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Christine Nelson
Degrassi Junior High
Degrassi High
Degrassi: School's Out
Degrassi: The Next Generation
character
First appearance Nothing to Fear (Degrassi Junior High episode 107);
"Mother and Child Reunion" (Degrassi: The Next Generation episode 1.01)
Created by Linda Schuyler and Yan Moore
Portrayed by Amanda Stepto
Episode count 91
Information
Nickname(s) Spike
Date of birth September, 1974
Occupation Hair stylist;
formerly film processing clerk;
formerly part-time beauty shop sweeper
Spouse(s) Archibald Rupert "Archie" "Snake" Simpson
Significant other(s) Archie Simpson (husband & grade 11 crush);
Patrick (grade 10 boyfriend);
Shane McKay (grade 8 boyfriend & father of Emma Nelson)
Children Emma Nelson (daughter);
Jack Simpson (son)
Relatives "Spike's Mom" (mother);
"Snake's Mom" (mother-in-law);
"Snake's Dad" (father-in-law);
Glen Simpson (brother-in-law)
Address On or near De Grassi Street in Toronto
Nationality Canadian

Christine Nelson, aka Spike, (born September 1974) is a fictional character on the Degrassi series played by Amanda Stepto. Her first appearance in the series was as a grade 8 student on Degrassi Junior High. She is most remembered as the unwed teenage mother with the blonde spiked hairdo from which her nickname is derived. On Degrassi: The Next Generation, she is known for being the mother of student Emma Nelson, and the wife of schoolteacher Archie "Snake" Simpson with whom she has a son named Jack.

Contents

Classic Degrassi

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Degrassi Junior High

Spike starts out as a minor character in Degrassi Junior High, but comes into prominence late in the first season when she is impregnated by her very first (unprotected) sexual encounter with her boyfriend, Shane McKay (portrayed by Bill Parrott) ("It's Late", DJH ep. 111). Spike is only fourteen years old and in the eighth grade. Unsure of whether to keep the child, Spike seeks the advice of classmate Derek "Wheels" Wheeler (portrayed by Neil Hope) who had been adopted ("Parents Night", DJH ep. 112). Wheels explains that he is grateful to both his natural parents, Mike Nelson (portrayed by Dave James) and an unseen woman; for having given him a chance at a better life; and to his adoptive parents (portrayed by Timm Zemanek and Nancy Sinclair) for providing that better life to him. In their maternity class, Spike and the other expectant mothers are each given an egg by their counselor (portrayed by Anne Thornley-Brown) with instructions to carry and protect the egg as if it were a child. Shane agrees to share in the responsibility of caring for "Eggbert" and proves himself to be unreliable ("Eggbert", DJH ep. 201). Nevertheless, Shane advocates that Spike keep the baby rather than put it up for adoption ("Dinner and a Show", DJH ep. 204).

Spike's mother (portrayed by Rhonda Kristi), a hair stylist who had given birth to Spike as a teenager, provides support for her daughter. Shane's parents (portrayed by Peter Brierley and Jane Carnwath), however, are embarrassed by the situation and want him to have nothing to do with the baby ("Dinner and a Show", DJH ep. 204; "Father Figure" Part 2, DNG ep. 302), while Shane himself vacillates between wanting to do the right thing by Spike and their child and avoiding his responsibilities (DJH seasons 2-3).

Spike's ordeal grows more complicated when local parents, believing a pregnant student to be a bad example, convince the school administration to remove her from class for the remainder of the semester ("Censored", DJH ep. 210), although she completes her studies at home ("Trust Me", DJH ep. 211) and is permitted to sit for exams separately from the other pupils ("Pass Tense", DJH ep. 213). Classmate Caitlin Ryan (portrayed by Stacie Mistysyn), a zealous political activist, publishes an editorial in the school newspaper, denouncing the removal of Spike from campus, but Spike resents Caitlin making her into a cause, and tells Caitlin to mind her own business ("Censored", DJH ep. 210). She goes into labour during the end-of-year dance ("Pass Tense", DJH ep. 213).

Spike returns to school full-time for grade 9, having given birth to her daughter Emma (portrayed by infant Samantha Morrison) immediately following the spring semester (id). She is hesitant to let Shane be involved in the baby's life ("Can't Live With 'Em Part 1", DJH ep. 301), but he proves his willingness to share some of the responsibility when he begins to pay child support. He later withholds one of his payments in order to buy tickets to a Gormet Scum rock concert ("Twenty Bucks", DJH ep. 310), the night of which he suffers a terrible accident ("Taking Off Part 2", episode 312) that leaves him severely mentally disabled ("It Creeps", DH episode 114; "Father Figure", DNG ep. 301/302). With Shane permanently incapacitated, the responsibility for providing for their daughter falls solely upon Spike, albeit with some assistance from Spike's mother ("Three's A Crowd", DH ep. 212).

