public, not-so-secret, completely-out-in-the-open girlfriend?” She says yes and kisses him, and that secrecy plot is resolved– but Frankie saw the entire commotion and doesn’t look happy.
Zig wants to partner with Maya on an art project, forcing a jealous Esme to pair up with Saad. Esme convinces Saad to paint her naked, and during that, Saad discovers Maya’s suicide attempt when Esme snarks, “Why would I be jealous of a girl who tried to kill herself?” In class, Esme reveals Saad’s nude painting of her, and she makes it an issue of sexism because Maya painted Zig naked. In the interest of equality, the art teacher gives all four of them detention. In detention, Esme tries to pin everything on Maya and Zig isn’t falling for it. “Why do you have to be so crazy?” He asks Esme. Esme, with zero filter as always, responds with: “I’m the crazy one? Not Maya, who tried to kill herself?” Esme’s true underlying bitterness towards Maya lies in that she’d found her after the suicide attempt— she calls Maya selfish, wishing she’d done it anywhere else. “Maybe I should kill myself because I can’t get the image of her limp body outta my head.” Zig gets Esme to open up to him. She never has before because he’s always with Maya. And why is he always with Maya? Because he blames himself for her suicide attempt. He says that if he and Esme hadn’t found her, it would be on him because he’d ignored Maya. Esme, looking to comfort Zig and for a little chaos, says the blame truly would have been on Saad. Saad had told Esme he was the last to see Maya before her attempt, and had helped her open up the door to the roof. Esme pushes hard and really sells it, to the point where she says that Maya might have been completely okay if it wasn’t for Saad. Esme knows that’s not true and we, the audience, know it too, but Zig feels guilty and believes her. After school, Zig tries to get Saad to stay away from Maya and Esme, and Saad riles him up. Zig grabs Saad’s camera— my friend comments that Saad and his camera are the true endgame in Degrassi— and during a struggle for the camera it breaks. Saad punches Zig so hard that he falls to the ground.
Yael refuses to go on the bouncy castles because they’re for seven-year old, but Lola figures out the real reason and takes her bra shopping. At the bouncy castle, Yael and Lola get to skip the line and Baaz gives Yael his cotton candy, all because of how good her boobs look. Uncomfortable with the attention, Yael and Hunter ditch the fair. Yael goes back to the bra store and is introduced to the world of binders because she comments to the saleswoman that she wants her breasts to disappear. She smiles in the mirror and almost cries as she tries one on.
The episode’s cold open of Grace and Jonah kissing wasn’t too much of a shocker because we’d watched the trailers, but it was just as strange as watching the season three opening for the first time and learning that Zig and Esme were together. Everyone commenting on Grace’s hickey, including a newly-returned Maya at the end of the scene, was such classic Degrassi writing that I wanted to cry happy tears. The writers haven’t failed us yet.
The Grace and Jonah plot reads as the exact opposite of season three’s beginning-of-season pairing of Zig and Esme. The latter couple were out in the open, and the former are sneaking around, which is causing a mass amount of drama for a first episode. In fact, everything in this episode, especially Esme’s scenes, are too much for a first episode. This episode would feel better suited to the end of a season, surprisingly. Degrassi is not punching it’s punches, especially with Esme’s suicidal comments during detention.
During the brief scene of Maya that my friend and I were looking forward to, everything seems wrong. Post-suicide attempt, she feels like everything that happened before the attempt happened to a completely different person. There’s a strange disconnect from her spiralling self in season 3, and Maya seems so un-Maya as she eats a Fruit-to-Go and asks to go to the fun fair. Something seems very strange with this recovery process, in that everything’s moving far too fast. It almost feels like Maya’s being set up to crash again, but if that’s the case, Degrassi is straying from its cliche brand.
The first three words of Jonah’s song are “There’s this girl”, and from that you can already tell that this is some ultra-cheesy tune. It’s a shame, because it’s the first time Jonah’s sung solo in the entire show. My friend and I pause and I make my prediction: Frankie is going to think it’s about her. We press play as my friend looks away to avoid the second hand embarrassment. Degrassi is known for having really good music, but for the first song of the season, this is complete and utter shit. Jonah half-screams, half-sings and makes his way towards an unimpressed Grace as he calls her a dark cloud. “It’s improv though,” my friend says as I cringe. Anything is better than this. Four lines into the song, Jonah sings “She’s as stubborn as a bull but she puts a twinkle in my eye”. He then unzips his jacket to reveal that his shirt says, in hastily written sharpie, “I’m with Grace.” Here I thought things could not get worse. My friend and I emotionally relate to Grace, who recoils against a tree trunk for most of the song.
As first episodes go, it’s not too impressive, but not too shabby. My friend, who ranges from being super picky to saying that trashy CW shows are the best, says it’s forgettable and gives it a 6.5/10. I’d give it a 7/10, mostly because it’s the start of what I hope is a gender identity plotline for Yael, and Chelsea Clark is doing a killer job already as the always-manipulative Esme.
Episode 2: #GetMoney
Episode Description: Frankie is uploading some questionable posts on her socials so Esme encourages her to re-curate her online persona. Shay is determined to up her game to get scouted.
Frankie has been posting depressing pictures on her socials, and is talked to by the guidance counsellor because said posts are making her look at-risk. Frankie insists that she’s totally fine post-break-up and Shay and Lola insist that the guidance counsellor might be right. Lola convinces Frankie to learn how to “win” the break-up by faking it until she makes it. Frankie ropes her twin brother Hunter into coming with her to a drumming festival so they can take pictures that prove she’s happy. A disinterested Hunter brings his laptop, so Frankie goes to hang with Esme and Zig. After Zig leaves, Esme fixes Frankie’s hair and encourages her to go talk to Jonah, who’s kissing Grace. Everyone can see this is a bad idea— even Hunter, who lowers his headphones in shock. All it takes is for Jonah to say Frankie’s name before she calls him a piece of crap. She accuses him of sneaking around behind her back when they were together, and he says that nothing he ever did was good enough for her, and breaking up did nothing to change that. Frankie goes to leave but happens upon Jonah’s guitar, which she smashes against a tree until it breaks. “What is your problem?!” Jonah yells. “It used to be you!” Frankie screams back. At the Hollingsworth home, Miles and Hunter show Frankie a video of her smashing Jonah’s guitar against the tree on Esme’s social media. Ms. Hollingsworth reveals that Frankie’s going to give Jonah the money to pay for the guitar. Frankie approaches Jonah to give him the money and freezes when Grace approaches him and she hears people gossiping about her. Instead, Frankie approaches Esme to yell at her for posting the video. Esme sways Frankie by saying that Taylor Swift made an entire career off of bashing her exes and that what Frankie did was badass. Later, Frankie approaches Jonah as Esme films. She tries to look sexy as she flicks money at him, saying it’s for the new guitar, and so he can pay for a date for once in his life. Esme posts it and the duo giggle as they walk away.
