PLOT A SUMMARY: Clare is eager to take full advantage of her internship and does so by e-mailing some of her pitch ideas to Asher. He calls her and asks her to meet him for lunch, and she assumes she’s going to be fired because he thought her ideas were stupid. However, he gives her the opportunity to pitch an idea to him and she chooses Degrassi’s musical. Asher agrees and tells Clare they’re going to write her article. Clare’s excited until Asher meets Eli and does the interview by himself, while sending Clare to go fetch coffee. Clare chases Asher down and tells him she wants to write the article, and despite not thinking she’s ready, Asher lets her. After noticing a mistake in the article after sending it to Asher, she panics and heads to the newspaper to find him. Asher tells her he’s working on rewriting her article because it had a lot of work that needed to be done on it, and Clare breaks down because she feels as if she’s failed him. He calms Clare down and tells her that she can stay and help him edit the article. Afterward Clare is relieved and out of nowhere Asher kisses her, and she runs out of the office horrified.
The next day Clare and Eli expect Clare’s article to be in the paper, but it’s nowhere to be found. Clare talks to Asher, who says the article will be published on another day. He also apologizes for kissing her and tells her not to tell anyone about what happened between them. He invites her to cover a press conference with him and she agrees. While they’re in her car Asher shows her the Degrassi article that will be published, and tries to put the moves on her again. Clare tries to get away, but Asher locks the car doors. She escapes, but not before Asher threatens to ruin her career if she tells anyone. Clare goes to the editor, but finds out that she’s being fired because Asher filed a report saying Clare was infatuated with him. Before clearing out her desk an outraged Clare calls Asher out in front of everyone at the paper for sexually harassing her. Later, Clare tells Alli that she doesn’t want to go to the police and can’t tell Eli because it’ll upset him. Still unaware of what’s happened Eli walks up and gives Clare a present: a framed version of the article she and Asher wrote.
Clare’s plot in Waterfalls will initially draw comparisons to the Season 9 episode Heart Like Mine, where KC’s trust was betrayed by his basketball coach. However, comparing the two antagonists in these separate plots (Coach Carson and Asher) reveals that they aren’t even close to being in the same league. Coach Carson, though he tried to expose KC to alcohol and a prostitute, is really nothing more than a generic creep who loved drinking and women, and tried to introduce it to KC as “something cool to do.” As Carson took an approach that seemed almost too relaxed in a sense, Asher is far more aggressive, and the stakes of the situation are far greater for Clare.
It helps tremendously that Degrassi spent several episodes showing not only how much Clare admires Asher from a professional standpoint, but also how much Clare values the opportunity given to her through her internship. She almost seems to value it TOO much, as if this is her one and only chance to achieve her dream, and one mistake will ruin everything. It’s easy to write Clare off as going back to her extremely whiny ways in situations where she was seemingly freaking out over nothing (her assuming the worst-case scenario if Asher were to read her pitches, and her flipping over splitting an infinitive in her article). But her uptight, almost paranoid behavior displays the beginning of something that’s so incredibly prevalent in society: people are often too focused on the fact that they *might* fail at something that it distracts them from actually succeeding. It never reaches that endpoint for Clare though because the plot’s focus shifts to the vile behavior of Asher.
Clare and Asher’s relationship is disturbingly brilliant in the way it‘s portrayed. Clare is openly eager and naïve, and Asher sees that as Clare being an easy target. It’s extremely important to understand that Clare had no romantic interest in Asher whatsoever. She wasn’t “leading him on” by any stretch of the imagination. This was a case of a grown man trying to take advantage of a young girl, because he thought he could dangle the awards of praise and publishing Clare’s article in exchange for sexual favors from her. This plot made my chest burn. Aislinn Paul was terrific. It’s bad enough watching Clare deal with being sexually harassed by someone she looked up to. Asher abused her trust and his power, putting her in the terrible predicament of risking losing her job or risking losing her sanity keeping Asher‘s harassment a secret. Instead of getting the outcome we’d hope for, Degrassi takes things one step further by forcing us to swallow the difficult pill of a reality that’s far more common: the good guy gets screwed over, the bad guy gets away with everything and justice is nowhere to be found. Sometimes life isn’t fair, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Emotionally draining, this plot is deserving of the old Degrassi tagline, “It. Goes. There.”
