Degrassi Junior High “The Cover-Up” (part 2 of 4)
Cut to the front of Degrassi Junior High at the start of the school day. Rick rides his bike down the sidewalk, nearly running down two students. But not just any two students: These are Dear Sweet Caitlin Ryan, and Susie “Heartbeat Away from the Presidency” Rivera.
Rick gets to the front of the school and locks up his bike, but the sidewalk mayhem continues. Along comes reformed drug dealer Joey Jeremiah, showing off on his skateboard. And by “showing off”, I mean, he’s traveling forward in a mostly straight line. But it seems even this trick is beyond his skateboarding abilities, because he gets distracted and plows into some other bikes and lands face-first in the grass.
So, not only did he do a face plant in front of Rick, Caitlin, and Susie, but also Mr. Raditch, who just happens to be loitering out in front of the school. Rockin’ Rompin’ Raditch comes over and regards Joey with equal parts pity and disgust. He examines Joey’s face, and finds Joey already has a black eye. So I guess in Degrassi World, it only takes three seconds to develop a shiner.
Raditch sends him to see the school nurse, and then after that, Joey will have to go see Principal Charlie, because he’s been warned about his “horseplay” before. And not his “whore’s play”, which is what he was doing with Steph in the pilot episode.
Hmm, so Joey accidentally gets a black eye on the Very Special Child Abuse Episode of Degrassi Junior High. Will this become important in some way? Could this potentially lead to wacky misunderstandings later in the episode? Let’s watch and find out!
Meanwhile, Caitlin and Susie quietly chat, agreeing on how cute “Rick Munro” is. Caitlin theorizes that he must beat people up a lot, since he’s always got “lots of bruises”. And as we’ll learn over the coming seasons, Caitlin likes the bad boys. It’s sort of her defining trait, which we’ll see well into the Next Generation years. She loves the kind of guys who steal cars, bring guns to school, and cheat on her at her own high school reunion. Come on, Caitlin, I can be dangerous.
As I mentioned earlier, Susie and Caitlin were both central characters on Kids of Degrassi Street, back when they were “Lisa” and “Casey”. So it seems that, just by default, they’re pairing the two of them up again to be friends on this show, too. Of course, it won’t last long. Because Caitlin will grow up to be Caitlin Ryan: Eternal Degrassi Icon, whereas Susie will grow up to be one of the worst actresses this show ever saw.
Joey F. Jeremiah—the F is for “fuckup”—is now sporting a bandage on his head as he enters the principal’s office. Doris Bell, the principal’s secretary, asks what happened to his face, and Joey makes up a story about saving a little kid from bullies. Doris sarcastically asks if he’s here for “a commendation”, but Joey confesses that Raditch sent him up.
Doris buzzes the unseen Principal Charlie to tell him Joey is here. And from the exasperated sigh coming back over the intercom, one gets the impression that this isn’t the first time Principal Charlie has had to have a “chat” with Joey. Hey, Joey should feel privileged. Most of the Degrassi student body doesn’t even know what their principal looks like. Joey knocks on the door of the Great Oz and heads inside.
Doris then uses her big Grease-style desk microphone to make the morning announcements. You may recall this microphone, because it was last seen used at a DJ booth at the school dance. Mr. Raditch had two turntables and a Grease microphone. And he knew all about the jigsaw jazz and the get-fresh flow.
Doris informs the whole school that “Photo Day” is this Thursday. Cut to students moving through the hallways, past signs that say “Photo Day” is this Thursday. Hey, I think I heard about that somewhere!
The voice of Doris tells the students to make sure to “dress and look your best… for a change.” Speaking of dressing your best, here’s Your New School President, Stephanie Kaye, conducting her daily ritual of entering the Girl’s Bathroom of Ill Repute as Mommie’s Little Girl, and leaving as the Skank to End All Skanks.
Ah, Girl’s Bathroom of Ill Repute, how I missed you so. To be honest, I never really envisioned myself spending this much time in a girl’s bathroom. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. From the amount of time women usually spend in public restrooms, I always imagined there would be a lot more in here. You know, like couches, recliners, massage tables, washer-dryer combos, flat-panel TVs, mini-bars, espresso machines, and a few decorative plants. And here I find out it’s just sinks and a few stalls. What a letdown.
Steph, per tradition, plops her big shoulder bag in the sink and begins her daily transformation. A toilet flushes, and out of a stall steps Steph’s bitter ex-lover, Voula. Voula? Wow. I forgot Voula even existed. Steph gets the cold shoulder from her, so she again tells Voula that she’s “sore-y for thanking Joey instead of you during the election!” Wow, that? Man, it feels like that happened years ago. Voula’s still bitter about that?
Indeed, she is. When Steph asks for forgiveness, Voula sarcastically replies, “You better be careful, Stephanie! It wouldn’t look good for a school president to be talking to a lowly peasant like me!” How long is she going to carry this grudge, anyway? The answer, which we’ll learn over the coming weeks, is “the rest of eternity”. By the time Voula leaves this show, there will be little doubt that she has a girl-crush on Steph in the worst way. I should also add that she’s not being sarcastic about the “lowly peasant” thing. She actually was a lowly peasant back when she and her family lived in that village on Mypos.
Steph pulls off her big frontierswoman ankle-length dress, revealing a green miniskirt. Voula leers at Steph and asks if she’s going to dress like that for Photo Day. It’s this Thursday, isn’t it? Steph says of course she’s going to dress like the slut we all know and love. So Voula snottily points out how much her mom is going to love seeing those pictures. “Or doesn’t she know about your ‘new image’?” Touché, Voula. You could have been a little less bitchy about it, but point taken.