Saad is trying to get money to get his camera fixed, and Shay is trying to get money to get supplements to improve her running times so she can get a track scholarship. Lola invites Shay to have a trial shift at her dad’s cantina, affectionately titled “Lola’s Cantina”. Saad asks if anyone can apply, and Lola says “Yeah, it’s a free country. Sorry, was that offensive?” At the trial shift, Shay breaks a plate trying to stack them and Saad rushes in for clean-up. Saad does excellently and Shay manages. When Saad leaves, Tiny follows him outside, and as he tries to escape Zig corners him. The duo threaten him and he surrenders, leaving quietly. At school, Saad takes pictures of his younger sister Abra to send back to Syria with his newly-fixed camera. His sister is happy to be here, but Saad isn’t too impressed with Canada. Lola approaches to offer Saad the job but he can’t accept it because he doesn’t want to cause trouble for Lola. Saad eventually accepts. After practice, Tiny approaches a physically and mentally exhausted Shay, and breaks the news that Saad got the job. Her mom comes in and tells Shay that they can’t afford the supplements, and Shay snaps: “What was the point of me working so hard if stupid puberty was going to mess everything up?” At the cantina, Shay and Lola argue about the ethics of giving a guy who punched their kind-of friend a job when Shay needs the money. Lola leaves to deal with a problem and Shay, all kinds of desperate, reaches into the tip jar and steals two twenties. Then another. And another, and another, and more… and finally, she leaves. Later, Lola approaches Saad to talk to him about the missing money from the tip jar. She promptly fires him, to which he says: “I thought you were different. But you’re small-minded and judgemental just like everyone else here.” Shay, alone, looks upset as she stares at the money in her bag. She returns to the Cantina to return the tips, feeling guilty. Lola starts to tear her to shreds but Shay, near-tears, talks about how if she doesn’t get faster, she won’t be able to have thing she’s wanted for her whole life. Lola doesn’t snitch and lends her the money for the first month of supplements. At home, Saad looks up flights to go back to Syria and can’t find any. Instead, he finds some to go to Istanbul, and from there finds a support group online for homesick Syrians.
There wasn’t truly a C-plot in this episode– just one B-plot majorly surrounding two characters– and maybe that’s what made it so good. In the beginning, it suffered as my friend and I mentally prepared for whiney Frankie and a dumb B-plot– my friend was bored five minutes in and started talking about how the chips I brought smell good. But the episode immediately surpassed the first one, probably because it didn’t have to deal with the weight of a drama-filled opener. We got more of an introduction to Saad than we did last season, and we finally saw Shay. Reiya Downs gave an incredibly believable performance this episode, probably the best she’s done yet.
Of course, we can’t forget Frankie. I’m already living for the blossoming friendship between her, Esme, and Zig– and of course, we have our predictions that it won’t just be a friendship. The guitar smashing was what we were looking forward to the most, and it delivered perfectly. The best moment was at the Hollingshome, when Frankie calls herself a loser and throws a bagel at Hunter when he confirms she is, which he catches and promptly eats. My friend: “I feel like Hunter just exists now to show how the audience reacts.”
Also, Lola is quite possibly the best friend in the history of friends. She’s got Shay’s back, even after all that drama with Tiny and Shay’s opinions on Lola’s abortion.
All in all, I’d rank this episode at 7.8/10. It was good but it wasn’t up there with the greatest episodes. It feels like the writers are finished warming up, and we’re finally getting into something good now– but it also feels strange to have an entire episode focussed around characters that will probably be around next season (Frankie, Shay, Saad) with no mention of Miles, Zoe, or Maya. My friend puts this episode at a 7.7/10, saying that it didn’t feel like an incredibly important episode but it was nice to see focus on other characters and new relationships forming.
Episode 3: #ILookLikeA
Episode Description: Goldi has been flirting with Winston and doesn’t even know it. Miles questions a post-grad opportunity that seems too good to be true.
The episode opens on Goldi and Winston, in full costume, introducing the prom theme— One Enchanted Evening. Zoe approaches Goldi about Goldi’s supposed thing for Winston, which Goldi rampantly denies. Zoe asks if Winston knows that they’re not a thing, and Winston then brings Goldi sparkling water and proposes a toast to “Goldston”. Close on Goldi’s realizing, horrified face. In class, Rasha teases Goldi for flirting with Winston, which she denies again. Rasha asks if Winston knows that they’re not flirting, and Goldi receives a shocking text message from him— a dick pic. Later, Winston and Goldi are doing the budget for prom and the former doesn’t realize why Goldi is so distant from him. She leaves, citing that he ruined everything, and he thinks she means the spreadsheet. Goldi resigns from prom committee because, in her words, “He sent me a picture.” Grace asks of what, and she says: “His pickle.” “Who doesn’t like pickles?” Grace laughs before it dawns on her and Zoe. Goldi says she probably got what she deserved by accidentally flirting with him, and Grace says no one deserves that. Goldi realizes she’s right and approaches Winston about his “no-pants pic”. He checks his phone in shock. “That wasn’t meant for you. I thought I sent it to Miles!” He confesses. He goes on to explain it’s a dumb joke Miles and he have to hide their junk in fruit bowls or hot dogs. He apologizes and then realizes: “Wait, did you say you were flirting with me?” Goldi promptly leaves. Winston gives her a basket of gingerbread men with pants on, and an apology. They agree on being great friends.
English teacher Mr. Mitchell tells Miles about a creative writing post-grad opportunity in London. He sets up an interview for Miles with his friend from the London school. At the Hollingsworth home, Mr. Hollingsworth congratulates Miles on getting into Queens for business. He gives Miles his old Queens Commerce jacket and Miles tells him about the interview for the creative writing program. Mr. Hollingsworth says it’s a hard career and it won’t be enough to pay for the luxuries Miles has known all his life and asks if he really thinks he’s good enough. Prepping for the interview with Mr. Mitchell, Miles learns that the program is looking for diverse applicants, and he starts to believe he only got an interview because he’s bisexual. “My dad’ll love this,” he spits before stalking out. At the interview, Miles tries to distance himself from his identity. “Sure, in, it had the whole ‘queer issue gimmick’, but I can do better.” The interviewer is turned off by everything he’s saying as he disconnects his writing from his bisexuality, saying he wants to be a great writer, and his identity shouldn’t and doesn’t matter. After, Mr. Mitchell tells Miles that it sounds like it wasn’t even him at the interview. Miles comments about how he just wasn’t diverse enough. The teacher starts an exercise with the entire class to prove to Miles that he has a unique perspective because of the factors that make him different. The breaking point comes when Miles admits as part of the exercise that he’s been abused. He snaps, saying he doesn’t need a special spot because he’s bisexual. Jonah admits Miles’ writing helped him get past the bus crash, and Zoe says it helped Goldi accept her and Rasha, and Grace could relate to it. Miles thanks Mr. Mitchell, finally realizing what his unique perspective can do in writing. Miles has Tristan over to read an apology letter to the interviewer about how he was afraid to embrace his identity. “The bisexual part of me is the part that lets me love you.” He says, and Tristan stands on his own, near-stumbling to kiss Miles. After, Miles returns the Queens Commerce jacket to his disappointed dad.
In All-Inclusive Vlogging HQ, Baaz, Vijay, and Hunter look over a group picture for the yearbook— in which Yael has armpit hair. Baaz notices and comments on it: “I had no idea Hunter had a taste for Wookie!” Vijay suggests photoshopping out Yael’s armpit hair, with Baaz claiming it’s the group’s reputation at stake. In the Hollingsworth house, Hunter asks Frankie, Zig, and Esme their opinions on photoshopping armpit hair out. Esme and Frankie say a resounding “yes” when asked if they would, and Zig says no, unless he was a girl. Esme offers her help and digitally removes the hair. Esme and Frankie start digitally altering Yael super intensely, convincing Hunter it’s sweet. Hunter shows Yael and Baaz the new yearbook pictures. Yael isn’t happy with how she looks in the picture, and says she isn’t embarrassed by her armpit hair. “If you want a real shock, I haven’t been shaving my legs either,” she says, and Baaz says “Wow!” Yael is frustrated at the double standard of her having to shave and them not having to. She storms off as Hunter glares at Baaz. Hunter approaches Zig to tell him to thank Esme for her horrible advice. Zig and Tiny go on about how you can’t help what you are and aren’t attracted to, and that Hunter should ask Yael to change for him. Hunter approaches Yael and says: “I want you to shave your armpits.” He says he doesn’t like armpit hair and Yael shrugs when asked if she does. Hunter says she’s been acting weird since that thing where she got that bra. He says she doesn’t want to make out anymore and she’s wearing a binder, and that he feels insecure about their relationship. She kisses him dramatically and says she doesn’t know how she’s feeling these days, but she wants to be with him. She agrees to eat sushi and read comics with him later that night.
