PLOT A SUMMARYJenna’s singing in the Degrassi garden when Becky approaches and starts singing with her.  Becky invites Jenna over to her house to perform in front of a group of people and Jenna agrees.  When she gets there she realizes it’s a youth group from Becky’s church, but plays for them anyway.  Afterward, Jenna is upset Becky didn’t tell her and storms out because she feels like Becky is being a judgmental Christian, and Jenna doesn‘t know if she believes in God yet.  The next day Jenna needs a partner for a class assignment and is approached by a guy named Luke.  He invites her to join his group, which includes his sister, Becky.  Jenna is suspicious of Becky wanting to be friends and tells her about getting pregnant and giving up her child for adoption last year.  Jenna’s expecting that will scare Becky away, but Becky is supportive instead.

Jenna, Becky and Luke work on their assignment at the Baker’s house, and Jenna and Luke are left alone after Becky takes a phone call.  Luke tells Jenna that he never feels alone because he has God in his life, and he knows he’ll be okay if he follows the path God has planned for him.  Jenna is mesmerized by Luke looks and his words, and the two kiss.  However, the next day Luke tells Jenna that she tempts him sexually, and that them kissing was a mistake because she‘s not a Christian like he is.  Jenna decides to become a Christian and get baptized, even though Alli and Becky worries that Jenna might be getting baptized for the wrong reasons.  After the baptismal ceremony Jenna tries to pursue Luke again, but he tells her he lied when he rejected her the first time…in reality he didn’t want to be tied down to one girl.  Jenna is upset and vents her frustration in the bathroom to Alli, revealing that she’d only become friends with Becky to get close to Luke.  However, Becky overhears their conversation.  Jenna regrets becoming a Christian for Luke, but does feel lost and hopes that it can fill the void in her life.  She apologizes during a church service to Becky, who forgives Jenna, but also tells her to stay away from Luke.

While bland and predictable on the storyline front, this episode is kind of important in establishing Jenna with another social group.  A lot of the characters in Season 12 are paired off in either pairs or groups, with some being capable of floating back and forth between multiple social circles.  With Katie taking over Jenna’s position as his “girl friend,” and Alli being preoccupied with schoolwork and Dave, Jenna is almost literally alone.  At least establishing a friendship with Becky gives her something to be a part of as Alli begins her farewell tour.

More intriguing than Jenna’s quest to find something to fill the void in her life is the consistent theme throughout the episode that Becky is just as lonely.  It’s not a secret that the existence of the Baker family is based off of the Florida Family Association, who has spent God knows how long going after Degrassi’s advertisers on TeenNick because Degrassi “promotes a gay agenda.“  It’d be easy to follow the standard protocol of setting up an over-the-top Christian who can be used as a punching bag to mock those with extreme views.  But Degrassi once again implements its tactic of showing a completely different angle of a character, challenging the boundaries of “good and bad.“

The assumption, until now, was that Becky would probably be a one-sided caricature who spends every waking moment pushing an anti-gay agenda until her character eventually levels out in a season or two. Just as isolated as Jenna is, even with her faith, Becky feels a type of void because she has no female friends at Degrassi.  Closer To Free shows how desperate Becky is to have a gal pal, thanks to two things getting in the way.  Her being so open about and dedicated to her faith gets her the judgment in the form of people assuming she’s going to judge them or force her believes down people’s throats. Irony lies in the former, as Jenna was quick to judge Becky because she assumed Becky had already judged her.

Another thing is that Luke seems to have a knack for women that destroys any chance for Becky to maintain female friendships.  It was mentioned a couple of times in passing by Becky, but her facial expressions while talking about it speaks volumes.  While Luke is ultimately the kind of tool you’d expect based on his previous behavior, it’s interesting that Becky is the only character that provides any surprise in this plot.  I like how Jenna realized she was lost and realized she’d messed up by getting baptized because of a boy.  However, for Jenna’s path as a character this storyline feels like a quick means to a quick end, in order to make sure she remains somewhat of a relevant character in the future.  Things might’ve been more interesting if more of the focus had been on the plot’s more polarizing character instead.

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PLOT B SUMMARYClare’s internship boss Asher takes a quick look at a geography assignment for school and gives her pointers on how to make it better because quote, “There’s no reason every piece of work shouldn’t be your best.”  Clare tries to use his advice when meeting with her partners Connor and Adam, but they’re not interested in doing anything fancy so she takes on the assignment by herself.

Asher asks Clare to show him how to get things trending on twitter.  With her twitter feed open Asher spots several hashtags that catch his eye: #StuffClareSays and #AsherSays, both started by Connor tweeting things Clare had said to him and Adam.  She’s flustered and immediately slams her computer shut.  Clare confronts Connor and he tells her it was a joke.  She tells him she’s afraid it could cause her to lose her internship, but he continues and #StuffClareSays becomes a trending topic at the school, and when Asher sees that Clare obsessing over it is getting in the way of her work, he sends her home. 

