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I AGAINST I
Season: 5
Episode: 14
CTV Airdate: 1/30/06
The-N Airdate: 4/21/06

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SPINNER PLOT SUMMARYSpinner has volunteered for the dunk tank at the carnival, and Jimmy, who still hates Spinner, takes great please in dunking him the cold water time and time again.  Afterward, Spinner finds Marco hanging out alone, who explains that the rest of the gang (Ellie/Jimmy, Paige/Alex) have paired off and Craig is in Vancouver.  Spinner asks Marco if he wants to hang out, and he reluctantly agrees.  After watching a movie Marco is surprised to see that Spinner is the same person he’s always been, given that they haven’t spoken in ages…the two become friends again.

The next day, Linus is outraged at the fact Marco is planning a safe sex seminar where he plans to pass out condoms to students.  Linus addresses the Friendship Club and asks Spinner to talk to Marco, even though Darcy is against this plan.  Spinner tells Marco to cancel the seminar because condoms promote sex, which is a sin.  This angers Marco, who tells Spinner he regrets reconciling their friendship.  Linus and Spinner go on with their plan to protest the seminar, despite Darcy thinking it’s an extreme idea.  The Friendship Club’s protest causes a confrontation between Linus and Marco.  Things get heated when Linus calls Marco a fag, and Marco attacks him.  Spinner, caught in the middle of them, chooses to stand with Marco and tells Linus to leave.

At The Dot, Spinner tries to apologize to Marco, who’s sitting with Jimmy and Ellie.  Marco doesn’t want to talk to Spinner, who says all he ever wanted was to be friends again.  Later, Marco finds Spinner outside and forgives him.

514-1The intriguing part of this plot is how you have two ideas overlapping each other, producing a well-written and engrossing storyline.  If it wasn’t obvious before, the show made it clear in this episode that Spinner clings to Friendship Club and its ideas not necessarily because he truly believes in them, but because he feels he has no other choice.  It‘s either the club, or be alone.  Not that Friendship Club is a bad thing, but think of it this way:  Spinner was so lonely going into this school year that he would’ve joined any group of people that would accept him.

There’s great irony in the fact that Marco finds himself lonely within the friendship group Spinner wishes he could be a part of again.   My favorite scene in this episode is when Marco and Spinner hang out for the first time in ages.  Marco realizes that Spinner is still the same person despite everything that’s happened since the shooting.  While it’s completely understandable that Jimmy still hates Spinner, it’s refreshing to see Marco’s alternate perspective as someone who shunned Spinner, yet time has worn down his disdain for Spinner enough to show forgiveness.

514-2It’s fantastic how the show handles the backdrop for Spinner’s drama, caught in between Linus and Marco.  It presents multiple sides of the issue of promoting safe sex, from Linus being against it, to Marco and others being for it, and even showing Darcy as someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with condoms being dispensed, but also doesn’t think it’s necessary to protest Marco doing it either.  Personal opinion aside, the show doesn’t dictate which side is right…we don’t even know what became of the safe sex seminar after the fight. It’s not the point, which is Spinner being placed in a situation where he’s forced to choose between two sides when he wishes he could just have both.

This episode drops several hints that Spinner has been “brainwashed,” so to speak.  Ellie says, “I cannot believe Friendship Club brainwashed Spinner.”  As Spinner tries to protest Paige says, “As if you have the faintest idea what you’re protesting.” Spinner isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and has always been gullible, so it’s easy to see him believe everything Linus says without question, amplified by the fact that Linus is the only male friend he has.  I don’t feel this perpetuates the ridiculous idea that all Christians are extremists who blindly follow religion; Darcy served as the voice of reason throughout this episode, and she clearly noticed that Linus’ views were too extreme to represent what Christianity is about.  However, it speaks to bigger messages of how a single person’s actions and ideas can taint the reputation of an entire group, and how people who are desperate for acceptance are willing to accept whatever they can get.  Even with that said, in this episode we witness growth not only within Spinner’s character, but Marco’s as well.

