MAYA PLOT RECAP: The episode starts off with Maya recording a song called “Last Exit” about being free, and she’s in a good mood as she prepares for school and says goodbye to her mom and sister. She tries to talk to Zig at Degrassi, but their conversation is cut short when they see Esme approaching. Maya runs into Jonah and she wants him to give Grace a gift for her, but he gives Maya a ticket to the play and tells her to give it to Grace herself. Maya arrives to the play, but when she spots Esme sitting in her seat, she tells Yael to give the gift to Grace and she leaves. We then see Maya get onto a bus where she takes a handful of pills, puts on her headphones and waits to fall asleep. Some time later she wakes up and realizes her suicide attempt failed. She stumbles off the bus and ends up the roof of Degrassi. She stares at the landscape in a daze, and takes a picture which she posts online. Esme and Zig leave Miles’ play to fool around on the roof and they find Maya passed out and foaming at the mouth, OD’ing from the pills. Miles, Tristan, Zig, Esme, Grace and Zoë are in the hospital waiting room; Grace regrets not having seen the warning signs and Zig feels guilty for having blown her off earlier that day. Esme tells them it’s no one’s fault, and it’s impossible to know what’s going on inside anyone’s head. Katie then walks in and tells everyone that Maya’s alive, but she’ll need the support of her friends to get through this tough time.
Maya’s storyline in season 3 has just been incredible to watch. Degrassi’s churned out some amazingly memorable storylines over the years, but this one packs the kind of emotional punch that knocked the wind out of me because it feels too real.
I mentioned how Degrassi was able to truly “Go There” with Lola’s abortion storyline in #IRegretNothing, and Maya’s story does the exact same. What I absolutely love is Degrassi’s refusal to back down, forcing viewers to accept that Maya will go through with her suicide attempt. “These photos are about confronting death, showing that it can be beautiful,” Maya said in #Unsubscribe, which is why we end up with the beautiful, eerie montage that opens up #ImSleep, accompanied by Maya singing the haunting tune Last Exit.
Any remaining beliefs that Degrassi has “forgotten” about Cam all these years should be gone.
The show’s spent a lot of time showing how his death has impacted Maya over the past several seasons. She experienced anxiety and sadness that she projected onto both Miles and Zig. She experienced vivid nightmares and intense therapy. Tying her and Cam’s stories together again through the parallel of these bus scenes is the icing on this amazing cake, one where we’re minded that the struggle with mental illness doesn’t just go away.
I know a story is great when I find myself literally holding my breath through parts of it; that’s exactly what happened as Maya got off the bus in a daze, got to the roof and wobbled around in a scene screaming with silence. Esme was destined to be the person to who found Maya, and it worked perfectly. The hospital scene is an instant tearjerker; its positioning is reminiscent of the hospital scene in Rock This Town, where we were clinging onto the hope that JT Yorke would be okay. Only this time, Katie Matlin delivers news worthy of our tears of joy.
Degrassi has excelled at not only bringing back older characters in Next Class, but using them in ways that make absolute sense. Out of all of the cameos, Katie’s has been the most necessary to a storyline on a show where historically not even siblings seem to exist once they’ve graduated. The impact of the hospital scene wouldn’t be as big without her presence, and Maya’s plot in #Woke might not have worked at all without Katie’s return. Everything from the meticulous way the show created distance between Maya and the other characters, to the unflinching moments that show Maya happily embracing death, Degrassi over-delivers in this arc that’s been over five seasons in the making, and surely the best this show has ever seen.
MILES PLOT RECAP: It’s opening night of the play, and Miles is worried that Tristan will realize through the play that he hooked up with Lola. That leads Miles to rewrite a few lines in the play and as he’s talking to Lola about it, he also apologizes for having hurt her and for not having gone with her when she had an abortion. Lola asks if she ever meant anything to him and he tells her yes, because she was his hope. Tristan arrives at Degrassi and the play goes without a hitch. Afterward, Miles confesses to Tristan that he cheated, but Tristan says he figured that out through the play and Lola’s vlog. Tristan asks Miles who he wants to be with, and when Miles says “You,” Tristan speaks for the first time since waking up, saying “Okay.”
Miles’ storyline in Season 3 is tricky because my thoughts are all over the place on this one. This story hit its peak focusing on the Miles/Lola connection, and this storyline was built specifically as a vehicle for us to watch Miles go through the emotional ringer. Ramping down to the resolution there aren’t really any surprises, but Tristan and Miles’ conversation is a grand representation of the one thing we wished couples on Degrassi were capable of doing: talking through their problems effectively.
No one is debating that cheating is wrong, but I find myself coming back to the fact this is an extraordinary circumstance, one that can emotionally challenge adults let alone these teenagers. Tristan understands this, and given what he’s been through he probably also wants everything in his life to get back to normal. Tristan could’ve gone either way and I would’ve understood why either way, but the bigger question now is how these two will handle the challenges of Tristan’s recovery together.
ZOE/RASHA/GOLDI PLOT RECAP: Goldi doesn’t understand why Zoë’s upset, so Rasha finally reveals that she’s gay and her and Zoë broke up. Goldi’s surprised to learn that Rasha’s gay, and Rasha says she didn’t tell her because Goldi is casually homophobic. When asked if Rasha having sex with Zoë is a sin, Goldi says “According to the Qur’an, yes, but I still love you guys.” Rasha then reveals that Zoë was kicked out of her own house by her mom for being, and Goldi can’t believe it. Later, Goldi tells Zoë that there’s a way she could fix things with Rasha; after the play, Zoë shows up backstage with a bouquet of flowers for Rasha, and the two make up. Goldi say she realizes love is love regardless and it’s not up to her to decide who should be together. She tells Zoë and Rasha that they should be together and she just wants them to be happy.
All season Degrassi has been hitting us with the theme that it’s okay for people to do things differently; it’s not up to you to decide how other people should live their life, and it’s not up to other people to dictate how you live yours. Just like we saw with Frankie’s unintentional racism in Season 2, Goldi’s genuinely caught off guard when Rasha calls her out for casual homophobia. We know Goldi means no ill will, but every time she’s been asked about homosexuality her response has been, “Well the Qur’an says…” as opposed to “I think that…” Goldi’s opinion on this has been based solely on what something else says, but what does she think about it as an individual?
There’s no way Degrassi was going to spend all of this time on Zasha in Season 3 just for them to sink so quickly, but their reconciliation is more than just keeping the show’s hottest new ship together. Both Zoë and Rasha have experienced a lot, individually and together, just to reach this point where they can be together publicly in peace. “I want this place to be a safe space where everyone feels free to be themselves,” Zoë said in #BreakTheInternet. Despite her home life being a complete mess thanks to her intolerant mother, Degrassi has now become that space Zoë needs.