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.
DREW 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.
ALLI 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.
ZOE 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.
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.