Unlike most Netflix shows, we only had to wait from January until July for another season of Degrassi: Next Class. Then again, Degrassi is unlike most shows, period. The cornerstone of the Degrassi empire has been its ability to stay in front of and on top of issues affecting teens. Following a prolific 14 seasons on cable TV, the jump to Netflix was a natural one. Even with a name change and the graduation of some major characters (Claire, Eli, Alli, Drew, et cetera), they didn't skip a beat.
A crucial part of the show's formula has been introducing younger characters bit by bit, giving them mini-arcs before bringing them up into the big leagues. The Next Class underclassmen like Maya, Zig, Frankie, Miles, Tristan, and Zoë have shouldered the weight of this new frontier and have done so with gusto. In case you forgot, here's a handy rundown of season one's biggest moments.
Now then, let's begin. Season two starts with an inspiring montage of the Degrassi girls' volleyball team, practicing in the gym. As expected, several of our main characters — Frankie, Lola, Shay, and Goldie — are conveniently on the team. Also there? Coach Armstrong, bless his heart. He's been coaching every sport ever since season one of The Next Class. Dude must be pretty tired.
Later, they're in the locker room, finishing up their showers and discussing their future victory against Northern Tech. They all get pretty skeeved out when the name is mentioned, with Frankie explaining that the school's nickname is "The Zoo." With her usual lack of couth, Lola blurts out, "They all look like criminals," before turning immediately to Shay, a black student, claiming "no offense." If you thought this might have been foreshadowing, it absolutely, 100 percent was.
The girls breeze past that comment though, going about the rest of their business. They all soon realize, while standing in towels, that they are missing their clothes. They begin frantically searching when — you guessed it — the alarm goes off. With no choice, they file out of the building, each still covered by only a towel. Frankie rushes everyone out, and in her haste, the towel — you guessed it — gets stuck in the door. She turns around, realizes what's happened, but thankfully (and suspiciously?) no one was looking. That is, until her gasp triggers Lola to look up and yell, "Frankie! Your bum!" and scramble to her rescue. In the distance you hear laughter and chants from — you guessed it again — the Northern Tech girls' volleyball Team, dropping the Degrassi girls' clothes on the ground. Since when did volleyball get so cutthroat? It's apparently enough for Frankie to immediately vow revenge.
Meanwhile, her brother Miles is at home, excitedly trying on his new uniform before he ships off to Vanderbilt Prep School. (Fun fact: This is the same school where Fiona and Declan Coyne went in season 10.) His whirlwind stint with prescription-pill addiction finally set him over the edge and ready to get away from all of his previous temptations. The youngest Hollingsworth, Hunter, is not psyched about this though. Last season left off with his own meltdown, when he drew up a "kill list" and went to school with a gun after his gaming club was busted for cyberbullying Maya. He was barely stopped by Miles from carrying it out and should be thanking him for not telling anyone, instead of sulking about a meager suspension versus the alternative. Their mother leaves for hot yoga (because of course she does), and Miles decides to pay forward his good mood and offer to teach his brother how to drive. This never ends well in Degrassi world, y'all.
We later find Miles and Hunter in the parking lot, practicing how to drive stick. We see a lot of brotherly bonding, although Miles seems tentative because of the secret he's been keeping. He stays cool though and leaves Hunter in the car for a minute while he runs in to grab his file from the school office. He runs into Tristan on the way out and fireworks explode, birds sing, and hearts melt for this on-off love story. They seem to be mustering up the courage to say goodbye when a huge screech of tires and a crash happens outside. Hunter, now bleeding and totally frozen, has smashed the car into a pole.
At home, the boys steal away while their mother talks to the insurance company and Hunter tells Miles that he absolutely did it on purpose because he left him alone. That is to say, of course, because Miles is leaving in general. This causes Miles to finally break down and tell his Mom not only about the car, but the gun and the kill list. The episode ends with Hunter's treatment plan up in the air, but Miles resolved to stay.