Clare, Adam and Connor present the project, but their teacher says it’s off topic from the original assignment.  After calling the assignment pedestrian, Connor calls Clare out for being full of herself and walks out.  Later, Clare apologizes and shares a laugh with Connor and Adam as they watch a “Stuff Clare Says” video the guys (plus Dave and KC) made.

What looked like was going to be a very tough plot to grade after the end of Part 1, shaped up quite nicely after Part 2.  Of course Connor makes this plot what it is, an entertain-enough B plot.  You’ve gotta love the continuity with Connor’s character spending most of his time practicing joking around with people since Not Ready To Make Nice.  His serious demeanor makes it even funnier as even Adam and KC join in on the “let’s knock Clare down a peg” train.  It’s not shocking that Clare would start behaving so intense and uptight, and start forcing Asher’s advice into places where it doesn’t fit (aka a high school assignment).  However, what makes little sense is the sudden burst of egomania she displays during the class presentation.  That seems like an out of character move that is thankfully rectified by the end of the episode, even if it is meant to show how overly loyal and dedicated she is to impressing Asher.  But in a way it does make sense; she’s so hyper focused on being a picture-perfect intern that it’s terrifying the amount of control Asher has over Clare’s actions, and he’s not even trying.

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PLOT C SUMMARYDrew’s disappointed that he can’t even participate in gym, and is given a health assignment instead.  Fiona and Drew decide to split the assignment, but forgets his sheet at home and blames it on his concussion.  Frustrated with the concussion and feeling like he’s dumb, he skips school and heads to the mall.  There he finds himself hanging out at the CoastLight kiosk.  He helps a woman with her phone, and is encouraged to apply for a job there.  Drew’s mom doesn’t want him to apply for a job because she wants him to recover from his concussion, but he applies anyway and gets it.  Audra tells him that he has no choice to go to school if he lives under her roof.  Drew decides that he’s going to move out, and moves in with someone who was in search of a roommate: Fiona.

Let’s get the ridiculous parts of this plot out of the way first: the insane idea that Drew is going to make all of this money working at a kiosk in the mall (this is almost as silly as Fiona’s yard sale last season), and Drew moving in so quickly with Fiona.  With that said, this plot is underrated in how thorough it’s dealt with a character who lacks book smarts.  It’s been a long time since Degrassi’s had a main character who had a storyline built around them wanting to drop out of school, and them legitimately coming close to doing so.  With Drew’s plot you feel as if that’s the option he’s going to take,  and that he’s going to follow through with it because he has no other choice.  If a character doesn’t leave the show in some manner before graduation it’s expected that they’ll walk with the rest of their class, or be held back until the following year:  how interesting it would be if a main character on Degrassi chose neither.

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How do YOU grade Closer To Free?

You can now grade the plots in Closer To Free by voting below!

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Earlier today….

I normally create this review post before I actually post my review, and post my thoughts before Part 2 airs.  Below is what I wrote after Closer To Free Pt. 1:

Kary, I’ve gotta take a time out to give you props (as I forgot to the other day). I think you run the best Degrassi site on the web, bar none. You take really good care of the site and always post interesting materials and extras for the fans. You are one of the fairest and most honest reviewers I have ever read (and I go back to s1 of TNG). I love how well spoken you are and how I know you’ll always have an argument behind something instead of unfounded statements. It’s such a miracle for this show to find well-written, reasonable analysis, so I really appreciate it. And I love that you allow people to post different opinions and not just slam down the ban-hammer on them!

I don’t know how often you get praise, but you definitely deserve some, so here it is! :)

-Degrassi Watcher

***************

Thank you so much.  Kind words like that are much appreciated, especially when it’s 1am and I’m still working on an episode review :).   Now piggybacking on the part about being fair, the initial feeling (as shared by many) is that this a boring episode.  Jenna’s plot isn’t very engaging, and everything happening in Closer To Free for Clare is a setup for the next two episodes.  I feel like it’s going to be difficult to grade both Jenna and Clare’s plots in Closer To Free because, especially Jenna’s plot, exposes the fact that there’s more than one way to look at and analyze plots in any given episode.

There’s at least 3 ways actually…you can look at an episode from an entertainment standpoint, you can look at it from a thematic standpoint, and you can look at it from an odd combination of both.  For years Degrassi has been an entertainment show, which is far different than the educational foundation the storylines in Degrassi Junior High were based upon.  But the Zig, Alli and Cam plots from week 2 of “Showdown” show a slight shift into being less dramatic, and more thematic.  They’re not mind-blowing episodes that will grace the Degrassi hall of fame, and most people will forever remember the first week of “Showdown” instead of them, but they hit on different and sometimes deeper issues that are more broadly relatable.  Season 2’s “Mirror In The Bathroom” will forever be the prime example of an episode with surface content that isn’t eye-catching, but closer inspection shows two plots that intertwine their themes to provide a simple, yet amazing statement about the most basic motivations of human behavior.

And that’s what we *might* have here in Closer To Free with Jenna’s plot.  The grade of this plot probably depends on what they’re trying to show with these individual characters as opposed to the general story itself (unless the story becomes so utterly ridiculous that it detracts from any character depth they’re trying to establish in the episode)  This is one that’s going to take multiple viewings to figure out.