Early in season 2, Spike also befriends new student Liz O'Rourke (portrayed by Cathy Keenan), who seems to be one of the few Degrassi students who match Spike's "punk rock" style ("Great Expectations", DJH ep. 203). Spike and Liz quickly become inseparable best friends, continuing on into high school, and they are rarely be seen without each other.

Degrassi High & Degrassi: School's Out

Classmate Heather Farrell (portrayed by Maureen Deiseach), distraught over her twin sister Erica's (Angela Deiseach) plans to have an abortion, seeks Spike's advice and assumes that Spike shares her pro-life opinion. Spike explains that she herself considered an abortion at first but in the end kept Emma because she felt it was the right decision for her, and that only Erica can decide what is right for herself ("A New Start Part 2", DH ep. 102). Heather then supports her sister despite her own objection to the procedure (Id). Unknown to Spike, Liz learns of the abortion and denounces Erica as a murderer with signs posted on Erica's locker ("Everybody wants Something" DH ep. 105).

Spike nervously reenters the dating scene after starting high school, reluctantly accepting a date with new Irish immigrant Patrick (portrayed by Vincent Walsh) who shares her love for the band The Pogues. She is initially afraid that he is only dating her because, as an unwed teen mother, he would believe Spike to be "easy;" but Patrick proves to be a gentleman ("Nobody's Perfect", DH ep. 106). They date for some time until Spike decides that she does not have time for a commitment whilst raising Emma (portrayed by toddler Ashlee Henricks) and matriculating at high school ("Sixteen: Part 1", DH ep. 109). Later that year, she also reunites with Shane who is out of rehabilitation and now attending a school for special-needs kids when not stalking Spike ("It Creeps", DH episode 114). She turns down his invitation for a date, but agrees to be his friend again (id).

The following year, Spike is surprised to find herself jealous when her best friend, Liz, goes on a date with Spike's former boyfriend, Patrick, to see a musician ("Body Politics", DH ep. 205).

Spike is paired with Archie "Snake" Simpson (portrayed by Stefan Brogren) for one of their final class assignments in grade 11; studying in the Nelsons' kitchen, she watches him playfully carry Emma ("Three's A Crowd", DH ep. 212). This triggers romantic feelings in Spike toward her classmate, and she daydreams of him initiating a passionate kiss. Snake accepts her invitation to attend the prom, believing that Spike wants to go simply as friends. Upon learning that Snake really likes Michelle Accette (portrayed by Maureen McKay) and would rather go with her, Spike backs out and keeps her disappointing secret from Snake (Id).

As a film processing clerk, Spike works with classmate Tessa Campanelli (portrayed by Kirsten Bourne) who confides in Spike her intention to seduce and date Joey Jeremiah (portrayed by Pat Mastroianni) (Degrassi: School's Out). Spike advises Tessa against doing so, reminding her that Joey and Caitlin Ryan have a history of breaking up only to reunite. Tessa rejects Spike's argument, noting that Caitlin will be leaving for university in a matter of weeks anyway (Id). Joey's resulting summer-long affair with Tessa ultimately leads to Caitlin breaking off their engagement and to Tessa having an abortion (Id).

Spike attends university locally while Emma enrolls in pre-kindergarten. (School's Out).

The wedding reception of classmates Alexa and Simon Dexter (portrayed by Irene Courakos & Michael Carry), is the only scene before Degrassi: The Next Generation that any hint of a friendship between Spike and Caitlin is depicted (School's Out). The two traveled in entirely separate circles throughout Degrassi Junior High and Degrassi High, and Spike expressed her resentment of Caitlin's meddling when she was forced out of school during her pregnancy with Emma ("Censored", DJH ep. 210).

Interim

Spike takes Emma (portrayed later in flashbacks by Anastasia Koop), still a toddler, to visit Shane (portrayed later in flashbacks by Jonathan Torrens) at Burkholder Manor sanitarium in Stouffville, Ontario. Shane's emotional instability and aggression frighten Spike, and she decides to keep him out of Emma's and her lives going forward, out of concern for Emma's safety. Spike does not provide him with their new address when the two move to a new home, nor does she send him new photographs of Emma as she ages. A brief, and distorted memory of this visit will be Emma's only recollection of her father for more than a decade (Father Figure, DNG ep. 301/302). Spike never tells Emma anything about Shane McKay, apart from his name, having always put it off until "the right time" (Id). The Rev. and Mrs. McKay continue to remain out of their granddaughter's and her life as well. Whether or not they make overtures toward Spike over the years or not is unknown.

