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401 – 402 Ghost in the Machine

Rating:7 of 10

      As much as I like Craig, sometimes he gets a little too much screen time. This episode was definitely Craig-overload, and should have been given entirely to Paige. However, I was really touched to see Joey truly consider Craig his son, and Craig finally find a place that really feels like home; I just wish it had taken less time.

      Paige has been through a lot, and I was incredibly happy to see her trial arrive. Every victim of rape deserves their day in court and as much justice as is legal. Dean is a great character, and sometimes I think he makes a better villain than even Rick. The trial was depressing, since Dean wasn’t convicted, but it truthfully represented the justice system, which is not always fair. I just hope rape victims still have the courage to face their attackers, even if it doesn’t amount to anything.

 

403 King of Pain

                  Rating: 5 of 10

      I think I agree with much of the Degrassi community that this episode could have been left out, and might not have really affected Degrassi at all. We get that Marco and Dylan are dating, and I completely endorse it. It’s utterly adorable, and we need people challenging homophobia in the USA. But do we really need every episode about the two to focus on how Marco doesn’t want to come out? Coming out is hard, but talking about it all the time probably makes it harder, and it’s not like he hasn’t come out to everyone except for his father. We already know his father is homophobic; we don’t need another episode about it. It's time we represent the two of them as a normal couple who just happen to be gay, instead of two gay guys who are dating (gasp!).

      Emma is starting to get on my nerves, which is actually a good thing. I like it when I don’t like a character . . . it makes things interesting. I hope Emma gets her life in order though, because I think she could be a really quality girl. I really believe that Sean brings out the best in her, and wish they would get back together . . . in a way that doesn’t break Ellie’s heart.

 

404 Mercy Street

                  Rating: 7 of 10

                        I really liked seeing Emma step into her own and get a little sass. I know that she's always been independent, but from one politically active teen to another . . . Emma needed to expand her horizons. I hope she eventually gets off her "holier than thou” soapbox and becomes more human. I’m also glad she stood up for Rick . . . if only more people had done that, a great many things might have been different.

      JT and Manny . . . never thought it would work out. JT crushes on her like a puppy, and Manny seems to only go for older guys who want to ogle her goods and then break her heart. I am oh, so very, very glad that they did date, if only to give me the pleasure of the JT/Craig scene and JT’s subsequent use of a penis pump. I haven’t laughed like that in a very long time. My dirty mind makes me curious about just how much JT needed the device to measure up to Craig.

 

406 Anywhere I Lay My Head

                  Rating: 7 of 10

      I love a show that can put alcoholism, cutting, war, lying, fires, a high school couple living together AND a ferret . . . all in one show, and not only that, but one character. Being more serious, the show deals with every issue well, so there is no need to congratulate the writers again. The Ellie/Sean storyline is awesome, and always puts me through a conundrum, because both the Ellie/Sean and Emma/Sean relationships are great, and I don’t think cheating is an option for Sean. Sean was awesome taking on the role of caretaker and loving boyfriend, and made me wish he had more screen time. Ellie was adorable, and I love watching her gain strength as she approaches all of her issues with grace.

      The carwash was unnecessary, especially with all the creepy adults watching teens in bathing suits (did you notice the older men?). Degrassi rarely has anything gratuitous, but the girls in skimpy bathing suits . . . what purpose did it serve? The Manny/Spinner thing (with Craig eyeing her too) . . . she has a nice body and big breasts, we get it . . . now give the 14 year-old some clothes! Although the Downtown Sasquatch song was great.

                 

 

407 Islands in the Stream

                  Rating: I still don’t know!

      I am conflicted about this episode. On one hand, the Toby/Rick aspect laid the groundwork of their friendship, which was necessary. On the other, I really didn’t need to see either of them kissing girls the whole episode . . . do they want mono? I enjoyed seeing Paige and Alex bond, and can’t wait to see how Alex fits into the mainstream crowd; this episode could have supplanted King of Pain in that regard. Craig, Jimmy and Spinner have a really great comedic chemistry, and I hope to see more of that, but while seeing Craig and Spinner fight was entertaining, it was unnecessary.