If Clare’s plot is the same in Part 2 as it was in Part 1, the difficulty in grading it will expose something that hopefully people already know:  NOT ALL GRADES ARE CREATED EQUAL.  If two different plots are given an A- (even if they’re in two different episodes that are in two different seasons), it doesn’t mean they are equally good…they can both be good for different reasons.  The same would apply for two plots if they were both given a C+ or something.  Ultimately, any grading scale is too subjective to be relied upon as an end all, be all because sometimes arguments can definitely be made as to why a plot could be say an A instead of an A-, or a B- instead of a C+.  I’m not even sure what grade I’m even leaning toward with Clare’s plot, but whatever it ends up being I’m sure it won’t carry as much weight as plots that I’ve given the same grade to.

Posted by Kary

54 Comments

  1. I find you to raise interesting questions. I must admit that even if I wasn’t entertained much by Jenna’s plot, I find the theme very interesting. This might not be this way in the US, but I know for me in Canada, especially Quebec, religious people, especially christians and hard to come by. Most teenagers don’t believe in anything or if they’re christians it’s only because of their parents. So I could totally understand Jenna’s position, how she was like “I don’t even know if I believe in god.” Religion is so not a big part of her life that she never even really thought about her beliefs. I think she’ll discover that it isn’t something she can just pretend to get a guy.

    One thing though, I don’t like the Baker family. They just seem so fake and are in great need of some depth if I’m to take them seriously. Oh, and maybe that’s just me, but I found it funny that the three guys in the youth church group all made my Gaydar beep. I’m sure the Degrassi producers did it on purpose, to show the irony.

    Clare’s plot was mostly build-up. That’s whats harder now with this new format. It’s more difficult to judge individual episodes as most storylines have a an effect on the following episodes or the rest of the season. It’s a great thing for a TV show, but not so much when you’re trying to review single episodes XD

    Oh Drew drew drew. I’m interested in the dropping out storyline. Who was the last student to drop out? Wasn’t it like….3-4 seasons ago? I have no idea how he’ll manage to move in with Fiona, I mean, how could his mother allow it? In a way it’s sad to see that all the efforts he made to barely pass his classes last year are totally pointless because of the head injury. If he does drop out of school, I’m wondering if they’ll keep him for Season 13 or just send him on his way.

    Wow, sorry for the long post. Anyway, It’s always fun to discuss Degrassi with you guys.

    P.S: Could the actor portraying Luke please change his haircut…or at least shave his stache. Or both? Just that could change him from looking creepy to looking hot. That’s all.

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    1. Haha all good points but the last part kille me i know Luke looks like a 20 something year old making him creppy! Also i domt know if it was because of a newbie writing this episode but some things were in-consistant like i thought becky and luke were twins and that ali and dave broke up!

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    2. Nina Shewchuk July 31, 2012 at 8:54 pm

      Your comment about religion in Quebec is interesting. I’m Canadian too (stuck-up Torontonian!), and I always thought that religion was very much part of the Quebecois culture. I know that there is a fair amount of taboo language used by francophones that is related to religion. In Montreal the Oratoire St-Joseph is a huge tourist attraction, and Quebecois Christmas traditions are all very much tied to church mass. In Montreal there’s also a very large Jewish and Italian population, so I always figured that religion was kind of a big deal in one form or another. I thought that we Southern Ontarian douchecanoes were the heathens!

      Western Canada (at least the prairie provinces) tends to be much more conservative and religious (a broad generalization of course, but…), so it’s sort of ironic that Jenna, who doesn’t believe in God, comes from a part of Canada that’s likened to the southern U.S. in terms of politics and religion.

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    3. …oh snap…while pondering your comment on religion, I just remembered about that conservative christian group in FL that’s been urging companies not to advertise during Degrassi for years:
      https://degrassiblog.com/2011/12/20/degrassi-all-access-vs-florida-family-association/

      I hope Becky and Luke Baker were inspired in some way by this crazy group, because suddenly I now find them somewhat entertaining.

      (that organization continues its vendetta, btw http://floridafamily.org/full_article.php?article_no=160 )

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    4. Jahnelle: Well I guess they just decided to scratch the twin idea, which is fine. As to Ali and Dave, she just said that she would focus more on her work, not that she would never spend time with him. Or at least that’s my interpretation of her speech in the last episode.

      Nina: Quebec used to be overule by the Christian church. Every school was ruled by nuns. But there was a big revolution in the 80s (I think, I did sleep a lot in history class) where people decided to take away the religion from the public institutions (school,government,etc.)
      I guess people just stopped going to church around then. I mean besides old people, the churches in my town are almost always empty.

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    5. I’m not gonna lie; I don’t by the Baker family for a second. Maybe it’s because they’re from Florida and I feel like they would make more sense if they were Lutherans from Minnesota.

      That, and Florida is known for bringing the cray cray out like it’s on clearance, not for Hockey.

