GRACE PLOT SUMMARY: As Grace and Zig coordinate a keg party to raise money to pay for Tiny’s flight to summer science camp, Grace is happy when Zig agrees to go on a roadtrip with her to visit Tiny over the summer. Grace’s nurse also says the roadtrip is okay as long as Grace does her daily breathing treatments. At the keg party, Grace tells Maya that Zig is finally ready to move on, but Maya assumes it’s with Esme. Grace tells Zig her mom agreed to the roadtrip, and Zig says he’ll have to take time off from his summer job working in a dance troupe with Esme. Zig says that he and Esme haven’t hooked up, but he is enjoying receiving female attention after his breakup with Maya. Grace kisses Zig, but he says that it’s a bad idea if they get together because it could ruin their friendship. Later, Grace yells at Maya, finally revealing that Zig was her secret crush all along and that she’s jealous of the attention Maya receives from guys. After storming off, Grace ends up randomly passing out. As Maya, Tiny and Zig debate on what to do with Grace, Zoë runs up and demands they take Grace to the hospital because she has serious health problems. When Grace comes to we learn that even though she only drank one beer, it had a negative effect on her current meds. Because she’s kept her illness a secret, Grace feels as if she’s alone. Her mom tells her she will feel alone as long as she refuses to tell her friends, and Grace ends up telling Maya that she has cystic fibrosis.
Mirror In The Bathroom is one of the most underrated episodes in Degrassi’s history. If you look at why the characters (Toby and Terri) are doing what they do in that episode, it’s a fascinating look at one’s quest for acceptance and another’s fear of rejection, two huge motivators of human behavior. #TheseAreMyConfessions essentially deals with these two ideas by focusing on specific points affecting Grace: her feelings of loneliness and undesirability.
I understand that Grace feels like she’s in a tough position; she feels lonely because she’s afraid to tell people about having cystic fibrosis. We learned in #NoFilter that she has a history of people treating her differently and abandoning her when they find out how serious her illness is. Since Season 13 she’s had good friends in Maya, Zig and Tiny, people who treat her like she’s a “normal person” and she doesn’t want to mess that up.
But when it comes to loneliness, at what point do you make a brutally-honest assessment of your own level of personal responsibility in that matter? Heck, lots of people reading this will say they’re lonely, but what are you actually doing to change that? Or better yet, what mental roadblocks are prohibiting you from doing so? It’s not something that you can just magically solve overnight, but it does require effort. Opening yourself up also isn’t easy; this world will tell you to “be yourself” in one breath and judge you for it in the next.
However, Grace’s situation is one where someone knowing about her secret is a necessity. Grace easily could’ve died in those woods if it weren’t for the fact Zoë, the only person aware of her illness at the time, was there¹. I love how that’s also one of the motivations for Grace’s mom wanting her to tell her friends about her having cystic fibrosis…not only so that Grace can have genuine, barrier-free relationships with her friends, but so she can also have other people looking out for her (mom can’t be everywhere, ya know). We can confidently count on Maya to be that person.
Now when it comes to desirability (or lack thereof), this part of Grace’s plot hurts. I’m glad that Zig and Grace aren’t going to become a thing, but that’s because of the social imbalance it’d create within this group of Zig/Grace/Maya, not the irrelevant argument that Grace’s crush on Zig is unrealistic because it “came out of nowhere.”² We could debate whether or not the “I don’t want to ruin the friendship” excuse is always code for “I’m not attracted to you,” but it does seem that way with Zig’s usage of it because despite calling Grace a “quality girl” and agreeing that she’s a “keeper,” both he and Tiny view Grace as “one of the guys.” That moment of feeling like you’re not good enough hit a little too close to home in this episode, but what can you do? “The heart wants what the heart wants,” after all.
One thing Degrassi’s done in DNC Season 2 is to create these dynamic relationships between friends that are more than just people having fun together or alternating being the voice of reason for each other. We’re seeing actual conflict between friends deviating from one’s own personal issues, and it doesn’t result in the destruction of the friendship. Multiple times this season characters have verbally expressed the fact they’re jealous of their closest friend. “Because you exist,” Grace says to Maya, ” With your perfect hair, and your perfect eyes and your perfect body that guys go gaga over.” Maya says nothing, but at the end of the episode she’s right at Grace’s side.
