Mrs. Bennett's class assignment in "real world" economics produces some interesting pair-ups. Daria and Jane, who are having a spat regarding Tom, partner with Jodie and Brittany, respectively, while Mack teams up with Kevin.
The students in Mrs. Bennett's class are given a "real world" economics assignment: apply for a loan, buy a car, etc. and report on the experience. Naturally, Daria and Jane will pair up for this, right? Wrong; the partners in crime are having a spat, due to Daria's continued difficulty in accepting Tom in Jane's life. A friendship isn't the only thing on the rocks, either: Kevin and Brittany are fighting again, this time over who is more intelligent than the other. Jodie eventually teams up with Daria, as she's reluctant to work with the lack-of-financial-savvy Mack (and she definitely doesn't want to work with Brittany), while Brittany joins forces with Jane and Kevin works with Mack. Both the Kevin/Mack and Brittany/Jane teams decide to buy a car, but each has a different experience. While Kevin and Mack are confronted by a fast-talking salesman, Brittany and Jane deal with a sleazeball who's only interested in Brittany's "assets." Jodie and Daria's experiences with getting a small business loan turn out to be both fruitful and frustrating; the first banker all but dismisses Jodie until he finds out that Jodie's father, Andrew Landon, is "the folding coffee cup guy," at which point he completely changes his tune. She accuses him of being racist, and they both leave. At the second bank, however, she slips into hypocritical territory by starting off her pitch by mentioning her father. When they return to Daria's house and she calls Jodie on it, Jodie blows up at her and leaves. This, and a heart-to-heart chat with Helen, makes Daria realize that she's been too rigid and inflexible, and while that is the way she prefers to live her life, she doesn't have to be so inflexible that it alienates her friends. At school, she apologizes to Jodie, but before she can do so to Jane, Jane tells her that she understands where she's coming from and why, and forgives her. And the big intelligence argument? Brittany wins that one by default when Kevin stupidly puts down a cash down-payment on a car, failing to understand that Mrs. Bennett didn't expect the students to actually go through with the purchase.
Daria - You know, you don't have to tiptoe around me like I'm some sort of hysterical nut job.
Jane - There are many words I could use to describe you. Hysterical is not among them.
Brittany - I know what you think, but I know what I think, and I think I think just as well as you think, don't you think?
Kevin - Babe, if it were up to me, I'd want you to have the brain power of a guy, but it's science. Men are smarter, because we have more muscle mass in our heads.
Jane - They're fighting over who's smarter?
Daria - There's a battle of the Titans.
Daria - Are you comparing Kevin and Brittany to you and me?
Jane - There's, like, 16 possible combinations there, and not a single one of them works.
Mrs. Bennett - I'd really rather you work with someone, Daria. In the real world, we rarely make financial decisions without having to consider someone else's needs and wishes.
Daria - Lousy real world.
Jane - So, you want to do the project alone, hmm?
Daria - Kind of. I kind of said that to tick you off.
Jane - It worked.
Jane - You want to do a class project with me?
Brittany - Well, not really, but I mean, you're right here and all.
Jane - Oh, Brittany, you sweet-talker, you. (Jane and Brittany walk away)
Daria - I hate everybody.
Jodie - What should we call our company?
Daria - "Brink of Bankruptcy, Incorporated?"
Loan Officer - And just exactly what is your role in the company, Miss Morgendorffer?
Daria - Public relations officer.
Jodie - Daria is the inside person; I'm the outside person.
Loan Officer - Very wise decision.
(Trent enters the room)
Trent - Hey, Janey. Hey, Da... (sees Brittany) ...whoa!
Brittany - Hello, Mack.
Kevin - Excuse me, Mack, but would tell these ladies about the awesome deal I just made for a car?
Brittany - Go on, tell us, Mack.
Mack - Could everyone stop saying my name like that? It's creeping me out.
Jodie - Hey, Daria... that was nice what you said in that presentation.
Daria - Don't get conceited. The only reason I changed my mind about what you did is that I was wrong and I acted like a clod.
Jodie - That's two reasons.
Daria - Rub it in, why don't you?
Jane - Couldn't help overhearing that you've been acting like a clod.
Daria - Yeah, I'll bet that came as a big shock. Well, at least she acted stupid, too, so we both had to apologize.
Jane - Yeah. Imagine how bad you'd feel if you'd been behaving like that towards someone who hadn't even done anything to you.
