DREW PLOT REVIEW: By the end of Black or White, it’s apparent where Drew’s storyline is trying to go message wise. However, viewers must go through an odd, over-the-top road to get there, a path barely paved with anything at all besides good intentions.
Drew gears up for his first Degrassi TV interview as President, yet Winston spins the interview to make Drew look like an incompetent leader for wanting to spend school funds on a carnival. Furious, Drew uses his position of power to pull the plug on Degrassi TV and fire Winston, and Imogen quits in protest. Winston and Imogen lead a group of protesters who want to have Drew impeached. Principal Simpson threatens to intervene if Drew doesn’t do something to calm the students.
After a phone call with Bianca, Drew comes up with an idea to compromise with Degrassi TV: they can return to the airwaves, with one of the conditions being that they can’t run negative stories about student council. Winston scoffs at the idea and continues to insult Drew, calling him a terrible President. Drew angrily pushes Winston to the ground and walks off, shocked at what just happened. The incident leaves Drew worrying that everyone, especially Bianca, will see him as a failure. Dallas encourages Drew to try again and he does; Drew reinstates Degrassi TV, and instead of a carnival, he vows to use budget money to host a Thanksgiving feast for needy families.
We’re once again presented with Drew’s greatest fear, the feeling that he’s simply not good enough to succeed. Within that he’s most afraid of letting down Bianca, as if one day she’s going to realize she’s too good for him and break up with him. To tackle Drew’s internal conflict again is fine, but why wrap it in such an odd predicament such as the “Occupy Degrassi movement?”
It’d be one thing if we’d had a fairly extensive look at Drew’s presidency. We received a glimpse of it in This Is How We Do It and You Got Me, but Drew’s presidency then was more of a backdrop for his insomnia storyline. Winston has transformed from a character who I was kind of intrigued by into someone whose existence is confusing. The creation of Degrassi TV allowed him a role outside of being Miles’ sidekick, since Miles is currently attached to Maya and Tristan. Now Winston just runs around delivering forced, unfunny comedy relief.
Every interaction between Drew and Winston up until this episode has been cordial. Yet, here we see Winston in Black or White running a hardcore smear campaign against Drew, claiming things viewers haven’t really had an opportunity to see. For that reason Winston’s mind-boggling hostility in this episode seems to come from out of left field, serving as a plot device that’s far more distracting than anything.
TRISTAN PLOT REVIEW: One of the good things in terms of Tristan’s character is the continuity in terms of his desire to be a leading man acting wise. Before he eventually received the role in Eli’s zombie film in season 12, we saw Tristan struggle with not fitting the “type” Eli was looking for. In Black or White, Tristan’s fear of not being good enough to be a leading man are played upon once again, though the struggle is primarily in his head.
In drama class the students are given a role they must perform as an assignment. Tristan is given a comedic role, but he wants a serious, leading-man role. Tristan decides to practice delivering his performance in a serious manner, but the teacher informs him that if he does so he’ll fail his assignment. Zoë gives Tristan advice, telling him to perform the role as assigned because it’s better than not showcasing his talent at all. Tristan performs the role as it was given and knocks it out of the park. Afterward, Zoë tells Tristan that she wants him to join the comedy troupe she’s starting…the only problem is that they both know Maya won’t approve.
Tristan is the type of character who, when he wants something, he’ll barrel through everything blindly in an attempt to get it. Thankfully he’s stop dead in his tracks by the voice of reason, played surprisingly by Zoë Rivas. Degrassi continues to do this great thing where they show multiple sides of characters, making them more human than a character type. As Tristan sees this, he’ll of course find himself stuck in between Maya and Zoë as their hatred for each other continues.
Zoë’s delivered quite a bit of petty, vicious behavior up until this point, but shows in Black or White she’s capable of sincerity. Even if delivered in her own special way, Zoë’s advice is direct and a wonderful message to heed: having goals is great, but sometimes you have to suck it up and do things you don’t want to do to get where you want to go.
ECLARE PLOT REVIEW: Clare’s excited for her outdoor movie date with Eli, but things feel “off” between them. He’s returned from NYU to visit her, but during their date he struggles to stay awake. Eli receives a phone call and takes it, and while he’s away Clare discovers cigarettes in his bag.
Clare invites Eli over to talk things out, acknowledging that things feel distant between them. Clare thinks he’s been smoking cigarettes as a coping mechanism, but is ultimately led to believe that Eli cheated on her with Lenore. Upset, Clare refuses Eli’s attempts to explain what happened and kicks him out.
Upon first viewing it looks like an open-and-shut case…Eli cheated on Clare with Lenore, and Degrassi’s most-popular couple for the past three years is forever tainted. However, multiple viewings of Eclare’s final scene in Black or White slowly plant seeds of doubt in regards to Clare’s assumption that the love of her life was randomly unfaithful. The odd thing about Eclare’s final conversation is that they both kept delivering vague dialogue. Eli says that “it” only happened once, because he missed Clare and was trying to fill a void. Even as the conversation turns toward the cigarettes which Clare learns belonged to Lenore, and Eli’s guilty silence implies that something happened, there’s neither a specific admission of infidelity from Eli nor a specific request of the truth from Clare.
With that said it could be that Eli indeed cheated on Clare, a defiant move on Degrassi’s part after three years of developing a relationship where that kind of behavior seemed impossible. But now there’s also the possibility that Eli didn’t cheat, which could lead to questionable decisions made by either or both. It’s yet another tough reminder that things go sideways in Eclare’s relationship whenever they don’t communicate. Eli was lonely and missed Clare, but it’s like he didn’t bother to tell her. Clare also has things going on in her life that she hasn’t told Eli. And now there’s an ironic chance that the vague conversation these two shared is one giant misunderstanding. Either way, Eclare continues to be the poster child for why consistently communicating with your partner is vital.