PLOT B SUMMARY: Cam asked Maya out, but Maya is worried because they haven’t actually gone on the date yet. Maya goes to her sister Katie for advice, who scoffs at the idea of her dating a hockey player. Katie agrees to drive Maya to her date, but only if she chaperones it. While there Katie grills Cam, but Camaya is able to get alone time by running away from Katie and hiding in a photo booth. The two open up to each other and Cam says their date is the most fun he’s had since he started doing Degrassi, but when Maya goes in to kiss him he turns away. Maya is confused and Tori tells her that guys like to take the lead on dates, so Maya tells Cam to plan where they go on their next date. He chooses the Degrassi garden and things go awkwardly as Maya keeps bringing up hockey and Cam keeps trying to change the subject. The date ends with Maya accidentally spitting juice on Cam’s shirt, then going in to kiss him and missing, nibbling on his ear instead.
In French class Tori and Tristan text Maya about how her date went. The teacher catches them and forces them to translate their texts in front of the class, embarrassing both Maya and Cam. They both question whether one likes the other, and Maya admits she has no idea what she’s doing because she’s never had a boyfriend or kissed a guy. Cam tells her that he liked her because he thought she cared about him and not about him playing hockey up until their previous date. Cam walks off, but visits Maya at home and apologizes, telling her he was nervous and has never had a girlfriend…and then he kisses her.
What happens when you pair two awkward people together? An awkwardly adorable plot. I like how the Matlin sisters are sort of a representation of the “before and after” when it comes to love on Degrassi. You have Maya with a wide-eyed innocence and positive outlook on her potential relationship with Cam…then there’s Katie, who is jaded and has been beaten down by a bad relationship, something that will happen to most girls on this show and in real life at some point.
With Cam we get to see that he’s not only awkward, but guarded. Unlike the rest of the hockey team, which seems to embrace the culture and rewards of being a high school athlete, Cam seems repulsed by it. With the pressure of being the team’s star player, the nonstop talk about how he’s going to be in the NHL in two years and him being away from his family, Maya is his escape from that because she is interested in him beyond his status or talents on the ice. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such young, inexperienced characters delve into romance, and it‘s refreshing. Watching them try to figure out what the heck they’re doing is fun.
PLOT C SUMMARY: KC has the academic quiz team over to his house to practice, when his mom interrupts them and randomly starts trying to bond with Bianca. KC and Bianca come up with the idea to hook his mom up with their geography teacher Mr. T. KC casually gets them to meet at Little Miss Steaks then finds an excuse to leave them alone to get to know each other. Afterward she secretly likes him, but doesn’t admit it to KC, saying she doesn’t want to go out with his teacher. KC tells her that if his quiz team wins regionals she has to go on a date with Mr. T, who is definitely interested in her. The team wins regionals and have a celebratory dinner at Little Miss Steaks. KC’s mom gets a phone call and has to break serious news to KC: KC’s dad is getting out of jail, and wants to meet with him.
The purpose of this plot is to re-establish in the minds of Degrassi fans that KC and his mom do exist, as the plot where KC comes face-to-face with his dad is on the horizon. It makes sense because it would be weird for such a heavy plot to just appear out of nowhere with a character who hasn’t had a storyline in quite some time. But with that said, I found this plot to be mind-numbingly bland. If the counter argument is “Well it’s good because it’s laid back to counteract the intense Clare plot,” I’d say you’re right…but the Camaya plot was also laid back. The difference is Camaya gave me a reason to be interested in what they were doing on screen.
Don’t get me wrong, I like KC. I also like his mom, Bianca and Mr. T (I absolutely LOVED Randal Edwards’ character Noah on The Best Years). The KC/Bianca friendship is good, but it’s not utilized enough to make things consistently engaging. More importantly, why should I care about any matchmaking scheme involving KC’s mom and his teacher? It’s great that KC and his mom have established such a wonderful relationship given all that‘s happened, but there’s nothing worth watching here except for the final scene, which guarantees us a plot we’ve been waiting to see for years. This being a setup doesn’t give it a free pass to do nothing to keep my attention.
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