Mrs. Bennett is probably one of the only sane teachers at Lawndale. The project -- to go out and see how a real world financial transaction might take place -- was a great idea. It also led us right into the main conflict of this episode: Daria and Jane's argument. In the past, any project that would require working in groups would almost guarantee that Daria and Jane would work together, but not this time.
Speaking of working together, one of the funnier parts of this episode was the sequence when Jodie decided to work with Daria, just to make sure she wouldn't have to work with Brittany (especially Brittany's "radar"). Too bad Kevin and Brittany didn't work together this time. <sarcasm> I'm sure their grades really suffered because of it. </sarcasm>
It's good to see that Tom wasn't a throw-away character. He was used very well in this episode for his limited role. Daria is obviously still not comfortable with him and she made this very clear to Jane in the scene where she inadvertently compared Kevin and Brittany to Daria and herself. Though, I don't really think that Jane is exclusively a Tom "worshipper." The situation is at its worst when Daria wouldn't sit down with Jane for some pizza. The sadness was apparent in Jane's face.
What's Your Problem?
We all know that Daria and Jodie working together all but cements an "A" on the project; however, things aren't perfect in brain-ville. Is what Jodie did at the second bank wrong? That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question. My answer is, well, yes and no. Yes, by relying on her father's reputation she is in a way cheating and it could probably lead to some bad business habits. However, she was smart enough to realize what she had to do to get the deal done even if it was a road she didn't really want to go down. I think this really points out some of the major difference between Daria and Jodie, as Helen rightly pointed out. Daria looks at things as they should be, if the world were ideal. Whereas, Jodie has a much better feel for real life situations and realizes that things don't take place in a vacuum.
Heart to Heart:
Speaking of Helen, I think she was sincere about not wanting to pry into Daria's business. But Daria, again, is in need of some guidance and does all but ask for it directly. She needed reassurance from her mother that she wasn't hopeless, and she got it. Helen pointed out that having strong beliefs isn't a character flaw, and it isn't, but the way she said it felt a bit heavy-handed to me. But, I also thought it was good for Helen to direct Daria to Jane, knowing that the only way for them to make up would be to talk about it.
Payback's a Bitch:
Daria tried her best to make it up to Jodie in their presentation and does a good job of it. However, she didn't try to make it up to Jane fast enough. But Jane was big enough to forgive her without getting an apology, which proves to Daria (or at least should prove to Daria) that Jane values their friendship. It was a really strong gesture and I think Daria realizes its importance. How many times has Daria been embarrassed and speechless at the same time (not counting "Road Worrier")?
Anti-shipper Tease of the Week:
That would be Trent's reaction to Brittany. On the surface, it may look like he might have the hots for her, but it was really a combination of a couple of things. First, he was expecting to see Daria, and Brittany is NOT Daria. Second, blame the male hormones; he saw a physically attractive girl and he acted accordingly for a guy that likes girls. See, it's not a big deal.
Way to sell cars, Wally! Not listening to the customers has to be the best way to sell stuff. Oh, and stalking a high school cheerleader doesn't sound like anything from car salesman training. Boy, was he a loser. The other Johnny Cochran-like car salesman really tried to fast talk Kevin and Mack. Not that it's terribly difficult to pull one over on Kevin (fortunately, Mack saw right through it), but I think it may have worked too well -- he went and really bought the car anyway.
This episode had nearly everything that makes for a good episode of Daria. There was some real tension and conflict between the characters, which led to some great character development. There was good use of continuity, things that happened before weren't forgotten (especially the way Daria reacts to Tom), which is a refreshing change from the mentality that is prevalent in most episodic TV. There were a couple of things that were over the top (like Wally, and Jodie and Daria's first attempt to start their project). But overall, "Partner's Complaint" was a strong episode.
Daria as a Whole #1, New Animation:
It seemed obvious to me that the animators now have a few new tricks at their disposal. The animation was a bit brighter and the character movements were more smooth. I'm guessing that they're using some kind of computer software (a la Futurama) for some scenes, like when anyone walks in front of a stationary background. I did like it, it just took a second or two to get used to.
Daria as a Whole #2, Alter-Ego of the Week:
I'm hoping to make this a regular feature, which will probably become more difficult as the alter-egos start to get reused. Anyway, this week's alter-ego is Jane as Elec-girl (which is what I'm calling it -- anyone who spent hours upon hours playing the original Mega Man on their NES might know what I'm talking about).
Copyright © 2000 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.