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After a brief scene in which the show gives a nod the remaining “classic” characters, by giving them a solo scene as they embark upon their senior year (Clare, Alli, Connor and Jenna), the show wastes no time jumping into the episode’s storylines.  This Is How We Do It has a different vibe than past episodes that show the beginning of a new school year.  While Drew is intent on having a fresh start, we feel as if we’ve been dropped midway into the action…that’s because we have.

It’d be easy to write off two of this episode’s three plots, given how mediocre they were during the first eight episodes of season 13.  However, this episode works well as an effective tool to lay the foundation for their archs in upcoming block of episodes.

1309-1DREW PLOT REVIEW:  “It’s nice to know that Adam’s still on people’s minds.”  Those words come from Dallas as Drew can’t believe the student council wants to do a texting and driving event instead of a dance to kick off the school year.  We see a double-edged sword come into play.  It’s great that everyone remembers Adam and want to prevent texting and driving deaths from happening.  However, for Drew, remembering is taking its toll on him, physically and mentally.  He’s suffering from insomnia, so he’s been prescribed medicine to help him sleep.

The side effects are causing him to engage in random, late-night behavior that he doesn’t remember, such as ordering a bunch of supplies for the dance and talking to Bianca on the phone at 4am.  The big red flag comes in when Drew calls Zoë late at night and flirts with her after having acquired her phone number earlier in the day.

What’s intriguing is the fact that Drew is stuck in between a rock and a hard place.  Clare and the student council mean well with their texting and driving idea, but all Drew wants is to escape the thoughts of Adam that are mercilessly haunting him.  Using Zoë and a bunch of random freshman to swing the student council vote in order to have a dance is a clever ploy for someone who’s desperate for some kind of mental relief from anything that reminds him of Adam, yet it‘s weird that no one besides Dallas seems to notice that Drew is struggling.  It‘s a testament to how well people can cover up their pain in public, as we walk by people every day with no clue of the trials and tribulations they face in their lives.  There’s no telling how badly this will affect Drew, but I’m interested to see where this goes.

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1309-2ALLI PLOT REVIEW:  Keeping in mind the events of what happened between Alli and Leo in Honey gives their plot in This Is How We Do It an eerie tone.  Alli spends a good part of the episode talking about how she has a date with someone, but she refuses to tell Clare and Jenna because she knows, Jenna especially, won’t approve.  Leo arrives in Toronto as he said he would, and Alli doesn’t tell the girls about her date with Leo until the next day.  Jenna scolds Alli for getting back together with a guy who physically abused her.

The show treats us to what’s supposed to be a heartfelt, romantic reunion scene between Alli and Leo, but it comes off as artificial.  I’m not sure whether it’s because 1) Alli and Leo are still a couple that lack chemistry or 2) Leo has the potential to abuse Alli again.  Another interesting way to look at that scene is that as hard as the show tries to present the scene as if Alli and Leo are a fairytale romance, maybe that scene is a representation of Alli’s view of the situation, as she’s viewed their relationship through fairytale glasses even in Paris.

The fact Alli avoids telling Jenna and Clare about Leo for a while tells us that she knows she shouldn’t be getting involved with Leo again, but as we all know the heart want what it wants, rendering logic irrelevant.  Though Leo apologizes to Alli for physically hurting her in Paris, their final scene hints at his controlling nature; he asks Alli to ditch her student council meeting to hang out with him, and she willingly submits.  Alli’s continuing to follow through with the phrase that’s defined her since as long as we’ve known her; she’s “book smart, but boy dumb.”  However, it’s reaching beyond the point of being a silly catchphrase as Alli might be getting in over her head.  I’m not sure what’s more sad:  the fact Alli might be stuck in a toxic relationship, or the fact that it has to happen in order for this plot to be interesting.

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1309-3ZOE PLOT REVIEW: Zoë finds herself the odd man out as she begins her first day of school at Degrassi.  When she finds herself in the same class as Maya, Miles and Tristan, she has a mini meltdown and tosses a drink on Mr. Perino.  Zoë’s mom covers for her behavior by telling Mr. Simpson that Zoë has dyslexia.  Zoë hates the fact that she has to go to Degrassi, but she has to be in school if she isn’t working on an acting gig.

