SHAY PLOT SUMMARY: Shay has an opportunity to attend a summer sports camp that will allow her to play volleyball with national-level athletes and get one step closer to playing in the Olympics. However, after the Toronto Interpreter published a story about the protest featuring an image of Shay yelling at a police officer, the coach of the camp wants Shay to agree to the camp’s code of conduct and write a letter saying that participating in the protest was a mistake. Lola’s angry when she finds out Shay is writing the letter, saying that Shay shouldn’t have to lie in order to achieve her dream. Shay initially chooses the volleyball camp, and she also decides to not join the newly-formed zero tolerance review committee in fear that another protest might happen. However, she becomes conflicted when Goldi and Vijay tell her they joined the committee because her actions at the protest inspired them. In the end, Shay decides not to sign the letter, relying on extra training from Coach Armstrong until she can find another way to reach her goal.
This isn’t a sexy “A” plot by any means; there are no pregnancies, deaths, meltdowns or emotional drama that has earned Degrassi the catchphrase “It. Goes. There.” over the past 15 years. However, this plot kicks ass from a thematic standpoint, as Degrassi has Shay deal with a moral dilemma that, in my opinion, has no definitive right or wrong choice. I say that looking at Shay’s situation from a truly realistic perspective, and not based on how society thinks things should play out.
Having watched this episode during the 2016 Olympics puts Shay’s dream more into perspective. Those athletes train and compete for years just to reach the highest stage in their sports only a handful of times in their careers. On top of that, the chances of actually winning a medal are slim. The angle Degrassi’s taken with Shay is that she has the talent to become an elite athlete, she just hasn’t had the opportunity to receive elite athletic training.
If you asked anyone “Is lying wrong?” we’d all probably give a clichéd answer along the lines of “Yes, you should always be honest,” despite the reality that we all lie to some extent. But a bigger question is are all lies created equal? Does lying to hide a birthday surprise, or say, a woman lying about her relationship status to a random guy hitting on her so he’ll leave her alone, carry the same moral condemnation as lying about robbing a bank or cheating on a spouse?
“She doesn’t have to mean it,” Tiny says about Shay’s letter. “She can write it, apologize, go to the camp and no one will ever know.” But Lola addresses an important point of this storyline when she says that while the camp would never know that Shay didn’t mean what she said in the letter, Shay would.
Shay says in the letter, “I will think before I act, and always act with integrity and respect.” It wouldn’t have been the end of the world if she’d signed the letter, but her choice is based on the type of person she wants to be when she looks at herself in the mirror. It isn’t always going to be about making a clear “good” or “bad” choice because there’s just too much gray area in life, and not every decision carries some life-altering implications. However, a lot of the decisions we’ll make in our lifetime simply come down to our own personal accountability, and what actions and consequences we’re willing to live with.
*Remember how Tiny said in #ThrowbackThursday that he didn’t want to do the protest because he was afraid of how the media would portray him? I love how they addressed that in this episode anyway, using Shay, the Toronto Interpreter’s article and the coach’s perception of what happened to show how just easily the media can skew stories.
*Me mentioning nothing about that brief moment Shiny shared at the end of the episode when their hands touched is intentional…I don’t trust the writers until it happens!
MAYA PLOT SUMMARY: With Jonah already having to bail on their music gig, Grace bails on a planning session with Maya because she’d already made plans to eat lunch with Zig. Later, Grace suggests that Zig fill in for Jonah, but Maya shuts that down and says Peter will play with them instead. Grace is convinced Peter (23) just wants to sleep with Maya (16), but Maya insists they’re just friends. After they perform, Zig shows up to the venue unannounced. He assumes that Maya’s trying to move on with Peter, but she denies it and demands Zig leave. Zig wants to know why they can’t be friends; Maya says she doesn’t want to be friends with him and it’s not fair that she’s expected to act like everything’s okay when it’s not. The next day, Grace continues to lobby for Zig and the fact that he’s trying to make things right with Maya, but Maya tells Grace she can have Zig as a friend because she has Peter. Maya ends up showing up to Peter’s birthday party, has an awkward encounter with Peter’s friends (Spinner and Sav), then is caught listening to Peter talk with his ex girlfriend about how Maya showed up to his party uninvited. The next day, Maya and Grace apologize to each other. Instead of trying to force their group to get back together, Grace says she’ll just hang out with Maya and Zig on separate days.
Despite the fact she’s one of Degrassi’s top female characters, over the past few years I’ve still felt like Maya’s underrated because she’s generally viewed as that “Clare Edwards” type (average girl who gets a lot of screen time, has hot guys throwing themselves at her, “always gets what she wants,” etc). But who in the hell would want their ex trying to force themselves back into their life?
