Archived Ramblings



I don't know how many of you have been checking, but I've been trying to keep track of every book Daria is shown reading. I know I've missed some (my copies of some episodes weren't nearly high enough quality to let me read the titles) so if you know of some I'm missing, let me know. All the books on this list are recommended reads for any serious (or not so serious) bibliophile.

What brought that up? Could it be "Fire!"? Just a thought... Although I don't have the credits for this episode, I've been told it was written by Peggy Nicoll. Her use of Daria's reading to comment on the episode is wonderfully done.

I'm going to start by addressing the minor (i.e. not Daria, Jane or Tom) scenes. The Fashion Club was pretty typical this episode, and I'm not too sure why this subplot was given so much time. As Quinn points out, Sandi's stalker comments don't fit with the Fashion Club objectives, and there's only so much more jealous and snippy Sandi can get before imploding or snatching Quinn bald. The most amusing thing with these young ladies was Stacy wearing a cowboy hat with her swimming suit; perhaps she's another Texas transplant?
Bobby was sort of weird character. That's a lot of setup to go through for one joke. Besides, if he's such a "computer geek" why is doing a low-pay hotel job?
Jodie was used well this episode, with Jane exploding at her and then trying to talk with her. I would have liked to have seen Jodie used more this episode, and the Fashion Club less.

The Morgendorffers were a bit odd this episode. All their reactions to the fire were great, but Helen and Jake just changed so much at the hotel (twice) that it makes them a little less believable. Relaxation, fine, but their little love/rage relationship is just plain strange. On the other hand, they obviously don't go on vacation nearly as much as they should...
Quinn was herself, but she did show a brief burst of consciousness when she was about to turn down the Presidential Suite when she realized the insurance wouldn't pay for it. She was also the set up for one of the best lines of the episode (the squishy-squishy one), but like the rest of the Fashion Club, she got too much screen time for not enough story.

Daria and Jane and Tom, oh my. This episode's main function is, of course, a setup for the season finale. Tom and Jane having problems is not a surprise, they've been in a fight of some sort nearly every time we've seen them this season. Tom is not handling the relationship well at this point, and their first fight of the episode actually involves Daria, which is not a good sign to Jane. Backed up by the pizza invite and their political discussion, Jane gets pretty jealous and paranoid, but we've never seen her in a serious relationship before, so it's hard to tell whether or not this is her usual reaction. She is definitely put in a bad position this episode, and she doesn't hide it (I've never seen someone rip a canvas with a small paintbrush before). The most telling sign of her relationship with Tom is when Jane goes to Jodie for help, and when she described their usual date Jodie responds with "You're kidding, right?"
Daria and Tom do seem a good match. They're both smart and well read, and seem to like making fun of the same things. Daria's confrontation with Jane in her room is pretty much when Jane finally admits to herself what's going on. Her charge of Daria "monopolizing his time" is ironic, considering what Daria and Jane were fighting about in "Jane's Addition."

Overall this is a fair episode. There's not as much of the Daria-style humor as I'd like, but it is there to some degree. The story is pretty good, but it also doesn't quite work as a drama; there's simply too much incidental and trivial stuff taking up time. Definitely not as bad as most of the last couple seasons, but not great either.

Which leaves "Dye! Dye! My Darling." I could hardly mention one without the other, as they're too close to a "to be continued..." split episode.

Where to start? Why don't I address the humor? There really wasn't any after the dye-shopping scene, except for Trent's refrigerator comment. This really is a marked shift for the show, but with this topic that's unavoidable. A major are-we-still-friends fight between Daria and Jane, the two characters we've been setup to identify with, is hardly going to be funny. This leaves the character of fifth season open to question... As a drama, this episode worked well, with everything, even the brief Fashion Club appearance, serving some sort of purpose for the story. But as a Daria episode? If that humor comes back, we're probably okay, but we have to wait and see.

I'm going to take the rest of this fairly sequentially, rather than character by character.