Steph looks panicked. The solution to this should be obvious: just dress like Mommie’s Little Girl for the school photos. Everyone at school knows her “innocent” look, anyway. I mean, she walks into school every day looking like Susan B. Anthony, right? So what difference does it make? Really, this is sort of a non-starter, as far as a subplot goes. I’m pretty sure it only exists to remind us of the Voula-Stephanie animosity.
Meanwhile, Rick enters homeroom, and Caitlin and Susie are still fascinated by him. They turn in their seats to stare at him, and make even more awed observations about Rick in hushed, reverent tones. Caitlin declares, “He always looks so… so tragic!” Susie talks about how he got left back a year. I also heard Rick ripped out a guy’s throat in Memphis! This is obviously not the first time they’ve ever laid eyes on him, since he’s been roaming the hallways for at least three episodes now, so what gives? What prompted this sudden fascination with Rick? Other than him being the focus of this Very Special Episode, of course.
Caitlin notes that Rick hardly ever smiles. “I think we should help him!” And this definitely won’t be the last time Caitlin takes on a guy as a pet project, believe me. She says they should try to get him to smile. Ooh, that sounds like a fantastic idea, doesn’t it? And somehow, the writers were able to come up with a subplot even more insubstantial than the Voula-Steph animosity. At this point, I expect a subplot where Yick Yu debates whether or not to pick his nose in class.
Cut to Raditch’s homeroom. Voula is talking to LD, who we know is a tomboy by her ever-present baseball cap. They make idle chit chat about Photo Day, which rumor has it is this Thursday. LD says she’s going to wear her “Castrol T-shirt” for her picture. Stephanie enters and snarks at how “very classy” this will be, which earns her more bitter looks from Voula. Well, what do you know, I guess sometimes Steph does deserve Voula’s hate, after all.
And the best part of Steph sarcastically calling someone “classy”? She’s wearing a shirt so low-cut that it nearly leads to a nipple slip right here in homeroom.
Joey enters and the three girls ask what happened to his eye. Joey bluffs, “These three big guys said Stephanie was only the second best president this school has ever had! I had to teach ’em a lesson!” Well, in their defense, it is kind of hard to top Hashy McWeedington. So the point is certainly open to debate. Nevertheless, Steph happily eats up this obvious flirtation, and Joey flashes more gross eyebrow wiggles at her.
Mr. Raditch enters and clears his intimidating throat, sending everyone scurrying to their seats. Raditch says good morning to his “aspiring scholars”, and then examines Joey’s black eye. And then he pulls off Joey’s hat—this time, a black beret—and plops it down on the desk. Seriously, somebody needs to make a YouTube montage of every time Mr. Raditch pulls off Joey’s hat. And the music in the background should be “Feed the Tree” by Belly. Think about it for a second. You’ll get it.
A random kid leans over to Joey, and with his voice completely out of sync with the footage, he asks if Joey is dressing up for Photo Day. Joey says of course. He proclaims, “It’ll be the Classic Case of the Four Js! Joey Jeremiah in his Jean Jacket!” That may not sound appealing, but it’s way better than the classic case of the 4-H, in which you’ll have to learn about agriculture and do arts and crafts.
Suddenly, Raditch rages righteously, telling Joey not to socialize in his class. Then for this week’s installment of First Sentence Fragment of an Actual Class, Raditch tells the class that “some of you still need improvement with adjectives and verbs…” And the scene ends. Wow, they’re in junior high and they still haven’t mastered verbs? Oh, and on the chalkboard is a reminder that Photo Day is this Thursday. Really? I hadn’t heard. I hope I don’t forget about it in the 45 seconds it’ll take before this episode reminds me again.
Joey rides home on his skateboard, and his house is a rundown, though still charming, red brick townhouse. He enters to find his mom sitting on the couch doing some sewing. She jumps up when she sees the bandage over his eye, and this time, Joey explains that a book actually jumped up and hit him in the face.
He then heads upstairs to his room, and finds out that his mom cleaned the place up. He comes back downstairs to yell at her. She says she got sick of waiting for him to do it himself, and his cry of “I was gonna do it tomorrow!” doesn’t inspire much guilt from her. Joey complains to his dad in the kitchen, who doesn’t seem terribly sympathetic, either.
And here’s the thing. Joey is played by Pat Mastroianni, and it’s pretty tough not to notice his Italian heritage, what with the last name, and his olive skin, and his jet black hair. (According to Wikipedia, his first name is really “Pasquale”—need I say more?) And yet, when it came time to cast the roles of Joey’s Mom and Joey’s Dad, they picked the two most WASP-ish actors they could possibly find. Honestly, neither one of them even comes close to looking like Joey. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Maybe Joey was adopted. Alas, there’s only room for one Very Special I’m Adopted Episode on this series, and it’s not going to be about Joey.
Joey notices what his mom is sewing. It turns out she cut a huge swatch of denim out of his jean jacket, and is now using it to patch up a pair of jeans. Joey is horrified. Dad points out they just bought him a new jean jacket, but Joey yells that he’s going to look like a “broomhead” for Photo Day, wearing a crisp, clean jean jacket that hasn’t been broken in yet. He yells, “You’ve ruined everything!” You’ve destroyed the Classic Case of the Four Js! There are now significantly less Js involved here!
Joey says, “You know what this is? Child abuse!” Ooh, do you see the irony? Joey knows not what actual child abuse is. But he will soon learn, trust me. He runs out in a huff while his WASPy parents look dispirited.