Just when I think Zig can’t be any more of an broomhead in Next Class, he proves me wrong. It’s insane just how normal of a human being he is until it comes to Maya Matlin (a girl he’s practically been in love with for forever in Degrassiland), and then he transforms into emotional hot mess full of insecurity and pettiness.
Meanwhile, Grace is so disappointing in this episode. To be fair, she’s in a pickle of her own: she has lengthy friendships with both Zig and Maya and doesn’t want to have to choose between them (don’t forget she also has romantic feelings for Zig). However, I was completely floored as Degrassi’s voice of reason completely dismissed Maya’s feelings throughout this episode, telling Maya to “chill” multiple times and even suggesting Maya apologize to Zig for embarrassing him at the club. You might be able to make a case if Maya was overreacting to something silly, but these people are acting like Maya’s being unfair for still being hurt over Zig cheating on her. “All I think about when I look at you is Zoë’s hands all over your body when we’re still together,” she says.
Zig wants to know why they can’t be friends and Maya going off on him is great, because it shuts down what might be a pretty common occurrence of entitlement. Just because you’re sorry for having wronged someone and you apologize, it doesn’t mean the other person is obligated to forgive you.
The Peter thing is an interesting side plot within this story. Maya thinks more of her relationship with Peter than what it really is as a way to deal with what’s happening with Zig and Grace. I also loved the incorporation of Spinner and Sav to show that maturity is a relative concept. Maya Matlin might be mature when compared to other people her age, but she’s still viewed as a kid by people much older than her (as a 30-something adult in a teen/young adult fandom I can attest to how real this is).
This is the second time in Degrassi: Next Class Season 2 that Zig Novak has tried to insert himself back into Maya’s life, only for her to tell him she’s not ready for that. To this day, Degrassi receives criticisms about always rushing storylines, some valid and some not. However, for what’s been four seasons now, Degrassi has shown the utmost patience in the stories they’re telling through Maya, reiterating time (struggled with Cam’s suicide for at least a season and a half), and time (establishing a friendship with Zig), and time (starting on the ground floor with her music career) and time again (not being ready to interact with Zig after he cheated) that her issues aren’t wrapped up and forgotten in 22 minutes.
*Everyone at Degrassi has musical and/or athletic talent…now they’ve added “Picasso” to the list!
*It’s good to see Maya’s still performing at the club…#continuityFTW
*Call me crazy, but I might actually accept Spemma. Yeah yeah it’s some nonsense, but I’m lowkey loving that the show is shamelessly “all in” on them (they’re getting a house, so naturally we can assume a baby is in their future as well).
*”Text from Maya Matlin…admit it, even you find Mr. Mitchell hot.” Yes, even us straight guys can admit that he is fine as hell.
ZOE PLOT SUMMARY: When their class is given an assignment that requires them to work with a partner, Zoë begrudgingly works with her “boyfriend” Winston, who notices that she always seems to try and distance herself from him. The two do a presentation on Japan, with Winston dressed as a soldier and Zoë fully dressed as a geisha. Esme calls Zoë out in front of the class, saying that Zoë’s outfit is racially insensitive. The class and Mr. Mitchell agree, forcing Zoë and Winston to change outfits. Zoë wants to get revenge on Esme, but Winston calms her down, telling her she’s better than her vindictive nature and that they can find a nicer way to destroy Esme. The two end up redoing their presentation and Zoë apologizes for her costume. Afterward, Esme isn’t impressed and Winston calls her out for bashing Zoë’s costume as racist, but not saying anything about him (a Korean) appropriating Japanese culture with his outfit. After a half-hearted apology from Esme, Winston tells Zoë that he knows she isn’t as into the relationship as he is and says it’s okay if she walks away. But after watching Winston defend her, Zoë then tells him that she doesn’t want out and they make a good team.
Remember Zig and Zoë’s relationship in Seasons 13 and 14? The two never actually dated, but the reason I became fond of them was because Zig liked Zoë, even through everything she was doing and going through regarding her sexual assault. I’m about to say something really wild here, but my feelings for Winston and Zoë have surpassed Zoemund.
I enjoyed the idea of Zoemund as a couple, but knowing that Zoë has zero romantic in Winston, my love for them comes not from a place of shipping, but of loving the fact that one character is providing much-needed emotional support for another. In this episode they reached that point I was hoping Zoemund would reach seasons ago, having that person who accepts Zoë and helps her to become a better person. The “romance” part of Zinston will obviously crumble, but you can tell that Zoë’s in it for more than just having a way to hide her sexuality.
