Every week, we're recapping season two of Degrassi: Next Class, episode by episode. Go Panthers, go!
The Degrassi empire has been built on a solid foundation of "going there" in its story lines. They've covered just about everything, from school shootings to abortions, gender identity to alcoholism — and more. While episode seven continues to navigate the multi-layered Black Lives Matter arc, it also seemed to phone in some "teen show" cliches that are equal parts fluff and a means to wrap things up in the latter part of the season.
We catch up this week with Frankie Hollingsworth. She was largely M.I.A. in episode six, hiding out following the Black Lives Matter protest, which made her quite literally the poster child for white privilege after her racist prank. Although the end of that episode made it sound like she had a plan to "never set foot in that school again," she didn't. Considering her brother Miles has threatened to go to boarding school at least a dozen times, you think she'd just ask. Instead, she was just playing hooky, hoping her parents wouldn't notice that she wasn't going to class. This lasted about four days, until her mom got a call asking if she had a doctor's note to excuse her from the two exams she'd missed. Mrs. Hollingsworth busts Frankie — and Jonah — and ships her off to school.
When she gets to class, she finds that they've been working on group projects while she's been gone, so she's displaced. No one offers to let her join their group, so her teacher says that the two of them will catch up instead. Baaz points out that her teacher is black, so is she comfortable with that? Mortified, she texts Jonah that she needs to see him immediately. They regroup in the car, where she begs him to not make her go to class. Her genius idea is to run away, which has of course never ever failed in the history of teen dramas, right? Obviously, Jonah has seen that after-school special, but his skepticism is trumped by her desperation, and they leave. They check in to a seedy motel, where she's still pretty convinced they can just hide out in forever.
She wakes up the next day to hear Jonah talking on the phone to his mom, insisting that he will talk some sense into Frankie after breakfast. He tells her that he was planning to talk her out of it all along and that she should just apologize. Furious, she storms out with his car keys and leaves. After driving for a little while, a loud pop signals a flat tire. She haphazardly tries to change it on her own without any luck, and goes back into the car. A black man sees her struggling and pulls over. As he approaches, she immediately tenses up and locks the door. She reluctantly rolls down the window and he offers to help. She initially turns him down, but after a good long look, she reconsiders. Later that night, she tells Miles that she really thought about why she locked her door. She doesn't know exactly, but she wants to do better. It's hard to say if this will finally make an impact on her detractors, or if they'll assume it's insincere like the 200 other times she's tried to apologize. It's about time it comes to some conclusion, though.
Back at school, Tiny and Shay are busy flirting on the front steps. The problem? Tiny is still with Lola. The two of them have been like two ships in the night for a while now and it seems like they're finally both into it at the same time. When Lola interrupts with a giant tackle hug, it's revealed that Tiny has had a sharp pain in his stomach for a few days. Shay rationally says he should go to the doctor (Canada has free health care — hello!), but Lola insists that it isn't necessary. She urges him to talk to her homeopath instead. After all, who cares about him more, Shay or her?
Laying it on thick, Degrassi, laying it on thick.
Tiny tries to choke down whatever drugs the homeopath recommended, but it isn't helping. Grace points out that maybe it's the guilt he has for liking another girl (which she somehow noticed?). It's emotionally cheating. He explains that he can't just ditch Lola after she started a protest for him when he was suspended for a fight he didn't start. He brushes it off and meets up with Shay after school. He continues to complain about pain, and she all but forces him to go to the doctor.
When they get to the hospital, they find that he needs to get his appendix taken out. If he had listened to Lola, it might have been too late. We know, Degrassi, we get it. Shay leaves the couple alone and Lola apologizes for putting him at risk. This really put things into perspective for her and she drops the L-bomb. Unfortunately for her, this is finally the last straw for Tiny, who knows he can't, in good faith, say it back when he has feelings for Shay. He tells Lola his secret and that he doesn't know what to do, but she does it for him. She's no one's second choice, so he's as good as dumped. This all happened awfully fast considering just a few episodes ago, she was texting dudes to buy her pizza, but Shay deserves a win after the doozy of a season she's had so far.
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It's high school in 2016 and boy, do these writers want you to know it. Enter Zoë and Winston. Zoë continues to parade her beau in front of everyone, despite still grappling with the feeling that she's probably more into ladies. Winston seems to know that something is wrong, but dotes on her regardless, bringing her a daily latte before school. Miles and Tristan backhandedly compliment how cute they are, all while pointing out that the two of them get, like, at least 150 likes a post on Hastygram (which is exactly what you think it is). Determined to keep up appearances, Zoë wagers a bet that they can get more likes and be Degrassi's cutest couple. After agreeing to it, she hands Miles her phone to take a picture. He has them back up far enough that Winston nearly gets run over by a Vespa. He spins around on his ankle, landing on one knee with her coffee in hand. This all gets captured in an adorable video, which they post with the caption, #lovehurts.
Later in class, they start to see the pickup from the post. It's slow at first, but then all of the sudden, their phones start blowing up with reposts. It turns out a popular blogger picked up on the video and now everyone was sharing it, envious of these #relationshipgoals. Clearly the victor in the Cute War, they decide to go out to dinner to celebrate. Before they even order, Zoë's face is planted firmly in the glow of her phone, watching thousands of reposts validating her definitely fake relationship. Poor Winston thinks they'll still have a romantic walk later, which she suggests as an opportunity to stage another post for their "brand." Finally realizing her delusion, he leaves her alone with her phone at the table.
After time passes and he doesn't return, she starts to get flustered. She looks down at the spot where she had burned her arm a few episodes prior, harking to the days of Ellie Nash's self-harm. She stares down at it and waves it over a candle on the table, burning herself again. She posts a pic of it on Hastygram with #lovehurts, which seems like it's an attempt for the "brand," but is absolutely a cry for help. Tristan calls her out on it the next day and she continues to deny anything is wrong. She accuses Tristan of always judging her, never actually asking how he can help. "Out and proud works for you but not for me." He fires back that she's just desperate for attention, hurting people (literally, in some cases) to push them away.
Winston finds her in class and apologizes for leaving the restaurant. She also apologizes, promising that she'd never hurt him just for the likes. He extends a peace offering: a bedazzled selfie stick for future Hastygrams. Y'know, just in case selfie sticks weren't annoying enough already. So continues the saga of this odd couple, which needs to come to a head soon. Winston has to suspect something's up and as is the case with many of our characters, he just plain deserves better.