Written by Mandy
Anytime a television show starts with, “The following program contains scenes of violence and therefore parental supervision is advised,” you know you are in for one hell of a ride. This episode doesn’t disappoint.
A set of hands opens up a wooden box, revealing a gun cradled in green velvet. Rick looks down at the gun as he removes his glasses, sniffling and crying from what happened at the Whack Your Brain event. There is still yellow paint and feathers all over his suit – the one his mom hemmed earlier that morning.
At the outdoor lunch tables, Emma is explaining to Toby that they can’t air the quiz show. Toby argues, saying they can cut just before the paint pours on Rick. J.T., who seems to thrive off the suffering of others, interjects and claims the moment is now “officially [his] new favorite mental image.” Toby tells him he wouldn’t think it was so funny if it happened to him. Danny, referring to seeing J.T. covered in paint, says he would think it was funny, and glances off to the side. He does a double take and tells the table, “Speaking of hilarious images…”
He points and the group looks to where Rick is walking up to Degrassi, covered still in the paint and feathers. His hair is matted down and his suit is completely yellow in some places. He’s clutching a backpack to his chest. As he walks by, people laugh at him. Toby asks aloud what he’s doing back at school and turns to Emma to say, “We should go talk to him.” Emma tells him to go right ahead and doesn’t look up from her lunch. J.T. and Danny are laughing as Toby yells Rick’s name and runs to catch him.
Toby is still yelling Rick’s name when he stops in front of him. Toby lets Rick know that Raditch is going to find out who did it. Rick asks, “And what, give them detention?” Toby puts his hand out to stop Rick from walking away. “I’m just saying, I’m sure it’d be cool if you skipped the rest of the day.” Rick waits a moment before saying, “Toby, this is the one time I actually want to be at school.” He brushes past a stunned Toby and walks up the stairs to the building. More people laugh and make chicken noises as he walks by.
Here comes the theme song, which I truly despise more every time I hear it. Why, oh why, did they have to mess with a good thing?
Raditch is on the in-room televisions, ranting about how in 25 years as an educator he has never been so embarrassed to be associated with this school. He tries the guilt approach, scolding the people who were behind the paint incident and telling them they should be ashamed. Alex and Jay are watching in their class, both with the least-ashamed looks I have ever seen – the guilt approach is definitely not working. Raditch continues on, saying the perpetrator or perpetrators will be found out and punished severely. Mrs. Avery looks over her class as Mr. Raditch asks that if anyone has any information that they come speak to him immediately and assures their confidentiality.
Toby walks in late to class as Raditch finishes and Mrs. Avery begins talking about George Orwell’s 1984. J.T. whispers to Toby, asking him how the big yellow loser is. Nice. J.T. continues on, saying he hopes Rick gets the hint and leaves. He tells Toby, “And you’ll have to find a new gamer geek friend.” A fellow student passes Toby an assignment and he tosses it at J.T., who actually looks confused that Toby might be upset by all the nasty comments he’s making.
Spinner is on the basketball court, wearing the same sweatshirt he has had since Season Two, except he’s cut the sleeves off to give it a new look. Can we get Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (or at least Marco) to take a look at this guy’s wardrobe? He’s describing the moment the feathers came down and makes a little kiss-of-perfection gesture before passing the ball to Jimmy. Jimmy tells Spinner to cut the guy some slack, because he’s not that bad. Spinner says, “Yeah, ok,” as he runs around Jimmy with the ball. He sings a jingle – “Oh chicken boy, oh chicken boy; I love your wealth of knowledge and I love you” – and rubs his head on Jimmy’s shoulder while putting his arm around him. Jimmy knocks his hand away and tells him he’s glad Spinner thought this was funny. Spinner says, “Did you see the guy’s face? Definition of funny.”
Jimmy is getting pissed and asks, “What kind of person does that?” Spinner tells Jimmy, mocking Rick’s speaking pattern, “One, a genius and two, if you rat on me…” Spinner walks toward Jimmy and Jimmy gets in his face. He tells Spin, “Or what? No, really, what are you going to do?” Spinner looks around and realizes his goon squad isn’t around to get his back. Jimmy, who is done with Spinner’s crap, takes the basketball and jams it in his stomach. He tells Spinner, “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, save the bully crap for someone who won’t fight back.” Spinner gasps for air as Jimmy tells him, “And you better do something about it now before I do.” Jimmy starts to walk off, but Spinner slams him in the face with the basketball. Spinner does the typical “bring it on” move and it’s fighting time. Jimmy has Spinner pinned up against a fence before the coach pulls them apart, telling them to save it for the real game (because apparently fighting is what basketball is all about). Jimmy stalks away as Spinner sulks with his busted lip.
