Daria and Jane's multimedia project for English class hits two snags when Trent, who agreed to do the music, completely slacks off on his end, and Jane starts spending all of her time with Tom, a boy they met at the Zon.
When Mr. O'Neill assigns his students to create multimedia projects, Daria and Jane decide to ask Trent to contribute some music. They plan to ask him during a gig at the Zon, but Jane becomes intrigued by a young man named Tom. During the Spiral's break, she and Tom go off to get some food, leaving a rather put-out Daria behind to speak with Trent, who agrees to help with their project. Unfortunately, neither development works out well for Daria, as Jane starts spending more and more time with Tom, while Trent doesn't appear to be putting any effort into his part of the project. This leads to tension all around, with Daria resenting Tom for what she perceives to be his horning in on her friendship with Jane, Jane -- who can't understand why Daria is so upset -- angry with Daria for the way she's acting towards Tom, and both girls upset with Trent for his lack of effort. Eventually, Daria and Tom come to an understanding regarding Jane, with Tom convincing her that he's not out to steal Jane's friendship (in fact, according to him, Daria is practically all that Jane talks about); they don't exactly become friends, but the tension is mostly lifted. At school, Daria and Jane turn in their project, a so-so effort that's upstaged by Upchuck's entry... all thanks to Trent, who (not surprisingly) failed to fulfill his commitment. In the end, Daria and Trent reconcile over Trent's blunder and they remain friends, even though Daria is now keenly aware of Trent's slacker tendencies and his inability to stick to commitments; and she, Jane, and Tom share a pizza and each others' company... a sign of interesting times to come.
Historical & Cultural References:
- This is the episode that introduces Tom Sloane. He will appear in various episodes throughout the remainder of the series, first as Jane's boyfriend, then (after "Dye! Dye! My Darling" (#413)) as Daria's boyfriend. His last name isn't revealed until "Is It Fall Yet?".
- The "shipper" storyline, which began with Daria's instant crush on Trent in "The Invitation" (#102), appears to have been crushed (pun intended) for good, thanks to Daria finally seeing Trent for who he is (but still remaining good friends).
- The music used in Upchuck's multimedia presentation is the opening notes of Richard Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," which is best known to modern audiences as the theme from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey and its 1984 sequel, 2010 (both based on novels by Arthur C. Clarke).
- Tom's rustbucket car is a Ford Pinto, an automobile from the 1970s that had a rather nasty defect: in a collision, the gas tank could rupture, causing a fire or even an explosion.
- This episode was originally promoted by MTV as "Jane's Addiction," but the title was apparently changed at the last minute. Interestingly, both titles refer to the character Tom, but for different reasons (the original title for Jane's attraction to the guy, and the final title for Tom's addition to the cast as a semi-regular).
- The computer on Mr. O'Neill's desk appears to use an Iomega Zip drive, a device popular in the late 1990s as a replacement for the 3.5" floppy drive. It has since fallen out of favor, replaced by recordable CD and DVD media and USB flash drives.
- This is the first episode to not include visual appearances by Helen, Jake, and Quinn (only their voices are heard).
- According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, "homeopathy" is a medical practice that, in layman's terms, treats a disease by giving the patient tiny doses of the thing that's causing the disease.
Mr. O'Neill - Isn't it a thrilling idea? Jane?
Jane - Um-hmm. In fact, may I go to the girl's room and down some tranquilizers?
Mr. O'Neill - Oh, no. Tranquilizers?! Jane, have you considered homeopathy?
Jane - I'm going to stick with guys for now, but thanks for asking.
Jane - Come on! This is going to be fun -- you doing words, me pictures. It's exciting.
Daria - Oh, yeah. Very exciting.
Jane - I know what would make it exciting.
Daria - We do the whole thing while walking over hot coals?
Jane - Trent'll love doing some computer music. It'll satisfy the secret techno dance freak hiding beneath that cool alternative exterior.
Daria - I don't think I want to meet that techno dance freak.