While #BuyMePizza showed a more reflective Grace and how she’s worried about the future, #TheseAreMyConfessions shows how the inner workings of her mind are affecting her life right now.
*On subscript¹: Zoë stepping in to help is virtually a non-story. She was beyond hurt that Grace rejected her in DNC Season 1, but there’s no way she would ever ignore a situation where Grace was in physical distress.
*On subscript²: Grace’s feelings for Zig being revealed two seasons into her existence on the show is irrelevant, because it’s completely reasonable to believe that she’s secretly harbored feelings for him for an undisclosed period between Season 13 and DNC Season 1. I once again point to the fact that, outside of his behavior toward Maya, Zig has obvious attractive qualities: he’s nice, charming, funny and good looking. And even if this was something Degrassi just made up when coming up with while brainstorming DNC Season 1, Zace’s history is generic enough to be able to just make up a backstory and roll with it (ex: Zace interacted for each other for quite a while in the rubber room off screen in Season 13 before Maya joined them. Grace wanted Zig, but backed off once she realized Zaya had a history).
*Random detail: Zoë seemed surprised about the $20 cover for the keg party. The price was clearly listed on the invite that Baaz showed Yael, so we can assume she just heard about the party through word of mouth.
SHAY PLOT SUMMARY: As Degrassi’s hopes for making the playoffs dwindle, Shay becomes more frustrated because the volleyball team’s poor play means less chances of scouts coming to their games. The team starts to think they’d be better if they had Frankie back, but Shay thinks the team just needs more practice. After overworking the team at practice and her teammates telling her they don’t have the time to commit to all of this extra training, Shay starts to wonder whether or not she should forgive Frankie. She asks Tiny about it, and he tells her to follow her heart. Later, Shay stops by Frankie’s house to talk, and Frankie finally apologizes for the racist banner and for becoming defensive when people called her out for it. Frankie also posts an apology for every team in the league to read, and she’s allowed back onto Degrassi’s volleyball team with the caveat that she’ll be allowed to play only if other teams are okay with it. As the team prepares to leave for their game Shay sees Tiny, hugging him before the two share a kiss. Shay freaks out about what will happen between them now, but Tiny tells her to just worry on winning her game for now.
“I don’t know…can you?” Lola asks as Shay wonders whether or not she can forgive Frankie for her racist prank. “That’s complicated,” Tiny says later in the episode.
Remember earlier in the season when Shay had an important choice to make? Well she’s back in another situation where there is no perfect right or wrong choice, just the choice you make and are willing to live with. When racist behavior is exposed in real life and the person is publicly dragged, it’s hard to really know if their apology is sincere (and that goes for apologies for anything, really).
On Degrassi, we have the benefit of knowing that Frankie’s truly sorry for what she’s done, but at what point do we decide to forgive someone for their actions? More importantly, why do we tend to present the idea of forgiveness as if there’s a quantitative threshold a person must hit before they receive it? What are the qualifications for someone having “learned their lesson?” That’s something I think about every time I see a Degrassi fan take a shot at Andre Kim¹ nowadays.
Forgiveness doesn’t equate condoning actions; we’d all be in trouble if our parents never forgave us for our endless amount of stupidity as kids. However, forgiveness also isn’t a requirement. That’s something you have to learn to balance on your own, and in Shay’s case she chooses to forgive because she’s tired of feeling like she’s lost control of everything. How you choose to react is the one thing in this world that you can control.
And as beautiful as that Shiny kiss was, I’m still holding my breath. If you’re a Degrassi fan long enough, you learn to not woo too soon!
*On subscript¹: I bring up the Andre situation again because just like Degrassi used it to address gaming culture with Hunter in DNC Season 1, they’ve used it to address the fallout of derogatory behavior through Frankie in Season 2.
*I like how Degrassi’s volleyball team isn’t really all that good. Instead of it being a purely dominant team, they’re reliant on the skills two players (Shay and Frankie) in order to be competitive. I also like how in this episode Shay’s the only one who’s interested in playing volleyball at the next level.