We get a break from the Hollingsworths for a minute and check in with The Rubber Room Kids: Maya, Grace, Zig, Tiny, and Esme. They're all riled up about their future co-op placements. As it turns out, companies are still apparently very eager to hire high schoolers as interns. Maya is the most excited, gushing that there is a coveted role at Peter Stone's music studio downtown. Yes, that's right, that Peter Stone. Peter Stone: Principal Hatzilakos' son, Emma/Darcy/Mia's ex-boyfriend, and lead singer of the Studs. This is one of a few cameos we'll see from former cast this season, including the 500th episode, #ThrowbackThursday.
Maya is getting ready to meet with Peter, finishing up her resumé, and rushing to the printer. It's there that she sees her ex-boyfiriend Zig making googly eyes with Esme while leaning on the printer. She panics for a minute, then quickly grabs the sheet and leaves. She sits down with Peter, looking all hunky and leather-clad, and hands him her CV, only to realize that she had accidentally picked up Zig's. She begins spewing way too much info about her relationship, but lucky for her, Peter can relate. He gets her back on track, praising her songwriting and handing her a flash drive with audio files to master and return to him as proof she can handle the work for this co-op.
Maya is resolved, but frazzled by being in close quarters with Zig. She puts her work aside and begins cyberstalking Zig's Hastygram (yes, that's what it's called) and obsessing over a photo where he appears to be putting his arm around Esme. She makes the rookie mistake of trying to zoom in and instead, accidentally likes the photo. The show is keenly aware of its teen audience, as you'll see from the moment the title credits begin and a series of Snapchats fly across the screen. Because of that, scenarios like this feel cliche, but it's a very real thing that many of us have experienced and a whole new frontier in teenage storytelling. Anyway, at that point, she's busted, not only because of her Hastygram #fail, but because she ran out of time to finish her assignment for Peter. He begrudgingly takes her unfinished work and she's pretty sure that's the end of it.
She goes home and is crying when she hears a tap on her window. She walks over to see Zig, hoisted up as he probably had many times before when they were dating. She aptly tells him that he's "lost [his] window privileges," but he insists on saying what he came there to say. He realized he was so happy when he saw the notification on Hastygram and knew that she was the only girl for him. BOOM. Done. Back together. We all know this'll crash and burn eventually, but we'll let them have this one. Maya gets back-to-back victories here, as she gets a phone call from Peter saying he liked her work, even unfinished, and wants her to polish it up and send it back. She immediately tells Zig to leave so she can work and he excitedly obliges. Hopefully, this moment of Maya finally doing something for Maya sticks.
Back at school, the volleyball girls are spending class scheming up a plan to get back at Northern Tech. Everyone is rallying behind Frankie, except her best friend, Shay. She pleads with the girls to just drop it and focus on the game, but none of them are listening. Frankie does take a moment to consider heeding that advice, but her straight-edge, Jesus-lovin' boyfriend Jonah eggs her on to get a little revenge. She's settled on it, and goes out to buy some paint.
The girls design a giant mural titled, "Welcome to the Zoo," featuring the Northern Tech players as zoo animals, with particular emphasis on the captain as a hoop earring-wearing gorilla. Yikes. Somehow, none of these girls realized this might be an issue and carried it over to their rival's school in the night. The next day, they are patting themselves on the back for their prank victory, when Shay confronts them. She briefly sees the mural and launches into Frankie. Coach Armstrong breaks them up and sends them into the locker room to work things out. It's there that Shay reveals that she was mad because things don't come as easy for her as they do for Frankie. She means, though, because Frankie is rich. Shay's scholarships depend on her keeping her nose clean and she didn't want to get caught up in all of it. It was an interesting sort of red herring to what is going to be a much bigger issue.
No sooner do they make up than the girls are running out onto the court for their game. It's all hoo-rahs and high fives, until Northern Tech walks in, carrying the mural. The Degrassi girls hiss back at them, telling them that if they can dish it out, they should be able to take it. The Captain points out that she was depicted as a monkey, to which the girls shout back that it was actually a gorilla and "if the banana fits ..." It's obvious to the other team that these girls have no clue. They quietly sit down on top of the mural proclaiming, "Northern Tech doesn't play with racists."
Frankie's doe-eyed reaction is a perfect summation to what we are likely to see this season. This is certainly not an issue that will resolve itself quickly or quietly, which is exactly how Degrassi has pushed the boundaries all these years.