Resident goth girl Ellie is all sorts of sullen, sitting among military folk looking like she’s lost her protest group. One of the camo-clad men approaches and, surprise, it’s her dad! I had no idea! Well, I read spoilers, so I did, but still. He tries to reassure her, saying that it’s just a peacekeeping mission he’s leaving on. (I’ll refrain from making any commentary on the safety of peacekeeping missions. Besides, this is Canada.) Ellie says she realizes this, but she looks at her mother with concern. Mom looks like she’s straight outta Donna Reed-land with the headband, pink cardigan and pearl necklace. Dad tells her that mom is fine and under control. Does the phrase “under control” twing really loudly to anyone else? Yeah, thought so. They walk over to her mother and Ellie smiles as her parents kiss goodbye. Her dad gets on the bus and waves goodbye, Ellie asks if her mom is okay. Her mom snips, “Don’t make a scene, Eleanor, just shut up, smile and wave.” All is not good in the 1950s, friends. Mom adopts a really false, painful smile and waves frantically. Ellie stands there deflated and sad.
Ellie, I know you can make it through!
Ashley runs up to Ellie on the walk to school. She asks how Ellie’s doing, and Ellie replies, “what are you, my counselor?” Oh, with the foreshadowing! Ash mentions that her dad just left, Ellie brushes it off. Then Ashley suggests a movie after school, which Ellie declines due to her co-op interview. (A co-op seems to be a fairly common thing in Canada, basically an internship that you do in high school. Except, most students seem to do it in Grade 12, and most of our trusty Degrassites are Grade 10.) It’s Ellie’s dream job – working on Caitlin Ryan’s TV show, but she’s got competition in the form of Perky Paige. Ashley laughs off the competition: “Caitlin’s show is about social issues. Paige probably thinks it’s about social life.” She tells her not to worry and just be herself.
Apparently Terri’s got a secret admirer. She picks off the fourth rose stuck to her locker – apparently with a magnet – that week. Hazel, who is apparently in this storyline because she’s got only a smidgen more airtime than Terri this season, suggests she consults her tarot cards for his identity. Terri tells her that the cards don’t work like that, and it’s probably a janitor… but she blushes when a goofy looking bespectacled lad walks by. He kinda reminds me of a less pompous Claude. Hazel giggles that Terri has the hots for Rick, said lad. She says that Terri needs to find out if it’s him and pushes her friend into her goofy crushboy. Rick looks at Terri but she freaks a bit and rushes off to class as Hazel glides past, smiling at Rick knowingly.
Ellie slugs into class exhausted, and asks Marco to brief her on the homework she neglected to do. Before he can answer, Paige bops over looking every bit the junior exec in her grey pinstripe suit. She asks if Ellie is nervous, and that her own mom has told her not to worry, that she’s “got the brains and the clothes.” But, Paige says, mothers always say stuff like that. It’s pretty obvious that Ellie’s mom is not one of those mothers, even with the pearls. Mr. Armstrong comes in and announces a pop quiz, that if they did their homework, they’ll be fine. As we know, Ellie didn’t do hers so chances are “fine” is a faraway dream.
In the cafeteria, Marco whines about his B+. Ellie quickly folds up her F quiz, and when she tries to talk to him about her grade, he is distracted by a disrobing Dylan across the room. Well, a dis-jacketing one, anyway. Marco is swayed by the way Dylan’s shirt clings to his chest, and promptly tosses off a ‘dio mio’ and runs off to make with the flirting. I want to yell, “but what about Spinner! Marco, you dirty whore!” but am distracted by Paige’s entrance. “Sucks to be straight,” she announces as she sits with Ellie. I thought they weren’t friends – since when do they sit together? Is it because Ashley’s with her? It’s so odd. Miss Sauve comes over to drop off some forms for their co-op interviews later. She congratulates Ashley on getting a record company job, but reminds her that school comes first. Which makes me wonder if that will be an upcoming storyline for Ashley. Will she find a new, cuter boy with an even better wristcuff than Craig’s? Will she find out about his cheating ass and direct all her energy into becoming a kickass rockstar agent? Will all of this break willa’s heart? Only time will tell. [If Craig is completely unable to redeem himself from his cheatin’ ways, and if Ashley were to find a boy with a snazzier wristcuff, I might be okay with it. I can’t support a serial cheater. I’m looking at you, Craig. -willa ]
Paige puts on a pair of rhinestoned black cat’s eye glasses, which she obviously just bought to look smart. First question on the paper – the main goal of the co-op experience. “On camera, anchor desk,” Paige writes. Ellie reminds her that it’s not an on-air job. Paige asks about Ellie’s goal and reaches for the paper, spilling a purple drink all over Ellie’s white shirt. It’s a legitimate accident, but it’s pretty apparent from Paige’s expression that she’s not too broken up by her sudden advantage. Ashley tries to help, but Ellie just rushes off to the bathroom. She scrubs at the shirt viciously, but it’s no help. She’s a mess.
