The 10th grade couples are having lunch outside. Paige is describing the “Paige Party On Wheels,” which amounts to little more than Paige having custody of her parents’ minivan for the weekend. I’ve gotta say, when I was in high school, my beloved 1975 MGB broke down and I had to drive my mom’s van for a while. You can haul quite a few people around in one of those things. Or have sex in the back seat. Not that I would ever do that.
Hazel, Jimmy and Spinner all call “shotgun.” There’s a silly exchange where Spinner simpers on Paige’s shoulder that he should get the front seat because he’s her boyfriend, Hazel whines that she should get it because she’s the best friend, and Jimmy says something not funny about smelling better than both of them. Random much, Jimmy? Terri “The Fifth Wheel” McGregor joins the group. She has a little pity party for herself and pretends like she doesn’t want to go on the road trip. Paige will be with Spinner, Hazel will be with Jimmy, boo hoo. Hazel points out that she’ll be with her friends, which is what really matters. Always a ray of sunshine, Paige suggests that Terri bring someone, in a voice that says she couldn’t care less what Terri does. Spinner bitches about the front seat some more.
I wish they would change the opening credits so that Ashley and Craig didn’t look so damn cute and happy. It’s like a knife in my heart, every single week.
Something very odd is happening in Miss Kwan’s class, which is taking place in the gym. As far as I can tell, the students are paired up, and one of them has to mime what the other is doing. Terri and Rick are each paired up with extras, which leaves Rick plenty of time to stare at Terri in a creepy way. I’m just going to get this out up front: Rick is one of the worst characters in the history of Degrassi: The Next Generation. More on that later. For now, let me focus on Miss Kwan’s hair, which is done up in an odd wave/bouffant/ponytail. She tells the students they’re doing “great work” with the miming, but now she wants them to move on to some trust exercises. Aye! The anvil of foreshadowing is a cruel mistress!
Paige is teamed up with Spinner, so while Terri is looking helplessly around the gym for a partner, Rick sneaks up behind her. He tells her she can be either student A or student B in the exercise. I think we’re supposed to think he’s a changed man, since he’s being generous and all. Terri thinks about turning him down for maybe a second, and then she opts to be student A. Here’s how this works: the A’s stand with their backs to the B’s. The B’s hold out their arms, and the A’s fall backwards. The B’s catch the A’s. At camp, we used to fall off of picnic tables into the waiting arms of all the girls in our cabin. This new version will do in a pinch, I guess. Spinner and Paige show the class how it’s done while being as cheesy as humanly possible.
Terri is gun shy about trusting Rick. It’s probably because he slapped her in the face and gave her a bloody lip. Usually I like the actress who plays Terri, but her only facial expression for this entire episode is “pursed lips, arched eyebrow.” She uses this to convey a wide variety of emotions, in much the same way as Jason Behr used to use three strategically placed locks of hair on Roswell. Terri arches her eyebrow at Rick. He wants to know if she really thinks he would drop her. He won’t, see. She should trust him! Terri turns around and purses her lips at the camera. She holds her arms straight out from her sides and falls back. Rick catches her. He must really be reformed. He holds her for a moment too long and breathes on her neck. “Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Terri smiles and arches her eyebrow and agrees.
Class dismissed. Terri and Rick leave together. He’s being overzealous about finally having the opportunity to stretch his acting chops. When Terri points out that they did Marco’s play, Rick tells her that he wasn’t talking about amateurish theatrics. He’s talking about boring playwrights, like Brecht or Ibson. Next week they’re going to do more miming. Rick shoots that idea down, too, but then tries to be funny by saying that what the world needs is more people walking against the wind.
Terry laughs at his non-funny joke. The camera closes in on Rick’s face, and he issues an impassioned speech about how much he wanted to call her. It is at this moment that I realize Terri and Rick have the same puffy lips. Ew. Exactly no one is surprised when Rick apologizes for his temper and “what he did.” He never meant to hurt her. He missed her. Terri arches her eyebrow and says, “I know what you mean.” Rick moves in for the kill. He knows it was all his fault, but if there’s any, any way that…Terri cuts him off and leaves him standing alone in the hall.
