DALLAS PLOT RECAP: Dallas and Connor are finally released from the jail after things are cleared up with the Simpson’s car. They make it to the science fair late, and Dallas tells Connor they can’t tell Alli they were pulled over so it doesn’t ruin her day. While standing at Alli’s project alone, Dallas is approached by a judge who tells him he can’t be there. When Dallas tells him he’s Alli’s partner and the judge doesn’t see his name on the list, Dallas becomes aggressive and refuses to leave. Later during their presentation, Dallas accuses the judge of being racist. Alli’s upset because Dallas’ outburst might’ve ruined their chance to win, and even after Dallas tells her about getting stopped by police she tells him she’s going to present alone next time. Mr. Bhandari ends up sharing at story with Dallas about a time he was racially profiled at an airport, encouraging Dallas to not react with anger. Dallas apologizes to the judge and asks for Alli to be given another chance to present. Alli ends up winning first place at the science fair, and she and Dallas become a couple.
What I like about this portion of the storyline is how Dallas’ feelings and behavior can easily translate to situations outside of racism. We don’t know what that judge was thinking, but ultimately Dallas overreacted in this specific situation. He allowed the incidents at the mall and getting pulled over by the police to dictate how he reacted toward the judge at the science fair. This mentality is commonplace in society, especially when it comes to relationships of any kind; people allow crappy things that have happened in their past to crap all over their present (and future).
Not only could Dallas’ behavior affect his life, but he was in a situation where it could directly affect Alli’s. Dallas’ choice not to tell Alli about getting pulled over by the cops also wound up being another mistake. “Had you just talked to me I would’ve understood and supported you, but instead you bottled it up and exploded at the worst possible moment,” Alli said. I kind of wished there’d been a Leo mention there, because when Alli said those words to Dallas that’s who I was instantly reminded of. But at the same time we see an Alli Bhandari in this scene who’s standing her ground and has no time for nonsense. She tells Dallas that she’s going to present her project alone; she isn’t going to let some guy, or anyone for that matter, get in the way of something she’s worked so hard for.
Throughout this episode we see Mr. Bhandari lurking around, going from remembering Dallas as that guy who was with Alli when she crashed her car to overhearing Dallas talk about being racially profiled. Degrassi parents have been killing it in 13C with the advice they give, first Audra knocking sense into Drew in Power To The People and now Mr. Bhandari sharing with Dallas his own experience with racism. “The question isn’t whether to fight, but how,” Mr. Bhandari says.
Then there’s Bhandallas. Is it surprising that they wound up getting together after this episode? Not really. Dallas has liked Alli since season 12’s I Want It That Way; we can safely assume that happened about a year ago in Degrassi time. What a strange coincidence that Mr. Bhandari actually references that episode here in Everything Is Everything, as if things between the Dallas and Alli have come full circle. While the show has waited a long time to officially bring them together, within that there’s the question of whether or not there was an “appropriate period of separation” between what happened with Leo and now. The answer to that is essentially subjective, but I’d like to think having Alli appear in so many episodes after Better Man has made this new-found relationship not seem so sudden.
CLARE PLOT RECAP: After finding out Drew had a great time on his date with Eden, Clare sets out to sabotage things by telling Eden that Drew’s not over his breakup with Bianca. Word gets back to Drew after Eden cancels their second date, and he confronts Clare about it. Clare admits she has feelings for him and is confused. Drew knows that Clare was posing as Annabella, but didn’t choose her because he knew “Annabella” had a boyfriend. Drew ends things with Eden because of his feelings for Clare, and tells Clare the ball is in her court.
Alli and Leo’s relationship opened my eyes even wider when it comes to analyzing things, watching it transform from an unbearable to storyline to a strong, emotional one. It’s easy to make general observations about things then go about your day. People say season 13 is horrible, and that can be taken to mean that nothing good has happened in the 28 episodes we’ve watched so far. Sometimes it’s best to break things down even further, because at times you’ll find some of the parts are better than the whole (for me 13C has been better than season 13 from an overall viewpoint).
I haven’t been very fond of Clare’s storyline over the last several episodes, for reasons addressed in my preview of Everything Is Everything. While I’ve felt things have been off in the way they’ve shown Clare harboring feelings throughout all this, we finally get a breakthrough in this episode as the show finally sets up Clare’s hand to be forced one way or the other.
This plot can be defined by the tense confrontation between Clare and Drew after Eden bailed on a date. “I’m confused, okay?” Clare says. “Ever since Eli did that thing with that girl, I feel sad all the time…but I don’t when I’m with you.” This is the most emotional depth we’ve seen since the initial aftermath of Clare discovering Eli cheated. It’s one thing to have already figured out based on her behavior that she’s confused, but nothing beats actually hearing those words come out of her mouth. It’s weird trying to imagine Clare and Drew being compatible romantically, based on who the show has established these two characters to be. For years Drew has been seen as a shallow guy who’s kind of an idiot, while Clare is more formal and desires intellectual stimulation.
But as we’ve seen, the landscape has been changing. This school year Drew has been trying to show that he’s mature and responsible. Clare’s feelings over the course of this school year have led her to Drew, not because he’s her type, but because he’s there and he makes her feel good during a time in which she’s constantly sad. During their conversation, Drew unintentionally says something that makes Clare laugh. “I should be upset, but instead I’m laughing,” she says.
With Clare’s feelings finally out in the open this storyline can finally move into the heart of the drama: Clare choosing between fixing her relationship with her boyfriend who’s far away, or moving on and starting something with the guy who’s currently right in front of her.
TRISTAN PLOT RECAP: After finding out that Mr. Yates considers him to be his favorite student, Tristan begins to dress like Yates. During class Tristan always agrees with everything Yates says, which Zoë finds annoying as she reads assignment. However, Tristan is shocked when he reads his assignment aloud and Yates finds it boring. Tristan’s upset and thinks Yates doesn’t want to be friends with him, and he confronts Yates by telling by vowing to stay in the collective. Yates tells Tristan that he was mean to him because he didn’t want to show favoritism in front of the other students, and references an obscure story called The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Later, Tristan reads the novel and finds out it’s a love story about a teacher and student. While Tristan thinks it’s romantic and wonder whether or not Yates likes him, Zoë thinks Tristan getting involved with him would be a bad idea.
There were no surprises here. As expected Yates has romantic feelings for Tristan, which explains his hot and cold behavior. This episode, along with Army Of Me, are setting up for an inappropriate student/teacher relationship, and the possibilities of how things could go down have me excited to see what happens next. Tristan is over eager when it comes to relationships with people. Heck in this episode alone he was over the top, mimicking Yates’ style and mindlessly agreeing with every point Yates made during the collective’s meeting. “Maybe you shouldn’t put people on a pedestal all the time,” Maya says to Tristan. If you add romance into the mix, Tristan is virtually guaranteed to get sucked in over his head.
Part of the excitement of this storyline is how Degrassi doesn’t even bother beating around the bush to warn that things are headed down a bad path. “Students and teachers can’t be friends,” Maya says.
“Run as fast as you can,” Zoë says when Tristan asks her about Yates possibly liking him as more than a friend.
Of course Yates himself delivers the starkest warning; unbeknownst to Tristan he subtly compares their situation to the love story of Abelard and Heloise. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a happy ending,” Yates says. That’s kind of what I’m hoping for.