Degrassi Junior High “The Cover-Up” (part 3 of 4)
Cut to the front of the school the next day. Rick is locking up his bike, and Joey passes by, talking to that random kid from earlier (who literally does not get a name until the high school years, and when he does get a name, it’ll be “Tim the Terrific”. Seriously). Joey complains to Tim about how his parents ruined his jean jacket.
Rick overhears and calls out to Joey. He says he has a jean jacket he might be willing to sell. Joey’s eyes widen. “Like, used and everything?”
Rick, tragic figure that he is, replies, “Everything I’ve got’s used.” Oh, Rick, you beautiful disaster. And I’m sure all of his friends are dead, too. Rick says Joey can come by his house later on to pick up the jacket. Joey is slightly taken aback at the prospect of going over to Rick’s house, but he agrees, telling him, “Thanks, buddy!”
But Rick has a hard-ass image to keep up, so he tells Joey that this jean jacket transaction “doesn’t make us buddies, okay?” (Man, the kid playing Rick is one horrible actor. It was no surprise to find out Craig Driscoll eventually gave up on acting, and is now working as a tattoo artist.) Joey acquiesces and enters the school, and along the way he shoots a weird guy-crush-like glance back at Rick.
Cut to Rick heading into the school. And it seems Caitlin and Susie are now staking him out, ready to set their pet project in motion. Operation: Make Rick Smile is now in progress. They get his attention, and then they tell him a lame joke. It’s so lame, I’m honestly doing you a favor by not repeating it. It’s lamer than the jokes you might see on bubble gum wrappers. It’s lamer than that “second opinion” joke that’s older than Henny Youngman and has cropped up a couple of times on this site. Actually, lame is far too kind of a word. This joke will make you lose your will to live.
Okay, fine, I’ll give you a taste of it. The punch line is, “It was the chicken’s day off!” Are you happy now?
And the two of them actually punctuate this joke by making Vaudeville gestures and going, “Ba-dum-bum!” Rick simply shakes his head and walks away. That’s really about all you can do in response to a joke that stupid. Other than hitting someone, of course. Frankly, I think he was fully within his rights to punch them both in the mouth, but for some reason he held back.
Cut to a classroom. Steph enters, wearing an old favorite, her white shirt with the crazy popped up collar. She sits down beside Voula and asks for advice. Voula replies, “I wouldn’t presume to offer advice to someone so important as our school president!” Okay, now she’s coming off as borderline psychotic.
Steph quite reasonably begs her to stop being in Bitter Mode 24 hours a day. Steph says they used to be best friends, and makes an honest plea for them to be friends again.
So Voula turns to face her, seeming to be sympathetic. Steph outlines her problem, and it’s weird, because it’s the exact same problem Voula already pointed out. But Steph explains it again anyway: If she wears dorky “home clothes” for Photo Day, everyone will laugh at her. But if she wears slutty “school clothes”, her mom will ground her. Voula’s helpful advice is, and I quote, “It’s your problem!” And with an ever-so-slightly evil smile, she turns back to her books. Wow, she is one class act. I think I’ve seen less bitter divorce court proceedings.
Raditch enters and begins class. Meanwhile, Voula shoots daggers out of her eyes at Stephanie.
Cut to Joey meeting up with Rick after school, so they can head on over to Rick’s house. At the last minute, a terrified Joey whispers to Tim, asking him to come along. But Tim is just as terrified, and he refuses. I assume they’re both afraid of the Very Special Lesson they will surely be learning at Rick’s place.
Joey skateboards and Rick bikes on over to Rick’s house, which is not a charming townhouse, but actually a grubby apartment building. They enter Rick’s apartment, and Joey digs the place, and says Rick’s mom “must be real cool”. But is she mild, very mild?
Rick replies, “I don’t have a mom,” and refuses to elaborate. Oh, Rick.
