FRANKIE PLOT RECAP: Jonah gets a funny message from Grace, and when Frankie grabs his phone to see what it isJonah snatches it away from her. Frankie’s now paranoid that Jonah might have feelings for Grace. Lola thinks it’s impossible that guys and girls can just be friends, so Frankie asks Hunter to hack and get Jonah’s Facerange password. When Jonah doesn’t respond to her message right before her driving exam, she logs into his Facerange and finds out that he told Grace that Frankie’s immature. Frankie freaks out and doesn’t know what to do next; Lola throws it out there that Jonah might think Frankie’s immature because they haven’t had sex, but they also think Jonah spending so much time on the play is another reason. Frankie gets Jonah concert tickets to a band he loves, but he turns her down because of play auditions. Frankie assumes her relationship with Jonah is ending until he later tells her that he’s under a lot of pressure applying for university. He says he’s been so busy with the play because it’ll help him get accepted, and the two make up.
Have you interacted with someone, stressed out because you’re paranoid and have automatically assumed the worst possible outcome, then learned it was nowhere near as bad as you thought? That pretty much sums up what happens to Frankie in this episode.
This storyline centers around not just insecurity, but the question, “Can guys and girls really just be friends?” Sometimes we act like male/female friendships on Degrassi simply don’t exist, but it’s often more we don’t think they (or any straight male/female friendships in real life) exist within the additional parameters we’ve tacked onto that question, something Degrassi addresses in an interesting scene with Frankie, Shay and Lola. “They don’t count, okay?” Lola says about the vloggers. It’s intriguing that the friendships with the two straight guys (Hunter and Baaz) don’t count to Lola as they debate this question, while Shay indeed believes that guys and girls can be just friends.
All the while, it’s ironic that at this point in the season Jonah is once again caught in the middle of a storyline where someone questions whether he’s just friends or something more with a girls he hangs out with regularly. In Season 1 of Next Class we saw through Zig’s paranoia that people just don’t believe guys and girls can be just friends, even when it’s happening right in front of their face.
I like how we get to see Frankie’s internal struggle once she gets Jonah’s password. She wants to trust him, but her own insecurity catapults her into that dark realm of spying on her boyfriend. This is the type of storyline where she could’ve gotten caught immediately and I’d be typing out my eulogy for Jankie right now, however, with their reconciliation we’re destined to see if Frankie will continue to keep tabs on Jonah’s conversations. Frankie might be immature in her actions, but the same time I don’t think being insecure is necessarily equates immaturity. The mind is a powerful thing that can trick us into believing things; fighting those thoughts of paranoia and doubt is a struggle we can all relate to.
MAYA PLOT RECAP: Maya finds herself completely obsessed with tragedy and death, spending an entire night watching videos on them. As she’s talking with Grace about it, she spots Saad taking pictures of her from a distance. Maya confronts him and grabs his camera, and she sees graphic photos he’s taken from Syria. Saad explains how death was all around him and Maya says she feels the same way. She goes on to show him where her boyfriend Cam died and how her bandmate Adam also died in a car accident, and she takes Saad to a school bus. She feels like she’s to blame for Tristan being in the hospital, and as she recreates how she saw Tristan’s body in the bus crash Saad takes a photo of it. Later, Maya has her musical audition for SoCal’s prestigious art program, and while the admissions woman loved Maya’s work, she’s concerned that Maya hasn’t been doing songwriting. Maya says that she’s been feeling writer’s block since the bus crash, and the woman says that Maya would be expected to write through any mental blocks. After the audition, Maya receives the photos from Saad of her recreating Tristan’s pose in the crash; she loves them, and tells Saad to meet her at the hospital. They visit Tristan, and Maya says that while she feels numb, Saad’s pictures are the only thing that help her feel anything. The two prepare to do another photoshoot in the hospital bed next to Tristan. Later that night, Maya receives a call from Grace who tells her that they don’t need her for the play anymore because they’re working with Miles. Maya’s okay with the news and tells Grace she’s found something else anyway, as the scene ends with Maya looking at the hospital photoshoot of her posing as a patient clinging to life.
