“Why are you so mad?”
“Well mom I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Wow, you know what’s worse? You don’t even understand what you did.“
There’s a fantastic scene in this episode where Audra says nearly everything every viewer should want to say to the completely clueless Drew Torres. She calls him out on his nonsense, and refuses to accept his excuses. Could you imagine how much better the world might be if we were all so boldly held accountable for our actions?
Drew is preparing for Mr. Hollingsworth’s Q&A at Degrassi, but Drew’s frustrated because Zoë keeps hanging around. She even introduces herself to Mr. Hollingsworth as Drew’s girlfriend. Drew decides to break up with her by telling her he’s going to be too busy with Mr. Hollingsworth’s campaign to see her. Of course while he thinks it’s over and done with, later Clare and Dallas quickly point out that because Zoë wasn’t crying and upset by the “breakup news,” it means Zoë still thinks they’re together. Drew continues to prepare for the Q&A when Zoë shows up again. This time snaps, and tells her that he doesn’t want her around. “But I’m your girlfriend,” Zoë says, to which Drew replies, “No you’re not! I broke up with you!” He also tells Zoë that he regretted having sex with her. Disgusted, Zoë calls him a jerk and walks out.
During Mr. Hollingsworth’s Q&A session Zoë’s mom walks and in front of the crowd of spectators, demanding to know why Drew slept with her 15-year-old daughter; Mr. Hollingsworth advises that the two take up the matter in Principal Simpson’s office. There Drew is confronted by Ms. Rivas and Zoë, with his mom Audra demanding to know if he’d slept with her. He says yes, and Ms. Rivas wants Simpson to call the police on Drew for statutory rape. Simpson says he can’t because of the close-in-age exemption, and that it wasn’t illegal as long as it was consensual. Zoë confirms that she agreed to sleep with Drew, and Drew simply goes back to the gym to beg Mr. Hollingsworth to keep his job.
Later, Drew’s at home and thinks he’s out of hot water, but Audra scolds him for being so careless and selfish. Drew tries to blame his actions on his breakup with Bianca and the death of Adam, but Audra won’t stand for it. “Don’t you DARE make this about your brother,” she says, before also saying “I thought I raised a better man.” The next day Drew approaches Zoë’s locker and find the word “HO” written on it. He tries to wipe it off as Zoë approaches, and tries to apologize to her with flowers, however, she rejects his apology. The encounter leaves Drew finally feeling bad for hurting Zoë, and he hopes to give her the apology she deserves some day.
Power to the People ended this storyline by doing the one thing that absolutely needed to be done: drag Drew through the ringer until significant information penetrated his thick skull (whether it will stick is a completely different story). The ironic and disturbing thing is that for the most part, Drew was genuinely unaware of what was happening around him, from not knowing how badly her hurt Zoë to not knowing how close he came to being prosecuted for statutory rape. All he saw was some girl that he only kind of liked was potentially interfering with his future; all he could focus on in this episode was making sure he stayed in the good graces of Mr. Hollingsworth.
A lack of clear communication in relationships has been a running theme of Degrassi during its decades of existence, but the story here is very clear in how it’s told. “I don’t wanna be the bad guy here,” Drew says to Dallas before trying to break up with Zoë. With Zoë’s history of being a former TV actress, there have been times where it’s hard to tell whether or not she’s being genuine in terms of her feelings. The look in her eyes as she admits to everyone that she did consent to sex with Drew shows that underneath the persona of confidence she displays in public, in this moment she’s still young girl whose feelings were hurt by a guy she liked. “You used me,” she said as Drew tried to apologize to her. “You get to keep your job and your friends.” Ana Golja portrays Zoë’s vulnerability well throughout the entire episode.
Not once, but twice is the point hammered into Drew’s head that while he suffered no repercussions for his actions, someone else did. What a fantastic concept for Degrassi to bring up; it’s very easy to be emotionally disconnected when you don’t feel the direct impact of a situation, whether it’s hurting someone else or something as simple as watching one of those commercials on TV about starving children in Africa.
The scene where Audra scolds him is brilliant. Her interrogation confirmed that Drew used Zoë to make himself feel better (as stated before, it wasn’t with malicious intent), and he was unaware of the consequences of doing so. However, Audra was vigilant in holding her son accountable for his actions, especially after blaming his behavior on the bad things that have happened to him over the past several months. Being dealt a crappy hand never justifies crappy behavior toward others.