Rick gets two bottles of soda (or as he calls it, “pop”) from the fridge, and gives one to Joey. Here we find out “Frank” is Rick’s brother, and Frank drives a Harley, which Rick has been on. Rick reveals that when you’re on a Harley going fast enough, “It’s like nothing can stop you! It’s like nothing matters anymore!” I mean, there’s nobody to… tell you what to do… You just have to please yourself up there! It’s free! Ah, the secret escapist fantasies of an abused child. So poignant.
Frank is also the former owner of the jean jacket that Rick is selling. Joey tries it on, and of course it fits perfectly. Unfortunately, Daddy Gilbert O’Sullivan comes home at this exact moment. Joey tries to politely introduce himself, but Dad blows him off and starts bitching about how his day was. Rick tells Joey that he’d better go, saying he can pay for the jacket later.
Dad goes to the fridge, and his rage is reborn when he finds out there’s nothing to drink. He turns and sees Rick holding two bottles of Coke, and his temper flares. “You think we can afford to give stuff to every little punk you know?”
Joey quickly lets himself out, and shuts the door just as the real yelling and slapping starts. Joey solemnly stares at the door for a while, then descends the stairs while the slapping sounds continue. And at the bottom of the stairs is a red-lit hallway, almost like Joey is entering the tunnel in Irreversible or something. Boy, Rick has got it rough. First his dad slaps him around, then he gets anally raped for nine minutes without a cutaway.
Cut to Rick entering his bedroom in the aftermath, with tears streaming down his face. He buries his face in his mattress and sobs, “I wish I could get out of this place!” Rick’s Dad is at the door, trying to apologize. And I think we now have an inkling of what happened to Rick’s Mom, don’t we? Dad swears it won’t happen again, almost like it hasn’t happened twice in a row for two days straight.
At school, two guys unload equipment from a station wagon. These must be photographers and This! Is! Photo Day! Yes, Thursday is finally upon us. Joey catches up with Tim the Terrific, and shows off his newly purchased jean jacket. Tim compliments him and Joey proclaims, “On me, everything looks good!” Oh, so true. Especially Fruit of the Looms.
Tim asks if things were okay at Rick’s place. “He was cool?” Joey ducks the question, just saying halfheartedly that he was “cool”.
The next thing we see are the students of Degrassi lining up for photos. One by one, they sit down in front of a lovely burnt sienna background, and a flash bulb goes off.
First up are the Farrel twins: Erica, followed by Heather. Or possibly Heather, followed by Erica. Who knows? I’m just glad one of them is not “Stacey Darrow” anymore. It’s weird, and this really has nothing to do with the episode at hand, but in the high school years, one of the twins becomes perceptively hotter than the other one. I’m serious. Whenever they’re together, you can always tell which one is Erica, because she’s the hot one. I have no idea if this was the result of makeup or camera tricks, or if one of the twins aged faster than the other one, but it’s clearly noticeable. If you’ve watched Degrassi High and you noticed this too, please let me know I’m not crazy. At this point in the show, however, I have no idea which is which.
Joey stands outside the room where they’re taking pictures, waiting his turn. You gotta love how he was so uptight about his jean jacket looking good for Photo Day, and not wanting to look like a broomhead, and yet, here he is, with not only a huge beige Band-Aid across his forehead, but also a big black eye. Gotta look your best for Photo Day!
Steph passes him and takes her place in line, and let me tell you, she has once again outskanked herself. Oh my god. She has on a pink bustier (I think she raided the Scarlet Witch‘s closet, actually), green miniskirt, and a super gaudy necklace. And I just keep telling myself that Nicole Stoffman is 35 now. That’s the only way to assuage the guilt I feel right now.
Steph falls in line behind Voula and declares, “I decided I have to be me!” Oh, Stephanie. Please don’t try to convince us that this is the “real you”. It doesn’t make it any more appealing. Trust me.
And Voula is dressed, I swear, almost like she has a gig at colonial Williamsburg to go to after school. This is no exaggeration. She’s got puffy pirate sleeves, and some kind of weird frilly collar, and she’s wearing a sweater around her shoulders like a cape. It’s like she thought this was actually the line for 1776 auditions, and she really has her heart set on playing Ben Franklin.