I think the only reason I liked this episode was that what Miles hears about writing not being the most lucrative career option hits close to home. I also liked his bisexuality being addressed as it is, although I suppose we’re just ignoring Tristan’s biphobia from former seasons? Alright, okay, that’s fine, mostly because I’m glad that he’s explicitly being stated as bisexual.
Goldi and Winston are either leading into a romance complete with unnecessary heterosexuality, or Degrassi is trying really hard to push the whole “guys and girls can be friends without romance” thing. Either way, it was boring after the first scene.
Yael’s gender storyline makes a return, but it’s not in its peak yet. My friend calls Zig and Tiny “a bunch of Nash Griers” when they tell Hunter to tell Yael to shave. I’m not huge on the build-up they’re doing for it, but I’m glad they’re doing some kind of build-up.
I’d rank this episode at probably a 5.7/10, honestly. It didn’t do much for me at all. My friend marks it down to a filler episode– “They were setting things up but it was just another episode”. She gives it a 6/10.
Episode 4: #RollUpToTheClubLike
Episode Description: After a terrorist attack in Brussels, the Muslim students at Degrassi find themselves in some very heated situations. Grace creates a bucket list.
Winston and Goldi plan to go for a five-course prom dessert tasting, but Goldi says no because it’s haram for her to just go with Winston. Rasha volunteers for Zoe and her to come with, and she agrees to go. At the dessert tasting place, Goldi and Winston gush even though Zoe hates the dessert. She ditches to help Grace, Rasha going with her, leaving Goldi and Winston alone. They have a great conversation and Goldi admits it’s her first time being alone with a boy, and holds his hand. “Is this allowed?” Winston asks and Goldi rambles on until Winston says that he likes her too. Goldi’s parents text asking if she needs a ride home and she says she has one and will be home soon with Rasha. Goldi plans to get an Uber or cab to meet up with Rasha and get home, but there are no Ubers or cabs because of a terrorist attack in Brussels. They shut down everything in Toronto to be safe. Winston says he knows a shortcut and they start their journey. On the way home, two white people say that “there’s one of them now” and stop Goldi to ask if she’s on the side of the terrorists in Brussels. They tell her to take off her hijab as Goldi insists the terrorists are murderers, not Muslim. “Maybe you should take it off,” Winston suggests. Goldi defends herself but it isn’t enough. One of the people yanks off her hijab and she screams, calling them animals before sprinting off. She arrives home and sobs in her father’s arms, blaming her lies and her being out with Winston for her being attacked. “I just wish I could go back and time and stay home tonight.” She sobs as her father vows to call the police. Goldi talks to Rasha about what to do about Winston. Rasha encourages her to get to know Winston better after this incident, and Goldi says there are more important things. She puts on her hijab and answers Winston’s video chat, saying she’s resigning from prom committee and creating a school group for Muslim students so none of them feel alone.
The episode opens on Grace in a wizard costume doing a presentation, and her phone buzzes, saying she’s getting the new lungs she wanted. In a hospital bed, Jonah stands by her side as Grace starts to create a bucket list. However, the lungs didn’t survive the trip to the hospital, meaning Grace and Jonah can do this bucket list together. Zig and Esme give ideas for Grace’s bucket list. Esme suggests that Grace have sex with Jonah, and says “Thank me in Heaven.” Grace, with Zoe and Rasha, says she doesn’t want to die a virgin. She thinks that her and Jonah are going to have sex that night because he wanted to cross something off the bucket list. Grace pulls out a condom as Jonah walks in with fishing gear, and she hides it just in time. Grace and Jonah try out fishing, and he talks to her about the last item on her list. He says she shouldn’t want to have sex with him because he’s messed up. When he was doing intense drugs, he got a fourteen year old pregnant, and she had the daughter. Grace accuses him of making an excuse to not sleep with her. Jonah just wants them to be open with each other before they sleep together and they share details about birthmarks and bedwetting. Grace almost catches a fish but they lose it, and they kiss. The death toll in Brussels is up to 50 but neither Zoe and Grace care much as they talk about Grace and Jonah’s deep talk and how they’re saving sex for prom night. Grace instigates a pillow fight, which was on her bucket list.
Maya walks the halls, listening to music, and Tristan grabs her attention. Maya admits she can’t make music anymore, and Tristan says he might just be rusty. Yael and Baaz ask Maya for a new theme song, and when Maya says no, Baaz makes a comment about Maya being too mentally fragile— so Tristan volunteers her to do it. “Seize the day,” he says. She plays a theme song for the vlog and the group and they give her specific and countering pieces of advice. Maya paces and rants about the theme song to Tristan, who tells her to look at the TV and she learns about the terrorist attack in Brussels. He turns the TV off and Maya admits that when she was at her worst she’d watch videos of attacks like those all night long. “It’s okay. It’s off now.” He tries. “It’s not okay. I’m not okay.” She says as she goes on to talk about how she feels like she’s triggered by everything. Tristan tentatively plays the drums as part of his rehab, and Maya helps him with his grip. She takes out her guitar and starts to jam with him, improvising a song on the spot about how Tristan used to pee in a bedpan. He convinces her to try to write songs one more time. With the All-Inclusive bloggers curl up and watch the news on Brussels. Maya enters to let them hear her new theme song and when Yael says it might not be the right time, Maya turns off the TV and says it’s exactly the right time. She hands out musical instruments to each blogger and gets them started as she starts singing, the vloggers joining her in singing. They start to film it, singing in a round.
Degrassi’s back into tackling hot topics and current events, and this episode’s edition was terrorism. The terrorist attack snaked its way through the episode– it wasn’t the complete focus of the storyline, but damning reminders of it kept cropping up throughout the B plot and the C plot. I liked the way that was addressed– with the audience and the characters knowing it happened but not realizing the impact of it until Goldi was attacked.
Speaking of Goldi’s attack, we here have another instance of a character who we thought we knew expressing a certain viewpoint for dramatics. Winston ignorantly tells Goldi that she should take her hijab off so they can get home safe, and it reads the same as Grace and Zig staring at Goldi in season 3 when their teacher was talking about suicide bombers. It reads the same as Frankie and Shay’s sudden opinions on abortion, or like Zig and Tiny’s rampant sexism when there’s a plotline focused on girl power. Characters constantly have opinions that never come back up and are hardly ever hinted at whenever the plot says they must, and that’s how it felt with Winston. Either way, Goldi focusing on making Muslim students feel safe instead of making Winston feel forgiven at the end of the episode was glorious. Also, the fact that the subtitles called Goldi’s two white attackers “Dirk” and “Marjorie” was the funniest thing. Are there any whiter names?
I was almost bored with Grace’s storyline– I don’t mind her and Jonah, but they just weren’t interesting. It was completely classic Degrassi, but it didn’t feel like Degrassi at all. It was kind of unnerving. It also read too much like the “playing mini golf for Grace’s life” thing in the third season that initially established them as a couple. The beginning, with Grace’s phone call and her in the hospital both felt too rushed and like a dream sequence. It felt like more of a dream sequence than that time Winston got Frankie a goat, which is saying something.
