Tariq is struggling to cope after losing the use of his legs in a lorry accident, and viewers see him reach rock bottom in next Thursday's (September 6) episode as he hatches a plot to drown himself while out kayaking.
Tom Clarkson and Michael Byrne are horrified when they realise what the troubled student has planned, but will they be able to save him before it's too late?
Digital Spy recently chatted to Naveed Choudhry, who plays Tariq, to hear his thoughts on the emotional storyline.
When you were first told that Tariq would lose the use of his legs, how did you feel about taking on such a challenging story?
"When I first found out about it, I was absolutely buzzing. As an actor, it's always nice and refreshing to get such a challenge, especially as it's a huge change from what Tariq was like in the previous series.
"I was really pleased to get the opportunity to showcase a totally different side to Tariq, and also grateful that the crew and the producers had the confidence in me as an artist to deliver that sort of storyline."
How did the experience compare to what you'd expected?
"Once I was told about the storyline, straight away my mindset was to look into it and do the research. It wasn't until I did the research that I started to appreciate how much of a challenge the story would be.
"After that, the preparation put me into a good place - and it really was a fulfilling challenge. I feel that I've grown as an actor thanks to the storyline, so it was totally amazing."
Did you learn much from filming so many scenes in the wheelchair?
"Definitely - you tend to see the world from a different angle. From the research that I did and playing the part of Tariq, it was just amazing to see how people can still live normal lives even though they use a wheelchair.
"Without doing the role, I might have pre-judged people who use wheelchairs or pitied them without knowing it, but I've grown out of that now - especially after doing the research with a particular gentleman who was paraplegic. It just showed me that the grass is greener on both sides, and life is what you make of it."
Things take a dark turn for Tariq next week when he considers taking his own life. Why has he reached this breaking point?
"I think it's an accumulation of things. First of all, he's a long way from home. On top of that, the crash has taken a big chunk of his life away from him. I think to lose the use of your legs would have a big impact on anyone's mental psyche. He's got people feeling sorry for him, and then he's also feeling sorry for himself - questioning why it had to happen to him.
"Tariq feels in some ways that he might be getting punished for what he's done in the past. He wasn't the nicest character in the last series, and he fears that karma has come to get him back."
What happens in the build-up to Tariq's suicide attempt?
"You'll see Tariq struggling to do day-to-day activities like getting washed and dressed, and mingling with his mates. The episode doesn't start on a great note for him, as he's struggling to get out of the bath, and then things get worse for him when he arrives at school for the day.
"Tariq also finds himself as the butt of people's jokes, and he's not used to that - as he's usually the one taking the mick. He's fed up with this now, and he decides that he's just going to take the easy way out."
We'll see Tariq go out kayaking with the intention of drowning himself. What was it like to film those scenes?
"They were amazing. They took me out kayaking and made me capsize on the water, to get a feel for it beforehand. The moment that I hit that water, my breath was taken away as it was so cold!
"I have to admit, I'm a real soft lad and I hate the cold, but I just knew that I had to do it, to make sure that it looked authentic. That was part of the challenge that I looked forward to, because I'm always trying to push myself as an actor."
Did you have a stunt double for any of the shots?
"There was a stunt double involved. When I first heard about it, I thought, 'Why can't I have an identical twin brother who is into stunts?!' Luckily enough, Waterloo Road got me a stunt double and when I was at breaking point in the water, he jumped in and did the rest! I'd say that I did about 75% of it, but I'm not going to take away his 25% credit!"
We don't want to spoil what happens, but would you say there's still some hope of a happier future for Tariq?
"I think the one thing with Tariq is - and it's a bit like myself in real life - he does usually have that mantra of, 'If it can't kill you, it'll only make you stronger'.
"If Tariq can realise what life can be, and that life is what you make of it, there could be a positive ending for him. We'll just have to wait and see!"
What kind of impact do you want the story to have?
"I really hope that I can tap into real human emotions, and I hope that I've done a good job of making it as authentic as possible, because that was the main concern for me. I didn't want Tariq's storyline to come across as a caricature effort of someone in a wheelchair.
"I want the viewers to go on a journey with Tariq - from the highs and the lows, and to see a totally different side to him. I know that in the last series when people saw vulnerability from him, they really liked it and my Twitter blew up! It's really nice to be appreciated on both sides and to show that yes I can play a villain, but Tariq can also be a bit of a likeable idiot."
How did Waterloo Road compare to the acting work you'd done in the past?
"It was by far the biggest show that I'd done. The exposure that I've had on Waterloo Road, and the feedback that I've had from old ladies to young kids, has been overwhelming. Until you actually get on the show and it airs, you don't realise how popular it is.
"It's crazy, because I respond to the name 'Tariq' now! I hear 'Tariq!' and I have to check whether someone is calling me. It's so overwhelming, and I couldn't have asked for a better job to find my feet on."
As you joined Waterloo Road in series seven, how easy was it to fit into such an established show?
"Well, I'd been on it before in series three - in a really, really small role. When I returned, I already knew a few people, but it's like the first day at a new school - you don't know how to take it! Everyone was so welcoming, though, and that sort of energy made me feel so comfortable.
"I shared some highs and lows on Waterloo Road, but it was a real family unit. My peers and my colleagues were there for the good times and some tough times on the show."
How did you feel about the show moving from Rochdale to Scotland?
"The move was quite smooth for me, to be honest. I've got family in Glasgow which helped, and I think I'm at that age now where I'm just ready to spread my wings a bit more, so it was great.
"The move has been great for Glasgow as well, because it gives them a chance to nurture young new talent and brings exposure for them. Glasgow really looked after us, and for me it's Scotland's answer to Manchester."
Were you sad not to have your on-screen family members with you for series eight?
"Yeah, because I did build a bond with the two girls - Aryana who played Trudi, and Shifaa who played Naseem. We became very close, so much so that we are like siblings in some ways! I definitely did miss them and there are scenes in episode three where I send Trudi a message over email.
"The feelings that I have towards those two girls helped with my acting, because it fuelled the emotions. They were missed, and it's always tough when you lose cast members that you get on with really well."
We hear that you've finished filming with the show now, so what are your future plans?
"When you're on a show like Waterloo Road, you're on such a high - and then you come off it and you're just waiting for the phone to ring!
"I'm just playing the waiting game at the moment, but fingers crossed it won't be for too long. If there are any writers, directors or producers out there who want to work with me, by all means I'm willing to sink my teeth into some meaty projects, so give me a call!"
> Read our full spoiler for episode three of 'Waterloo Road's new series
> Read the latest 'Waterloo Road' spoilers and news
Waterloo Road airs Tariq's big episode on Thursday, September 6 at 8pm on BBC One.