Degrassi Review: Young Forever

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Welcome to my review of the Degrassi summer season finale, “Young Forever.” This episode is entirely dedicated to the memory of Adam Torres.

The quality of storytelling and acting is flawless. It is truly a master class in how every teen-oriented drama should tackle the issue of death as every emotion on display was done in a very respectable and realistic manner. I will go as far to say this episode is better than “Bittersweet Symphony,” which was my favorite episode of the current era of Degrassi. By current, I’m referring to anything since season 8.

The major storyline, and the majority of the episode, finds Drew Torres struggling to come to grips with his brother’s death. Other key stories involve Becky hosting a bonfire as a means for everyone to properly celebrate Adam’s memory, and the revelation that Clare’s cancer is in remission.

Every cast member contributes greatly to the overall tone of the episode. With that being said, the following moments stand tall above the rest:

Clare and Eli

Every scene involving these two is of great significance, especially when you consider their closeness to Adam. Eli even credits a party Adam threw (season 10 episode “Halo”) as what ignited the spark in his relationship with Clare. Their story has an added sense of believeability as Clare experiences intense guilt at the news of her cancer remission. She questions why God allowed her to survive her ordeal while Adam does not. Clare and Eli carried a large portion of the summer season and I can only hope they continue to do so when things resume this fall.

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Bonfire

Multiple scenes of the bonfire are done to maximum effect, particularly:

The arrival- Becky initially worries no one will show up since she assumes all of Drew’s friends hate her. Just as she is about to take things down, she is surprised to see people coming out in droves. As everyone arrives, Dave comments, “this is what Adam would have wanted.” This opening scene also allows several characters a chance to catch up. It is the first interaction (Connor & Dave, Alli & Dallas, Imogen & Jenna) many of these characters have had with each other since the previous season concluded. Seeing Dave and Bianca is quite refreshing and one can only hope they will have a recurring role for the remainder of the season.

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Drew’s acceptance- Drew wanders the street—still in his funeral attire—in a grief-stricken state. He uses his phone to check Adam’s Facerange (Degrassi’s version of Facebook) account. The volume of farewell wishes he sees posted on Adam’s wall is overwhleming. He proceeds to watch a video of Adam being interviewed about his future goals. The video ends when Adam brings Becky on-screen to share in a playful moment. Seeing his brother so happy with his life, especially after the initial flack he caught for being a transgender, brings a smile to Drew’s face. This moment seamlessly flows into the ending of a memorial video montage being viewed at the bonfire. Words cannot adequately describe how incredible the entire scenario is. It also gives the viewer a genuine sense of the warm, caring individual Adam was.

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Dallas stepping up to the plate- Drew and Dallas share a powerful embrace upon his arrival to the bonfire. With Adam’s departure, perhaps we will see Dallas step in to become a brotherly figure in Drew’s life.

Goodbyes & apologies- Drew gives a heartfelt goodbye to Adam, finally beginning his own personal journey of closure, as well as an apology to Becky for treating her badly. In an earlier scene following the funeral services, Drew lashes out at Becky, blaming her for Adam’s accident. She was the one Adam was en route to visiting (while texting her) when he lost control of his vehicle. When Drew asks how to move on, she replies, “we have to make his death mean something.”

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Symbolic ending- The final scene shows everyone gathered in a circle looking to the heavens as a hot air balloon is released into the atmosphere.

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Episode MVP: Luke Bylick as Drew Torres

Luke Bylick undoubtedly steals the show. He really displays a range of ability and, through his performance, humanizes Drew in a manner I never saw in the previous three seasons. His work in this episode—and at the conclusion of last week’s “Honey”—easily ranks among the best of anyone on Degrassi, past or present.

Special comment:

Even though Adam’s death is entirely fictional, the situation surrounding his death is a very real problem. Texting while driving is a leading cause of auto accidents and fatalities. I believe there is nothing so important that you must risk putting your life and the lives of others in jeopardy. It is my hope that these last two episodes of Degrassi will help heighten the overall awareness of this senseless epidemic.

Final thoughts:

“Young Forever” should be remembered as an all-time classic episode paying tribute to one of the more noteworthy characters in Degrassi history. Highly recommended.

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