Maya’s storyline was nice in that it showed that she’s not as okay as she seems, and the Maya-Tristan friendship is all kinds of beautiful. What bothered me though was not just that the All-Inclusive vloggers were immediately skilled at their various musical instruments and knew exactly when to sing, or that the guy IN All-Inclusive who can actually sing didn’t do the theme song. It was that everyone seemed to forget when Hunter and the rest of the vloggers cyber-bullied Maya and even threatened to rape her, and called a SWAT team on her. Sure, it was season one, but if the writers could talk about Cam and allude to Adam last season, they can at least acknowledge the history there.
My friend gives the episode a 6.5/10, and I’ll give it the same.
Episode 5: #Preach
Episode Description: Saad is torn between his own beliefs and the students’ collective show of solidarity for Brussels. Frankie wonders if hanging with Esme and Zig is really good for her.
The episode opens on Saad, walking to school and trying to memorize a presentation. Abra teases him: “Back home, you were always going out. Now you stay in texting Fadi.” Saad doesn’t take kindly to her words. “Back home, people were good.” He makes Abra have lunch with him because he knows a hijabi student was attacked because of the terrorist attack. When he enters the school, Goldi is handing out T-shirts reading “We stand with Belgium”. She explains about the Muslim Students Association that she just started at Degrassi. Abra takes a shirt, but Saad avoids taking one. He arrives in class, sitting near Vijay and Hunter (far away from Zig). They ask why he isn’t wearing a solidarity shirt, and Vijay even offers the one that he grabbed for Baaz. Saad turns down the shirt because terrorist attacks happen every day– what makes the one in Belgium so special? Hunter lightly accuses Saad of being pro-terrorist and Saad storms out, angrily speaking Arabic. In a different class, Saad sits next to Lola and ends up giving her his presentation notes when she realizes she left hers at home. Lola shows up at Saad’s apartment after school, thanking him and offering him his job at the Cantina back. When she leaves, Abra calls him over to the computer to show him a video of him that someone had taken when he had angrily shared his views in Arabic. At school, Saad approaches Goldi to ask for help from the Muslim Student Association, and she says that the MSA thinks he should apologize at the rally. “Your actions put all us Muslims in jeopardy. Don’t you get that?” She offers him a solidarity shirt, and he reluctantly takes it. Lola later approaches Saad, who sees his side of things. “A lot of people are dying in the world. It feels wrong to pick-and-choose who gets help.” He says, and Lola insists that he share those views at the rally instead of apologizing. He tells her that his village was bombed, and no one heard “because it happened in Syria. Not in Paris, not in Belgium, not in America.” He puts on the solidarity shirt. At the rally, Saad stumbles over his words after Baaz and Vijay turn them against him. The mic is turned off and he leaves the stage, telling Lola she was wrong to think that people would listen. ‘You were right. They’ll never understand.’ Saad texts his friend Fadi, who’s in Syria.
Lola and Shay aren’t happy with how much time Frankie is spending with Esme, and how all she does is party when Lola has vlogging and Shay has track. “The world’s reacting to a terror attack and you’re posting yacht pics.” Shay tells her. When Frankie learns about the bake sale fundraiser for Belgium, she immediately wants to be a part of it and cancels her plans with Esme for that night. Later, Frankie makes a huge mess as she tries to bake, and Esme and Zig show up to help. “If you can’t count on us, who can you count on?” Esme says. The trio ices the cupcakes with Belgian flag colours. Frankie accidentally hits Zig in the face with frosting and it starts a frosting war that ends with Frankie and Esme on top of Zig. Hunter and Baaz see them, and Baaz asks incredulously– “Is this an orgy?” Esme jokingly says it is. At the bake sale, rumours abound about what happened when Frankie’s cupcakes (now nicknamed “orgycakes”) were made. She dumps the cupcakes because of the threesome connotation. Esme is planning to skip the rally to get burgers with Zig, and invite Frankie, who tells Esme that she doesn’t think she should hang out with them anymore. Esme manipulates her into thinking that her and Zig are her only true friends because they helped her through her breakup with Jonah.
In the student council office, Rasha is texting her ex-girlfriend Samira and reveals guiltily to Zoe that they’d messaged the entire night before. Samira is in Belgium and Rasha wanted to check up on her. Zoe says it’s okay if Rasha continues talking to her until things settle down, though she doesn’t look like she believes it. A jealous Zoe later lurks Samira online, feeling insecure. Grace suggests making out with Rasha because Samira is thousands of miles away and can’t win her over that way. Zoe approaches Rasha to start smooching, and ends up trying to give her a painful neck massage. When that fails, she tries to move next to Rasha, and ends up hitting her in the lip. When she tries to help, she hits Rasha in the head. Rasha leaves to get ice, frustrated. Later, Zoe tries to break up with Rasha so she can being with Samira. “You guys are like Romeo and Juliet, an epic love torn apart by war—” Zoe starts before being cut off by Rasha. “And bad breath.” Rasha and Samira had broken up for valid reasons and Rasha wants to stay with Zoe. “I’m falling in love with you, Zoe.” “I’m falling in love with you too.”
Degrassi Community School has always been unnecessarily extra, so maybe that’s why they’re so invested in the Brussels terror attack. Usually, schools don’t do much about terrorism in other countries, but you’ve got to commend these fictional students on their stellar organization and their passion. Goldi is doing so much so well. Also, Goldi’s skill is super impressive. How much did those t-shirts cost to make? What kind of budget does student council have, and how did they get the shirts so quickly?
Unfortunately, things aren’t going well for Saad, who is making some extremely good points. For such open-minded students, no one is really listening to anything he has to say. I’m really glad that he’s getting such a great arc this season compared to his barely-there character in season 3, where all he did was enable Maya’s destructiveness. He’s played by the formidable Parham Rownhagi, who is definitely one of the standouts this season.
Frankie got two of the best and the worst lines this season so far, and they’re all kinds of beautiful. “So count me in for some terrorist cupcakes” is the first and the second is “May I present the best way to fight terrorism: decorative frosting.” Surprisingly, I’m actually interested in Frankie’s plot this season, probably because she’s wonderfully naive and Esme is wonderfully manipulative. It’s an interesting dynamic and I wonder why Esme is keeping Frankie around– especially when the threesome seems like it might actually happen.
As for Zoe and Rasha, I’m so happy there isn’t any trouble in paradise. Their C-plot was, well… very much a C-plot. But I’m glad we got to see them be happy and officially declare that they’re falling in love with each other.
Also, Abra is officially the cutest and I hope she leads the hoard of newbies that Degrassi we be receiving in season 5!
Overall, I’ll give this episode a solid 8/10, mostly because the plots were focussed on either interesting characters and dynamics or my favourite characters and dynamics. My friend echoes the 8/10, saying that “it felt like something was lacking” and “it still hasn’t reached it’s full potential”.
Episode 6: #FactsOnly
Episode Description: Yael feels like an identity overhaul is needed and turns to Lola for help. Maya auditions for Zoe, Goldi, and a special celebrity judge for the charity talent show.