Jane forcing Daria to do her hair was really awkward, for both of them. Jane knew, as Trent points out, that Daria was not going to be any good at that, and was basically fishing for a reason to fight with her. Jane seems to be incredibly jealous between "Fire!" and this episode, and what's odd is the focus of it. Jane's been very close friends with Daria for a while now, and protecting a new not-so-great relationship at the cost of a strong old one doesn't make much sense. Jealousy rarely does, but Jane is really going way out on this, and she basically does accuse Daria of trying to steal Tom. Jane then gets, as Daria expected, a reason to fight, and throws Daria out. She then starts avoiding Daria, which does fit with her earlier behavior, as we've seen her try to run from her problems rather than face them before (and her whole fondness for running is probably an allusion to this).
Daria's attempts to talk to Jane were quite interesting, and her short talk with Jodie was good (and contained one of the few jokes of the episode). Jodie already knows there's problems there, and her face when Daria tells her "You mean, if I talk to her" is very informative. She may be more than an acquaintance and classmate to Daria and Jane, but she's definitely not fully in the friend category to either of them.
Daria tries calling Helen after she tries calling Jane for some reason. She then proceeds to call Tom, which does make some sense, since Tom could be expected to know something about what Jane's up to. That Tom hasn't even thought to go over to Jane's house and see what's wrong -- especially after that freaky phone call he mentions -- is yet another sign that their relationship isn't working. We've seen too small a sample to really place blame, but Tom is getting a lot of it so far.
Daria finally gets to talk to Jane, and again is forced to apologize for something she shouldn't have to. This friendship really does mean a lot to her, and this makes some of her later actions less understandable. In addition to the apology, Daria actually lies to Jane (about being interested in Tom, and she stopped lying to herself about this in "Fire!"), which again doesn't fit some of her later actions, unless we assume that at this point she's doing everything she can to make their friendship work.
Then when Daria gets home, she finds Tom sitting out front. The Fashion Club serve their purpose, allowing Daria and Tom to have their confrontation in private. Daria gets in the car with him, and almost leaves when he doesn't want to talk about Jane, but instead gets pissed off and tells him off in her speech about her one moment of luck. Unfortunately, they then fall into cliché, with the old "hate then love" bit and Tom kissing Daria, right after an argument about how big a betrayal that would be. I still can't figure out why in the world Tom would start that first kiss in this moment, especially after his and Daria's comments about what it would do to Jane. Daria assists in it, but Tom has to lean half way across the car first. He's been shown as impulsive before, but we haven't seen much of him as a character yet, so it's hard to tell how well this fits him (if it fits well, this is not going to bode well for his relationship with Daria).

Then Daria goes looking for someone to talk to. Jake, Helen, even Quinn. Quinn could be considered an "expert" in this field, but Daria's ethics are so different, and she knows that, there's not any real point in asking. Daria's never been in a real relationship before, and she doesn't really have an good examples to have learned from. Quinn certainly has a lot of dates, but none of them have been serious, and Jake and Helen are, well, slightly dysfunctional. Still, Helen is the closest thing to an expert on the subject that Daria has available.

Jane is amazingly chipper at school the next day. She may have actually got over her jealousy jag, at least until Daria's compulsive truth-telling (and bad timing) slapped her in the face. I can certainly see Daria telling Jane, that had to happen, but in the middle of the hall? Daria doesn't like to be the center of attention, and she is a fairly private person. The only thing that could force this out of her here is an incredible load of guilt. Unfortunately, and almost incidentally, this scene ruined the small buildup of Andrea's character. After they got our hopes up in "Mart of Darkness" it wasn't nice to see her gawking at Daria and Jane's big fight.
Jane, understandably, goes to beat up Tom. After her initial violent outburst, they settle down and have a surprisingly calm discussion. Tom at least accepts all the blame, and shows better relationship skills in this scene than he has before. Jane's attack-then-defend Daria comments were a great highlight of her confusion over how she should be reacting here. She definitely isn't as secure as the image she usually fronts, and the voice acting in this scene was just superb.

I really don't know what to make of Daria going to Helen at work. Helen's response is accurate; if Daria's actually come seeking her out at work, there's a really big problem. Helen really couldn't be expected to solve this problem, but as Daria says she's got no one else (which would have been a more Daria line if she hadn't added the "I didn't mean it that way"). Helen at least knows Daria enough to be truthful, even if her "everything will turn out all right somehow" line is weak drivel. Their little talk doesn't much cheer Daria up, and it couldn't be expected to. The residuals on this will be interesting, and how Daria interacts with Helen in fifth season is going to be one of the watch-points of the show.

Trent gets what is probably his best performance this episode. He's used very well, even if he isn't singing at all, and he gets about the only funny line in the last half of the show. He definitely knows his little sister well, and he's surprisingly aware of relationships given his on-again, off-again history with Monique.

This pretty much leaves Daria and Jane's final conversation scene. This does highlight what the friendship means to Daria, and her "Right?" when Jane just shrugs... One comment in particular during this scene struck me. Jane's comment about Daria being the tagalong all year, plus Tom's similar comment earlier adds to the way most of fourth season showed Jane fitting Daria in around Tom's schedule. Jane couldn't see herself doing the same thing (especially now), and this is going to be one of the problems to come up often next season.

This was a strong episode, judged as a drama, but it was questionable as a Daria episode. The early ones could make fun of serious problems in a great way, but we haven't seen that happen in a long while. The comedic-drama format was largely lost in favor of one side or the other most of the season, and next season offers the opportunity to either get back on track or shift the focus of the show outright. The latter would seem to be a really bad move, as alienating your established fan base at the same time as you're negotiating for another season is not a smart move.
There are a lot of issues left hanging with this episode, which isn't unusual for a season finale. Much of it is addressed in the movie (don't expect that Rambling for a couple days), but just leaving it there isn't going to work if they're emphasizing the drama elements of the show. This all makes it hard to judge this episode until we find out how the next episodes go.


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