Degrassi Junior High “Nothing to Fear” (part 3 of 3)
Cut to Susie, Yick, and Arthur heading down into the Degrassi basement to find the snake. Arthur explains that this is the “warmest” part of the school—the basement? Really?—so this is where they’re sure to find Amadeus. Even Yick calls BS on this, saying that snakes are cold-blooded and could care less about where it’s “warm”.
“Yick, please,” Arthur says. “I did research!” Well, that settles it, then. I don’t know why, but to me that’s the funniest line of the episode. The next time someone gives me shit about anything, I’m going to snap, “Please! I did research!”
And they have a whole cardboard box snake-trap prepared, with grass designs drawn all over it. And they’re going to lure the snake into this box with… slices of bologna? Yes, that appears to be the plan. So, snakes like luncheon meat? Really? Well, they did research, after all, so who am I to question it? The three kids head on into the boiler room, the brave souls that they are. Let me tell you, many a wussier kid has gotten locked inside one of these.
Cut to Melanie at her locker, while Principal Charlie is on the PA telling students that “rumors of a dozen missing tarantulas are utterly without foundation!” Misinformation spreads like wildfire at Degrassi Junior High! First the thing about snakes liking bologna, now this. Next thing you know, Principal Charlie will be assuring everyone that Jeff Goldblum is still alive.
And then a group of boys comes around the corner, and they’re pretty much the same group that snapped Melanie’s bra strap previously. This time they have a rubber snake, which they dangle over her locker door. Those scamps!
Melanie sees it and freaks. She yells, “Snake!” And at the locker next to hers, Snake himself turns to her and goes, “Yeah?” Because the Snake/snake joke never gets old.
The group of boys is beside themselves with laughter. But their exuberance is dimmed when Mr. Raditch enters, dressed in yet another pimp/drug dealer ensemble. I have to say, he’s really topped himself this time around: his suit is all lavender and pink and brown. Raditch looks around confused, and is especially bewildered when he sees Melanie pounding her head on her locker, and he catches sight of the masking tape around her boots. Between this and Voula and Spike hanging around afterschool, Raditch must be wondering if the entire student population has lost their damn minds.
Cut to Voula collecting money to buy flowers for L.D.’s dad. She gets money from Snake and Spike, and since Voula and Steph are now friends again, Stephanie is chipping in money, too. But Steph is squeamish about the possibility of actually going to the hospital. “I hate hospitals,” she says. But again, I really hope she’s okay with free clinics.
Voula says not to worry, because she and Spike will take care of bringing the flowers over at lunchtime. L.D. enters, and everyone keeps hush-hush about the flowers. Voula asks L.D. how her dad is doing, and for some reason she even wants specific details on how he’s looking. L.D. has no idea, of course. She proves herself to be a terrible liar, and Voula looks confused.
Cut to Spike and Voula as they buy flowers at a place with a hastily mocked up sign on the door reading “Hospital Gift Shop”. They head on up to Mr. Delacorte’s hospital room, and you might be worried that this is going to be super-awkward, but thankfully, Mr. D recognizes Spike and Voula, and even calls them by name.
The girls explain they wanted the flowers to be here the “next time” L.D. comes up. But Dad spills the beans that L.D. hasn’t been up the first time. The girls look shocked and confused. Dad puts up a brave face, however, and tells the girls to let L.D. know “her old man’s okay!” When two of the most antisocial girls at Degrassi come to see you, but not your own daughter, that’s gotta be depressing.
Meanwhile, in the Boiler Room of Boredom, Arthur and Yick snoop around with a flashlight. They find their snake-trap cardboard box, which has something snake-like poking out of it. They’re immediately excited that they “caught something”, but when they lift the trap, all they find is the same rubber snake the boys used to scare Melanie. So… the other boys actually came all the way down to the boiler room, snuck around, and put their rubber snake in the trap? For what purpose? I get the whole mischievous hooligan thing and all, but this is a pretty long way to go for a laugh.
Spike and Voula exit Mr. D’s hospital room, giving each other knowing glares. They wonder why L.D. lied about coming to see him, and they realize that something’s got to be wrong with L.D.
Cut to L.D., curled up in a fetal position in the dark gym. (Well, the Swank Gym. The dark, swank gym.) So I think we have a pretty good idea of her current state of mind. Enter Voula, who tells her that they went to see her dad at the hospital, and that he looked okay. Before Voula can say any more, the School Bell of Drama sounds, and I guess Voula has to head to class.
In the hallways, we hear another pithy announcement from Principal Charlie, assuring kids that if they see items on the lunch menu like “shepherd’s python” and “corn on the cobra”, these are “merely the product of a warped sense of humor!” Hey, I could stand a warped sense of humor right about now. Can the guy who wrote those menu items also write the rest of this episode, please?
