Archived Ramblings

June 30, 2001


Well, that was it for regular episodes. We've still got a movie left, but it seems that won't be out until the end of the year. My Ramblings are probably going to be pretty sparse between now and then, but I've still got stuff to add to the page. I'll mostly be working on alter-egos and getting the merchandise section updated, but I also want to get my minor and one-time character pages going.

Let's start the episode with Mr. O'Neill. That man is another one who's good at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sure he means well, but heck, you can say the same about people like Stalin. They've got the same problem, too, the way they go about things. Mr. O'Neill doesn't have people killed, but he tends to be the karmic equivalent of being slowly flayed to death with scented bootlaces. He's the sort of person that should never be allowed to teach children, but I bet he'd never be able to find an alternate career.

Tom doesn't appear much in this episode. He's more notable for what he doesn't do than what he does. He puts up with yet another one of Daria's little bitch fests without getting upset, and he's even willing to joke with her later. Mostly, however, he's just out of town.

Quinn is another minor player this episode. It takes her favorite snacks being threatened for her to be willing to do a minor chore around the house. She (and Daria) seem to have been very spoiled as far as this goes, which is slightly unusual in a household where both parents work. She does manage to show some actual empathy and thoughtfulness at the end of the episode, but other than that her interesting performance is confined to the flashback scenes.
Young Quinn is rather hyper, isn't she? We only really get the one scene with her, but it does say a lot about her. Mom and dad don't like being called to school, they complain about it when they are for Daria, so I'm going to do everything Daria doesn't seems to be her attitude. There's certainly a dose of "look at me" in her actions, but she's rather desperate for parental approval there.

Jake is his usual volatile self, but he actually gets a decent line for once. Only after messing up it a couple times first, of course. He certainly seems to have had some bad employment experiences, but that just makes it less likely he'd have accepted that dot com job back in "Sappy Anniversary". Given his temper, though, it's really not surprising that he's stormed out of the house at some point. I wouldn't be surprised if he's done it more than once. Helen and Jake didn't remember the fight at first, so Jake spending a night in a hotel must have happened fairly often.

Helen had to be pretty confused after that first fight with Daria. Daria does place a high value on honesty, and Helen should know that by now, but she didn't know what Daria was talking about. We actually don't see much new from Helen this episode. She's been shown to have some understanding with Daria as far back as "Write Where it Hurts", if not further.

Jane isn't present too much in this episode, but her brief appearances are very important. She's confirmed as the person Daria trusts the most, although that's not a surprise. Her reaction to being hugged by Daria is pretty much perfect, sort of a "what the hell is going on?" look.

Daria is the big star of the show. Her name's on the front, so that's as it should be, especially for a series finalé. I want to start with young Daria. She's definitely very bright for a six year old, and the flashbacks generated a lot of comments about how much she was like various fans. Young Daria's reaction isn't exactly uncommon, a lot of kids are like that. Something a lot of adults don't seem to understand is that to a lot of kids that age adults are a lot more interesting than other kids. In my experience, most kids that age are more interested in adults than in other kids. Even young Quinn seemed to be more concerned with the adult's opinions than the other kids (although that changed somewhere along the way, as it often does). Daria probably didn't have much to do with decorating her room, a clown light switch doesn't seem even a six year old Daria's choice.
"Black Beauty" was an interesting choice of book for her to read. One of the basic themes of the book is that animals will serve humans as long as they're well treated, which is an obvious tie-in with the theme of the show. I certainly hope I'm not ruining the end of the book for anyone (please tell me you've read it by now), but after a lot of abuse Black Beauty ends up in a good home, which is an allusion to Daria dealing with a lot of crap from her supposed peers and finally ending up with at least a couple good ones. The senseless punishments in the book are definitely comparable to the public education system (the kind of thing Daria was getting from the psychiatrist was why I ended up in private schools...).
This episode was heavier on the symbolism than most, also pulling in the cardboard box as an allusion to the emotional walls Daria was putting up (also with reason). There's also the (common) variation on the pathetic fallacy with the stormy weather as Daria deals with her emotions. There were probably more, but that's what I remember off the top of my head. And her line about "I like to read" was delivered perfectly.
On to older Daria. She goes a little bit wacko. She treats Tom as bad as ever, getting angry at him after putting words in his mouth. She's just as touchy with Helen. And she hides in a big cardboard box box when Jane and Quinn are around. She's guilt tripping pretty heavily here, and it's not totally clear why. Jake, of all people, has to give her an explanation, one that she should have been able to see for herself.

There were a lot of good references this episode. They managed to tie Daria's early childhood to the early days of the series and the end of the series to the beginning.

I do have two big problems with the episode. One was the blackout introduction, which seemed totally unnecessary to me. It didn't really add any tension; there is a movie still to come after all.
The other was more important. This episode came dangerously close to undermining the entire series. You do NOT build a show around a character that is an intelligent outsider who makes fun of the stupidities other people refuse to recognize and then have her say, "Oh, wait, I'm just a jerk!" This isn't quite what they did, but the scene in the diner and just after was looking like it would go that way.

Overall, a solid end to the series. Not much of a lead-in to the movie, but from the rumors of the way season 5 was picked up by MTV that's not surprising. It was a good dramatic episode, with some nice characterization on Daria, but not much humor.

I want to end with a quote I find very appropriate. It's from Calvin and Hobbes, spoken by Calvin, which I find rather suitable for a number of reasons.

"I wish I had more friends, but people are such jerks. If you can just get most people to ignore you and leave you alone you're doing good. If you can find even one person you really like, you're lucky. And if that person can also stand you, you're really lucky."

Daria is, indeed, very lucky.


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