Ellie waits for the interview in an oversized, bright yellow raincoat. I didn’t even know they still sold them. It’s enormous on her, and she stands frozen with a folder in her hand. Outside the room, Paige chats up Caitlin effortlessly. Oh, I love Caitlin. So much. I just wish she’d dye her hair something other than that blonde. She looks so washed out. Doesn’t she see how hot Spike is with the black hair? Not that she has to go so dark. Anyway, Caitlin enters the room but Ellie can barely speak. She takes the folder from Ellie and invites her to take the raincoat off. Instead, Ellie talks about a piece Caitlin did on ‘tent city,’ and mentions that she interviewed one of the guys for the school paper, the Grapevine. This interests Caitlin, but when she asks which guy, Ellie can’t remember. She describes him, though, and Caitlin supplies the name. Ellie wipes at her eye, which is quite a feat in such an overbearing coat. Her eye makeup is smeared everywhere. This is obviously not going as well as Paige’s interview. Ellie admits she’s nervous and Caitlin gives her a tissue and asks her to finish her thought. Ellie says that she would love to see a piece that follows up on the ‘tent city’ guys, which apparently is something Caitlin is already working on. Then they talk about the Grapevine, which Caitlin also wrote for back in the day.
Hazel tells Terri to stop being such a chicken and approach Rich. She enlists Manny for help, not knowing that she’s the Happy Homewrecker. Manny asks if the guy is single, and that Terri should go for it. She eyes Craig outside and says that life’s too short. Terri acquiesces. She’ll ask him after geography. Before she can finish the thought, Toby comes up and is even more annoying than usual. Actually, he’s downright creepy. “Hello Clarice,” he gets in her face, “Do you know what I’m thinking?” Terri tells him no, and to stop being weird. He continues on in the Vincent Price tone, “Oh, I think you do… until next time.” Terri is now frightened (and rightfully so) that her secret admirer might be, in fact, Toby. The girls shiver in unison.
Ellie gets home with dinner. Mom is laying on the couch with what appears to be a bad migraine. On further inspection, however, we see that she’s passed out from all the vodka she’s drank. And cheap vodka too, as the plastic bottles sporting circa 1980s Russian graphics bounce on the dining room table. Ellie talks about her horror of a day – the interview, the stained shirt – and brings her mom dinner. Mom reels back from the smell and rolls into the couch pillows. I really want to give Ellie a hug. She goes to her room and paces frantically, trying to reassure herself that she’s okay, that everything’s okay. Now I really, really want to give her a hug. [Have you noticed that we always have a strong desire to give someone a hug, no matter what the episode?] She pulls her books out to do her homework, but jumps when she hears her mom throwing up in another room. All her stuff is knocked to the floor. Ellie falls to her knees and grabs her math compass. She stares at it for a bit and starts to cry as she drags the sharp metal across her arm.
[The N plays a commercial with this girl doing a really fantastic spoken word.]
Ellie lays in bed, staring at her constellation poster. Her alarm goes off shortly thereafter and she rolls over and takes note of her handiwork. In school, she sports a black long-sleeve shirt. Paige sits on a desk in the classroom, gushing over how amazing Caitlin is (I know!) and how much they connected (I think we’d connect really well, too. Have I mentioned that I [heart] Caitlin?). Marco asks Ellie about the interview, which she says went horribly. Miss Sauve asks to see Ellie and Paige outside – turns out Caitlin picked Ellie afterall. Thank God. The poor girl needs some good news. Paige, ever the sore loser, says that Caitlin just felt sorry for her. But Ellie doesn’t hear it – she goes back to the room grinning from ear to ear, and I swear, I think it’s the first time we’ve really seen her smile. Ever. [I feel very strongly that they would NEVER tell the girls at the same time. That’s just cruel, for the one who didn’t get it!]
Ashley mocks Terri en route to class: “Terri Isaacson, has a certain ring to it.” Terri can’t believe that Hazel spilled it, but Ash is all about the future sister-in-law, wink wink, nudge nudge. Toby’s been waiting at the door for them and runs ahead when they start down the stairs. “Are you following me?” Terri asks. “Am I?” He replies. Toby’s adopted more of a porno version of Vincent Price when he gets in Terri’s face. As they leave, he adopts a pseudo Jack Nicholson The Shining face. And he wonders why he doesn’t have any friends.
At the television station, Caitlin tells Ellie that she’s so thrilled to have her there. Ellie is shocked – I’m guessing no one has ever been so enthusiastic about her before aside from her dad. Caitlin’s sorry her assignment is only once a week, Ellie offers to do more – afterschool, weekends. Caitlin laughs, she sounds just like her. But she warns Ellie, as her therapist has already warned her, that it’s important to have a life. Ellie offers to do all her personal errands, but Caitlin gives her her own office! Well, it’s a renovated storage room, but heck, so is my office! Her first assignment is to research teen hotlines – “manned by teens, for teens. Do they work?” Excited for the responsibility, Ellie gets cracking right away.
