Film and TV

Degrassi: Next Class Recap: Why Can't We Be Friends?

Every week, we're recapping season two of Degrassi: Next Class, episode by episode .  Three of the alumni from last week's reunion make another appearance. Can you guess who?

We reach the halfway point of this season similarly to how we began: with a sports montage. The episode starts off with yet another training session in the gym, this time focusing on volleyball captain Shay. After a set of seemingly random sports tasks (that's what they're called, right?), we find out that she's in the midst of trials for the Medallion Sports Camp, a not-so-subtle training ground for future Olympians (relevant!). She sweats her way over to the judge, a bit of uncertainty on her face. He assures her that she's a champ — top five in her grade, in fact — but there's a problem. He mentions the fact that the volleyball team hasn't been able to play their last few games because of the racism scandal. He also happens to have an article conveniently on his iPad, showing an article about last episode's protest, with Shay staring down a police officer with "RIOT" in big bold letters. He tells her not to fret — all she has to do is write a letter explaining her mistake and that it won't happen while she's representing the Future Olympians. Small price to pay for that glory, right?

At lunch, she sits and works on her letter while Tiny and Lola look on. Upon further inspection, Lola notices the content of the letter, which more or less negates everything they all stood for in protesting for Tiny. She explains that it's her fast track (sports joke!) to the Olympics, and Tiny agrees that it probably doesn't matter much in the long run (more sports jokes!). Lola walks off in a huff, still certain that deep down, Shay knows what it means for their cause. Later on, the students gather for the zero-tolerance task force that the principal agreed to at the end of the last episode. Shay swings by to reiterate to Lola why she can't participate, and Lola still doesn't get it. Two other students chime in, sharing that Shay's photo in the newspaper inspired them to do something big. While flattered, she's still unsure why in all of this — the volleyball scandal and now this — she has to be the one to make all of the sacrifices. 

At home, she's pacing around her living room, waiting for the coach to arrive with the paperwork to sign. When he finally arrives, he has her apology letter in-hand and asks her to "put her John Hancock on it." Aren't these kids Canadian? Does John Hancock mean anything up there? She takes it and reads over where she said she has learned from her mistakes and the things that clouded her judgement. She decides to turn the camp down since she won't apologize for what she did or give up her option to protest again. Instead, she'll take an enhanced training schedule (extreme volleyball?) and hope for opportunities to present themselves. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of school, Grace and Maya are discussing their band's next gig. Apparently, emo king Jonah is bailing on his guitar duties in order to stay in with his publicly-shamed-and-hiding-out girlfriend, Frankie. Grace suggests Zig, Maya's estranged ex-beau who Grace recently reconciled with. They've all played together before, but Zig's infidelity last season is still lingering heavily over the old gang. As the woman scorned, Maya rightfully says no, and offers up her co-op mentor Peter Stone to join in instead. 

Later at the gig, Grace stares begrudgingly at Peter while he makes googly eyes at Maya, his intern who is several years his junior. The wrap up their smash jams and he suggest they hang out for a bit. Grace immediately says no while Maya pushes her to stay. This gives enough time for Zig to waltz in late (way to go, bud!) to Maya's dismay. He starts to get suspicious of Peter, too, accusing her of moving on with him. Peter makes a run for it, and Maya blasts her friends. How is it fair that she has to be the one to try to be okay with being "just friends" when he royally messed up? Deep down, Grace agrees, but still refuses to stop hanging out with Zig. No worry then, Maya has old man Peter to hang with. 

She shows up the next night at his immaculate downtown studio for his 24th birthday party. He had only really mentioned it to her in passing, not explicitly said, "Hey, you should be there." He seems surprised, but happy to introduce her to his cool-kid friends, non other than Degrassi alum Spinner Mason and Sav Bhandari. She manages to make it weird from the start, asking them with all sincerity if they were going to get "turnt up." Once it's explained what that actually means, Spinner says that he has to wake up early to go bid on a house with his wife Emma (!) to which Sav laments that they should just buy a fixer upper. These men are a far cry from their carefree Degrassi days, but considering this is the first post-college glimpse we've had at the series' characters, it's nice that they've kept it real. 

Clearly out of her element, Maya makes an excuse to leave and runs back into the control room. She's interrupted by Peter and his ex-girlfriend Chrissy. She hides under the console while they duke out during what seems like a messy break-up. She decides to throw out the fact that there's a teenager (Maya) at the party and that clearly, Peter wants to hook up with her. He denies it, explaining that he didn't even invite her. It's at that moment that her phone goes off (of course) and she goes running out the door, horrified. After her failed attempt at "adult" friendships, she decides to apologize to Grace. They both agree that they want to make it work, with Grace splitting time between the former lovers separately. Considering how old that will get in general, and Grace's Zig-inspired makeover a few episodes ago, we get the feeling this won't last. 

Lastly, we have our sorta-lovebirds, Zoë and Winston. Still grappling with her sexuality, Zoë is spending the minimum amount of time possible with her stand-in boyfriend. This extends even into their classes, where she tries to pair up with Tristan on a project on Imperial Japan. When he opts for his boyfriend, Miles, he once again points out that she should want to be with her boyfriend. She explains that sexuality is fluid and yadda, yadda, yadda, it's just weird. "Weird, like, claustrophobic?" he asks. "Closets can get pretty tight."

Zoë is determined to prove Tristan wrong by doing a bang-up job on their presentation. While it's only worth 5 percent of their grade, she insists that they need costumes, musical numbers, whatever it takes (!) to get the A and show everyone (but mostly herself) that they're a great team. Sweet Winston agrees, still dumbfounded that she's dating him at all. The next day, they show up in full garb, him as a Japanese army general and her as a geisha. The army was in fact in their presentation, but the geisha wasn't super necessary except for aesthetics. Esme, the eyeroll queen, notices this and interrupts the presentation to tell her nemesis as much. Zoë insists it's necessary, but the class and teacher agree that they probably should tread lightly given the racially-charged events of the last few episodes. They are told to leave the class and change.

Zoë is fuming, convinced of her on-going Esme sabotage consipiracy. She starts plotting her revenge when sweet Winston talks her off the ledge, telling her that if she doesn't want to be made the villain, then don't do villain-y stuff. He didn't think it was personal, but didn't want to tell her she was being racially insensitive because he didn't want her to dump him.  She seems genuinely surprised that a boy could actually be that nice to her, which warms her ice-cold heart ever-so slightly. She decides to apologize the next day in class, but Esme isn't having it. Winston points out that no one came down on him because he's Asian, although not Japanese, but surely Esme knows that Japanese and Korean are different, right? Game, set, match, Winston. You have your lady's heart another day.

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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