The FOR SALE sign is still out in front of the Jeremiah household. Caitlin is desperately trying to convince Joey not to sell the house. Joey says they can either move into a smaller place or lose the dealership. He explains to Caitlin, “If there was a way I could keep both, I would be all over it.” Joey has to get to work, so he kisses Caitlin goodbye and makes sure they are on for coffee later. She says they are and Joey tells her to “Make herself at home – while he still has one.”
Paige is laughing over something someone said, probably a joke about Heather Sinclair, when she notices everyone else is laughing at something else. She looks to see Rick standing in the cafeteria, still clutching his bag tightly and staring at her. Paige, who I love more each episode this season, gets out of her seat and goes up to him. She tells him, “Look, I know we aren’t exactly best friends.” Rick is shaking as his hand goes into the bag and reaches for the gun, slowly edging it out.
Paige keeps talking, no clue as to his intentions. “But I wanted to say that I thought the whole paint and feathers job was sickening.” By the look on her face, it’s a sincere sentiment and she continues, “It was really childish.” Rick seems shocked to hear this coming from her, and he slides the gun back into his bag, pulling his hand away. He looks like he is about to cry and manages to say, “I’m. I’m sorry for hurting Terri.” Paige nods in an approving way and walks off as Rick closes his eyes and takes a few deep breaths. After this exchange with Paige, he puts his bag in his locker, with the gun still inside, and takes off his paint-covered coat. He takes one last look at his bag, and takes a deep breath before slamming the door.
Sydney is in her office, looking at the Jeremiah house on her computer monitor when she hears, “Knock. Knock.” Caitlin is at her door, and a look of bitterness mixed with surprise is all over Syd’s face when she sees her. Caitlin explains she just got back from her AIDs assignment that morning, only to find Joey’s house for sale with Syd’s name on the sign. Sydney assures her that she’s helping Joey out as a favor with no strings attached, so she doesn’t have to worry about them. Caitlin ignores the snide comment and asks for the selling price. Sydney tells her $400 (thousand) and asks why. Caitlin says, “How does $350 sound?” Syd tells her it sounds like about $50 thousand less than the house is worth. Caitlin counters with $375.
Syd asks if Joey knows Caitlin is going to try to buy his house. Caitlin says he doesn’t and she doesn’t want him to know until it’s a done deal. She asks Syd to tell Joey, if he asks, that it was an anonymous offer. Sydney shakes her head and Caitlin offers her hand out to shake on it. Reluctantly, Sydney shakes the hand of the woman who stole her man. How special. Caitlin remarks, “Sydney, it’s been an unexpected pleasure,” as she pulls her hand back. Syd, who makes Caitlin’s ice queen days seem like summer scorchers, half smiles at her.
Rick is cleaning up in the men’s room, scrubbing his hands and face. He’s gotten a lot of the paint out of his hair and the feathers off his clothes. He looks up at himself in the mirror and closes his eyes, seemingly trying to decide what to do and yet trying not to cry. He puts his glasses back on and looks for more paper towels, but there aren’t any. He walks into one of the stalls, grabs toilet tissue and starts wiping his face, stilling as he hears voices. Rick recognizes Spinner’s voice and hides in the stall, closing the door quickly.
Jay walks in first, followed by Spinner; who is whining that Raditch knows what they did. Jay, being the brighter of the two (and that isn’t saying much), notices the paint and feathers on the sink. Jay says, “About Jimmy? Yeah, I’m surprised no one’s figured it out yet.” Spinner, with his confused look – does he have another? – asks Jay, “Dude?” Crazy Jay points to Rick’s shoes underneath the bathroom stall and continues on, “Jimmy set the whole thing up perfectly. The way he got all those easy sports questions wrong.” Spinner finally catches on and adds, “Yeah, and made sure psycho boy was all alone in the final round.” Jay seals the deal with, “It never would have happened without a man on the inside.”
The two then take off, proud to have come up with a plan so quickly to get themselves off the hook – and to get Jimmy back, by putting the blame on him. As the main door closes, Rick slowly opens the door to the stall, and at that point my friends, you can tell something has snapped in Rick’s mind.