The episode opens with Yael, Hunter, Baaz, and Vijay trying to figure out what to do for the charity talent show. The boys have the great idea of lighting their farts on fire to music, and Yael finds that gross. The boys chalk it up to her being a girl and Vijay asks Lola how she feels about farts in hopes of proving the guys right. Lola thinks they’re hilarious but Hunter says she’s an exception. Yael talks to Baaz about how he was being sexist, and while arguing her point, tries to follow him into the boy’s bathroom. Not wanting to leave the conversation unfinished, she claims her right to go into the bathroom because the sign indicates people wearing pants rather than boys only. When she walks in and Hunter is peeing and he asks what she’s doing, she says “uh, I’m wearing pants” and leaves. She’s spotted by the school guidance counsellor, who takes her aside and offers the school’s support if she wants to change her pronouns or use the boy’s bathroom. Yael denies being transgender, but doesn’t deny that there’s something going on. Later, she finds Hunter between classes, and he barely says a word to her before leaving to go to a class they have together. She asks Baaz and Vijay what’s wrong with him, and Baaz asks her what’s wrong with her and gives a list of what’s been weird lately, capping it off with “Plus you don’t ever want to make out anymore.” “Wait, Hunter said that?” Yael asks, and Baaz confirms: “He was very distraught.” The boys end up asking her if she’s transgender or a lesbian and to figure it out so Hunter stops being confused. Yael approaches Lola and awkwardly kisses her, and then admits she was trying to figure out if she’s gay, which she’s not. Yael confesses to Lola about how she’s feeling: “I feel in between. I don’t feel like a girl, or what everyone thinks is a girl. […] But I don’t feel like a boy, either.” Lola says that one of her favourite vloggers is genderqueer/genderfluid and uses they/them pronouns, and maybe that’s how Yael is feeling. She says it calls for a makeover. Later, Yael takes off her wig and shows Lola the natural hair she’s always hated. Lola pins it back and asks about pronouns, but Yael doesn’t comment on it. She tries on her new outfit and cries because it’s exactly right. Yael shows off her new look to Hunter, who doesn’t understand it. “I thought you’d be okay with it.” “So I’d be a dude dating someone who’s… whatever. What does that make me?” He asks. Yael stammers in return: “I don’t- I don’t know. Does it matter?” “Yeah! I mean, I like girls.” “I thought you liked me.” Hunter says it’s too much for him and then leaves, and Lola comes up to Yael. She asks if Yael wants to change but the answer is no. “This is me. I guess if he loves me he’ll come around. I’m not going back. Not for him, not for anyone.”
Maya is waiting with Tristan to audition for the charity talent show, unsure if she even wants to get back up on stage. It’s revealed that Craig Manning, former Degrassi student, is the celebrity guest judge. Maya gets up on stage and sings and plays her song she wrote at the end of last season– “Last Exit.” She later checks the talent show list and sees she didn’t get in. She stops Goldi in the hallway, asking why, and Goldi says they rejected her based on her playing ‘Last Exit.’ She says she doesn’t want the song to inspire anyone to commit suicide because of glamorization and romanticization. At the talent show, Maya sings an old song, ‘Black or White’ instead. Maya takes second place to the vloggers’ first place, to which Tristan comments: “We’re leaving Degrassi in the hands of those weirdos.” Goldi and Zoe lead her over to Craig, who was very impressed by the performance but was hoping Maya would play the ‘Last Exit’ instead because he found it relatable. Craig asks if Maya will meet with his band and play a few songs to see if she’d be a good fit to open for them. She says she’ll think about it, which Tristan freaks at.
Zig gets an email saying he didn’t get into Kempton University. When his friends gather and boast about where they got in (Tiny to Caltech, Esme to Columbia and Harvard, Grace to University of Toronto, Jonah to Queens) Zig lies and says he got into Kempton. His lie falls apart when Grace checks the “acceptance” email to see what residence he got into. He walks off, upset. Frankie finds Zig later and comforts him, offering up her pathetic moments to make him feel better. “I’m not a very good girlfriend,” she admits. “Or maybe Jonah wasn’t a very good boyfriend.” Zig says in support. “That’s nice of you to say.” When Esme walks up, Frankie takes her leave. Zig tries to explain to Esme that there was nothing happening with Frankie just then, but Esme seems to be encouraging him to make a move on Frankie. “You were telling me you wanted to kiss Frankie, unless I heard incorrectly?” Esme says before leaving a very confused Zig alone. Tiny later approaches Zig with application forms for community college, which Zig only takes to impress Esme so she won’t break up with him. Later, in the Hollingsworth pool, Esme soaks Zig’s community college forms and gets him into the pool. She brings up the threesome rumours again: “It’s such a rip-off, though. We get a bad rep around school and none of the actual fun.” She asks Zig who’s a better kisser, making Frankie kiss him. Tiny later asks Zig if Esme dumped him, and Zig says he thinks he kind of has two girlfriends now. He walks away to join Esme and Frankie.
So much happened in this episode that I feel like my brain exploded trying to even think about what went down. For starters, Yael is non-binary! No word on pronouns or how Yael actually identifies– Lola’s favourite vlogger went by they/them and is genderqueer, but who knows if Yael feels the same. Degrassi handled the gender identity very well and in a very Degrassi-esque way. My biggest problem with is is that the actress who plays Yael, the incredible Jamie Bloch, is cisgender. Either way, the arc was done well and I hope we get some clarifications on Yael’s pronouns soon. I also hope that the rest of Yael’s arc isn’t about Hunter not being able to handle it, because I’m so done with Hunter as a character (and I have been done forever.)
The threesome is REAL. OH MY GOD. I thought the poly relationship of Zig/Esme/Frankie would be funny if it actually happened but I actually really like it? Like it’s an interesting dynamic, even though I’m now wondering what Esme’s game is. In the first episode that we saw the trio together, Esme was holding hands with Frankie and calling a picture of Frankie and Zig cute. Either way, this relationship is actually really nice and I sincerely hope it doesn’t get ruined, even though it will because like… Esme.
Given the two main storylines, I found Maya’s storyline kind of underwhelming– maybe it’s because I haven’t seen much of Degrassi: The Next Generation and I don’t get the fuss with Craig Manning. I was surprised in the beginning that Maya’s storyline in this episode was basically promoted in the description as a B-plot, but it makes more sense to avoid threesome spoilers.
The episodes keep getting better and better, and I’ll give this one an 8.5/10– my friend gives it the same, saying it was “cool”.
Episode 7: #Fire
Episode Description: What starts out as a small grad camping getaway with Zig, Tiny, Jonah, Grace, and Maya turns into a bigger ordeal when Frankie, Esme, Shay, and Lola latch on.
The episode opens on Zig, Frankie, and Esme, cuddled up at school. Tiny walks up, hinting at something involving a minivan and food, saying “tonight’s gonna be amazing.” Zig reluctantly tells his girlfriends about the grad camping trip this weekend with Tiny, Maya, Grace, and Jonah. Esme immediately gets defensive and invites herself and a hapless Frankie along. Shay is invited along by Tiny, and Lola tells Shay that on the camping trip, Shay and Tiny are definitely going to have sex. “What?! Sex?! Noooo!” She reacts. Meanwhile, Maya is stressed about writing perfect songs for Craig Manning and acing her finals. In Frankie’s room, Esme reveals matching bikini tops she bought for her and Frankie, but Frankie says she doesn’t think she’ll go because they weren’t invited. Esme tries to convince her, but Frankie tells her to make her own history with Zig and friends, and leaves to go meet Shay and Lola. Shay calls her mom to get permission for camping, and it surprisingly works. Frankie says she won’t go, to which Lola snarks: “Trouble in poly paradise? There’s a surprise.” Frankie agrees to go on the camping trip, driving Shay and Lola up.