Wait, that was just some sort of transitional fake out, because Voula and L.D. are still in the gym. The only thing that’s changed is Voula is now sitting closer to L.D. So, I guess the whole point of that announcement was to cover up that they didn’t get a shot of Voula walking over to L.D.? Weak.
So, finally, the truth comes out. L.D. says her mom went to the hospital once, and after L.D. visited her, she died. Voula reassures her that hospitals aren’t just cesspools of death and disease, and that occasionally people actually do get better after going to one. Voula talks about how her own mom had an operation two months ago, and she’s okay now. An “operation”? Is that all we’re going to say about that? Was it possibly to reconstruct her face after that one night where Voula’s dad got enraged about the challah not being moist and flaky enough?
L.D. has other excuses, but Voula says she has to go see her dad. “You’re all he’s got left!” Yeah, never mind those ”brothers” that L.D. mentioned a few episodes ago. Whatever happened to them? Okay, fine, there was an earlier line where L.D. mentioned her brothers had moved out. But “brothers” implies more than one. So, all of them moved away in the span of three weeks?
In the next scene, L.D. finally finds the courage to go back to the hospital. The Young L.D. echoing voiceover flashback resumes, and Dad’s voice assures Young L.D. that Mommy will be fine.
Meanwhile, in the Degrassi library, Susie is berating Arth-Yick yet again for letting the snake get out. Not that they don’t deserve it, but it does seem a bit pointless to yell at them twice for the same stupid mistake. Melanie enters, and she hears supposed hissing noises, which don’t even remotely sound like a snake. But sure enough, she spots the snake in somebody’s purse. Melanie is frozen in fear. She wants to scream, but then she sees her true love Snake on the other side of the library and thinks better of it. Instead, she anxiously calls Susie over.
Susie is overjoyed to finally find Amadeus. She pulls him out of the purse, and they wrap the snake around Arthur’s shoulders. And since this is required by law to be a Learning Experience™, they dub in a line where Melanie says, “He’s not slimy! He’s kind of cute!” But she never touched the snake, so she has no way of knowing about the snake’s sliminess, or lack thereof, but whatever. Either way, I’ve been edumacated.
And then the gang of Degrassi Hooligans enters, and Arthur sticks the snake in the face of the lead hooligan. The guy is terrified, and runs out in a panic, while everyone laughs at him. You see, not only is he the one who dangled the rubber snake in front of Melanie, but he was also the one who snapped Melanie’s bra strap. So at least someone finally got his comeuppance.
Everyone laughs heartily, and Melanie declares, “Some people are afraid of the silliest things!” Thanks, guys, for tying a neat bow on this subplot, and connecting it directly to the title, yet again. One tedious plot down, one to go.
At the hospital, we follow L.D. around for what feels like an hour as she looks scared and nervous. The voiceover flashback continues, with Young L.D. sounding distraught about “all those machines” hooked up to Mommy. This goes on forever, with Dad’s VO trying to calm Young L.D.
In the flashback, Dad is called away by a doctor, and we hear the doctor’s voice, too. So I guess there’s a third character in this little radio play. Maybe they should have also included sound effects, like a door opening and closing, and footsteps trailing off into the distance.
Dad’s VO returns to say, “Lorraine… your mommy won’t be coming home.” In the present, just as the radio play finishes up, L.D. finds her dad’s room. But his hospital bed is empty. She takes off her cap, and looks morose. Just as she’s imagining the worst, she hears her dad’s voice. Not the flashback, but her actual dad’s voice. He’s alive!
Dad says that all he has is a little angina, and he needs to take better care of himself. Such as, though I’m just guessing here, not smoking. That might be a good place to start. As they head out, L.D. promises she’ll try harder to be the kind of daughter he wants her to be. He says she’s forgetting something, and runs back inside to get her cap, and puts it back on her head. Thus, father and daughter have reached a new understanding, and it only took him almost dying, too.
Take us home, Mr. D: “If you think hospitals are scary, you should try being the father of a teenage daughter!” Especially the father of a teenage daughter going to Degrassi Junior High. That has to be the most terrifying thing in the world. L.D. tells him that he’ll “get over it”, and that’s the end of the episode.
So, yeah, this was pretty much just a filler episode, focusing on an uninteresting character facing her uninteresting fears. Any DJH episode where Steph, Joey, and Caitlin get one line apiece is bound to be worthless. And it’s obvious there wasn’t even enough story to fill up half an hour, given all the voiceovers and random transitional shots, and L.D. wandering around aimlessly and so forth. Thankfully, next week the writers get back to smoking the good shit, and return to bringing us the sexually charged plotlines that made the Degrassi name famous.