The bell rings just as Snake is handing out some graded pop quizzes. Marco, who has been elected Gay Spokesmodel for this episode, tells Snake that the substitute teacher was nowhere as cool as Snake. All the students missed him. They applaud. Snake says that sucking up to him won’t raise anyone’s grade…by more than a few percentage points! Christ. Everyone is a comedian this episode.
Marco and Ellie walk and talk. They’re planning to see a double bill of classic Indian cinema on Saturday. Ashley, who has turned into a bitter harpy since Craig cheated on her, snottily asks if Ellie thinks Sean is going to sit through that. Ellie wants to know what Sean has to do with anything. Ashley is shocked! After all, Sean and Ellie are dating now, and shouldn’t Ellie be spending every single solitary spare moment with her man? Doesn’t she know that if you leave him alone for a second, he’ll run off and sleep with some trampy ninth grader? Actually, Ash doesn’t say any of that. Ellie is stalwart in her belief that nothing has to change with her friends. That’s the smartest thing Ellie has ever said. Ashley doesn’t think that change is necessarily bad.
Here we are at the CQJH studios. Caitlin and Ellie are watching one of Caitlin’s segments in a conference room. Ellie gushes that Caitlin is awesome. For her part, Caitlin makes noise that she hates to see herself on TV. That’s probably why she decided to grow up to be a TV personality. Caitlin is trolling for compliments. Where’s Joey? I wonder if they’ve had sex yet. Sean is let into the conference room by an extra. He hears, “…just who’s watching? Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into blind acceptance. Ask…” which is enough for him to figure out that the segment is about security cameras. He thought tape recorders were the cool new things these days.
Caitlin makes an excuse to leave. From the way she hightails it out of there at Sean’s tape recorder comment, I’m guessing that Ellie told her about getting busted in detention. Sean has come to ask Ellie to join him for what I’m guessing isn’t the romantic feel good movie of the year: Elimination Round 3. She doesn’t even know what it is, so he explains that it’s an “action franchise.” Without thinking, Ellie says she’ll go. She starts to explain that she has plans with Marco, but you can pretty much hear her inner-Ashley telling her that it’s her duty to see the crappy movie with Sean. She says it’ll be nice. They grin at each other, because they’re supposed to be falling in love.
It’s now Saturday. We’re at The Dot Grill. The happy couples are already in place, laughing at something Spinner is telling them. He advises them not to order the chili. I had almost forgotten that Spinner works at The Dot. Enter Terri, with Rick trailing behind. She apologizes for being late, but before anyone can question her about her date, Rick offers to buy her a latte in that stalker way of his, which makes it sound like he’s asking her if he can kill her kitty. Terri flounces off.
The remaining foursome is not thrilled. Hazel asks if she’s hallucinating. Jimmy hopes so. Paige refuses to drive that freak around all day. Spinner wants everyone to calm down, because if they make a big scene and leave Rick behind, Terri will definitely stay behind with him. Hazel catches on; this means that Terri will be alone with Rick, with no one to look after her. Jimmy points out that it would be “open season” for Rick. I’m torn about Terri’s behavior. On one hand, she should have called Paige and told her that she was inviting Rick. She had to know that her friends would be worried about her, and that bringing Rick would cause tension. On the other hand, Paige was kind of a bitch when she told Terri to stop whining and bring somebody, so it sort of serves Paige right that Terri did this to spite her. Over at the counter, Terri and Rick clink lattes cups and look as cheesy as possible.
The fake movie poster for Elimination Round 3 is hysterical. It’s got a black guy and an Asian guy stripped down to white sweaty wife beaters, brandishing guns against a backdrop of flames. The tagline is “Time to take the battle to THEM.” Brilliant. Ellie is leading Marco through the mall, trying to get him to hurry. He sarcastically notes that they’d hate to miss a moment of Elimination Round 3. Marco is the cutest gay boy I’ve ever seen. He’s got his collar up, his jeans are low-rise, and he’s wearing a corduroy newsboy cap.