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      1. Maybe it should be: “Additionally, Luke represents another growing trend in hockey, especially at the junior level, and that is the emergence of players from Florida. Former OHL player Matt Smyth… moved to Markham, Ontario, from Orlando, Florida, at the age of 14 to pursue his hockey career further. Other players from Florida who have appeared in the OHL include Frank Grzeszczak, Ramon Lopez, Brandon Maxwell, Colin Suellentrop and Andrew Yogan… Players from Florida have even permeated the tier II junior A hockey leagues; for example, Dillon Harrington, who spent the 2011-12 season with three tier II junior A teams in Ontario…calls Fort Myers, Florida, home.”

        –Link to full article: http://thehockeywriters.com/does-degrassi-accurately-portray-junior-hockey-life/

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  2. I blinked and missed tonight’s episode. There was zero structure to any of the so-called plots. Drew and Fiona moving in together sounds like a bad idea. I really hope those two don’t end up as a coupl Jenna and Luke? Really? The whole Christian conversion plot is right out of left field. Jenna’s known Luke, what, a few days to a week? Why is Connor suddenly being a jerk to Clare over a stupid group project? The Bakers are one of the most boring, flat, & pointless characters I’ve seen in a long time on Degrassi. I don’t get any of it.

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    1. He initially created the “stuffclaresays” hash tag as a joke.Yes, Clare had every right to be mad at him, seeing as it affected her professional life, but no one can defend her blaming Connor’s behaviour on him having Asperger’s. That’s down right disrespectful. Adam took part in the joke as well, but you didn’t catch Clare blaming his actions on Adam being transgendered. Chances are any teenage boy would have made a joke like that.

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      1. I died laughing during the video with Dave,K.C.,Adam,and Connor!

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  3. It amuses me to say this, but can these writers learn to write? I understand that the main concept of the season may tie all plots together in the end, but that’s something that needs to continue during each episode.

    There have been too many scenes this season where I’m left asking myself… “And the point is…?” There’s too much meaningless junk that filters in with important stuff.

    You know it’s bad when the highlight of Jake’s plot is Simpson eating a tomato… A tomato!!! Hey, why don’t you go throw it over at that guy off to the right with his head buried behind his laptop screen.

    BTW, can we change the name from Degrassi to The Campbell Saunders Show. I’d really appreciate it… The dudes got more layers than FILO dough. And he’s delicious…

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    1. Dear Hockeynut from your comments I gather that you aren’t pleased by anything degrassi writers has to offer and your so fixated on cam being gay if he is or isn’t who cares?! I’m surprised Karry hasn’t blocked you yet your super annoying!!!!!

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    2. “BTW, can we change the name from Degrassi to The Campbell Saunders Show. I’d really appreciate it… The dudes got more layers than FILO dough. And he’s delicious…”
      While I can neither fully agree or disagree with the rest of this post, just LOL. Cam is definitely turning out to be one of my favorite characters this season.

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  4. So Becky and Luke aren’t twins.

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    1. No i guess not that was weird because everyone thought they were i guess it was because the desription put them.in the same grade

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    2. They’re probably Irish twins since they were born 11 months apart.

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  5. So a Canadian from Edmonton, AB ( the conservative part of Canada) and who is going to school in Arizona, here comes my take on religion:
    I was not raised with a religion and their are many in Alberta (where Jenna is from) who aren’t either but I do know LOTS who were raised in the church. The big thing in Alberta in particular are the Mormons. I actually wished to see a story line that explored a Morman character because their values restrict certain clothes they wear and choices, it is pretty interesting. Now as far fetch as people think the Baker siblings are, I have seen people like them here in the States and some are even more christian then them. One of my good friends is christian, and Lukes character is sooooo realistic. When living in the dorm, my friend had the cross right above his bed, and had all types of books about religion but I have to say my favorite part was that he had MANY books about temptation, and how to resist the urge to have sex (hard to believe, but i went through them and he highlighted certain parts). Now he was pretty christian but I have come across others who were even more christian then him. He actually even wrote letters to some our friends (because he cursed a couple of times) apologizing for not being a good christian. It is hard for us Canadians to think of this story line as real because for many it is not, but for others (particularly Americans, they all know someone who reminds them of one of the Baker siblings.

    p.S Am i the only one who actually likes Luke in this episode?

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    1. I seemed to like Luke too. It was nice to see him out of the hockey zone because it seems that he’s expected to act a certain way around his team mates, so this must be the real him. I’d also like to see what his team mates think of his pledge to abstinence…

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  6. I actually enjoyed Jenna’s plot…I think it’s interesting they are bringing up the issue of baptizing, because I feel like a lot of teenagers go through it, with a lot of them getting baptized for the wrong reason (for a boy, for parents, etc.). I also find if refreshing to see other characters besides Clare, Drew, Eli, etc., having main plots. I think Jenna’s story and Jessica Tyler’s deserve more credit than they get, I feel like everyone hates on them because they’re not really a fan favorite. Especially the bad acting thing…I didn’t realize everyone majored in theater and knew everything about acting..it’ probably offensive to Jessica doing her job, I mean I could see if she was acting really bad, but she’s not…ha. I feel like her acting is over analyzed.