                 

407- 408 Time Stands Still

                  Rating: 10 of 10

      One of the best episodes that any show has ever broadcast. Read more in-depth thoughts by clicking this link.

 

409 Back in Black

                  Rating: 8 of 10

      Degrassi continues to excel at dealing with the tough issues, and dealt with the school shooting better than any school I’ve ever attended, and I was in Colorado when Columbine happened. I was glad to see that the discussion dealt with the anger and shock of what Rick did, but acknowledged that bullying played a role in the shooting.

      Sean, oh how I shall miss Sean. At least he went out in a blaze of glory. Daniel Clark shined in this episode, balancing drama, grief, anger, fear and a desire for acceptance beautifully. The episode reminded me why he’s one of my favourite characters. It was also great to see Emma reconnecting with Sean, because I always thought they were good together.

 

410 Neutron Dance

                  Rating: 8 of 10

      Any show that features the musical talents of the cast automatically ranks high for me. Especially since “Turns to Dust” is a kick-butt song and I wish I had a better version to put on my ipod (hook me up at degrassifreak_whitney@yahoo.com). The chemistry when Downtown Sasquatch gets together always makes for hilarious entertainment, and the only downside is Jimmy’s absence. Sometimes the Ashley/Craig drama gets a little too dramatic, but this time it was simply sweet and utterly adorable.

 

411 – 412 Voices Carry

                  Rating: 9 of 10

      Craig. Craig, Craig, Craig. What ever shall we do with you? Apparently, give you more screen time than previously thought possible, and I, for one, am not complaining. This episode was great. Craig has done a lot of things the past couple of years that just haven’t seemed right, and being a social worker’s daughter, I should have seen this coming. Bipolar disorder perfectly explains the things Craig has been going through, why he stole Joey’s car, cheated on Ashley, spent 4k on a guitar, and might even explain his abusive father, since bipolar is genetic. Also, Ashley stepped up the maturity and stood by Craig, which was wonderful to see, since the two are perfect for each other. Perhaps the best part of the episode was the “I Need You Scene” and the “I Love You” at the wedding, because it was a pleasure to see the fantastic acting and the way Ashley really has a calming influence on Craig, even in the midst of his manic phases.

      Other: Liberty finally gets JT (yeah!), we get to see Jimmy steal the show in every scene he gets, CTV holds a gay wedding that is made out to be no big deal (hell yeah!), and the-N doesn’t censor anything (congratulations!).

 

413 Bark at the Moon

                  Rating: 5 of 10

      The Mr. Oleander/Paige aspect of the show was great. Paige deserves a good relationship and Matt Oleander is SEXAY. My viewpoint is probably biased, because I am right in the middle of Matt and Paige, age-wise, but I think it’s a good match. The fact that he is a student teacher is slightly controversial – which I don’t think Degrassi has really dealt with entirely appropriately – but at least he isn’t an actual teacher, and the way things happen in future episodes make everything fine.

      Spinner and Manny . . . shudder. I’m not sure which the worst couple was: Manny/Craig or Manny/Spinner. What do these older boys see in Manny and what does Manny see in Spinner? Manny needs to date outside of Degrassi, because there is no match for her at the school. With regards to Spinner, he used to be really sweet and adorable, and now he just looks . . . scary. He’s like a half skin-head, and no longer emotionally appealing. The changes he’s been through are not only the opposite of growth, but they aren’t really fitting. Spinner just doesn’t seem like Spinner.

      Mr. Raditch has been with the show for 18 years. I think he deserved a much better send-off than he was afforded. What little send-off he got was interrupted by a pointless Marco/Manny conversation. The dude deserves major respect . . . more than he got.

