Film and TV

Degrassi: Next Class Recap: Hunter, Interrupted

Every week, we're recapping season two of Degrassi: Next Class. Be the best! The best that you can be! 

Episode two begins on a hopeful note, especially compared to the chaos that went down in the première. We see Hunter standing outside Chez Hollingsworth, gussied up for his first day back at school since being suspended. Meanwhile, Shay and Frankie are busy taking down notes for what to say when they apologize to the captain of the Northern Tech volleyball team. Outside, Maya gets surprised with a hug and a kiss from a loving, remorseful Zig. 

... You didn't think it was going to be that easy though, did you? This is Degrassi, people!

The main stories didn't intertwine, so neither will we. We begin with Hunter, who seemed to have come a long way since that whole crashed-the-car-for-my-brother's-attention bit last episode. He skips the usual Hollingsworth meal out on the patio (seriously, do these people ever go inside?) eager to get to school early to find his ladypal, Yael, and apologize for the incident last season where he lashed out and pushed her to the ground. He talks excitedly to his mother and brother in the car, until he realizes they didn't pull up to school. Instead, he's in front of a mental hospital, about to be put on a psychiatric hold. 

They go inside and begin the intake process, and the noise of his mother and the doctors talking is drowned out by his voice inside his own head. This might be the first time the show has attempted a kind of narration like that. He stays inside his head for a while, ignoring his brother and sister when they come to visit him. He snaps out of it and asks Miles to borrow his sweatshirt. When a hesitant Miles finally caves, he throws it on like a superhero cape and goes bolting for the door. He doesn't make it very far before he's dragged down by security in a fit of rage. 

The next day, he has his first session with his doctor. She rattles off the list of why he's there and tries to gauge if he's aware of what's gone wrong. Clearly, he isn't, and spends most of his session looking down at drawing he is making of Yael. He tells his doctor that he's going to tell her whatever she needs to hear so he can go talk to Yael. The doctor sees this as an opportunity to present him with a personal relationships workbook, a common practice in cognitive behavioral therapy. If he completes the exercises, he can talk to her, or so he thought. When the doctor points out a slew of negative thoughts in the workbook, he starts screaming, throws a chair and is dragged out yet again.

Later in his room, he starts to replay all the choices he's made. He makes the connection between all of these things and expresses as much in a session with his doctor and family the next day. He understands that he feels like he's pushing a boulder up a hill, and it comes back down on him. While everyone assures him that these feelings are normal, his doctor promises that she'll help teach him coping skills and make the boulder feel a little smaller. This isn't the first time Degrassi has tackled mental illness, but it's the first that has seen this type of result. His quick about-face may be a result of a lack of the writers truly understanding or just wanting to keep the plot moving, but it'll be interesting to see how much longer we see this through. 

The Degrassi Girls Volleyball team is in some major hot water after they pranked their rival, Northern Tech, with a banner depicting its black players as monkeys. The sit-in at the game did not do them any favors, causing other teams to drop out of competition with them, too. Captain Frankie is still fairly oblivious to all of it, dumbstruck by why a school nicknamed "The Zoo" would be upset about a banner with animals. Ever think they didn't give themselves that nickname? Nevertheless, she's sticking to her guns that it was a joke, it wasn't about race and most importantly, she's not a racist. 

Captain Shay — who was more or less in the dark — also wasn't thinking it was a big deal. She matter-of-factly writes down the talking points, as she'll be representing both of them at a meeting with the Northern Tech captain, Kara. The moment she walks in, however, the other team's captain is quick to point out that of course only the black captain was available for the meeting. She is taken aback, but tries to stick to the script of "it was only a joke" and "they didn't mean it." Kara hammers her with questions about her level of involvement, pointing to the fact that they live in a world where many people do mean it. Since Shay wasn't directly responsible, Kara insists that mastermind come forward or apology not accepted. Furthermore, she wants that person to quit the team.

Shay takes a long hard look at herself while taking a long hard look at the offending banner in question. When her Dad walks by, she asks if he thinks it's racist? He immediately knows what someone drawn as a monkey means and says yeah, it definitely is. He explains the history of how monkeys were used to compare to black people to justify slavery. People who haven't experienced prejudice in that way have a hard time seeing it. Nevertheless, it's not Shay's responsibility to take this on herself.

She arrives at practice the next day, overhearing Lola's desire for a pet monkey and Frankie trying to rationalize that the issue wasn't racism, just that she was bad at art. Shay pulls her aside, sharing with Kara had told her about the person behind the banner quitting the team. Frankie bites back, asking if Shay explained that it wasn't racist, but it kind of was. She may not have meant it, but it hurt people. If she stays, it reflects on the whole team. It was a mistake, but one that's not Shay's job to fix. She tells Frankie that she needs to quit, and we get another doe-eyed look from someone who is about to step in it again, probably.

Last episode, Maya and Zig reconciled over an accidental social media "like" and some canoodling through her bedroom window. No sooner did their 'shippers rejoice than Maya got some buyer's remorse. Whatever way you slice it, cheating takes a huge toll on a relationship when two people try to work though it. His blurting out to their friends that they were back together shook her, and she asks that they get together to talk later that night. 

Apparently, Zig has never heard "we need to talk," because he's excited about the opportunity to take her to a nice dinner. (He has a Groupon, guys!) Tiny tries to talk him down, reminding Zig that he cheated and that Maya might still be upset about him cheating on her with Zoë. He also very poignantly points out that bro, it shouldn't be this hard. 

Zig ignores this warning though, and we later see him sitting anxiously at a table in a nice restaurant, telling the water he's "sure she's on her way." For the record, no one who that has ever been said about actually is. He then gets a text from Maya, blaming a geology project for her need to bail. Frustrated, he calls Tiny and Lola to join him so he can vent. He slips that he feels like it was Maya's fault that she went to New York, which led him to cheat. Lola, bless her heart, actually believes that, too. She eggs him on to even the score and he triumphantly leaps from the table to do so.

He shows up at Maya's window (is this still a "thing" kids do?) and crawls in. He let's her know that it was lame that she bailed via text, although, in true Millennial fashion, Maya points out that they've only ever actually talked on the phone once. She starts to make her case when he cuts her off, telling her that it was definitely her fault, too, it takes two people to screw up a relationship. Yeah, except that would be Zig and the girl he cheated with. Maya understandably walks away and when he turns to chase her, he crushes her geography project. "I'm trying to fix it," he says. "You're only making it worse," she scowls. Metaphors, metaphors, metaphors! 

The next day at school, Zig shows up with a print out of a geographical scape (because, science) to try and save her grade. It's not as good as the original, but it's something. More metaphors, y'all! They sit down and she explains that she realized that she's just not ready to get past everything, and he finally concedes. Please, let this be the end of this. Maya, for all her flaws, deserves better.

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Ashley Harris is a longtime professional fangirl. You can usually find her out at concerts, movies, and live theatre, or glued to the latest Netflix revival.
Contact: Ashley Harris