Rick walks down the hallway, once again clutching his backpack. Other students are heading into their classes when Rick walks up to Jimmy’s locker. Jimmy looks Rick over, and asks how he’s holding up. Rick won’t look up at Jimmy but answers with a whispered, “Good.” Jimmy tells Rick he’s surprised to see him there and Rick’s voice changes when he replies, “I bet you are.” This is the pissed-off voice Rick used when he was slapping Terri around. “Look, I’m really sorry about everything, ok?” Jimmy tells him. “If those guys give you any more problems, I’ve got your back.” Rick raises his voice and says, “You stabbed me in the back!” Jimmy is understandably confused, and Rick finally looks Jimmy in the eyes when he says, “You set the whole thing up.”
Jimmy tells Rick he defended him, but Rick is already pulling the gun out of his bag. Jimmy asks if the gun is real. Rick points the gun at Jimmy, saying “The whole time you pretended to be my friend.” Jimmy starts to back away as Rick tries to steady the gun. Rick looks at Jimmy and tells him, “You made me do this.” Jimmy is backing away faster and Rick’s hands are shaking as he keeps the gun pointed at Jimmy. Rick closes his eyes, turns his head, and Jimmy starts to run.
Rick fires the gun. Jimmy screams as he’s hit in the back and falls to the floor. Rick is still pointing the gun at Jimmy, eyes wide, as he realizes what he’s done. He relaxes the gun to his side and stands in the hall, watching Jimmy bleed, as other students run by. Craig appears around another corner, sees Jimmy lying there, and starts to hyperventilate. He drops his bag and tries to say Jimmy’s name while everyone else runs.
Emma, Sean, and Toby have stopped in the hallway. Clichéd as it is, the three decide to see what the commotion is rather than run like everyone else. As they turn the corner into the next hallway, they see Rick. They stop when he turns toward them and starts to approach, calmly. He says, “Hi, Emma. I’m sorry I kissed you.” Sean grabs Emma’s arm and says, “He’s got a gun, okay, let’s go.” Gee, you guys just noticed? It’s not a small gun. Rick screams, “Don’t turn away from me.”
The three stop and turn back around. Rick seems to be fighting back tears as he looks at Emma, saying, “I’m glad I found you, Emma. You made my list.” He raises the gun, his hands more steady now. Toby asks Rick what he’s doing. Rick ignores him and continues on talking to Emma, “You flirted with me. I thought you liked me, but that was something else.” Sean steps toward Rick, telling him to put the gun down, telling him that anything else is just going to make his life worse. Rick tells him it can’t get any worse. Sean still tries to reason with him, saying they can try to figure it all out, inching closer to Rick with each word. Sean puts his hand out for the gun. They can figure this all out, he says again. Rick is crying and tells Sean, “It’s too late.”
Rick raises the gun up at Emma and says, “I already shot someone.” Emma starts sobbing. Sean knocks the gun down and begins to struggle with Rick. Toby screams for them to stop as the gun goes off. Sean and Rick, both looking to be in pain, start to fall to the floor. Emma is holding on to Toby’s arm and sobbing.
Sirens, police dogs, police cars, EMS, and tons of people start to convene outside of Degrassi. Raditch is telling the students to remain in their classrooms and to remain calm. A woman comes running up to the building and the police stop her. It’s Toby’s stepmom (and Ashley’s mom) and they let her in with a police escort. Jimmy is being brought out on a stretcher, unconscious and on oxygen, as they take her in. She recognizes Jimmy immediately and takes off looking for Toby.
Caitlin is waiting for her coffee date with Joey when he comes around the corner. Joey tells her that she’s not going to believe it, but there is an offer already on the house, and at 10 percent above market value. Caitlin realizes Sydney lied to her before about the value of the house, but smiles on for her man, and even throws in a “Go, Sydney.” Joey tells Caitlin he is back in business and with the extra money, he tells Caitlin to name a part of Toronto she’s always wanted to live in. He names off places in Toronto they could move to, but before Caitlin can interrupt he says, “Oh wait, you just bought a house in Riverdale. I may not be the craftiest guy on the corner, but when my house sells in less than a day on the market…”
Caitlin explains she couldn’t let him lose it and he is pissed off, saying he hopes she enjoys the house. She asks him to put aside his male pride for a moment and he says this is about raising his family and his business. And, wait, did she just ask Joey Jeremiah to put aside his male pride for a moment? Yeah, that’s so not going to happen. Caitlin gets a phone call and tells whoever is on the other end she’s on her way. She tells Joey they have to get to Degrassi right away.
