In Degrassi’s reboot of the original Degrassi Junior High series, I’ve often found myself at odds with the show’s season premieres and finales. There was a time where I was never really impressed with either, but ever since the show rebranded itself as just “Degrassi,” we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying three strong premieres (seasons 10, 11 and 12).
The finales, however, have found themselves still falling short, in my eyes either being just “okay” or uninteresting altogether.
The season 12 finale, The Time of My Life, is a step in the right direction. Degrassi fans often complain about how Degrassi is too relationship heavy, but the fact that two of the three plots here deal with relationship drama is almost unnoticeable, as Degrassi delivers a fast-paced story with varying levels of emotional depth.
FIMOGEN PLOT REVIEW: Fimogen has come along way since their random beginning, though I’m still not sure what I think of them as a romantic couple. There were times where they were extremely cute together, but a lot of the time they had just great “friendship chemistry,” which is satisfying in itself. The setup for their plot in this episode is slightly off putting. Imogen is failing most of her classes, so she will have to repeat her senior year at Degrassi. It’s difficult to grasp that Imogen could get away with not turning in any of her work without someone around her noticing (given that her girlfriend is, you know, class Valedictorian).
Things get worse for Imogen as she learns Fiona has a chance at a job being a Junior Designer in Italy. We’ve seen three versions of Imogen so far during her tenure at Degrassi. Normally she’s a very fun-loving, quirky girl. Another side of her is her tendency to shut down when situations become too emotionally intense. The third is one we haven’t seen since season 11, the side of her which manipulates people in order to direct a situation’s outcome for her own benefit. It’s odd watching her do the latter in this episode as she pretends to be Fiona and intentionally botch Fi’s meeting with the fashion designer.
However, Imogen’s character going full circle by reverting back to her character’s initial behavior provides an outcome (Fimogen on the brink of collapse) that also highlights how Fiona, the one who’s graduating, has also come full circle since her arrival at Degrassi. It was around the last Degrassi graduation that Fiona was the one losing her mind because the person closest to her (Holly J) was leaving. We see how Fiona has matured since then, going from being the needy one receiving assurance that she can make it on her own to being the one who gives that same kind of assurance to Imogen.
It’s refreshing to watch a breakup on Degrassi that isn’t because one of the people did something stupid. Imogen and Fiona are complete opposites and they were both civil enough to realize that because their differences are taking them each down different paths, that will make it difficult for them to maintain a relationship. While Fiona moves onto her life after Degrassi, Imogen will stay behind, hoping to follow the path Fiona took as she started her final year anew.
ECLARE PLOT REVIEW: Out of all the plots in this episode, this one seemed to move at the fastest pace. Maybe it feels this way because there was no dilly dallying with filler drama (the story jumped quickly from Clare finding a random prom date, to Eli showing up at her front door, to Eclare reconciling all in the first 30 minutes of the episode). There’s sincerity in their reunion as we witness two people who obviously still care about each other realizing they need to put their bullshit aside before it‘s too late.
Anyone who’s been legitimately paying attention to Degrassi (the show, NOT the fandom) since the second half of season 10 knew that Eclare having sex was imminent if they were to stay together long enough. The foundation of everything that Clare believed was destroyed with the divorce of her parents, including her stance on premarital sex.
While the Eclare fandom had much to rejoice about in this episode, the evolution of Eclare’s relationship was marred by the brilliantly-dark cloud of Alli discovering a lump on Clare’s back. For the first time in forever, Degrassi completely surprised me with a shocking moment on the show. In a time where major plot details seem to always get revealed one way or another, I’m legimately proud that Degrassi was able to keep this quiet.
While most season finales aim to wrap up everything so they can start off the next season fresh, the writers smartly lay down the foundation for Clare potentially battling leukemia in season 13. Though Clare is the leading lady of this show, this should easily be the most hard-hitting storyline she’s ever received.
MO/JAKE PLOT REVIEW: Even until the very end, Mo and Jake continue to dismantle the belief by some in the Degrassi fandom that all characters need equal time and development in order to be useful or loved. Neither character has had a groundbreaking plot of their own. Both have relied primarily on being a sidekick or plot device for someone else, and each other. The latter always makes for good entertainment, as Jacob Neayam and Justin Kelly have phenomenal chemistry when they’re together.
Mo and Jake’s friendship is put to the test as Mo wants to make sure that he and Jake will maintain their friendship even after they graduate and head to college. Mo also has to deal with keeping Marisol happy at prom, a task he ends up struggling with after getting drunk and throwing up on the dance floor. Mo and Jake’s plot is brilliant based on its simplicity and relatability. Depending on your age when reading this, you’re bound to reach (or have reached) a point where you’re going to graduate and people you’ve been around for years will start going their own separate ways. Mo finally telling Jake he wants them to be friends forever is a heartwarming moment, even if in reality such a request might be difficult to achieve based on the randomness of life. Thank goodness this is a TV show, so we can safely assume one of the greatest bromances of this generation is endgame.