Zoë Rivas is in her fourth season on Degrassi, but the core of her character has always been the same. From sarcastic banter to extremely toxic behavior, she just wants to fit in and for people to like her for who she is. Typically any friendship or support Zoë’s received has been fleeting, but for the first time ever someone actively encourages Zoë to better than the person that everyone’s convinced she is. Even knowing that Zoë isn’t all that into him, Winston’s words are heartfelt…you think Tristan would ever do something like that?
I hope that viewers have actually been paying attention to and critically thinking about the nuances within these racial storylines in Season 2, because once again there’s a lot of moving parts in the geisha plot. The protest about racism at Degrassi has everyone on edge, hence the reaction from the class over Zoë’s outfit. The outfit is racially insensitive, but Esme’s motivation for bringing attention to it is purely to stick it to Zoë. Winston doesn’t hesitate to point out the hipocrisy of Esme using racial insensitivity/cultural appropriation for her own personal agenda. And see? Zoë of all people, who didn’t know that dressing up like that is inappropriate, managed to not get disciplined for being racially insensitive! Hmm, I wonder if it’s because she actually listened when someone told her it was wrong and she gave a sincere apology, unlike another character who’s spent the entire season making excuses and literally trying to run away from the situation…
*More #continuityFTW…the burn on Zoë’s wrist is still there, plain as day
*Also, it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how much I love when main characters are used as background. Three scenes take place in Mr. Mitchell’s class. Esme has no lines in the first scene (you’ll miss her if you blink), and Miles just sits there in the second and third scenes.
*Hey Degrassi, if you’re still around when I’m 80 years old can I please play the role of “old guy chillin’ at The Dot” like this guy?
When talking about Maya’s storyline you wrote “Degrassi has shown the utmost patience in the stories they’re telling through Maya, reiterating time (struggled with Cam’s suicide for at least a season and a half) . . .” and as someone who has seen Maya’s character arks before Next Class over a dozen times I disagree. I loved Cam and Camaya so when she kept having nightmares and being paranoid about Miles hurting himself in season fourteen I was glad to see the throwback, but it was the first and only time Maya had mental problems over Cam. After ‘Zombie’ and Maya’s breakdown (which I can recite from memory completely), her sadness over Cam was kinda laid to rest. Maya moved on completely between two episodes. The only way you could say she “struggled for at least a season and a half” was if she was having problems before Miles went crazy. I mean, the only time Cam was brought up at all was when Tristan mentions Maya’s love life to Zoe and Miles in 13a and when Zig mentions how he said he would wait ’til she’s ready at the school dance in 13b to Zoe.
There are two separate not mentioning Cam moments in Summertime, so unless you want her to spell out Cam’s name every time I don’t know what to tell you. The more noticeable of the two is Maya listing everyone who leaves her (and not mentioning Cam, but pausing after Tristan and Katie). The more subtle of the two is the look on Maya’s face when Miles jumped into the pool. “I can’t be around a guy like him.” Miles doing self-destructive things pushes Maya’s buttons because Cam is dead.
The rest of Season 13 is full of Maya overreacting to everything. For instance she goes from “I wasn’t around” to “and now Zig is homeless” to “And he’ll end up dead somewhere and its all my fault.” She never says Cam’s name until the spa episode in Season 14, but everything she says and does in Season 13 is driven by her certainty that she’ll screw up and everyone around her will end up dead. This is why she was so concerned about Tristan and Yates, this is why Maya tapdanced around Zig even though Zig was manipulating her at every turn. If you listen to every time Maya’s train of thought moves, it moves into places where her inaction leads to the death of others.
That’s the impact Cam left on her, the fact that this needs explaining is beyond me.
Just because they only mentioned Cam by name all of one time, it doesn’t mean Degrassi barely showed how his death impacted Maya (Degrassi intentionally went out of their way to have Maya not mention him by name, btw). It’s absolutely not true that Maya was completely over Cam in two episodes, and Season 14 was not the first time after “Zombie” that Maya had emotional struggles because of Cam’s death. She felt overwhelming guilt about having not been able to save Cam, and her fear of losing someone else was exactly why she was so vigilant in lobbying for Zig to live at her house when she found out he was homeless in Season 13.
When Miles’ jealousy over Zig became too much Maya broke up with Miles, specifically alluding to Cam’s suicide as the reason why. And when Maya and Miles almost got back together but ended up fighting at Zoë’s trial instead, they once again had Maya projecting her fear of being in a relationship with someone who’s emotionally destructive enough to do what Cam did. So yes, Maya was shown as still visibly struggling with Cam’s death throughout season 13 and the first half of season 14.