At the campsite, post-getting set up, the group hangs out and reminisces, and Esme is the clear outlier. She brings weed brownies for dessert, which everyone in the group turns down for various reasons. Maya brings ingredients for s’mores. Frustrated, Esme claims a headache and goes to sulk in her tent. Later, Maya stresses out about her song-writing and Frankie, Shay, and Lola shows up. Frankie pops a brownie in her mouth and spits it out when Jonah says they’re weed brownies, and then goes to put her stuff away and check on Esme, who’s not happy to see her. Esme plots for them to go swimming with their new bikinis and eventually skinny-dipping to lure Zig in. Jonah and Grace tell Maya to relax about her song-writing, but take the brownies away from her when she tries to use those to help her relax. “Maybe try meditation before mind-altering substances.” Grace recommends, but Maya eats two as soon as they turn their backs.
Frankie and Esme walk alone in the dark, Frankie trying to get them to turn back. Esme is freaking out and paranoid that Zig will abandon her, and she lashes out at Frankie, who was a pawn the entire time to keep Zig with her. “I made you!” Esme snaps when Frankie says she’s not going to have a threesome with Zig and Esme. “What?” “You were just some pathetic girl moping over a dumb boyfriend and I made you awesome!” When Frankie still says she won’t do it, Esme tells her she’s just like everyone else. “I give you everything and you turn on me!” She abandons Frankie in the woods.
Back at the campsite, Zig goes to check on Esme, and Maya emerges from her tent, claiming she wrote the best song ever in record time. She starts to play and sing, stumbling over chords and interesting lyrics: “The universe expands within my mind/I am one with all womankind”. She suddenly gets really hot and asks if she’s twirling, and admits she ate the weed brownies. She goes to lie down on Jonah’s recommendation. Grace, Jonah, and Lola all go to their tent and Frankie’s car, respectively, leaving Shay and Tiny. Shay is reluctant to go inside the tent with Tiny but eventually does, zipping her sweater all the way up as he takes his shirt off. Tiny gets her to open up about how she doesn’t know if she’s ready or not. She admits feels generally ready.
Zig is out Esme-searching, and happens upon Maya, who is crying because she doesn’t want to be high anymore. She freaks about having to write a song and Zig says that he’ll help her write the song. In the tent, she starts to play the song she’s working on, and he cries. “It’s not that good,” she says, but he finally opens up, saying that she scared him. He asks why she would do that to herself and she responds with: “Because I feel this wall of pressure coming at me like a tidal wave.” They finally have the deep talk that they’ve needed to have for forever. “When we found you on the roof, it felt like the world was gonna end.” Zig says tearfully. He tries to convince her to prioritize her health over her dream. Outside the tent, Esme hears them talking and starts to scream that she can’t breathe. Everyone comes running out and Zig acts quickly, saying she’s allergic to bees and must have gotten stung. Jonah grabs her Epi-pen and Esme administers it to herself, but she fakes it. Jonah and Shay call her out on her faking it. Frankie makes an entrance from the woods: “I thought I was gonna die!” Zig goes for a walk and the group goes back to their tents, with Esme left alone.
In the morning, Tiny and Shay wake up side by side, in domestic bliss. They decide to let Frankie burn breakfast and have some fun. Zig returns to his, Frankie, and Esme’s tent in the morning as Esme tries to explain what happened, saying that Maya put herself in trouble so Zig would leave Esme. “I spent my entire year wrapped up in your insanity.” He spits out. She takes off her sweater to try and seduce him into not breaking up with her. She’s left alone, sobbing.
The gang packs up the minivan and Maya says she learned she has to go easier on herself and let things happen instead of trying to control everything. “Glad you’re feelin’ better.” Zig says with a comforting hand on Maya’s shoulder.
This episode was the episode that was going to try to mimic the iconic Hollingshouse sleepover episode in season 3 (episode 5) and it honestly was just as good. The lack of a clear A-plot, B-plot, and C-plot worked so well in this episode and honestly, it was nice to catch a break from the vlogger kids. Besides, we’ll be seeing a lot of them next season. Maya getting high ending up being both hilarious and heart-wrenching, and Esme’s paranoia reaching its peak was well-suited to this episode. The writers did a spectacular job of showing her desperation– particularly by having her allergic reaction plan not work out because she was so desperate and panicked that she didn’t think it through like all of her other plans. In other news, Richard Hoyos is killing it as Zig and has gone beyond being that one tough guy in sleeveless shirts. It was strange for the grad trip to initially be for the original friend group without Miles or Zoe being there– they caused their fair amount of drama, but the Esme dramatics would have outshone their appearance there anyways.
I’ll give this episode a 9.3/10, and my friend gives it a 9/10 saying, “It was nice to see an episode that had a lot of the cast together in one place that wasn’t the school.” The episodes just keep getting better and better as we near the season’s end.
Also, that part where Lola straight-up told Frankie and Shay that she lost her virginity to Miles and aborted his child? And they didn’t believe her? If that moment had been in one of the earlier episodes of the season, it would have been the best part of the episode by far.
Episode 8: #GetYouAManThatCanDoBoth
Episode Description: Tristan and others wonder if his turbo-mode recovery is a good idea. After seeing others get ‘promposals’, Shay is hoping that Tiny will do the same.
Tristan’s alarm goes off as the opener of the episode– he wakes up and turns it off, with his roommate snarking that it’s about time. He struggles to put his pants on, rushing as his roommate, Oli, helps him. “You haven’t told him you can’t do this stuff on your own?” Oli questions as he buttons up Tristan’s pants. Miles walks in and surprises Tristan with a backpacking trip to Europe. Tristan stumbles as he stands, but says he’s fine. In Tristan’s only class, geography, he and Miles discuss their Europe trip. Maya doubts Tristan’s capabilities and to prove a point, Tristan decides to take tomorrow’s test with the rest of the class instead of in a special room. At the rehab centre, Tristan is walking intensely on a treadmill, and Oli approaches, concerned about how Tristan’s pushing himself– he’s been at it for 40 minutes and keeps upping his speed. Tristan falls but starts again, insisting he’s fine. The next day, Tristan can barely move to shut off his alarm. Oli is out, so Tristan grabs a bedpan and stumbles on his own. Miles walks in and Tristan asks if he can wait in the hall, but Miles insists on helping– and Tristan pees on Miles. Tristan finally gets Miles to leave as Oli walks in. During the geography test, Tristan freezes up and can’t focus. After, he overhears Miles saying that he’s going to defer going to the London Writers Academy for a year because Tristan needs him. Tristan brings it up later, saying that Miles can’t put off his dreams for him. He suggests they break up because Tristan kept pushing himself for Miles. “I gave up everything!” Miles says, and Tristan looks at him. “I didn’t ask you to do that.” Tristan puts his health first so he can get better on his own. Miles leaves.
Shay is bombarded by Frankie and Lola at school as they gush about her post-sex glow. The girls find sticky-notes on Shay’s locker, a line of them leading down to a romantic promposal from Zoe to Rasha. The girls discuss how they think Tiny will prompose to Shay. In science class, Tiny starts an elaborate system that ends with a sign popping up saying ‘Will You Go To Prom With Me’ Shay stands, excited, and a second sign pops up: ‘Grace?’ Grace says yes, and Shay sits back down. Later, Shay and Tiny discuss prom, and Tiny isn’t that into it. Shay agrees to spending the night in and watching a movie instead of going to prom, upset. Shay and Frankie talk about Shay not going to prom and Baaz cuts in. “It’s simple economics. Tiny got the milk for free, ergo he doesn’t need to buy the cow.” He says, convincing Shay that all Tiny wants is sex and he doesn’t want to drop big bucks on prom to get it. Shay confronts Tiny in the hallway, almost-shouting at him, and some girls turn up the music. Shay shouts at them to turn it down, but suddenly everyone’s dancing, including Tiny– he’s promposing to her. She accepts it and everything is okay as they jam to the music.
