This episode begins with one of the most dramatic cold opens yet. Rick is just minding his own business, enjoying his morning cereal, when his butt-fugly dad comes in and beats the shit out of him! Hot DOG!
Back at school, Joey is practicing his ollie kickflips and triple McSwirlies when he faceplants, effectively giving himself a black eye. Serves him right. Horseplay is the devil’s business. Oh, and Voula is still mad at Stephanie for something that happened 4 episodes ago. Stephanie asks Voula for advice on whether she should wear her cool slut clothes or her lame homely clothes for the school picture, and Voula just bitches at her for the school election thing.
Caitlin has the hots for Rick. I mean, who wouldn’t? Check out that mushroom-haired stud, nonchalantly reading a motorcycle magazine in Ms. Avery’s class. And better yet, he smokes cigarettes! Could this kid get any cooler?
Joey comes home to find that his mom has cleaned his room for him, and that she’s mending his favorite blue jean jacket, the one he wanted to wear for picture day. Joey is immediately enraged for her “ruining everything” because he is a spoiled only-child. Joey threatens to call Child Protective Services on his asshole parents, a pretty obvious foil for Rick’s situation. Mr. and Mrs. Jeremiah are patient with Joey through every stupid decision he makes, including busting his face up while skateboarding. And check out that Ratatat shirt. I bet his parents bought a time machine and sat through a Ratatat concert in order to get that.
Because the issue of child abuse is Serious Business™, the Degrassi writers included this stupid B-plot to lighten the mood. Caitlin and her slightly-less-retarded sidekick, Susie, have noticed that Rick never smiles, so they take it upon themselves to make him smile. The first thing they try is a joke. A joke so unfunny that Rick simply walks away from them frowning even harder than he was before. Also, his Harley shirt doesn’t have sleeves on it anymore. He literally frowned his sleeves off.
Rick offers to sell Joey his blue jean jacket for $15 to replace the one his mom “ruined.” Since Rick doesn’t have a mom, he has an infinite supply of tattered blue jean jackets. And huge muscles too, especially for a 13-year-old. Anyway, Rick shows a rare glimpse of compassion when he shares one of his Cokes with Joey, but it’s all for naught.
Mr. Murray home from work pissed that they drank all the “pop.” I’d be pissed too if I lived in a place where people say “pop” instead of “Coke.” Rick shoves Joey out the door but he still witnesses Rick’s asshole dad strangling his son Homer Simpson-style through the doorway.
It’s picture day, and everyone’s dressed their best. Tim, the Other Black Sidekick, compliments Joey on his new jacket. Spike gets her hair primped. Nancy looks a little less frumpy than usual. Awww yeah, and there’s Stephanie, Degrassi’s most bodacious babe, sporting an itty bitty tube top and a miniskirt. Degrassi’s dress code is really anything-goes. Voula, meanwhile, is dressed like a bard.
Photo day montage!~ First up is Erica, who is looking pretty sweet and well-postured. Then there’s Heather. She’s one of those girls that probably wrote “H.A.G.S.” in your yearbook. You know, someone you only hang out with if everyone else is busy. And lastly, there’s an Asian grandma.
Melanie gets a brief spotlight where she’s fussing over a newly-sprouted zit, probably to fill up time. She finds that the best solution is to COVER UP the zit with her hair. Great job, Melanie. Way to fulfill the episode title in the lamest way possible. Why can’t everyone be as cool as Rick?! Look at that guy! Look at his badass America #1 freedom bald eagle shirt! Dude knows what’s up!
Rick is not impressed by the girls’ second attempt at making him laugh. Even Alex Yankou is all “WTF?” in the background.
Joey gets sent to the principal’s office for whatever reason, probably for wearing a hat or something like that. Still thinking about Mr. Murray beating up on Rick, he asks Doris the secretary what he should do, sitcom style. “What would you do if your friend was getting beaten up by his dad?” We’ve all heard that one before. Except this time, he really is talking about his friend. Doris makes a phone call.
Child Protective Services rolls up to the Jeremiahs’ house on a motorcycle just like the one Rick’s brother has. Rick comes over to collect the money Joey still owes him for the jacket, and to both of their surprise, Child Protective Services is waiting for them, looking like a blond, gap-toothed Prince Harry, investigating the abuse call Doris made on Joey. Rick’s pissed, thinking Joey set him up, but CPS actually asks Joey if he’s ever been abused. Rick flees but CPS knows that something’s up. He talks to Rick about his parents, and the two bond over his motorcycle.
AWKWARD FREEZE FRAME
Ultimately, Rick gets a court order against his dad and moves in with his cool older brother who has a motorcycle. I guess Joey and Rick are sort of friends now. Especially since for the first time ever, he smiles. Suck it, Caitlin.
What I learned in this episode: Motorcycles.