Spike attends Joey's wedding to Julia Manning, presumably held approximately two or three years after Alexa & Simon's wedding (based on the couple's child's age). There, a young Emma shares a dance with slightly older boy Craig, Julia's son by her previous marriage to Dr. Albert Manning ("When Doves Cry", DNJ ep. 201/202). Also in attendance is Snake ("White Wedding", DNG ep. 212).

Spike remains in contact with Snake over the years, but does so outside of Emma's presence ("Mother and Child Reunion", Part 1, DNG ep. 101).[1]

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Season 1

Whilst dashing about her home, preparing to leave for her deciennial high school reunion, Spike explains her nervousness to Emma (portrayed by teenaged Miriam McDonald): "I feel like I'm going to the prom I never got to go to." It is later revealed that she is escorted by her abortive prom date, Snake ("Mother and Child Reunion", Part 2, DNG ep. 102; "Three's A Crowd", DH ep. 212).

Season 2

Beginning in the second season (and to an extent in "Mother and Child Reunion", Part 2"), Spike and Caitlin are shown to have somehow become close friends, despite Caitlin having gone away to Carleton University in Ottawa and pursued a broadcasting career in Los Angeles while Spike stayed in Toronto to follow in her mother's footsteps as a beautician and single mother.

With her daughter Emma attending classes taught by her old high school classmate Snake, her interest in him is renewed and the two begin dating. Among their outings is an Elvis Costello concert, as the two share a love of his music. ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", DNG ep. 203). After a few months, Spike proposes marriage and Snake accepts. As is often the case when single or divorced parents marry, Emma expresses resentment toward both Spike and future stepfather Snake. ("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", DNG ep. 203; "Weird Science", DNG ep. 205).

Spike discovers that she is pregnant with Snake's child (the future Jack Simspon) the day before their wedding. Unaware of the pregnancy, Snake makes an off-hand remark about becoming Emma's stepfather being hard enough and that he does not want to start a family of their own yet; this prompts Spike to consider keeping the pregnancy a secret from him and aborting the fetus. An argument ensues between Spike and Emma who, knowing that she herself began as a prime candidate for being aborted, is vehemently pro-life. When Emma reminds Spike of this, Spike replies that she is not going to make the same mistake a second time. Under the cover of night, Emma races to Snake's bachelor party at Joey's house to warn him. Snake argues with Spike about not being consulted and having to learn about the situation from Emma. Angry with each other, two initially stay away from the church the following morning, reluctant to marry. They reconcile and agree that the baby, while unplanned, is still a blessing. Dashing to the ceremony in casual clothes, and change into their wedding attire before the reception. ("White Wedding", DNG eps. 212-213). Spike declines to adopt Snake's surname, remaining Christine Nelson vice Simpson. ("Father Figure" Part 1, DNG ep. 301).

Season 3

Spike's child with Snake has nearly completed its gestation, and Spike's midwife is her dear old friend, Liz ("Father Figure", DNG ep. 301/302).

With Spike preparing to bear Snake's child, Emma is increasingly interested in knowing about her own father (portrayed as an adult and in flashbacks by Jonathan Torrens) and meeting him, but is rebuffed by Spike ("Father Figure", DNG ep. 301/302). When Emma learns the truth about Shane's brain damage the hard way, she is incensed at Spike, both for having kept the truth from her, and for (as Emma incorrectly perceives) allowing Shane to be committed. Snake empathizes with Emma's sense of betrayal, and explains to her about Shane's injuries and his frightening behavior when Spike and Emma visited.

Shane, having been given the Nelsons' address from Emma, pays Spike a visit. Upset to find that he is not a part of their family, he becomes violent toward the furnishings and prevents Spike from fleeing or telephoning; the shock sends Spike into labour. Emma soon arrives, and is able calm down Shane, and to telephone Liz and the school switchboard. Spike delivers Jack Simpson with the support of Liz, Snake and, Emma.