Frankie and Lola pass through the halls and see “Go home Saad” written on Saad’s locker. Lola asks Frankie if she minds if she partners with him for a science project, and Frankie teases her: “Classic Lola. Back at it again with those problematic crushes.” Lola asks Saad and he agrees, and the vloggers walk up to Lola to warn her about Saad. Vijay points out that one of the Brussels attackers was a scared high school kid too until the radicals got to him. “Vijay could be an extremist, even with that silly hat.” Hunter remarks. Baaz recommends searching Saad’s browser history. At Saad’s house, later, Saad already knows how to strip the wire and do everything for the electricity project. When he leaves the room to check on his siblings, Lola looks at Saad’s browser history and accidentally clicks on a online shopping page that he had been on. Saad sees her and kicks her out. Lola shows up and approaches Saad to give him the pair of jeans that he’d looked at online. Saad asks for her help because he was talking to someone online who he thinks is a radical. He needs to delete his browser history because he doesn’t want to be incriminated in this. At Saad’s home, Yael deletes all of his social media and scrubs his hard drives. Yael freezes after seeing some of the things Saad said, but Lola talks Yael into doing it. “You ever felt alone? Isolated? Like no one understand?” Lola says, and they hear Saad from the next room: “Help! These tickle monsters have me pinned!” Lola goes to help as Yael scrubs everything, but not before taking pictures. In science class, Lola and Saad’s presentation goes well and she invites him to come volunteer at prom with her and Yael.
For something promoted as a B-plot, Shay’s promposal storyline is kind of bland. I love Shay and I love Tiny, but it just didn’t interest me. Maybe my brain is just fried from the binge-watching. The storyline was also filled with plot holes, like this one– why didn’t Frankie tell Shay not to confront Tiny when she knew about the promposal? Shay would definitely tell Frankie about going to give Tiny a piece of her mind, so why wouldn’t Frankie do something? Anything?
Miles and Tristan’s return to the main storyline was actually pretty okay– I was wondering when they’d address Tristan’s recovery again. I was shocked at their breaking up, but it makes sense. I wasn’t particularly sad about it anyways. Oli is my new favourite character. My friend comments that it’s unlike Miles to think that Tristan would be fine to go to Europe, and that it felt like they just kind of tossed Tristan’s recovery to the side and pulled it out just for this episode.
Saad’s storylines are starting to be my favourite storylines, even though this spells out trouble. Lola is definitely head over heels for him, which doesn’t seem like an awful thing. She deserves a good relationship, and Saad deserves to be happy. The moment where Saad went for the high five and Lola went for the hug was the best moment. I’m glad that Frankie’s not being over-focussed on and she’s kind of a third player this episode. Also, Yael showed up again– still no update on pronouns.
Overall, this episode was better than the early episodes of the season, but my friend remarked that it fell flat after the amazing seventh episode. My friend gives it a 7/10, and I give it a 7.5/10– mostly because Oli.
Episode 9: #Obsessed
Episode Description: The senior prom is delayed due to a code red emergency. Esme is furious when prom doesn’t go exactly as she’d hoped.
Zig, Maya, Grace, Jonah, and Tiny are studying for their history exam at Maya’s place, with Zig barely scraping by. If he doesn’t get a 75, he’ll fail the course. Everyone leaves but Zig stays with Maya to cram for the exam. The next morning, Zig wakes up to find that he’s cuddling with Maya. He leaves awkwardly. After the exam, Zig admits to Tiny that he cuddled with Maya, and Tiny doesn’t see the big deal. Maya walks up and asks Zig if he wants to go to from together and he agrees. Later, Esme approaches Zig to ask what time he’ll pick her up for prom, and is confused and upset when he says they aren’t going. When she finds out he’s going with Maya, she snaps at him. Feeling bad for her, he says he still loves her but needs space. Katie Matlin takes pictures of Zig and Maya pre-prom. He asks Maya not to post anything on socials because of Esme. Zig discovers from a text message that prom is on hold because of a bomb threat. While the seniors are waiting to hear what happens, Zig texts Esme to ensure she’s okay, and she sends him pictures of her in a bra. He promptly puts the phone away, and Tiny announces that prom’s still happening. At prom, Zig is still texting Esme, who is guilt-tripping him into talking to her. He finally puts his phone away, blocking her, and goes to dance with Maya. Esme shows up at the prom to yell at Zig, who’s slow-dancing with Maya, for blocking her. She grabs a knife off the table and yells, “Maybe I should just kill myself. Make you all happy!” Zig agrees to go talk to her so she’ll put down the knife. In the forest with him, she tries to kiss him, saying they’re better together when they aren’t talking. He tries to leave and she starts hitting him until he tumbles down a steep slope in the forest.
Hunter tries to make plans to celebrate end of exams with Baaz and Vijay, who are volunteering at prom. He tries to hop on that, but Baaz shuts him down. “I’m not sure they’d be cool with it.” They is Yael, and after Vijay explains their new pronouns, Hunter calls it ridiculous. “And that’s why you’re not going,” Vijay says. When Hunter tries to rant, Vijay interjects with the proper pronouns. At the Hollingsworth house, Hunter is still freaking out about Yael and Frankie tells him he has to decide how he feels before Yael goes after anyone else. At the prom, Hunter walks up to Yael, Baaz, Vijay, Lola, and Saad, who are volunteering. “I’ll leave if they wants.” Hunter says, but Yael lets him stay. They go to get a volunteer uniform for Hunter. They return, and police sirens are heard. Police cars pull up, as does a bomb unit truck. As the volunteers wait to know what’s happening, Yael steps forward, saying they know something. Lola tries to get them to stop, but they go talk to an officer, and soon Saad is stopped by the officer who wants to ask him questions. When taking a photo-booth picture with Yael, Hunter ends up snapping at them because they’re not normal. Yael calls him the problem and leaves.
Miles reveals to Winston and Zoe that he’s not going to prom, and that his dad probably won’t pay for his writers program. Zoe admits she’s still hoping her homophobic mom will come around, and Winston tells them to talk to their parents and they’ll all live happily ever after. Later, Miles approaches his dad about the London Writers Academy. “I know that you don’t support it but I was hoping that you could support me.” He shows his dad his plan and a payback schedule, but his dad isn’t too welcoming to the idea at first. “You always choose the hard path, huh?” Mr. Hollingsworth brings up the idea of changing Miles’ trust to be available to him now instead of at 25, and says he’s proud of him. He tells him to go to the writing school but not to miss prom. At prom, Miles surprises Winston and invites him to backpack in Europe with him. When Miles learns Tristan isn’t there, he leaves to go see him. Goldi walks up to Winston, who apologizes to her, and she forgives him. Miles shows up to see Tristan to ask him to come to prom. Tristan can’t because he’s having a bad day and wouldn’t be able to handle the sensory overload, so Miles decides to slow dance with Tristan then and there. “How do we say goodbye?” Miles asks. “We don’t.” Tristan answers.
Finally, we have some pronouns for Yael, but we have more of Hunter being Hunter. Baaz and Vijay, though they slip up sometimes, are really trying to use Yael’s proper pronouns. It’s surprising for Baaz, considering his sister’s homophobia last season and Baaz’s entire personality in general.
When Hunter was talking to Frankie at the Hollingshome, he asked Frankie how she’d feel if Jonah grew boobs and cut off his junk. She responded with “Then I’d have nothing to fantasize about” and made a cutting motion with her hands– is the audience supposed to take that as her cutting his junk off, or a sexual reference? Either way, it’s a bit much for Family Channel.
The best exchange of the whole night came from the volunteers plotline:
Vijay: Welcome to the club.
Hunter: Oh. I’m not gay. I like girls.