The interesting part of this plot is that we learn Zoë was fired from West Drive, but we don’t know why, and she clearly doesn’t want anyone to find out.  She’s shunned by the tenners (primarily Miles) because of her vindictive behavior in Paris, though Maya gives Zoë a compassionate stare before walking away.  Things veer off course a bit for Zoë as she gets sucked into Drew’s plot, and he calls her at 4am and flirts with her under the influence of his sleeping pills.  Once that’s sorted out, we’ll still be left with the fact that Zoë had a Miles, lost him and ultimately blames Maya.  While this episode does nothing special, it does a decent job of isolating and angering Zoë so that she may eventually exact revenge on Maya.

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What I said earlier, before this episode…

Since the summer finale, I’ve spent virtually no thinking about Degrassi in a deep manner.  I’d like to think I’m not alone when I say I wasn’t feeling the summer block as a whole, to the point where I didn’t feel like mentally sorting through the jumbled mess it became.

Now, all of that is over.  Degrassi returns tonight, as well as the students for yet another school year.  Of course I’m most interested to see how Adam’s death impacts the people at Degrassi, hopefully lingering like a dark cloud for a lengthy period of time as the show said it would.  Some other thoughts:

Let Eclare and Drianca fade into the background and coast to the end.
Can they just leave Eclare alone already? I also demand Drianca receive immunity as well.  Despite not shipping Eclare, I kind of hope they (as well as my Drianca) make it through.  At this point my reasoning is based on sheer principle.  Since season 10, Degrassi has spent an absurd amount of time dealing with these ships.  The show loves spending much of their time jamming ships down our throats (next on the horizon seems to be Maya and any guy she likes), then dismantling them in the blink of an eye.  Major ships on this show do not survive.  For me it’s not about pleasing the fangirls.  It’d be nice for the show to take a serious couple seriously and take them through to the end, given that the most notable endgame couple on this show has been the nonsense that was Spinner and Emma.

With Eclare I can see how it can go either way, especially with Eli’s first webisode hinting at trouble over the horizon.  However, a Drianca breakup would be legitimately disappointing given all they’ve been through, which is far more than Eclare or any other couple over the past three seasons.  There’s also the fact Drianca is engaged and their relationship is very stable.

Should we be worried about the Tenners?
There’s no denying there is talent in the group of Tenners.  The question is, will the show be so focused on relationship drama that the Tenners become tiresome?  They are the future of this show after all, and if Paris was a sign of what we have to look forward to then Degrassi is in trouble.  Miles is very intriguing and has a back story with his father that we’re all dying to see more of.  Zoë has her own issues as well.  The biggest roadblock for her character rests in the hands of the writers.  It’s refreshing having a character who’s devious and a straight-up jerk when she feels necessary.  However, we know that the show sometimes transforms the characters into the actor who plays them (*cough* Eli is now Munro), so one can only wonder how long this entertaining diva act of hers will last.  On a side note, I’m missing Tristan and Tori’s friendship in season 13.  Tristan and Maya’s is kind of cute, but Tristan and Tori had far better chemistry.  Their best friendship felt very natural unlike Tristan and Maya, whose friendship appropriately feels like that of two people who became close friends because they have no one else.

Alli’s plot might end up being secretly great.
Why does it feel like the most intellectually gifted girls on Degrassi seems to always be caught up in boy trouble?  While Maya is wrapped up in her own mess, Alli continues to fulfill her title as the girl who’s “book smart and boy dumb.”  To be brash, her storyline in Paris sucked.  Her interactions and relationship with Leo were uninteresting and contained no chemistry, a big misstep given how hard the show pushed them onto us in the summer block.

But now we see that Leo indeed ends up in Toronto.  His relationship with Alli will continue.  The ugliness that happened the last time they saw each other in Paris will continue.  I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s making me reconsider what happened in Paris.  Maybe we were looking at it wrong…or maybe were looking at it right, but it wasn’t done effectively enough.  Either way, I’m not going into Alli’s plot in this fall block with the preconceived notion that it will suck by default.  The stakes with Leo in Canada are far greater than they were in Paris, when we could all assume their fling would be done after Alli left.  For those who also weren’t a fan of Alli’s plot over the summer, keep in mind that we have to keep our eyes on the big picture on this one…I’d like to think it’ll be far easier to do so in this block than it was over the summer.

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Posted by Kary

26 Comments

  1. Kary, 1 of your best analysis ever. Drianca is by far the best couple ever on Degrassi. You mentioned the reasons. The Alli/Leo storyline has been done before with Fionas abusive boy friend. Now I know every class has the same problems as their older peers and so you have to copy storylines on drug abuse, family break downs, gambling, etc. I like Alli alot but I don’t see much potential or anything ground breaking in her storyline. ……Drew would not leave Bianca for Clare. I like E-Clare. I think in 1 early episode Clare kissed Declan and had vampire fantasies about him. Holly J. set her straight pretty fast. I think Bianca does the same. :)

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  2. Drianca is really the best couple on this show since Spane. i will be pretty pissed if they break them up on a whim. and I’m kind of hoping the show ends with Clare’s class graduating at this point, because I can’t see myself following the show focused on the current tenners, if what we got with them so far is any indication.