The two of them walk up to Sean, who’s hanging with Crazy Jay and his crazy girlfriend. Marco politely says hello to Jay, who looks at him as if he’s a cockroach. He tells his girlfriend, whose name is Alex by the way, that he’s hungry and she should go get him some popcorn. Before I can get all pissy at him for ordering her around, she tells him that he can give her 20 bucks, and then maybe she’ll do it. They go to get the popcorn together.
Sean is irritated. It suddenly dawns on me that I’ve never noticed how blond his hair is, and how dark his eyebrows are. This is because he’s usually wearing that stupid hat. Ellie wants to know what his problem is. He decides not to say anything about her bringing Marco along, and instead tells them they need to get seats.
Two extras make out in a convertible. Paige’s Party On Wheels pulls into a clearing behind them, next to another hugging pair, and out pop all the couples. Apparently you have to be a couple to be let into this park. Everyone runs to sit on a picnic table, each person with his or her own brown bag lunch. Spinner digs something out of his and shoves a lot of it into his mouth at once. Paige implores him to eat like a person.
Meanwhile, feeling left out, Rick decides that he’s going to take a seat on the hood of the minivan. He pats the metal beside him and asks Terri to come join him. Paige is less than thrilled about Rick denting the minivan with his ass. Terri arches her eyebrows and purses her lips, this time trying to convey seduction, as she asks Rick to come sit by her instead. He grins like a loon and does so. The other couples take a couple of steps away from them. Terri tells him not to worry about it. He’s trying, but it’s hard, because he’s crazy.
Ellie is sitting between Marco and Sean in the theater. The music is loud and dramatic, and there’s a big explosion. Marco and Ellie start giggling. Crazy Jay and Alex, who’ve been making out, throw popcorn at them. Sean takes his arm out from around Ellie and looks put out. He gets even more so when he and Marco reach for the popcorn at the same time, causing their hands to brush. Sean wipes the gay germs off on his t-shirt.
Spinner and Jimmy are tossing around a Frisbee while Paige watches. Rick excuses himself from Terri and Paige moves in. She asks if Terri wants to join them in the Frisbee throwing. Maybe later. Rick wants to talk. Paige keeps pushing, telling Terri that should still come over that night to dish with the girls. Terri sees through her, and says that everything is fine, there’s nothing for her to worry about. Paige doesn’t understand how Terri could have forgiven Rick for beating her up, whether or not he apologized. His type always apologizes, so that they can get another shot at you.
Rick, of course, has been hiding behind the van. Because he’s crazy. And creepy. And did I mention that he’s the worst character ever? He tells Paige that she has no right to dictate who Terri is friends with, and also, she’s a vicious backstabber. I’m not sure if he thinks she stabbed him in the back, or Terri, but neither are true in this particular case. Rick thinks everything Paige says is a judgment. She thinks she’s so perfect! Paige says that she’d rather be judgmental than a psycho. Rick makes his really angry face, kicks the van, and stalks off. Terri takes Rick’s side. She sick of Paige pushing her around and telling her what to do – that may be true, but now is not really the time to test the theory. Paige says that if she’s such a bad friend, then Terri should go after Rick. And so she does.
She follows him down a path to a clearing that is littered with broken cinderblocks. Rick kicks a few of them around and makes his really REALLY angry face. Terri apologizes for Paige. It doesn’t matter, Rick screams, because Paige doesn’t matter. And because he’s crazy. Terri tells him to calm down, which lasts for about a couple of seconds. Rick’s super happy, because he and Terri are together again. Now he’s making his schmoozy face. They kiss. He says that they were made for each other. Crazy! He’s crazy! She asks him to come back to the party, and says they’ll just ignore Paige. He wants them to walk home, even though it’s quite a hike.
He’s not going to hang out with someone who, correctly, called him a psycho. He’s making the angry face. Run, Terri, run! She says Paige was just being Paige. Rick doesn’t think that’s an excuse, that his feelings don’t mean anything to Terri. He grabs her arms and squeezes tight enough that she can’t get loose. He tells her that she shouldn’t dare to choose Paige over him again. Now he’s making the really angry face. She says that she’s going back, and he starts screaming that she’s not going leave him, over and over. He shoves her backwards and she lands. Conveniently. On her head, on one of the cinderblocks. Rick looks horrified. Terri is out cold.
