[WARNING: THIS EPISODE REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS]
I’m just gonna throw it out there: Degrassi Takes Manhattan is not as good as Degrassi Goes Hollywood. There’s several weak points in the story that bug me, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. As a matter of fact, DTM manages to hold its own quite well.
It’s the end of the school year and several of the older kids are graduating (Jane, Danny, Johnny are a few). It’s also time for Declan, Holly J and Fiona to travel to NYC for the summer, but before doing so they have a party at the Coyne’s mansion in Toronto.
The drama finally begins when Spinner overhears Holly J and Jane talking about her brief affair with Declan. Pile that on with the fact the Emma returns home from her bike tour, promptly takes a job at The Dot and burns it down within hours, it’s almost impossible not to feel Spinner’s pain as his world (the one that is stable and never changes, and he likes it that way) comes crashing down. Heartbroken over hurting Spinner, Jane packs up and heads to NYC with Holly J and company.
I thought that the gang being in New York with all of the bright lights and celebrites would overshadow the characters, but that’s not the case. The cameos (as tweeted by said celebs the week before the DTM premiere) play an even smaller role than you’d expect, except for Kristen, the star of Gossip Minute and the woman Holly J interns for.
Instead the story focuses strictly on the ever increasing tension between Fiona and Holly J. To me, this plot is the best part of Degrassi Takes Manhattan, as it partially brings out a (more tolerable) version of the bitchy Season 7/8 Holly J, and an extremely emotional Fiona. I’ve gotta say it’s about time Annie Clark has gotten to show some sort of emotion on screen. Fiona’s character has been tranquil since the day we first met her…she did a great job of breaking down several times during the movie.
Now as far as the incest part it’s unclear as to whether or not Declan and Fiona have ever been “together” in that way before. But DTM makes it clear that Fiona is extremely jealous of any other girl that has Declan’s attention. When Declan tells her that she needs to get her own life, her overly possessive nature reminded me of Marco after Dylan left (the second time around), and Marco behaved as if he simply couldn’t function without him. The difference between the two is that Fiona’s mentality seems much more unstable, brilliantly setting up the storyline for her in Season 10.
The weakest part of DTM is Jane joining a band called Flashin’ Midnight. This storyline feels pointless, leaving Jane as a forgettable character for an extended chunk of the movie. It’s only when she hears about Spinner and Emma’s wedding celebration that she becomes relevant again, racing back to T.O. with intentions of stopping it.
Yes, Spinner and Emma get married. I’m speechless. The setup is actually pretty good: Jay, Manny, Emma and Spinner go to Niagara Falls for a night of cheering Spinner up, aka drinking and gambling. Spinner and Emma wake up from their drunken stupor to realize they had gotten married at some point during the night. Now they decide to remain a couple which is fine by me…there have been way more random couples in Degrassi’s history. They even share a moment (my favorite part of the whole movie) where they talked about Emma’s science project and Spinner’s boner from WAYYYY back in Season 2 (Weird Science, one of my favorite episodes and their most notable interaction up until this point in the series).
However, the fact that they decide to REMAIN married (and suddenly start talking about how they love each other) is a level of randomness that I simply can’t wrap my head around. I guess the only option for the last two original characters of the show who are still around (and aren’t going anywhere) is to get married, eh?
Degrassi Takes Manhattan is a good ending to what has been a solid Season 9. The writing wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped, but they left the heavy lifting to the characters that are capable of doing so: Holly J, Declan and Jane….Spinner is always a pleasure to watch, and Miriam McDonald made Emma interesting, delivering her best performance in years. Oh, and it was great to see Liberty again. :-)
Now it’s time for a new year…a new look….and a new Degrassi. Get ready for Season 10!