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    1. I don’t think she’s a bad actor either…she stays true to her character. Which is the whole point. It’s not like she’s making Jenna one person one moment, and then another the next.

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  7. Does anyone see a resemblance between Luke & Declan?

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    1. kind of, but declan was way cuter, and Luke looks inbred :/

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      1. How exactly does he look inbred?

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  8. I think the script is terrible sometimes… and jessica tyler is pretty bad at acting.

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    1. Degrassi is known for hiring canadian talent but they are also known for hiring actors with no experience and actors with loads of experience. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t (coug, Lea, cough, cough), but I think Jessica Tyler out of ANYONE on the show has grown the most. Can you imagine her being able to carry the pregnancy storyline when she first started? She has improved greatly, and I think she really tries to stay as true to the character of Jenna as she can.

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  9. Yeah don’t get me wrong, she’s gotten better, but still…

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    1. I do understand your point. I really do like the fact that Degrassi takes chances with actors and gives them big breaks (Shenae Grimes,Nina Dobrev), although there are usually some standouts from the rest of the cast. (I would say Landon Liborion but he was a recurring character on Wild Roses before it got cancelled, which i think helped him secure a role with Degrassi)

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    2. It’s a combination of poor writing and acting…but I agree that she is pretty worthless(along with Drew..Dave etc..)

      The best way to use her would have been to cast her as the popular bimbo.

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  10. “I got baptized for YOU!”

    While this may rank as one of the dumber storylines in Degrassi history, it still beats Jake pretending he is Captain Planet out of the blue. Much less, Drew’s dream of working in the mall and hitting on middle schoolers while in his 30’s.

    – Big Connor continues to be money is his short segments.

    – Watch Drew and Fiona has some scandalous affair now that their roomies. Better yet, let’s hope they lock themselves in their loft and vanish ala Blue.

    – You’re still a bitch, Clare…but at least you’re trying

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  11. I could watch an entire of episode of Connor, KC, Dave and Adam acting out “Stuff that Clare Says.” That entire segment was hilarious. I love how the show continues to rip on the “erase you from my memory” rant from Above the Dot.

    I liked Jenna’s story better than I thought I would, but I really dislike The Baker siblings. I just don’t see where Jenna goes from here. This doesn’t look to be an ongoing story arc, but maybe they’ll prove me wrong and Jenna will indeed pursue Luke and Luke will throw out his devotion to g-d. I don’t see anywhere else this might go though.

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    1. They’re just going to have both siblings be hard on the surface and generally make them softer and more “open”.

      The brother is pretty useless but I’d like to keep Becky the way she is..but they won’t

      Same thing happened to Bianca and Marisol..

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  12. These 2 were just horrible. All plots were just dead ass bland. F F F. Looking forward to seeing more of the play tho

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  13. Oh,but that Clare part with Dave,etc. was funny lol

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  14. This is my favorite Degrassi site too! For someone who loves to analyze, your site is perfect for my cravings! Plus, Degrassi is such a great show to do that with. Keep up the amazing work! Oh, also, could you keep this small conversation on this post? Or simply create another post with this little Q&A thing and then just write the review on this post (for aesthetic purposes)? I hope what I’m asking is making sense.

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  15. I found it HILARIOUS Conner told Clare to think before she speaks. When he just blurts out douchey stuff all the time.

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    1. He can’t help it though.

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  16. Jenna: B
    Don’t really know where this is going, or if it is going anywhere, but I did enjoy it for what it was. Nothing spectacular, but I guess I just liked that they had a plot about religion, that wasn’t from a naive character, like Clare was, who was brought in already having a religious background. We actually had a character who didn’t even really believe in God, decide to put their faith in him, when they had no one else. I wonder if Jenna sticks with it. Becky seems to actually be a good influence, and seems like she does want to be nice. She’s just hard to trust because it’s unbelievable how positive and bubbly she always seems to be. As for Luke, still confused by him. Not sure if he is actually a player and just put up the religious-front to get Jenna to stop, or if he is really religious, but puts up the jock-front when at school…?

    Clare: A
    A solid setup plot that would be just a B, but gets an A for extra entertainment. Thank KC & Connor!

    Drew: B
    I’m guessing this is just more setup? It seemed kind of rushed, but whatever, it served it’s purpose, and was good for what it was. I like that Drew is being smart by realizing he’s not, (haha)! Interested to see how this whole living arrangement pans out. All I know at this point is that it’s the setting for that party where a fight breaks out…

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  17. Off topic, but when Katie is in the promo, she’s acting like such a little badass compared to the katie in the first episodes this season, she was annoyingly giddy towards drew, and now she’s asking Cam if he’s a virgin like she’s the shit. I can’t tell if I’m gonna be annoyed or intrigued yet. I feel like I’m the only one that likes her, and the other seniors. The junior class is gonna be really emotional when they graduate later on in season 13 or so, except I really want Alli to stay, but I understand they probably want to get rid of her, and her parents, and the set of her house to make room for new stuff, and avoid bringing up Sav later on.