Jane - Sure you do. We'll ask him at the Mystik Spiral gig tonight.
Daria - This dance freak doesn't wear spandex, does he?
Trent - We're Mystik Spiral. We'll be back for a second set.
Jesse - This was the first set!
Trent - Uh, yeah.
Daria - I'm kind of beat. I hope you won't be insulted if I don't hang around.
Trent - Hey, the second set's just the stuff that's not good enough for the first. I wouldn't stay for it myself if I weren't in the band.
Jane - Do you have any idea what time it is?
Daria - It's almost noon.
Jane - Mm. I guess righteous indignation isn't really appropriate, then.
Daria - You and Jane aren't really morning people, are you?
Trent - Hey, the night holds the key.
Daria - The key to what?
Trent - I don't know, Daria. It's early.
Daria - Wow, I can see why Jane wanted to ride in this car.
Tom - You know Jane, she's a thrill seeker. A gas tank that can blow at any minute -- she couldn't resist.
Daria - I really hope [Trent] makes it as a musician 'cause I can't think of any other job he could hold down.
Tom - I don't know -- you know those farmers that get paid not to grow anything?
Helen (offscreen) - Meeting!
Jake (offscreen) - Golf!
Quinn (offscreen) - Date!
Daria - Sarcasm!
Trent - I feel bad about letting you guys down. I wanted to explain what happened.
Daria - Oh. Well, sure.
Trent - I just couldn't get the music together.
Daria - Yeah...?
Trent - That's it.
Trent - Maybe we just have different ideas about what a commitment is.
Daria - I suppose we do.
Trent - I guess it wasn't such a great idea for us to get together... on this.
Daria - No, I guess there was no way it could have worked out.
Trent - Listen, I got to get to rehearsal. I'm late.
Daria - How do you know? You don't wear a watch.
Trent - I'm always late. That's why I don't wear a watch. They depress me.
Tom was the likeable sort from Jane's perspective. He was witty and charming. Also honest and not the least bit afraid of telling it like it is (or at least how he sees it). In essence, she liked the way he looked and was wowed by his personality. From Daria's perspective, he was a predator intent on devouring Daria and Jane's friendship. This was evident in her reaction to the two of them leaving the club early. All she said was "Great," but she said it in such a way that conveyed disgust and dismay. It was almost an "uh oh" type of reaction and it told Daria that she should be at war with this intruder. Daria really tried hard not to like Tom because Jane is smitten with him so quickly. The way she reacted to his unannounced appearance at the pizzeria expanded this. The scowl and subsequent verbal putdowns were enough to shake the knees of even the most confident. Despite all of the hostilities directed his way, Tom remained diplomatic and made a sincere effort to be nice to Daria. He finally forced her into a conversation and made her realize that he wasn't all that bad. He told her how Jane is always talking her up and how that their friendship is too strong to be pulled apart by any one person. She finally conceded that her actions would do more damage than Tom ever could.
Daria was more nasty than she has ever been, and not just to Tom. She was being way too overprotective of Jane because she is so afraid to lose her as a friend. The irrationality of her responses was seen in her anger in the pizza shop: she got mad for no real reason. The only thing that Jane could have done to deserve anything like that was her blowing off of Daria in the club. That may have been inconsiderate but it shouldn't facilitate the type of anger Daria had. The fight gets really out of hand when Daria goes to check on Trent's music. They got so carried away that they started to transfer their anger onto Trent. They almost found another way to feel (or at least who to feel it towards). Forgetting what you're fighting about is a good way to stop the fight.
Oddly Placed Possible Reference of the Week:
Daria and Jane's final presentation was oddly reminiscent of South Park. It was almost surely unintentional, since some computer animation works that way. It could also be a sly commentary about Daria's animated cousins that don't move their legs when they walk. You be the judge!