I don’t expect Drew to suddenly become a “good guy” who knows how to treat girls perfectly, that would be similar to the way that say Alli in the past has become a “reformed girl” quickly after a failed relationship. I love how Zoë didn’t forgive Drew in the end; why should she? He hurt her, and escaped the situation unscathed. There’s an eerie tone as Zoë talks to Drew near the end of the episode. “My mom always told me to never trust guys,” she says. As the word “HO” is spelled out on Zoë’s locker, Degrassi hints at what’s in store for her; a fate that may make the pain of this situation with Drew feel like a walk in the park.
“If you want to affect change, you need to know what change you want.”
Imogen arrives at school to find a group of younger girls have started their own protest against Degrassi’s dress code. She’s excited for the attention her cause has received, until Simpson steps in and demands to meet with her in his office. Instead of punishing her though, Simpson asks Imogen for her input on the dress code.
Imogen takes the good news to her fellow protestors, but when they offer up new ideas for the dress code such as g-strings and the ability to show more cleavage, she realizes coming up with changes will be harder than she thought. Imogen and Becky have a difficult time creating one set of rules that don’t infringe on someone’s freedom to wear whatever they want, but they eventually come up with an idea: people can wear whatever they want, as long as it isn’t worn with the intention of being a distraction to other students.
I was admittedly worried when this storyline started heading down the path of Imogen creating a Facerange page in Dig Me Out. The concern was that it would turn the situation into a giant spectacle in which any point the plot was trying to make would get lost. However, this portion of the story takes a wonderfully practical route, where characters must use critical thinking in order to solve their problems. The Facerange page winds up playing only a small role, but its existence in this plot brings a relevancy to the way society behaves on social media today.
The emergence of social media allows people to have a public platform in which to express their personal opinions. While that can be good, we also know it can breed a lot of nonsense, with people often being loud and obnoxious simply because they can. In a society where nowadays everyone is offended by everything, everyone jumps online to scream about offenses and demand change. But if you were to ask people specifically what changes they would make, for example if they were in a political office replacing the politicians they complain about, what would their response be? Many couldn’t give you a detailed plan, and will never make a legitimate effort to enforce the change because it’s too hard or inconvenient. Imogen learns of this difficulty in Power To The People; when Simpson initially asks for her ideas for the dress code, her response is “Honestly…I hadn’t thought about it.”
The difference between Imogen and any average Joe on the web is that she embraces the challenge. Instead of her platform being used just to be flashy and get attention, it transforms into a serious matter where she can legitimately use her voice to implement change. “If you want to affect change, you need to know what change you want,” Simpson said to Imogen. Truer words have never been spoken.
“Is there anything in here about unrequited love for a science nerd?”
As Alli and Jenna are in the science lab, Jenna presses Alli to talk to a therapist about Leo. Alli refuses and fires Jenna as her lab assistant. She’s upset at the fact that even in her happy place (the science lab), she’s constantly reminded of what Leo did to her. Dallas overhears part of the exchange and offers to be Alli’s new lab partner. She thinks he’s only doing it to try and woo her, but he tells her that he’ll only do it as long as they only talk about science in the science lab. Dallas helps Alli by correcting some of her data, then decides to leave when its time to present the project for the chance to compete at Regionals. “You did all the work, I was just an extra hand,” Dallas says before walking away.
This plot was generic filler in Dig Me Out, but things get a bit more interesting in Power To The People. The fear is that Degrassi will rush Alli into Dallas’ arms two seconds after her breakup with Leo. The hope is that they take the longest route possible before these two inevitably end up together. I like how the show doesn’t make it obvious to Alli that Dallas pines for her as they’ve had him do in the past, though it’s still clearly obvious to viewers.
“Are you sure this isn’t part of some elaborate pickup plan?” Alli asks when Dallas offers to be her partner. “Don’t flatter yourself, Bhandari,” he says, though we know he’s lying through his teeth. He’s doing it to become closer to her, but he’s slick enough to not throw himself at her at the moment. I’d love to jump onto this ship, but I want it done right. A lot of that hinges on Alli’s post-Leo mental state serving as a major roadblock between her and Dallas as a couple.