Lola: Oh, Yael’s not a girl anymore.
Hunter: She’s not a guy either.
Baaz: So what does that make you? Bi?” -Baaz
Vijay: Poly, I think.
Lola: Is that like pan? I’m always confused about that one.
Saad: I don’t think we have that in Syria.
As someone who hasn’t seen much of The Next Generation, I don’t have many comments on the interaction between Miles and his dad. Miles and Tristan’s “prom” was cute and I like the note they ended on.
As for Zig and Maya, their chemistry is off-the-charts. There’s no way they’re not getting back together, even if it’s off-screen post-season 4. At the beginning, with Zig waking up cuddling Maya, I’m super sure that Maya was awake and stayed there until Zig started waking up. She looked much more awake than Zig did, and started moving when he started to. The best moment was when they were slow-dancing and Grace told them to kiss.
Zig can’t be dead, because killing him off before graduation is cruel and we’ve seen him at graduation in the trailer. Still, Esme has genuinely snapped at this point, and episode 10 can’t just be graduation mush– we need some closure for her storyline, which makes me wonder what else she’ll do before someone takes her down.
Overall, I’d give this episode a solid 9/10– the plots were so interweaved with each other that it was hard to pick them out of each other. My friend echoes the 9/10.
Episode 10: #KThxBye
Episode Description: The gowns are on and the caps about to be thrown, it’s another Degrassi graduation! Zoe wonders how much support she’ll get as she prepares to make her valedictory speech.
We pick back up at prom, where the students dance– except for Maya, who’s checking her phone. Winston and Goldi announce the prom queens– “Zoe Rivas and Rasha Zuabi!” Maya worries about Zig, who’s been gone for an hour.“What, you think he’s like in danger or something?” Jonah asks, and Tiny jumps in. “Yeah, of hooking up with Cruella De Vil.” During the ceremonious prom queen dance, Maya slips out for a walk. She sees Esme, sobbing and pacing, who points Maya to Zig at the bottom of the slope. A paramedic checks out Zig’s leg, proclaiming that it’s just a bad sprain. Zig doesn’t turn Esme in and apologizes for getting Maya involved with his relationship drama. “I’m Maya Matlin. Drama follows me.” She answers. Esme shows up unceremoniously in Frankie’s room, scarily rambling and trying to make a plan. Frankie timidly helps her come up with ideas and Esme ends up passing out on Frankie’s bed. Grace runs into Maya’s room to wake her up, and Maya admits she has a bad feeling about the coming day. “I just feel like every time I do something to be happy, somebody gets hurt.” “That’s your depression brain talking,” Grace retorts. Maya doesn’t know if she wants to go to California for SoCalArt, but Grace talks her into taking this one day at a time. Frankie realizes that Esme said she tried to stop prom. She rushes upstairs to find her, but she’s gone. Frankie, looking for Esme, learns she’s not on the list to graduate even though she’s a straight A student who got into two Ivy League schools. At school, in graduation gowns, Maya, Miles, Tristan, and Grace reminisce before Zig hobbles in on crutches. Frankie, looking for Esme, learns she’s not on the list to graduate even though she’s a straight A student who got into two Ivy League schools. Frankie sees Esme outside on a motorcycle that she bought for Zig. Frankie pulls Zig out during Maya’s song. Zig meets Esme outside, and she tries to apologize and get him to drive away on the motorcycle with her. When he says no, she starts destroying the bike and admits to calling in the bomb threat. She tries to attack Zig again but he grabs her wrists. She collapses, sobbing, into his arms and he hands her over to the guidance counsellor. Zig makes it back just in time to go up to the stage and get his diploma. Maya eventually decides to go to SoCalArt and Zig offers to drive her up there.
At the prom, Zoe is thinking of her mom, who was prom queen, and she’s upset because she can’t share it with her. Rasha, however, has found out that her family is in Lebanon with a cousin, and she tells Zoe to call her mom. “It’s been seven months. What if nothing’s changed?” Zoe worries. Rasha has a suggestion: “Then off with her head?” At a restaurant after prom, Zoe calls her mom and leaves an awkward, stilted voicemail inviting her to graduation. Her mom texts asking what time the ceremony is at. Setting up for prom, Zoe reserves seats for her mom and her step-dad. Her step-dad shows up to tell her that her mom isn’t coming, but gives her a box with her birth certificate and passport– her legal documents she needs for university. There’s also a letter, which Zoe doesn’t want to open. At the graduation ceremony, Zoe tries to give her valedictory speech, but stumbles and starts to cry. She runs off and her friends go backstage to support her as Maya starts her song. “So that’s the last memory everyone will have of me?” Zoe cries. Her friends comfort her, saying they’re her family, but she says it’s not the same. Who will she spend holidays with? Her friends claim respective holidays to spend time with her on. When she’s called to the stage to get her diploma, her friends stand and she gets a standing ovation. Zoe decides to burn the letter from her mom because she has a family now. Her friends pressure her into making a speech, which she ends with: “K, thanks, bye, hope we all keep in touch, you all have bright futures that I would like to hear about.”
Lola is still upset at Yael for turning Saad in. When Yael learns that Esme confessed to the bomb threat, she goes to apologize to Saad. “I’m sorry I accused you of making the bomb threat. I was wrong and probably racist.” Lola stops him before he can close the door, inviting him to an end-of-year party. He declines because he has to pack. He’s leaving to stay with an uncle in Montreal because there’s nothing for him here. At that, Lola kisses him and asks if he’ll come now.
At the end of the episode, there’s a montage of social media posts as ‘Last Exit’ plays. First, Miles and Winston, in Europe. Next, Grace and Jonah, including one of Jonah kissing Grace’s head while she’s in a hospital bed. Then, pictures of Tristan and his mom, and Tristan and Oli as they officially graduate from rehab. Then, cute pictures of Goldi and Winston. Next, cute pictures of Rasha and Zoe. Next, Shay and Tiny, who’s in a CalTech shirt with a suitcase, ready to go. Finally, a video of Maya, smiling, in a car, and she leans over to include a smiling and driving Zig.
For someone who’s not particularly attached to a lot of the graduates (I’m fond of Miles, Zoe, and sometimes Maya, Grace, and Tristan) this last episode was kind of emotional. A lot of storylines were finally completed, but so many of were left hanging and unresolved for next season. This episode was pretty much a perfect end– it had typical Degrassi drama and still a very nice final goodbye. I’m glad Zoe’s plot with her mom got resolved, though I would have liked to seen it addressed a little more before the finale, as it felt like it was pulled out of nowhere.
My friend says the last two episodes felt like one big goodbye in that they fit very well together. She puts this episode at a 9.3/10, mostly because it was the goodbye episode, and I’m willing to personally bump mine up to a 9.4/10. Mostly because it’s kind of the end of an era.
Overall, the show pulled off a great fourth season that I personally would say was slightly better than the third. There were some plots that I really liked and that really resonated with me, and Degrassi has a good way of tackling social issues in a way that makes it feel real and not cheesy. I find myself thinking of Tristan Milligan’s iconic quote from this season: “We’re leaving Degrassi in the hands of those weirdos.” I’m excited for season five and to meet the new pack, but I don’t know exactly what they have left to do with the current characters. Vijay will probably be the new Maya, Hunter will have a whole season of confusion and then hopefully we apologize massively to Yael, Esme will have a whole season of hopefully very well done recovery, and Frankie will be Frankie. Past that, the newbies are going to have to be very interesting and very likeable. I’ll leave you with a line from Zoe’s final speech– and a link to Last Exit.
“I’ve learned that this world is big enough for all of us to succeed and the only people that we should ever be competing against is ourselves.”