      The episode had two obviously pointless aspects: Chester and the school dance. Degrassi has more dances than humanly possible, and this one served absolutely no point. Chester has been introduced as the latest Degrassi character . . . and I am not happy. His expressions are vacant, I’m not interested in who he is and I would like him to go back to wherever he came from. I challenge anyone reading this to give me a purpose for the school dance and Chester. Send your answers to degrassifreak_whitney@yahoo.com

 

414 – 415 Secret (I & II)

                  Rating: 10 of 10

      Miriam McDonald really shined in this episode, and I see a fantastic acting career in her future, not even mentioning the great career she already has. I am very glad that Degrassi devoted an episode to oral sex, because in high school it happens more often than people would like to think, and so often teens (and even some adults) think that oral sex is not real sex, and many seem to think that somehow oral sex is safer than actual intercourse. This episode realistically portrays how easy it is to get an STD. The only unrealistic aspect was the fact that very frequently teens can get STDs with NO obvious symptoms.

      I also really enjoyed Craig’s and Jimmy’s mini-plots in these episodes. I’m glad Degrassi decided to show Craig dealing with his bipolar disorder. Being diagnosed is the first hurdle, but dealing with the disease is the real battle, and it’s commendable that Degrassi chose to address that issue. Jimmy has almost always been within view of Degrassi fans, but he’s never really been given the chance to shine. Since the shooting, Jimmy’s scenes have quickly become my favourites. Aubrey Graham is a fantastic actor; better than I ever gave him credit for. I also really like the fact that Degrassi is showing Jimmy’s progression through the grief stages after losing the ability to walk, and I like seeing Jimmy fight to live a normal life, irregardless of his disability.

      Last comment: The Jay/Emma chemistry is incredibly interesting. From Jay’s interaction with her backstage (at Dracula rehearsals), I’m getting the distinct impression that Jay actually cares about Emma . . . not that he deserves any sympathy for having unprotected oral sex with a number of girls . . . he’s just lucky no one got anything worse. Perhaps his connection to Emma is something that is making his realise the repercussions of the actions that have marked his existence at Degrassi.

 

416 Eye of the Tiger

                  Rating: 8 of 10

      I felt like a student at Degrassi, waiting to welcome a hero back home. Jimmy’s return was wonderful. He deserved a hero’s welcome. Yes, he survived a school shooting, but more than anything, he is a hero because of how he is living his entire life. He is incredibly popular and athletic, but he is also nice to just about everyone, even those the rest of the school have scorned. Not only that, but he has faced his disabilities head-on, and after a rough start, refused to accept that he couldn’t live a great life.

      I miss the old Spinner, but the new Spinner is finally starting to grow on me . . . if only his hair would do the same. I think it was awesome and took a massive amount of courage to admit his blame for the school shooting to his former best friend and the school principal. That said, I’m glad Principal Hatzilakos expelled Spinner and Jay. Schools are no place for bullies.

      Other than that, the JT/Liberty relationship is adorable. In the midst of mental illnesses, cheating, STDs, cutting . . . JT and Liberty seem to be the last bastion of true innocence. Any serious issues they have are not really serious in the grand scheme of things, and I love that. Everyone needs a little innocence in their life, and these two give that to Degrassi.

 

417 Queen of Hearts

                  Rating: 8 of 10

      I’m going to be honest with everyone here. Just like journalists should be upfront with their bias, I am going to admit any factors that might sway my evaluations of episodes. Matt Oleander is gorgeous. He’s smart, he’s almost my age, he’s intelligent, and seems nonchalant about how good-looking he is. Therefore, any episode that features him already ranks high, simply because of my hormones.

      Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’ll get on with my review. The Matt/Paige relationship has always been cute and sexy, but this episode brought it up a notch into romantic, adorable and real. When Paige confronts Matt in his apartment and he says, “All the glamour this relationship ever had . . . gone,” I just about fainted into a pile of romantic goo. I was even talking to my TV, “He wants to impress her! That’s SOOO cute!”

