June 9, 2001
There seems to be some scheduling confusion over the last couple episodes. Different guides give different answers, so we're going to have to wait and see which episode is which. I think "Boxing Daria" will be #512, but we don't have enough information about either to really say.
To deal with the quick bits first, the Fashion Club didn't get much real play in "Aunt Nauseam". Tiffany and Kevin seem to be competing for the title of Stupidest Cartoon Character Ever. Sandi was her old vindictive self. Stacy was sweet again. The entire subplot seemed to be there solely to highlight Quinn and the main plot.
Jane got a line. Why Daria talked to Jane rather than Tom was explained in the episode, so there really isn't anything left here.
Jake's still stuck as his hopeless self. He runs off to avoid the crossfire, but only manages to give Helen and Rita something more to fight over.
What is up with Tom? One episode shows him willing to drop his date
to go bowling (or chase squirrels) and now he's more patient than
Saint Peter. The guy gets a door closed in his face in the middle
of a word and doesn't mind. I guess the guys on this show are only
allowed to fall into one of three categories: total idiot (Kevin),
hopeless goof (Jake) or willing to take anything a woman cares to
dish out (Mr. O'Neill, um, I mean Tom). Not, of course, that they
can't fit into multiple categories there. So yeah, the old complaint.
Erin never actually appeared, but she was part of the episode. And she certainly seems to have some major emotional problems. Helen's comment about Rita's parenting skills probably wasn't very far off the mark. (Brian seems to fit the fourth category of male on the show: total jerk/creep/sleezeball.)
Speaking of Rita... what is up with her? She is definitely not well educated (divorce case to the Supreme Court?) and we've seen no real indication of what she does for a living. In fact, Helen's implied that she's never really held a steady job. Makes me suspect that "mother" is supporting her still, which would certainly get Helen upset.
A quick aside concerning the Barksdale family, but they certainly seem to be well off. If Mrs. Barksdale can afford to pay for the weddings and send Erin off to a spa in Switzerland for a week they can't be hurting.
Amy gets to make another appearance, probably her last unless she
shows up in the movie. She's there partly to help Daria's relationship,
mostly to show that Daria's more mature than she seems to think. What'll
probably be taken as most interesting is Amy's reaction to Daria's
room. Either she's heard all about it or has seen it before. And from
her comments she's talked to Daria about Tom before, so there's more
contact between them than we've seen on screen.
Helen was an ambitious, competitive kid? What a surprise, although I do wonder how she made it from that to hippy and back. She certainly is easily talked into things by her family. Still, she was willing to make a peace offering at the end, even if she didn't really think it through first (baking cookies?).
As far as birth order goes, I'm guessing that Helen was oldest and Rita youngest. From their comments, Rita certainly seemed to be treated as the baby of the family, and Helen was the driven, ambitious one (sounds a lot like Jodie, actually).
Quinn was pretty much back to her dense mode again. Even people
who haven't seen nor read "Gone with the Wind" should be able to recognize
that line. She did show quite a bit of self-restraint there, giving
Daria a backhanded compliment right after looking like she wanted
to slap her.
Might as well get this out of the way. Daria does have some connection
with Amy, but there isn't much of one. Daria certainly considers (or,
considered) Amy the most balanced of the three Barksdale sisters,
but that isn't saying much. Daria probably talks to Amy, but obviously
doesn't do it much. Amy knew she was dating, but hey, it's been almost
a year now and Amy could have heard that from Helen. Moreover, Amy
didn't know Tom's name, and it's not like there's been a lot of different
names to remember. Out of Daria's extended family, she certainly seems
most comfortable with Amy, but we haven't seen her extended family
much at all.
This whole episode was basically about relationships. The Civil War references were packed in hard and heavy, but the main purpose of this episode was probably a setup for the season finale, which seems to also be about relationships. The episode feels pretty rushed, but there's the usual case of trying to do too much in too little time. Some good lines, but not a laugh riot. Solid episode, but not a classic.