514-3As Linus calls Marco a “fag,” one can only flash back to the time when it was Spinner who called Marco that word, writing it on a bathroom wall for all to see.  Though getting physical with Linus, Marco is now comfortable enough with his own sexuality to defend himself against those who are homophobic.

At the end of the episode Marco asks Spinner, “You really are lost, aren’t you?”  “You have have no idea,” Spinner responds.  He may be lost, but in Marco he’s found someone who shares more in common with him than he realizes.

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SPIKE PLOT SUMMARYSpike is still devastated over Snake cheating and moving out, so Emma tries to cheer her up with brownies and a surprise visit from Spike’s best friend Caitlin.  Spike says she’s moving on from the relationship and things are going well until Snake shows up at the house unannounced, dropping off a necklace he’d gotten Spike because it’s their three-year wedding anniversary.  Spike becomes emotional as she stares at the necklace…she thinks it’s beautiful, but throws it in the trash. 

Emma and Caitlin can’t come up with any good ideas to cheer Spike up, so they eventually go with an idea Manny’s been mentioning all along: male strippers.  They host a party for Spike with the strippers and invite more of Spike’s friends, including her other long-time friend from high school Liz.  Spike is having a good time until she notices that one of the strippers looks like Snake.  After the party Spike admits that she can’t move on; even though she’s mad at Snake, she’s still in love with him.

514-4The gist of the plot is pretty decent:  no matter how hard Spike tries to convince herself (and everyone else) that she’s ok, she just isn’t.  She’s still deeply in love with a man who has broken his vows.  It’d be easy to say “Just dump his ass and move along,” but once you get into marriage and have kids, things become ridiculously complicated.  You can’t just cut and run.

I’ve always enjoyed Manny’s silliness in this episode.  While she’s someone who can shift between being a primary and secondary character, she is superior when in a support role on Degrassi.  There’s also fun in the stripper scene before Spike’s revelation.  Seeing that Caitlin, Liz and Joy all still exist in the Degrassi universe is a continuity treat for anyone who’s invested time in Degrassi Junior High. Unfortunately, none of that can’t carry a plot like this, one that seems to lack the emotion you’d expect from it and I can’t exactly put my finger on why.  There’s no feeling of tension when Snake walks in out of the blue and catches Spike off guard.  Spike’s crying at the end makes Manny’s crying over the years look award winning.  The behavior is on screen.  I know what emotions we’re supposed to feel.  But in the end Amanda Stepto, who can play a compassionate character like no one’s business, simply doesn’t sell the anger, sadness and heartache Spike is feeling.

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Posted by Kary

5 Comments

  1. One thing that bugged me in this episode: the school held a safe sex seminar, yet NOBODY mentioned the fact that their student council president just gave birth.

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    1. Probably because none of the juniors were involved in the seminar.

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      1. Still, it was a school-wide safe sex seminar. Somebody could have mentioned it.

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  2. The main plot for I Against I basically kept me engaged from beginning to end. The plot gives us a good insight to how Spinner wants to be forgiven for what happened with the shooting. And like Kary said, once Linus pressures Spinner to sabotage the same sex seminar despite reconciling with Marco, it puts him in a difficult but realistic position. One thing that caught my eye was when Marco punched Linus for calling him a fag and said he was going to hell. At that moment, I was thinking to myself that Marco did that because of how he’s seen the ugly side of homophobia before when he was bashed in “Pride”. All in all, it is a good move on the writers to show some development for Marco, since at that point his character was going down the tubes. Also, even the little moments like Jimmy giving Spinner a taste of his own medicine by dunking him constantly and Alex briefly dissing Linus made this episode more brilliant. In general, the plot is a prime example of what happens when the Degrassi writers put effort and quality towards a plot.

    As far as the subplot goes, I like the fact that the writers show the effect of Snake’s brief infidelity with Ms Hot Sauce but Amanda portrayed Spike’s emotions like she was made of stone. For me, Snake and Spike’s subplot in Our Lips Are Sealed Part 1 is better than this mediocre one.

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  3. one of the highlights of season 5. very underrated, i LOVED this episode and yet not many people talk about this episode.I also was intrigued from beginning to end.

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