When Snake is diagnosed with leukemia and undergoes chemotherapy, Spike is supportive of her husband and cares for him in his recovery ("Pride" Part Two, DNG ep. 305). His low morale and pessimistic outlook take a toll on the family, however ("Gangsta Gangsta", DNG ep. 306), and Spike finally orders him out of the house for an evening of bowling with Joey ("Should I Stay or Should I Go", DNG ep. 307). Spike and Emma are delighted to see and hear Snake happily singing with Joey and their long-estranged band-mate, Wheels (portrayed again by Neil Hope), as they drive him home.

Just as Spike's sexually aggressive co-worker/classmate Tessa had seduced Joey into cheating on Caitlin twelve years earlier, Emma's best friend, Manny (portrayed by Cassie Steele) seduces Joey's stepson Craig Manning (portrayed by Jake Epstein) into cheating on his comparatively responsible and mature (but chaste) girlfriend Ashley Kerwin (portrayed by Melissa McIntyre), establishing a nearly identical love triangle dynamic which lasts for several episodes (School's Out; "Should I Stay or Should I Go" through "Holiday", DNG eps. 307-312).

When Manny discovers herself to be pregnant by Craig, she runs straight to Spike, knowing that she had been the teen mother of Emma, and seeks her guidance ("Accidents Will Happen" DNG eps. 314-315). Spike helps Manny deal with the news and gives her the same advice that she had given the Farrell sisters, explaining that the parental responsibility is hers and the final choice on whether to keep the baby is thus hers as well. Like Tessa and Erica, Manny chooses to have an abortion, albeit not until after informing Craig and flirting with the idea of marriage (Id).

Season 4

After the shooting, Emma was an emotional and mental mess. Spike constantly caught Emma sneaking out, and acting out in strange ways that was not like her. She was confused on what to do, and how to help Emma. In the end, Spike pulls through by loving her, and helping her through her issues.

Season 5

In Season 5, Spike and Snake’s relationship has a setback when Emma finds Snake kissing Degrassi’s principal Daphne Hatzilakos in an empty theater. Emma forces Snake to tell her mother the truth, and Spike throws Snake out. Spike has a hard time dealing with her separation from her husband, particularly on their wedding anniversary. Emma brings Spike's friend Caitlin all the way from Los Angeles to help cheer her up. Snake stops by with a gift he'd ordered months ago for their anniversary, but this upsets Spike even more. Snake continues to appeal to Spike for reconciliation, but she refuses.

Emma, Snake, and Spike

Finally, Snake shows up at the mall where Spike works, dressed in a tuxedo, and begins to sing their song "Sometimes When We Touch." Spike finally relents and agrees to take her husband back.

Through all the chaos of Spike's and Snake's marital problems, Spike puts a lot of stress on Emma to help her around the house. This drives Emma to the point of losing control of her life and forces her to an eating disorder. With the help of Snake, Manny, and Emma's boyfriend at the time, Peter, Spike gets Emma in rehab to recover.

Season 6

When Emma thought she was pregnant, Spike was supportive and helped Emma get through it only to have it be a scare.

Season 7

Spike makes some appearances in episodes when Snake was falsely accused of molesting Darcy Edwards. She is seen arguing with him and also tries to help him get cleared. For a brief time she left Snake who needed to clear his head and spend time away from the school due to the vicious rumors of him being a pedophile. She returns home with Jack shortly after he goes back to the school.

Season 8

Spike is seen in the first episode saying goodbye to Emma, who is now attending Smithdale University. She makes an appearance in the episode "Man With Two Hearts" catching Clare Edwards and Alli Bhandari in Snake's bedroom because they wanted to see what a teachers bedroom looked like.

Relationships

  • Shane Mackay
      • Start Up: Prior to "The Big Dance" (102) Original Series
      • Break up: "Eggbert" (201) Original Series
        • Reason: Shane didn't want to take responsibility with the baby, Emma.
  • Patrick
      • Start Up: "Nobody's Perfect" (406) Original Series
      • Break up: Prior to "Body Politics" (505) Original Series
        • Reason: Spike was not ready to be in a relationship after her pregnancy and breakup with Shane.
  • Archie "Snake" Simpson
      • Start Up: Prior to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (203) The Next Generation
      • Break Up: TNG: "The Lexicon of Love: Part 2"
      • Reason: Snake kisses Ms. Hatzilakos inside the movie theater, and Emma and Peter both see them.

Second Relationship

      • Start Up: TNG: "Our Lips Our Sealed: Part 1" (516)

References

  1. ^ Snake and Spike appear quite familiar and comfortable together, yet Snake and Emma do not initially recognise each other when they meet a few days before her first semester at Degrassi Community School. ("Mother and Child Reunion", Part 1, DNG ep. 101).

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