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  3. the show isnt gonna end with clares class graduating. i think we’ll be okay with maya’s class as far as storylines go. sure, not much issues are going around, save for tristan’s steroid plot, but if you think back to alli/clares tenner days it was the same… clare was falling for eli while alli was falling for drew. it wasnt until later in their 10th grade year that they started having issues (clare dealing with her parent’s divorce and alli running away from home). we have to remember this is only the first 16 episodes of this season. im sure later on that they will all have issues. and to be honest, i think zoe is going to turn out to be a very interesting character this season. tori is missed, but zoe is going to make a very suitable manny-alli replacement

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  4. I second letting Drianca or Eclare make it to endgame. Jay/Manny and Mo/Marisol are other exceptions but the latter barely got screen time. It’d be nice to see at least one of the couples they spent 4 years building up get a happy ending. I have a bad feeling both will be thrown away for Clew to happen though.

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  5. DegrassiFanatic October 3, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    Kary don’t you appreciate Spemma at least a little in that they are all we have in terms or “endgame” in TNG? I know they are nowhere near Simon/Alexa of DJH/DH or anywhere close to level of a couple like Jiberty had they stayed together…But I like Spemma simply because their all we have. Also you have to admit that for a contrived couple 10x, the storyline in DTM was well put together.

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    1. I respectfully disagree. I thought that Spemma’s storyline was terribly put together. Aside from the fact that they barely interacted during their years on the show, the writers basically threw Jane under the bus and tried to make Emma more Mary Sueish than usual so that people would accept Spemma. It didn’t work. There were so many different ways that the writers could have ended Spinner and Emma’s time on the show, but heaven forbid that their precious Emma end up single.

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  6. Kary, how do you feel about the new abbreviated opening? I think it sucks. I like to see who the actors are, who they will have storylines with, etc. and sometimes the opening was a glance of things to come for the entire season. Now its a 10 second rush of bullshit.

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    1. It’s the worst intro they’ve ever had, IMO.

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      1. Yeah even worse than the one for Season 8

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    2. I have to agree with this so much. I miss the old opening. I could understand why they used this for the summer but I was REALLY hoping once the whole cast of characters were at school, we’d get back our old opening. =\ Those openings say so much about the characters, always have. Somehow I think they’ll eventually go back to it though. Remember when they tried the lyricless opening with just them standing there and small scenes of them floating around in the bg? Yup, didn’t work out then, and I don’t think this one is going to work out either. Though I was really looking forward to seeing this opening because we have so many new characters.

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      1. Megan, I couldn’t have said it better than you did. Lets take the 3 different openings for my all time favoprite character Fiona (Annie Clark.) The first time she was with her brother Declan. The 2nd, and my favorite, was sitting down with Eli crafting a play. The 3rd she is shooting baskets with Drew and Adam. So on the 2nd there was the hint that Fiona and Eli would be friends and collaborate on a project. The 3rd foretold that Drew would be her room mate. Before they had little in common. …..You could go down the line with every character that way. My 2nd all time favorite was Bianca, and the intros showed her growth. The first she high 5s KC for stealing Adams hat and they are both busted by Principle Simpson. The 2nd intro has her coming out of Simpsons office. The 3rd has her coming to the classroom for extra school activity like the debate or geography club and Miss Oh, Westley, and KC are surprised but happy to see her.

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    3. The old openings were great, but they aren’t necessary and I’m fine with them getting rid of them (especially when they said that 30 seconds is now devoted to the actual episode content). After I’ve seen it a few times, the novelty wears off and there’s no reason to see it 30 or 40 more times. I’ve been binge watching Once Upon A Time and they have an abbreviated intro that is customized for each individual episode…I’d like to see Degrassi do that instead of their current plan of just updating it every block.

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    4. i thought the season 8 intro was bad, but i HATE this one. hopefully they will go back to the old one all the fans love.