Okay, here’s the weird part. All of a sudden, Degrassi‘s got some weird editing and decidedly non-Degrassi music going on. Not that either are bad, just different. I was a bit taken aback. I thought that it might be a new director, but no! He’s a total Degrassi oldschooler. There are these floating boxes all over the screen with different scenes… perhaps it was the best way to get a lot of footage in.
Anyway, boxes include:
* Ellie taking stock of her room, making calls on behalf of Caitlin Ryan Unscripted
* As Caitlin watches on from afar, Ellie interviews a very cute hotline guy who runs down the list of things they help kids with: suicidal feelings, bulimia, cutting. Ellie says it must be hard, but he tells her that it’s amazing to be able to help
* Ellie talks to her dad, he’s safe in Kabul. She lies to him about her mother’s mental state
* Ellie’s mom empties more and more alcohol bottles. I start to wonder if it’s another actress, because she looks different and is sporting a hideous wig
* Ellie sits with a pair of scissors – Caitlin comes in with more work and Ellie smiles, puts scissors away
* Mom keeps drinking while Ellie eats dinner in the other room
* Ellie tries to do homework, but finds herself cutting again
* Ellie covers her mom with a blanket
Ellie runs to school, late again. The receptionist is a total bitch. Sure, she doesn’t have a note but come on, this is Ellie. Good, sweet Ellie. The receptionist threatens her placement which freaks Ellie out. She finally hands over a late slip and Ellie rushes off. Except, she’s so panicked that she goes to the bathroom where she pulls out her compass again and goes for her arm. Paige trounces in, scaring Ellie and making her drop the compass. She grabs her things and Paige notes that she’s bleeding. Ellie says that she just hit her arm, but Paige is actually concerned. Ellie leaves (forgetting her much-needed note) and Paige stares after her.
Paige follows Ellie outside and tells her that she saw what she was doing. Ellie reiterates that she hit her arm. Paige asks, “Why would you do that to yourself? Does it feel good?… I understand that you don’t want to talk to me… Talk to Miss Sauve.” This is completely Paige’s Jimmy moment. She is completely sincere, and pretty worried. Ellie tells Paige to leave her alone like she normally does and walks away.
Hazel and Terri talk about the latest flower. It’s now been going on for two weeks. I hope this kid got a dozen roses and is skilled at keeping them alive, because a single rose for fourteen days adds up. Terri is afraid to approach Rick – it’s hard to work without a net. Toby jumps in again with his spooky “Hello Clarice” act. Terri tells him to stop, that he’s creeping her out. He’s holding a notebook and Hazel says that if it’s a Terri scrapbook, she’s calling the police. But it’s not, it’s a science experiment. Turns out Ashley told Toby that Terri is psychic (see aforementioned tarot cards) and he was testing her. And she failed. Dude, what the hell? And Clarice wasn’t psychic. At least call her Carrie or something. Sheesh, Toby, I’d avoid you if I were JT too. But at least he debunks the possibility of being Terri’s admirer.
Ellie passes Paige sitting alone in the hall. Miss Sauve walks out of a room and tells Paige she’ll be right back to talk about her friend. Ellie stops in her tracks. She confronts Paige. Paige is afraid for Ellie, she says that she doesn’t care if Ellie gets mad, that she’s hurting herself and it’s scary. Ellie rages, “You can’t handle it. You have to take away the one thing that matters.” She says that Paige is only doing this because she wants her co-op job. But Paige doesn’t care about the stupid job, she wants Ellie to stop hurting herself. Ellie walks off.
Paige yells after her, “I don’t know how to help you, but Sauve will.” Ellie doesn’t think she needs any help. Paige asks to see Ellie’s arm. Ellie keeps walking. Paige screams her demand, and it’s so hard and nervous and terrified. Ellie stops and pulls down her sleeve. Her arm is scarred from wrist to shoulder. Paige gasps, but takes Ellie’s hand in hers. “It’s okay, it’s okay.” The two girls are so fantastic here that I just want to cry. A lot.
Rick stalks down the hall with a rose in hand. Terri’s been staking out her locker and catches him. She looks so gorgeous, although her freaking eyebrows have been plucked to high heaven. She tells him he’s sneaky, that she’s been waiting for hours. He says that being a secret admirer is a demanding occupation, and that he’s very shy. She says she’s shy too! Oh! They’re so cute and I’m so glad to see Terri with a sweet boy who likes her so. He hands her the rose and they walk off together.
Ellie and Miss Sauve sit silently in her office. Miss Sauve closes her notebook, it’s all the time they have for today. Ellie apologizes for wasting her time. Miss Sauve says she’ll talk when she’s ready. But that it’s good she recognizes that she needs to talk instead of cut. They agree to try again tomorrow.