For the longest time my favorite longterm storyline was Darcy’s rape in Season 7 of The Next Generation. I loved not only the emotional impact we saw the rape have on Darcy, but how it also affected the lives of other people in a butterfly effect of sorts.
Maya’s arc since the death of Cam Saunders has officially surpassed that. As we now see in Season 3 of Next Class, Degrassi has spent time in 4 out of the last 6 seasons extensively showing how his death has affected Maya’s psyche. Since the candlelight vigil after his death, Maya has never once spoken Cam’s name, and if you didn’t know by now the writers have been doing that on purpose. Instead of saying it, they’ve chosen to show how Cam has affected everything from Maya’s interpersonal relationships to her going so far out of her way to try and protect those closest to her, for fear they’ll suffer a fate similar to Cam’s.
The biggest thing for Maya has been the guilt she feels over having not been able to help Cam before it was too late, and she still carries that guilt with her today. “People keep dying around me too,” Maya tells Saad after he explains the horrors of what he saw in Syria. Adam Torres’ death in Season 13 was a weird situation from top to bottom, but having Maya reference it in this episode was a brilliant surprise in continuity that solidifies Maya feeling like it’s her fault that death happens around her. “When I went to visit Tristan in the hospital…all I could think was that he was there…cause I exist,” she says.
I got chills watching the hospital scene. “I wanna look like that,” Maya says, after Saad comments that Tristan looks peaceful. Scarier than the thought of feeling pain is feeling nothing at all.
RASHA PLOT SUMMARY: Rasha wants to be in the play and she auditions for the role of Hero. Miles chuckles during her audition, but she proceeds anyway. Later, she finds out that the role of Hero is meant to be a boy because it’s about Miles. She asks Miles why he let her audition for the wrong role, and he says he just wanted to be nice. Miles decides to let Rasha audition for the female lead role, but Rasha insists on auditioning for Hero again because she can relate to Hero’s feelings. Miles does let Rasha audition for Hero again, but he eventually tells Rasha that because she was right when she said someone who deeply knows the material should play the part he’s decided to play the role of Hero himself. He also informs her that she’s been cast as the role of Coma Boy. Despite not getting the part she wanted, Rasha’s excited to be in the play anyway.
“Feelings have no gender” is the basic concept of this storyline, but I really enjoyed how they presented it through the play. Miles’ resistance toward Rasha playing the role of Hero is more about him being in his own head and basically wanting this story mimic exactly the way things have played out in real life, because it is about him after all. He’s not even thinking about how the feelings Hero goes through are relatable to other people’s lives.
Feelings is in bold because it’s important to understand this, and it’s frustrating when people say that Degrassi “isn’t relatable.” It’s usually accompanied by some generic explanation about how the show doesn’t present enough “teen issues,” or the show doesn’t do storylines in the way people that think they should. Just as we saw in this storyline, the situations don’t have to match or even be relevant to each other in order for the feelings to be relatable. “But the feelings Hero has aren’t exclusive to boys,” Rasha says. “I haven’t heard back from my best friend since I left Syria. I’m not sure if she’s okay, or hurt, or…”
The feelings that characters go through are the most important and most relatable part of Degrassi; it’s always been that way, and it always will be.
*Don’t think I didn’t catch the irony of Maya singing her song “Yes” in this episode, the most deeply personal and emotional song she’s written in Next Class.
*Something we don’t see very often on Degrassi are the characters going through that “We’re learning how to drive” phase, so I enjoyed that being the backdrop of Frankie’s storyline. I also like how at the end of her plot we casually learned that she indeed failed her test the first time around.
*#ContinuityFTW: I mentioned it above, but mad love to the show for not only referencing Cam’s death again, but also mentioning Adam’s death as well. That scene alone shows how much effort they’re putting into the little details in this season. Also, love how Hunter reminds us that he’s on parole. Speaking of that scene…
*”You owe me.” “For what?” “For not eating you when we were in the womb!”