Police officers with dogs and men in riot/SWAT gear are roaming the halls of Degrassi with guns. Kids are looking through the windows from the classrooms and yellow police tape hangs across one section of the hallway. Police are marking off the ground in sections. There’s blood on the spot where Jimmy was lying after he was shot.
Sean walks into a room with an EMS technician and Mr. Raditch. Toby is sitting with his stepmom as an officer asks him questions about why Rick would do something like this. Toby gets upset, like he can possibly know something like that! He calls Rick a psycho. The officer asks Toby if Rick was bullied or teased. Toby answers with, “Always, everyday. It was constant.” The officer asked him what his friend did when students teased him, and Toby cuts him off. He yells, “Look, he’s not my friend! He’s a psycho! And he’s not my friend.” Toby starts sobbing into his stepmom’s arms as Sean looks on, alone, with a bandage around his upper arm.
Mr. Simpson is in his classroom pacing, watching the police outside. He looks a tad bit disappointed in Emma, and tells her that Rick needed help. Emma is crying while Spike holds her, and says, “He pointed the gun right at me.” There’s a knock on the door and Mr. Raditch says, “Archie?” Snake tells Raditch he is busy here, if he hasn’t noticed. Raditch apologizes, but then says the police want to get into Rick’s email to look for warning signs.
Snake pushes his seat back and tears in to Raditch something fierce. “Of course, now the groundbreaking 20/20 hindsight policy kicks into gear.” He gets up from his desk and moves to a computer. Raditch obviously isn’t happy with Snake’s response, follows him, and tries to justify what happened by saying, “I have 700 students and a teaching staff I am responsible for every day. Don’t get on my case because one kid over-reacted to some spilled paint.” Snake turns around to face Raditch, who is considerably shorter than him, and says, “Yeah, one kid you have personally spoken to twice in the past two days. But did you listen?” Raditch insists that he did.
Snake starts to really go off, telling Raditch, “I bet you can’t remember a word he said. This tragedy, Dan, it could have been prevented if–” Spike yells Snake’s name and asks if they could do this later. Raditch starts to leave and tells Emma the police are going to want to speak with all the witnesses. Mr. Raditch touches her shoulder as he walks off and apologizes. (FYI: Snake may take this a little personally because he was the one who found Claude’s body in the men’s room after he committed suicide during Degrassi High and didn’t return to Degrassi for some time afterwards. Guess who was principal back then? It was Mr. Raditch.)
Tons of police cars are outside, as well as reporters. Joey and Caitlin are trying to make their way through. The police stop Joey from running up to the building. When Caitlin gives her press credentials, one of the officers is a bit more receptive. She asks what’s going on and the officer explains there was a firearm situation and two gunshots were fired. Joey freaks out and tells the officer that his kid is in there. He tries to push through, but again the officer blocks him. He explains that the school is in lockdown. They are stuck outside.
Paige, Ellie, Hazel, Ashley, and other students are stuck inside. They hate not knowing what is going on. They have to pee, they think it’s an alarm, and Hazel suggests maybe it’s a bomb scare. Ellie tells her that midterm phobia is striking again as we see Paige on her phone in the background. She tells everyone her mom heard there was a shooting. Hazel looks over at Jimmy’s desk and there is a knock at the door.
Hazel looks up as Ms. Sauve enters and asks Hazel to join her in the hall. Ms. Sauve tells Hazel that Jimmy was shot and is on the way to the hospital. Hazel starts to cry, saying “no” over and over before saying she needs to go. Ms. Sauve hugs her, and says the lockdown will be over soon and they will get her there. Okay, so Joey can’t get in to check on his kid, but they are making sure to inform Hazel her boyfriend is hurt during a lockdown? Yeah, okay. I’ll suspend reality for that bit of melodrama.
Students are finally allowed to leave, and Mr. Raditch tells them over the loudspeaker to head straight home. The police, weapons still drawn, are telling students to hurry up. Alex walks out of a classroom and Crazy Jay immediately puts his arm around her, telling her to just relax and everything will be fine. She asks why she went along with his scheme and he says, “I said relax. You’re alive, aren’t you?” Crazy Jay, he has a way with words.
They meet up with Spinner in the hallway and Jay tells Spinner he thought it might have been him that had been shot. Spinner is spazzing as he tells them both, “It was Jimmy, man, Jimmy. They’re going to find out. I have to…” Jay grabs him and pulls him back against some lockers, telling him he has to shut up. Spinner says Jimmy is his best friend. Jay works his way with words again, telling Spin, “Either outcome, he was your best friend.” Spinner tells Jay and Alex that they might have killed Jimmy. Jay shakes Spinner’s shoulders saying that “we” didn’t do anything and Spinner throws him against a wall. Spinner tells Jay, “We did,” and he leaves.