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  18. I enjoyed tonight’s episode more then I thought I would.

    Jenna: It might seem simple, but religion is a very difficult subject to use in a TV Show. This was basically the story of a girl feeling lost and without purpose and finding some peace with religion. Personally I really dislike any form of religion, but I still liked this storyline. Sure Jenna did some pretty dumb things, but doesn’t she always? I liked how in the second part they made it more about Jenna trying to find a path through religion rather then a silly crush on Luke (even though it started that way). It wasn’t the most entertaining episode, but it was still a rather taboo subject and I think Degrassi handled it rather well.
    I give it a B+.

    Clare: This was mostly build-up to her storyline in Waterfalls but I really enjoyed it especially since it was totally hilarious. I like how the writers aknowledged the fact that Clare can be pretty intense and bossy. Just for the #thingsclaresays video this was worth it.
    I give it an A.

    Drew: It’s been a little while since we’ve had a dropping out storyline. Drew seems the most likely to drop out too so I find it believable. I’m not sure where they’re going with him being Fiona’s roomate but I do like their chemistry. But can you really make that much by selling cellphones? My favourite part, drew’s confrontation with his mother. She just wants what’s best for him but he always feels like crap because she keeps criticising him. Very relatable.
    I give it a B.

    I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s Clare storyline. It has the potential to be the highlight of the season, now it’s all up to the writers and Aislinn Paul. Fingers crossed.

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  19. Jenna: I think this plot is going to be judged based on the interaction between Jenna and Luke, and it shouldn’t be. This plot was all about finding faith for Jenna because she felt lost. Luke was just a plot device to further Jenna’s exploration into Christianity. While the first scene was ridiculous, I think the interaction between Becky and Jenna is believable at first. Becky, the new girl, finds another girl just as lonely as she is and is eager to befriend her. Realistic. However, by the end, the interaction was exaggerated in my opinion with Jenna publicly apologizing in church and outing her ‘relationship’ with Luke to the whole community. The youth group scene had potential…if we knew Jenna’s stand on religion to begin with. I do like her statement about not being sure if she believes in God, but I think the plot would’ve benefited from more development into how that ties into her previous storyline. We got a bit of that with her conversation with Alli by the window, about how she doesn’t know what to do after the pregnancy and adoption. Of course, faith and religion aren’t as taboo as we have seen, but its understandable for a teen to want to turn to faith when they have nothing left. I feel like this whole plot was just a set up for Jenna and Becky’s friendship, but it would be nice to see some sort of plot with Jenna getting too deep into religion, going from one end to another. Overall, I think that masking a deeper subject with a relationship was a bad idea, but the potential was there. I give it a solid B+.

    Clare: I’m not really sure where to begin. Yes, it is an excellent set up of Clare’s relationship with Asher allowing him to take advantage next episode. My issue is this: when did Clare get such a hot head? It seems like there was no development here. Yes, Asher told her that real journalists do all these things and she needs to do them to be good journalist. But Clare shot over the edge too fast too soon in this episode. I would have much rather seen her build herself up in part one and then reach the egotistic mark at the end with the remark to Connor about aspergers and then in part two see her fall from grace in everyone’s mind except Asher’s and decide to balance her social and school like from that she would have with Asher to appear to him as a serious journalist. This plot just didn’t fit Clare’s character. Sure, she has been very self-involved int the past, but this isn’t so much self-involved as seeing herself belonging to a higher class mind. I think the intention was there (to develop a seemingly healthy and good relationship with her boss while trying to balance her friends), I think the puzzle pieces just didn’t match up along the lines. It didn’t fall apart, but it didn’t really come together. Maybe it will as her storyline continues. Clare gets a C from me.

    Drew: Much like Jenna’s plot, this one will be scrutinized for its exaggeration. But if we think about it, everything makes sense. We have know since he was introduced that Drew struggles with school and is really only good at sports. We know Drew’s mom is hardheaded and, like all good mothers, wants to see her children do well in everything they do. We know Drew wants to always break away and be his own man. This whole plot comes together nicely in two ways. One, it feels very simple, almost overly so. Surface level, the plot is about a kid dropping out of high school. Two, it is a smooth transition from one stage of Drew’s life to another. The plot isn’t just about a kid dropping out. It’s about a teenage boy who feels like his life is falling apart because he feels out of place and just wants to get away. I couldn’t picture anyone else involved in this plot other than Drew. It is so effortlessly seamed with his storyline since the Boiling Point that it is unreal. The confrontation and argument about dropping out between Drew and his mom is believable and easy to relate to. Fiona is used as a plot device to give Drew an out, something most kids in this situation don’t have. I hope to see this action from Bianca’s point of view as she seems to be taking Audra’s side more than Drew’s. I also look forward to some brotherly interaction with Adam about all this. After all, if they are close, wouldn’t Drew want Adam’s input. This plot was simple, but a great continuation. Drew deserves an A.