And Voula is still just as bitter and standoffish as ever, and still consumed by her blinding hatred of Steph, even in the face of all of Stephanie’s honest attempts to be friendly to her. We learn all of this when Voula says, “Very sophisticated! I’d like to see your mother’s face when she sees the pictures!” Classy to the end, Voula. She’s actually achieving something I didn’t think was possible: Turning Stephanie Kaye into a sympathetic character.
In the room where they’re taking the photos, Melanie (last seen experimenting with New Zealand Zappers) is staring into a compact and going, “A zit! An enormous zit! Right on my face!” Hey, that’s what happens when you do drugs. The photographer tells her she’s next up to sit on the stool, so she diligently and artfully arranges her bangs to cover up the zit just in time. Crisis averted! Personally, if I were Melanie, I’d be more concerned about the ginormous gap between my front teeth, but that’s just me.
Next up is Rick, with his face all bruised up. Outside in the hallway, Joey stares through the window at Rick on the hot seat. He asks Tim what he’d do if he knew, say, a guy who was getting beat up by his dad. Tim goes, “Who?” Um, the guy sitting on the stool with the camera directly in front of him? The guy with all the bruises on his face? The guy whose home Joey visited yesterday? Maybe?
Joey just blows it all off, saying it’s only a hypothetical. And as he’s saying this, through the window, we can see the photographer turning Rick’s face so that the bruises aren’t visible to the camera. If you’re not a part of the solution, Mr. Photographer Guy, you’re a part of the problem.
Back inside the photo room, the photographer is full-on badgering Rick to smile, but of course, he continues to look somber. Damn! Where’s Caitlin and Susie and a dumb knock-knock joke when you really need them? The photographer eventually gives up, and a very stoic picture is taken.
Doris opens the door and lets the kids out. And it looks like what’s going on here is that the Grade 8s were waiting outside for the Grade 7s to finish taking their pictures. Seems reasonable enough. Unfortunately, the Adorable Twins are currently filing out of the Photo Room, too. So, I think this is the closest we’ll get to conclusive proof that the Twins were originally meant to be in Grade 7, until they decided at some point to retcon them up to Grade 8, hoping nobody would notice. Yep, that’s right. Your twenty year old decision is now coming back to haunt you, Playing With Time people! I see and know all.
Of course, this causes me even more mental disconnect. Because Steph has made it clear in all of her conversations with her younger brother Arthur that she doesn’t talk to Grade 7s, she hates Grade 7s, she pretends Grade 7s don’t exist, etc. (Just as you would expect from the school president of a junior high.) And yet, Steph was clearly hanging out with the Twins when they all got drunk on port and Irish crème and went to the Big Dance. How, then, to reconcile this with the cold hard fact that (originally, at least) the Twins were in Grade 7?
Okay, I’m just going to stop myself here, because I don’t want to turn into one of those people who treat Degrassi like it’s Star Trek. If this were Star Trek, fans would be coming up with all sorts of complicated explanations for why the Twins are always in classes with the Grade 7s, and even more ridiculous explanations for why one twin answered to “Stacey Darrow” in the pilot. Like, you know, maybe they’re really triplets, and one was born a year later. (You may laugh, but I’ve actually seen Trek fans try to rationalize why a character looks like Kirstie Alley in one movie and Robin Curtis in another.)
Actually, wait a second. There might be something to this. Stay with me here.
The original Degrassi Junior High lasted for three seasons. It was followed by Degrassi High, which lasted for two seasons. Years later came Degrassi: The Next Generation, which lasted for (so far) seven seasons. Does this remind you of anything?
The original Star Trek lasted for three seasons. It was followed by Star Trek: The Animated Series, which lasted for two seasons. Years later came Star Trek: The Next Generation, which lasted for seven seasons.
You can’t really expect me to believe this is a coincidence. I’m telling you, they really should make a blockbuster episode called “The Best of Both Degrassis”, with Joey Jeremiah bouncing back and forth in time between all the different shows. Okay, I’ll admit, there hasn’t been a lot of time travel on Degrassi, but they should just go for it anyway.