Craig walks out of the building, dazed. Caitlin and Joey yell his name and run to him. They ask him if he’s okay and Craig tells Joey that Jimmy got shot. A news reporter, seeing the family reunion, runs over. She asks Craig if he knew the victim. Craig tells the reporter not to call Jimmy a victim and she continues on asking questions. She asks Craig if he saw the shootings, but before he can answer Caitlin grabs the reporter by the shirt and pushes her back. The reporter tells Caitlin to share the story and Caitlin explains she’s not covering this. She says that Caitlin should then step aside and let her. Caitlin tells her, “Here’s your story for you: Local Insensitive Reporter Pummeled by Famous Colleague.”
The reporter backs off and goes to Toby’s family. She asks Toby, since he was the gunman’s friend, why or who was he after? Toby says he doesn’t know. She then asks if he tried to stop him. Toby yells at her, “What was I supposed to do?” She hits a new high with her insensitivity when she asks him, “Did the gunman say anything before he died?” Toby turns around and says, “He died?”
(FYI: Rick is dead. It was confirmed right there and will be again later on. There are more “Rick’s really alive” theories on the net than there are Elvis sightings lately. Please, let the boy rest in peace. Do you think he’s living in the basement of Degrassi? Just let him go.)
Paige is comforting Hazel when Spinner shows up at the hospital. Paige is crying and shakes her head at him when he tries to approach. Spinner starts crying as Paige gives him an evil glare. He turns and walks away, holding his hand over his face. Paige holds Hazel closer and Hazel starts to sob again.
Toby is sitting near a TV, watching the insensitive journalist report that one student is dead and another is in serious condition. She says the suspect, a 16-year-old boy, was found dead at the scene. She continues on that Rick was a quiet child, one that kept to himself. I think that is the standard line for describing a shooter for reporters – he was a quiet person, kept to himself. That’s all they ever say. Toby’s stepmom tells him that he should turn it off. Spike, who is apparently suffering from memory loss, says, “People do not get shot at Degrassi. They just don’t.” (As much as I hated Claude, he died at Degrassi too, from a gunshot.) Emma tells them they talk about Degrassi like its achieved sainthood, but that it’s just a school.
Snake says, “Look, we just didn’t…none of us took Rick’s bullying serious enough. It would be an understatement to say he was unpopular.” Toby says, “Unpopular?” Ashley decides to jump in with, “How about full-on psycho? Certified freak? The guy made us the lead story on the 6 o’clock news.” Toby slams down the remote and walks off. Ashley’s mom says her name to get her stop talking, but someone has to play the self-righteous role besides Emma sometimes. She keeps going, “He shot Jimmy, mom. I want an answer. Who was this guy who shot him, if not a psycho?” Toby, who was listening to her rant just outside the room, walks out the door, slamming it. Emma says, “He was Toby’s friend.”
(For those of you looking for the beautiful song playing during this next sequence, it’s by Melissa McClelland. It’s called “Rooftop,” off her Stranded in Suburbia CD. There, I have now answered the second most frequently asked question behind “Is Rick really dead?”)
There are flowers and candles outside Degrassi, set up as a memorial. Back at the hospital, Paige is on the phone telling someone there is no change before going to comfort Hazel. Hazel touches the glass window of Jimmy’s ICU room, crying as Paige comes up to hold her. Spinner is in his room on his bed, tapping a drumstick against his body. He finally throws it and starts crying. Sean is on his couch watching the news, where it describes Rick’s win in the Whack Your Brain competition, the paint incident, and the shooting. Ellie sits next to him, rubbing his arm, and puts her head on his shoulder. Craig is watching the news with Joey, Caitlin, and Angela. Caitlin and Joey both are holding on to Craig as the reporter describes the shooting and how no one knows why Rick went after his Whack Your Brain teammates.
In front of Degrassi, more students are holding candles and signs on the steps and around the school grounds. The makeshift memorial is getting bigger. Flowers are on the steps and the camera pans around to show how upset everyone is before stopping on Toby, who is standing there staring. Emma walks up beside him and puts her arm around him. Someone walks up to the steps to put up a poster asking “Why?” There’s one at every school shooting, and this one has Jimmy’s picture on it. Toby sees the poster and looks away, breaking down in Emma’s arms. Toby pulls his head back to fix his glasses, and they both look at the school with tears in their eyes.