    Thoughts: I thought Becky and Luke were twins, but they’re really eleven months apart? Okay, sure. So I guess Degrassi assumes that since Alli said ‘pregnancy scare’ we know she’s not pregnant? And did I miss something. When did Dave and Alli get back together again? I look forward to Clare’s plot the next episode especially after the buildup with her and Asher’s relationship.

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    1. I actually liked this episode, it wasn’t this big BANG some people always want, but not every episode has to be that way. If it were it would be like soap opera, one week some dies, then the next they are alive, then there are shocking adoption story lines and transgender kids (oops, wait that HAS happened!). Lol, my point is that while a lot of the plots go bang, there are some that can be dramatic in a less explosive way.

      While i agree with you on Jenna (I was content with her story), i don’t agree with you on clare. Clare getting being having this ego is totally not out of the blue. We’ve seen from previous episodes how dedicated she is to the job (she rescheduled eli’s date to go to the town hall thing, she didnt go to the dance to stay late at work, jenna sings about where the hell is she now, says she has the job and eli, ect..). It’s not a hard leap to make from total dedication and admiration to having an ego. I’ve seen it, i’ve suffered it. It’s like you get tunnel vision and what this person says is like the law and you believe it so much that you say ridiculous things to those outside in the real world.

      I hope i’m making sense… Besides this really goes back to the beginning when we first met clare and she was kinda disconnected from the real world and only wanted to focus on school (thus the uniform).

      The part that threw me into a loop that i hope gets more attention in alli and dave like you said. While her “i know” screamed “BREAKUP” i guess it was more of a halt the sex and keep dating if i have time to see you.

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  20. I like that the Degrassi Writers delivered a true Christian storyline, like Spinner’s in Season 5. I missed that. We got to see a character go through being a boyfriend stealer to a pregnant teen, to getting saved for the wrong reason, to finally finding her way. I like that Degrassi tried to deliver a more accurate depiction of Christianity, and I look forward more to seeing Becky and Jenna because I believe they won’t fit the stereotypical mold like the promos tried to show.
    As for Clare, I hated her plot, but I liked the video and I think it set up well for Wednesday and Thursday.
    And Drew is probably gonna become the new Spinner; just hanging around talking to the other characters at the mall like he was at the Dot. I don’t necessarily like what they did to Drew, but it is realistic, and that’s why I am okay with it.

    Jenna: A-
    Clare: B-
    Drew: B

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  21. I Absolutely loved Janna’s Story line, it was one of my favorites.

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  22. I’m surprised no one has pointed out the similarities between Jenna’s plot this episode and Spinner’s arc in season 5. Like Jenna, Spinner was invited to a meeting that turned out to be a Christian youth group, and his initial reason for pursuing religion was based off a romantic interest. Additionally, both Spinner and Jenna feel isolated from their peers. Both were looking for some kind of direction after past struggles (Jenna’s pregnancy/adoption story and Spinner’s involvement in the shooting.) Jenna got baptized to be with Luke while Spinner had a “revirginizing ceremony” for Darcy. Additionally, both Christian groups show some conservative views: Becky’s opposition to Tristan’s “alternative lifestyle” in Walking on Broken Glass and Linus’s homophobic behavior to Marco in I Against I, and both groups have made comments in regards to sexual behavior. It’s interesting to see so many negative comments to the story in season 12 while Spinner’s story in season 5 is generally well received, and since this seems to be only the beginning of the storyline, I think it will be interesting to see where this leads.

    My concern in this episode was mostly for Clare’s storyline. With some of the things she said, particularly the comment about Connor’s Asperger’s, it seemed like they were returning to season 11 crazy!Clare. Considering everything her character has gone through in seasons 10 and 11, Clare should have been able to learn from this situation more quickly than she did. However, it seemed that over the course of the two episodes her comments only grew increasingly outrageous, and she allowed the situation to grow so out of hand that an online joke started to seriously affect her professional and academic life as well as her social one. It was a great relief at the end of part 2 when she finally managed to relax for a change. Another interesting piont on her character is that while she is overly intense in the Clare-centric episodes, she is usually the voice of reason in other characters’ stories.

    Drew’s storyline was just ridiculous. While other characters have dropped out or considered dropping out, they all had given thought to what they would do instead of school. Mia was the most recent, at the end of season 8/beginning of season 9, and her modeling career was successful enough that she was actually supporting her family when she left Degrassi. Craig and Ashley both left Degrassi just before graduation to pursue music, a path which they had both been on for several years prior to their departures. While Jay and Sean were both technically expelled, they both had ample skill sets to adequately support themselves in the real world, and while Spinner only considered dropping out, he had at least held a steady job at The Dot for a few seasons. Drew, on the other hand, has no work experience, no goal, no real world experience, and HEAD TRAUMA on top of that. The idea that he could start supporting himself after one trial shift at a mall kiosk is absurd, and the prospect of Drew and Fiona living together is just to hilarious to last. The highlight of this story will be when it inevitably blows up in his face.