Filler Scenes of the Week:
That would be the presentations that we saw that weren't attributed to Daria and Jane. Kevin and Brittany are now full-fledged members of the school spirit cult and Upchuck seems to think he is some sort of deity. On the other hand, Daria and Jane's emotional cycle can be linked to the main plot (if I recall correctly, they are also the five psychological stages that terminally ill patients go through, but it's been a while since I took Psych 101). Daria went through at least some of those stages dealing with Tom and Jane in this episode. She didn't believe what was happening, she tried not to deal with it, she was forced to negotiate a truce, she was angry a lot, and in the end she accepted the whole thing.
Mr. O'Neill's multimedia assignment is such a bad idea for so many reasons. First, he's assuming that his students have some prior knowledge of the software or can learn it quickly. Also, he's expecting his students to be capable of coming up with some kind of production on their own. The project was contrived. However, Daria and Jane's handling of the project is more the point. Jane assumes that she and Daria would work together; that's probably what would have happened anyway but you should never assume. Daria does the words, Jane does the pictures; that's more than appropriate. Trent for the music? That should be well within his capabilities (even though he thought the project was about Mystic Spiral). However, he didn't come through. He is cool, but less than reliable. He doesn't work well in the time restraints that most of the world does.
Shipper Teases of the Week:
Daria and Trent's final conversation was littered with phrases that could only be meant to appeal to the thirty some odd percent of us that are 'shippers. There was Trent's "we couldn't get together on this," followed by Daria's "this couldn't work out," and then the both of them were "understanding each other" which put the whole scene at 'shipper critical mass. When Trent apologized and gave Daria a kiss (which was the most contrived scene in Daria history), it felt like they were breaking up from a relationship that never took place. Maybe the intent was to get all of the 'shipper to see the light or make them think that they missed Trent's and Daria's hook up.
The crush, as it has been, is over (Hallelujah!). In its place, the domain of "let's be friends" land now resides. Daria has finally realized that Trent is way too "relaxed" for her tastes. He claims to take his career seriously but is chronically late for gigs. In effect, Daria and Trent find out that they are completely incompatible and that they would drive each other crazy. However, Trent is definitely developing some feelings for Daria and it will remain to be seen where those feelings end up. Too bad she is over him as a love interest. Does this stuff ever work out?
Missing in Action:
Quinn, Jake and Helen aren't seen and have three words of dialogue between them. Now they know how Andrea, Mack, Jodie and countless others feel! The only minor characters that don't go away are the most annoying (the Fashion Club, Kevin, Brittany, etc.).
This first element that I want to address is the excess of spooge in this episode (it's one reason that I don't read as much fanfic as most people). I can't take too much of the over the top soap opera type shenanigans and they were laid on pretty thick here. I can't remember exactly what the official word was, but the crush is seemingly gone and I couldn't be happier. Daria has figured out that the Trent she idolizes isn't the Trent that lives in Lawndale. Otherwise, Tom tested Jane and Daria's friendship like never before. One can only hope that he sticks around as a recurring character because he is a rare positive portrayal of the human male.
The Bottom Line:
More or less a strong finish. Heavy.
Daria as a Whole #1, MTV Scheduling:
Unfortunately, after this episode originally aired, some screw up at MTV decided not to rerun any Daria except for the 10 Spot airing for a couple of weeks. Oh well.
Daria as a Whole #2, She Sure Knows How to Pick 'Em:
Jane has finally picked a guy that is half decent. In the past, her choices were either jerks or pigs.
Daria as a Whole #3, Band Development:
Mystik Spiral seems to be getting better but Trent seems to be getting more and more ticked off at his bandmates. Isn't that always what happens, just when a group is getting toward the cusp of greatness, they members start to resent one another.
Daria as a Whole #4, The Review That Wouldn't End:
This seems like one of the longer reviews I've ever written, I don't really know why. There was even some stuff that may have been left out about this season as a unit (all will be revealed in the season three review). Other than that, all I want to say is that I've enjoyed this season immensely and appreciate all of the support this whole community has given. Thank you all. Oh, and I can't wait until season four starts (sets alarm clock to February).
Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved]. Used with permission. The views presented here are those of the author, and may or may not necessarily be those of Outpost Daria.