And here’s what’s wrong with the Rick thing. This entire episode is so fucking melodramatic that it looses all its actual drama. Unlike Manny’s pregnancy storyline, nothing in this episode is poignant. The parts are overacted. It’s hard to feel sorry for Terri – even though the situation is a very real one – because Rick is so obviously unhinged. We the viewers were never allowed to see him as anything other than 100 percent psychopath. It’s just all off.
Jimmy, Hazel and a bunch of extras are standing in an awkward circle, pretending to talk. It’s starting to get dark. Paige is away from the group, looking worried. Terri still isn’t back. She and Spinner start off into the woods after her. Before too long they find Rick, leaning over a comatose Terri. He runs away when they show up – and let me just tell you, as far as I can tell the rest of the episode, he doesn’t go to jail for this. Paige sends Spinner off after his cell phone, and then she begs Terri to wake up. She holds Terri’s head gently, and starts to cry when she realizes that Terri’s head wound is bleeding.
It’s Monday. Radditch is reading the announcements, and closes by wishing Terri a speedy recovery. Gay Spokesmodel Marco raises his hand and asks Snake if Terri was hurt in an accident. Spinner speaks up. It wasn’t an accident. Ashley asks him if Rick is in jail. Snake says that everyone is upset, but all the parties involved were minors, and so they need to stop talking about it. Spinner, true to form, keeps talking. He knows what happened, and if Rick steps one foot inside the school, Spinner’s going to put him in intensive care. I sing a couple of lines of The Dixie Chicks song “Goodbye Earl.” Snake wants them to discuss their feelings about the accident, brainstorm what they can do for Terri. Spinner doesn’t want to protect Rick. Paige ends the conversation by pulling out a gigantic card she made for all the students to sign.
Marco and Ellie are eating lunch, with chopsticks, on the front steps. Ellie is torn about wanting to go see Terri in the hospital, since she didn’t know her very well. She thinks she might go with Ashley. Marco, who also didn’t know Terri very well, suggests that they go together, which means that no one in the room will actually be Terri’s friend. Sean arrives and plops himself in between Marco and Ellie. He very obviously scoots Marco out of the way, until he finally just falls off the step. Marco tells Ellie he’ll catch her in English class. Ellie gives Sean a “what the hell?” look. He tells her that he just wanted to spend time alone. She tells him that he got his wish, and leaves him all by himself. One of these days, I’m going to get bored and count all the scenes that end with one character walking off pissed at another character.
Spinner and Paige go to see Terri in the hospital. Terri’s head is covered in gauze, and she is on a respirator. They’re quickly joined by Terri’s dad. He accepts the giant card on Terri’s behalf. The entire school signed it. He says that Terri has to have surgery later that evening to remove a blood clot. Paige and Spinner pretend like they want to cry. T-Dad says that Terri will be fine, she’s a fighter. Unlike the two teenaged actors, this guy actually seems bereft.
T-Dad doesn’t understand how anyone could hurt Terri, especially Rick. Terri was “over the moon” for the guy. Paige and Spinner exchange a look. T-Dad is aghast. They knew that Rick was abusive? Spinner tries to back peddle while Paige pretends to cry again. God. The melodrama. It burns. Paige says that they thought everything was under control, they all talked to Terri and they thought the relationship was over. T-Dad can’t believe no one bothered to tell him that his daughter was in trouble. He wants to know if Paige still thinks it’s under control. They all look sadly at Terri and her beeping monitors. T-Dad leaves them standing in the hall, and then Paige pretends to break down and runs away, leaving Spinner. I think that would count as two on my list.