      The Alex/Ellie aspect of this show was also great. Every episode I get more and more attached to Alex. She is gruff, but really seems to care about the people around her. I thought Ellie and Alex battling the “hockey boys” at cards was hilarious. The serious aspect of the episode was great too, because Alex told Ellie exactly what she needed to hear. Few 16 year-olds are able to live on their own, and Ellie needs to be with her mother, now that it is obvious her mother is sober.

 

418 Modern Love

                  Rating: 8 of 10 (but only after ignoring Emma’s storyline; with her storyline it would rank a 5)

      Let’s get the irritating aspect of this episode our of the way. Emma is awesome . . . I love her. She’s totally changing and developing a more human and therefore flawed personality, and that rocks. However, if it at all requires the presence of Darcy and/or Chester . . . I don’t need to see it. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

      Once again, the Paige/Matt relationship turns me into a pile of excessively romantic goo. The best part for me was when Dylan stormed into the movie theatre and tried to defend his sister’s honour. Having an older brother (whom I adore), Dylan just pulled on my heartstrings there. Other than that, I dare anyone not to get at least a wee bit mushy over Paige’s willingness to give up her year, Matt’s decision to defend her honour in a very real way, and his final decision to give up his dreams for her. All together now: Awwwwwwww!

 

419 Moonlight Desires

                  Rating: 9 of 10

                  Once again, I must admit my bias here. Craig’s character is awesome. I have no idea how he has done everything he’s done and managed to come out on top, and I have no idea why he hasn’t become sullied in my eyes, but I just adore Craig (in a non-romantic kind of way . . . he is only a character on television). With that said, I LOVE this episode. It was an episode full of laughter and utter cuteness, but enough real, serious issues to make it still Degrassi. Marco thinking about his future with Dylan, us finding out Marco and Dylan have had sex (although it was suspicious we never heard any discussion about that . . . I guess even Degrassi is not quite willing to go that far . . . which is a shame), Marco not being able to give blood [about time someone brought up how ludicrous such a rule is, especially since the only main characters to have “problems” with sex were straight girls (Manny, Emma) and a completely straight guy (Jay)], travelling to Africa to help those suffering from AIDS (I wish I could do that), Craig trying his hardest to cheer up Marco (it the cutest way EVER) and the hilarity of the Marco/Craig KISS. Plus, Jay’s and Spinner’s story was great, and really made me start to feel a connection with Jay, because I think he is finally starting to feel remorse for the things he has done.

                  Last comment on this episode: What is with this school and fires? Gheesh. pyromania is one issue Degrassi has yet to address . . .

 

420 West End Girls

            Rating: 6 of 10 (only Kevin Smith and Craig bring it up from a 5)

                  Once again, Degrassi and a school dance. I think these kids spend more time dancing than they do studying. Every time Degrassi has a school dance, I get just a wee bit irritated . . . stop it with the dances. Also, the plot hole of Manny winning Prom Queen . . . I know that Paige went crazy with the copy machine, but unless she had the same number of ballots as there are students, there is no way that the so-called school “slut” (however fair/unfair that label is) would win Prom Queen. Last complaint . . . Ashley needs to stop whining. I have no idea why, but I felt like she was whining this entire episode . . . even though Craig was the one moping about her leaving.

                  The redeeming qualities were worth it though. Kevin Smith was awesome. I am very glad he got to live out his dream and be on Degrassi (even if he couldn’t direct) and especially that he got to bond with Caitlin Ryan. His acting was great, and made me laugh the whole time he was on screen . . . especially the hilarious Creed bashing . . . no one except Kevin Smith can deliver lines like that. Also I thought Jake Epstein did an awesome job acting beside Kevin Smith. It takes courage to act beside such a great actor, and it takes talent . . . Jake obviously has both. The Craig/Kevin scenes were great . . .the two really have awesome chemistry.

 

421 – 422 Going Down the Road (I & II)

      Rating: 10 of 10 (for the DVD version)

      Two of my favourite things in the world: Degrassi and Kevin Smith. The-N versions were good, but nothing compared to the extended versions on the DVD. Rated or unrated, the extended scenes made the episodes much, much better, and they were already quite good to begin with.

 

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