I don’t like how Maya can’t forgive so I believe thinking she shouldn’t be with anyone because she would expect you to live up to her expectations. Not only that, she should have told Zig ahead of time instead of standing him up on the dinner date instead of sending mixed signals. I mean, she has to let it go at some point, or she’ll never be happy. And just because she’s not happy doesn’t mean she has to keep pushing Zig around and make him miserable, he already paid for it. She is such a double standard
She doesn’t have to let it go, ever. And she definitely doesn’t when Zig does everything but what she asked for. I’m going to quote from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to explain what’s wrong with your logic.
“Look, I’m sorry this is hard for you. But I told you what I need. So, I can’t help feeling like the reason you want to talk is so you can feel better about yourself. That’s not my problem.” – Daniel “Oz” Osbourne
Maya has told Zig what she needs, Zig (with Grace’s help, and Lola’s help, and against Tiny’s advice) have bypassed that and done whatever the hell they wanted. And expected Maya to just go along with it. Zig wanted to fix things, he wanted to go back to dating to make himself feel better. Maya wanted space, and Zig didn’t give it to her. Tiny tried, TWICE, to talk Zig out of the obviously bad idea. And on TOP OF ALL THAT Zig goes out of his way to publicly shame Maya while trying to claim he loves her? Get out, she didn’t go out to find Zig to push him around, Zig kept showing up in her life. If Zig didn’t want this, he should have listened to her when she asked for space.
I’m one of the few that actually likes “Spemma”! It parallels Snake & Spikes’ relationship.(Two characters who had barely interaction,screen time together in degrassi Classic) Just like real life sometimes you don’t always end up with your first loves(Shane & Sean)
I love the relationship, not how it was started? The writing leading into Spemma was, well, bad. But the two characters are well suited to each other. Emma needed someone down to earth but strong enough to say ‘yeah, you can be as vegetarian as you like, and I love you. I’m having a steak.’ Spin needed a girl who pushed him to be better, but didn’t expect him to change. Spinner won’t be an academic or a scholar, but he can be the best dang fry cook in the city (coffee slinger, whatever). The two work pretty well for that.
I don’t think it has to do with her being caught in the middle because she acts like she’s taking Zig’s side throughout. I think Grace being so dumb and unhelpful to the situation makes sense since she likes Zig and she can forgive him more easily than Maya can. She’s doesn’t realize that in any other situation she would act differently. I often think how it’s easy to look past bad qualities of people you have feelings for when sometimes you can hate a person over one annoying thing. I think it’s supposed to be obvious that she isn’t being her usual strong-minded, don’t-take-shit-from-anyone self.
I agree that Spemma had no setup, but it’s getting easier to accept them. I liked Shay’s storyline. It reminded me of how, when Muhammad Ali died one common quote was, “His greatest fight was outside the ring,” meaning his refusal to serve in Vietnam, which cost him his heavyweight title. Shay’s dilemma did not have that much at stake, but it did show how difficult it is to uphold one’s values.
I don’t care how much the writers are trying to make Spemma happen. Spane will always be my OTP.
Interesting thoughts on Zinston, Kary. Especially considering how much of the fandom absolutely LOATHES the two of them. I feel that many fans aren’t over Andre Kim’s social media scandal a couple years ago, and as a result project their feelings about the actor onto the character. But there’s also the fact that Winston harassed Zoe during the OomfChat plot. I’ve kind of been viewing NC as a slightly AU version of Degrassi, wherein certain plot elements/characterizations from the previous incarnation of the show were kept. I don’t think it makes sense in light of the OomfChat thing for Winston to be so good to Zoe now, but if I pretend that that plot never happened, then I can totally buy Zinston as friends.
Yeah fans definitely aren’t over Andre Kim’s behavior, and I highly doubt they ever will be. I totally agree with NC being a weird version of Degrassi that allowed them to start fresh while also keeping some of the previous elements. I just assumed the OomfChat scandal is one of those things they’re pretending never happened, so it’s been easy to enjoy the potential of a Zinston friendship without all of those mental roadblocks in the way.
Zoe’s apology wasn’t sincere, because she has no idea why anyone objected to her costume; no character ever explained the problem. No one explained the problem to Frankie either, but Frankie isn’t as dishonest and self-serving as Zoe, so she didn’t think to issue a fake apology (and she didn’t have a winston telling her that she could fake-apologize and defeat her enemies with kindness).
Shay’s storyline really bothered me because I think she should have just went with the letter. Yes, her consious will take a hit, which is why I understand why she did what she did. All in all, Coach Armstrong’s rigorous training isn’t equal to a golden ticket to Olympic camp, but it is what it is.
This episode really made me see Winston in a different light. I loved the way that he stood up for Zoë. He believes in her and in turn she believes in herself.
There were whispers in the fandom about a possible Peter-Maya affair and I was so glad that the show never went there. The fact that Spinner and Sav made a comeback was really great! A nice bonus for older fans who watched the whole season and not onlyThrowbackThursday.