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  7. I kind of felt bad for Zoe, especially when her mom told her she had to go to Degrassi rather than home school because she had to get a job since Zoe lost her job on West Drive. It just kinda made me want to smack her mom – what kind of parent has the right to make their child feel like crap for losing a part when they are sponging off the kid rather than working a real job? I saw a little of why Zoe is how she is in there – her mother seems to value her more for the parts she gets and the money she brings in from them than actually loving her daughter for herself. Wouldn’t you act out too if your mom made you feel that way? I can’t help wondering if Zoe got fired because her mother was being an uber-Stage Mom…

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    1. I agree. You feel sorry and empathy for Zoe for having a Lindsey Lohan type Hollywood stage mom. It doesn’t excuse her bratty behavior but it gives us reasons why she behaves that way.

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  8. naa man spemma is probably the worst couple on degrassi ever. they were wacknesss

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  9. I miss the 2 episode weekly hour blocks. I realize they want to have a DeGrassi presence for as many weeks per year as possible, but I don’t think fans are as invested in the show this way. It’s interesting that Teen Nick is starting a Sunday nite feature now. Will that be aired in Canada, too? I haven’t seen any numbers, but it sounds as if the After DeGrassi show was pretty well received, but it sort of left the US fans with youtube sloppy seconds.

    I too, noticed a slightly different look last night. After 12 years they have to evolve or they won’t be around. It seems as if they are reaching for plot lines a bit. Almost everything has been done before so in my mind they are going to have to dig these story arcs deeper than years past in order to stay relevant.

    I’m sure they are aware of the feedback from the summer block. Almost too late to react to it this year, since 13 is basically in the can. I’m really surprised that they film the way they do, lots of shows get a half a dozen eps ahead and film throughout the season. This allows them to correct themselves if things start going bad. Guess they have their reasons…

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  10. The writers are kind of sexist. Everytime the girls do something risky, they get terrible consequences, but when Eli does drugs and runs around NAKED, he doesn’t get in trouble! He still goes to NYU! He never apologizes to Clare for leaving her after Cam! Wth.

    LOVED the episode, though. Degrassi has finally got good again. The actress for Zoe was spot on when she ran behind Tris, Maya, and Miles, and then tried to befriend them. Maya’s sympathetic look was definitely noteworthy.

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    1. how can I watch this episode online for free? Also if I’m not in Canada?

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      1. Do you live in the U.S. or in another country?

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      2. I live in US. I found it on a website after searching for over an hour! Thx tho!

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      3. On teennick.com

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  11. Degrassi Grapevine October 7, 2013 at 1:42 am

    I’m intrigued as to how Zoe’s character got fired. I would be super impressed with the writers if they carried Dave’s plot over from last season — he did win a guest role on West Drive, but that storyline was dropped. He should have the inside scoop for sure as she was fired around the same time he won the role… Kary have you thought about this?

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  12. Is anyone else just not happy about the new intro? In fact, the way this whole season has been filmed so far looks too happy and clean..

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    1. The new opening is BS period. We could excuse it for the summer block. Why break what didn’t need to be fixed or messed with? …..I think theres something more ugly going on behind the scenes. Some American soap operas got rid of openings that introduced the cast. Even at the end of some shows you can’t see who played who unless you hit the slo-mo button on the credits. So perhaps Degrassi Producers don’t want real life names attached to the characters. They want you to have to go to the internet for that information. Seems foolish and childish.

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  13. I know I’m really late on this review but I thought this was a decent start to the fall block. Someone mentioned on here that it was better than how the previous academic year started and I agree.

    A Plot
    I like the way the writers are treating Drew’s handling of Adam’s death. It’s more than obvious that it’s hit him hard through his ways of trying to cope with it. The fact that he’s sleep deprived at the start represents this point very well. The way that he uses some freshman and Zoe to win a vote against the student council is some good quick thinking on his part. Well I am a bit so-so on Zoe’s involvement in the plot, I have to say that I’m excited for what happens to Drew in the next episode. Grade” B+

    B Plot
    Alli’s one was more of a setup than a subplot that’s supposed to, you know, accomplish something. But then yet again the plot surrounds itself around the mediocrity that is Alli and Leo so me having high hopes is out of the question. What I did like though in this episode was Jenna’s digust of Alli dating Leo; if only that girl took that advice to heart instead of being “book smart and boy dumb”. God help me if this plot takes center stage again and if it does I only hope that Leo gets his dull ass kicked by Dallas. Grade: C+

    C Plot
    After watching this plot, I don’t view Zoe’s character as one of those “she was mean before but things have changed so you should feel a bit sorry for her” kind of deals. In this plot we start to see past her hardcore exterior that she’s a human being and how there’s mystery surrounding why Zoe lost her job on West Drive. I’m not sure where Zoe might go during this fall block even if it’s hinted in the last scene with the Tenners but Ana’s handling the material well so far. Grade: B-

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