YAEL PLOT SUMMARY: Baaz has finally decided to cash in on his bet from earlier in the season, so Yael reluctantly agrees to go with him to the keg party in the woods. When she tells Hunter about the date he has a “whatever” attitude, saying that Baaz is happy that “any dumb girl would go with him.” In an attempt to make him jealous, Yael tells him that she might kiss Baaz, but Hunter still pretends to not be bothered by Yael’s date. At the party Baaz tells Yael to put her arm around him, and when she does he asks her to kiss him. Yael doesn’t want to, but Baaz reveals he wants them to kiss in front of Grace to show that he’s desired by girls. Baaz then admits that he never really had any romantic interest in Yael, and she calls him disgusting. Later, Hunter shows up at the party and admits to Yael that he like he, but he hasn’t wanted to drag her into his mess of a life. Yael likes him back, and she says she’s worried a relationship would ruin their friendship Hunter says it already has. Their plot ends with Yael resting her head on Hunter’s shoulder as the two sit by themselves amongst the partygoers.
In Grace’s plot, we saw Zig breaking out the “I don’t want to ruin our friendship” excuse. Yael presents the same idea to Hunter in this episode, but the difference is these two have liked each other for a long time.
When it comes to Hunter, I view Yael as being a hybrid of a new character with standalone value, while also having been written into the “Hunter’s female friend” role established by Arlene in Season 14. So for the sake of sanity, I just assume the established development of Hunter/Arlene was transferred to Hunter/Yael in Next Class.
Hunter’s right when he says their romantic feelings for each other have messed up their friendship, because in this episode they got into an argument where they were pretending to care less for each other than they really do.
We can bash Zig all we want, but he at least has redeemable character traits, unlike Baaz so far in Degrassi: Next Class. Degrassi’s philosophy with main characters has been to show that they’re flawed, but ultimately good people, so the fact we’ve only seen the “total asshole” side of Baaz (usually in regards to his treatment of women) indicates this is something the show will address in the future. I will admit though, I’m loving Baaz’s crush on Grace being used as a device in the Degrassi universe.
I’m not really sure how I feel about Hunter and Yael as a couple…they’re essentially perfect for each other, but there’s also that concern in the back of my head as I remember that he got physical with Yael at one point. At the same time, that was a different Hunter than the one we see now; in DNC Season 1 he was unhinged and not a soul had any idea that he was mentally ill. “My life is a trainwreck,” he tells Yael. “I didn’t wanna pull you into it.” The key word there being “is” displays his level of awareness now, and the fact he’s still a work in progress, as will be his relationship with Yael.
*Thanks to Yael, I spent an hour on Google trying to figure out how to divide large numbers in my head. My head now hurts.
*Apparently Baaz is still reading that dumb book he was reading in #BuyMePizza. Yes, subconsciously you’re probably seen as more desirable when you’re with someone, but homeboy is routinely going about this whole “Operation Date Grace” thing all wrong.
*#ContinuityFTW: Hunter saying that Miles drove him to the party. Love Degrassi finding unique ways to remind viewers that characters still there, even if we don’t see them on screen.
What at the last Espoo of season 2
I like your little note about the Miles mention even though he wasn’t on screen. That made me think of the episode when Zoë brings Drew to the Hollingsworths (before sleeping together) because Zoë called out Frankie’s name before rushing off screen and Miles asked if anyone was going to go up against Tristan and him for the next chicken fight. The episode is called Dig Me Out.
I thout this episode was kind of boring, but that was because I watched it right after 2×08. It was the closest that I got to bingewatching and it made me realize that I would get more satisfaction if I watched the episodes one by one.
I love the way that they’re developing Grace. She’s been a background character for years. I can imagine that she had a dormant crush on Zig. Always around, easy on the eyes, always nice to her. But what’s the point of pursuing someone who only wanted one fish in the sea?
I miss Arlene, but in 14B it was clear that the age difference and acting level between the two actors existed despite the fact that Spencer was short. Three or four years, I think. Yael and Hunter are adorable.
Shay and Tiny were also so adorable in this episode. I wish you best of luck with your shipping heart.