Paige and Spinner pull up to The Dot in the minivan. Spinner has grown Craig’s hair. Paige is still upset and trying to cry. She keeps holding her hand over her eyes and sniffling. Spinner tells her that Terri is going to be okay, and then he kisses her – which is when something goes horribly wrong with this scene. Paige grabs Spinner and starts kissing him anxiously. He pulls away, and tells her that they can’t do “this” not “now” when Paige is obviously hurting about Terri. Let’s recap the recap, shall we? They are sitting in front of a crowded restaurant, in a car, in broad daylight. Is Spinner really implying that Paige is trying to have sex with him to get over her pain? Because I think that’s what I’m supposed to think is happening, and that’s just stupid. Paige is angry that he rebuffed her. She says it’s all his fault, because she wanted to leave Rick behind on that fateful Saturday and Spinner wouldn’t let her. Spinner tells her that it’s her fault because she argued with Terri, and sent her off after Rick. Spinner slams the car door, leaving Paige alone to pretend to cry some more.
Ellie and Marco are in The Dot, having a latte. Ellie says that she’s going to break up with Sean, because he’s such a rude jerk. Marco doesn’t think so. He thinks that Ellie is using him to put distance between her and Sean, because she’s scared of having a relationship. So, what we’re seeing here is that Über Bitter Ashley and Never Kissed A Boy Marco are the ones giving Ellie relationship advice. That’s great. Marco thinks that Sean will be great for Ellie, if only she’ll let him.
It’s Tuesday. Spinner is walking to school when Paige drives by in the minivan…
Okay. I was going to wait until the end to point this out, but I can’t stand it anymore! Most of the characters wear the same outfit on Friday and Tuesday – changing only for the events of Saturday and Monday – except for Paige. Sean wears jeans, a red t-shirt, his gray hoodie and his black cap. Ellie wears an adorable pleated black meshy skirt, a fitted black top, her usual dog collar/spiked chain, and has her hair pulled into a side ponytail. And, actually, she wears the exact same side ponytail for the entire episode, roughly four days. Snake wears a brown sweater with thin horizontal stripes. Spinner wears a blue t-shirt with a circular pattern. This is only a half-hour show, people. I’m going to notice things like this! It’s making me crazy!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, Spinner spies Rick sitting alone in a car outside the school. He runs over and bangs on the window, demanding to know why Rick thought it was okay to show up when Terri is in the hospital. He drags Rick out of the car and shakes him, then threatens to punch him. Rick begs him to stop. “Did Terri ask you to stop? Did you listen to her?” Paige interrupts, telling Spinner to let it go. About that time, a tall blond woman exits the school with a box full of stuff. In a very strange accent, she tells Spinner to stay away from her son. She pets Rick’s head and puts him into the car.
Spinner is crying on a picnic table. Paige runs to him, and at some point someone gave her fake tear tracks. She calls Spinner “honey.” He tells her that he’s just like Rick. He’s violent, he has a temper. She tells him he’s nothing like Rick. This is really bad, people. I think an abuse storyline is a great idea, but this is just poorly thought out. Paige and Spinner snuggle and cry.
Sean’s locker is practically it’s own set this season. Ellie stops by to apologize for putting Marco between them. Sean thinks that Ellie has already dumped him, and then Ellie thinks that Sean is dumping her. It’s a whole dumping thing, except that no one actually gets dumped. Ellie tells Sean that she’s never had a real relationship before, leaving out that one time at band camp when Marco pretended to be straight so that he didn’t have to be gay. Ellie admits that she hasn’t been a good girlfriend, but says that Sean hasn’t been a great boyfriend, either. Sean, who had all those months with Emma, tells Ellie that she can always ask him any questions about relationships and, sadly, he’s the most qualified this episode to give her advice. They kiss.
T-Dad is sitting by Terri’s side. She is post-surgery, and she has lots of extra gauze around her head. Spinner and Paige stop by to apologize for not saying anything about Rick. T-Dad says that they still don’t know the extent of the damage, but that Terri came through the surgery. He’s sorry that he blew up at them yesterday, he was just upset. He should have seen that Rick was crazy. He was over at the house all the time. Paige tells him that they knew what was going on, though, and they should have said something. T-Dad doesn’t disagree. He goes back to Terri’s side, in case she wakes up. Spinner and Paige cuddle, and try to cry some more.