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    1. It’s much easier to see other people than to see yourself…that’s why Clare’s perspective is seriously distorted when it comes to personal circumstance. She’s able to reason with her friend’s because she’s an objective third party. It’s hard to be objective with yourself…especially for a teenager dealing with hormonal changes and constant drama.

      As for the Connor situaiton, It’s very possible she assumed he was having an Aspergers Moment because she’s been there before. People with Aspergers aren’t able to easily detect how others are feeling in social situations so her presumptions weren’t completely off base, even if they WERE inaccurate. Clare probably thought that Connor simply couldn’t understand how the tweets were making her feel. Personally, I found the tweets amusing– especially the “sanctum” comment, which made me laugh out loud– but they may have been a bit rash. That’s essentially a form of cyber bullying– why couldn’t they just tell Clare she was being an uptight nimrod and leave it at that? Considering everything she’s done for both Connor and Adam, I thought it was weird that they had no qualms about humiliating her in front of thousands of people for something as trivial as a misplaced comment. Ah well…at least it got through to her…

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  23. Personally, I think Drew and his mom SHOULD be open to him slowing down by setting school aside and working a few hours a day in sales to give it a try, get him out into the world and keep himself sharp while recovering. Then he can take a fresh run at senior year in the fall.

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    1. i agree with you. He needs to recover and being stressed out over school isnt going to help him do that.

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  24. This was a very strange episode. People were complaining that Alli got a pregnancy plot because the writers didn’t know what else to do with her, but what the hell was this. Things became a bit clearer once the purpose of the episode was explained as Jenna feeling lost, but the whole “finding yourself through God” thing was so contrived. Not to mention that getting baptized to impress someone is extremely silly- I’m not exactly Christian, but I went to church regularly during the earlier days of my childhood & I’m pretty sure I was baptized at some point? That’s supposed to be a symbolic event.. Sometimes I feel like Degrassi should just ditch religion entirely, because most of the time it comes off as this black & white issue. The reality is that most teenagers nowadays don’t really involve themselves with religion- there’s just so many layers to it that you can’t freely call yourself a Christian or Jewish or whatever. It’s not just a label, it’s a way of life. That’s why so many people reach a point where they just give up on what they were raised to believe. On the other hand, Clare’s plot was interesting. It was kind of relatable in that a person can just be themselves and it gets taken the wrong way. Yes the way she acted throughout was kind of rude, but the whole “Stuff Clare Says” thing was uncalled for. I mean really, to have it trending in Toronto? I would probably consider transferring schools if that happened to me.

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  25. At first i thought the Jenna plot line was going to be a filler episode before more exciting ones aired but i was pleasantly surprised with Jenna’s plot. So happy that they not just show how close minded some christans but how they can also be forgiving and understanding in Jenna’s case. At first when Jenna was getting bapitised for Luke i thought it was ridculous but as she realized how lost she was it was the other motives to continue her religous path. i was a little worried this season with all the hate toward christan views which is understandable with the Bakers actions towards the gay community of Degrassi, but I’m so happy that Degrassi showed religion can be a positive influnce in someones life making it a surprising well thought out plot. ps loved the #stuffclaresays video with dave kc connor and adam!

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  26. I find it funny that everyone seems to have forgotten that Clare is a Christian, too…

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    1. I’m pretty sure after the divorce storyline, and Eli, Clare just doesn’t seem to care about religion as much, and she would’ve been difficult to include because the storyline was about Jenna, and Clare has her own stuff to do with her internship and saying ridiculous things.

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  27. I really didn’t care much for these two episodes, but i felt like if anything they are more or less transition plots for the bigger picture.

    Everyone else has already said how i feel about these episodes but there are a two things i would like to add.

    1. With Drew and Fiona living together i seriously thought of a teenage Will and Grace type thing. It could be amusing at first, but tire quite quickly. But I am open to the idea of what craziness it will bring to the characters and I cant wait to see Imogen’s reaction when she finds out.

    2. While I do like the concept of Luke, the dedicated Christian male character…I cant believe I’m saying this, but I think Glee did a better job on this type of character. Since this was his first real time to show us who he was, I’m still staying on the fence about him, but I hope he steps up his personality in later episodes.

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  28. A B for “Closer to Free.:
    The Jenna plot was handled in a thoughtful, funny way. It didn’t make fun of anyone’s beliefs but it found humor in Jenna’s total lack of experience with religion. I loved ” There’s a test?” and “I just said screwed in church.”

    But it also showed her maturing a bit and realizing that her search for “something” in her life isn’t likely to be provided by a teenage boy.

    With Drew, we’re apparently being set up for his return next season. By then, no doubt, he’ll have discovered the challenges of the working world and decide he’d better go back and graduate. He has good chemistry with Fiona, but I don’t think she’s going to cut him much more slack than his mother.

    Clare’s plot was enjoyable enough, and it was nice to see Connor get some screen time.

    This is a season where Jenna isn’t the only character who feels “lost.” Becky and Cam are trying to find their place at a new school and Drew is no longer comfortable at school or at home. It will be interesting to see how this theme plays out.

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