Tuesday, February 5, 2013



Daria is hospitalized after coming down with a persistent rash, causing a number of rumors regarding her health to circulate the school. Daria's resistance to talk about her situation only fuels the rumors about her status, leading many students to visit her under the assumption that she may not survive.

Previous: Gifted

Her social anxieties are one of the things that makes Daria (Tracy Grandstaff) so relateable to much of the target audience, and her situation in this story is a very real nightmare for many unfortunate youths. Daria has made a number of great strides when it comes to overcoming her uneasiness with Trent (Alvaro J. Gonzalez), but here her body has another reaction that intrudes once more on any relationship she may hope to have with him.

Daria runs into Brittany (Janie Mertz) at a punk club, completely out of her element, and she's made an effort to change her style of clothing almost entirely, including having dyed her hair black. Initially Brittany states that she had accepted a date with someone else in order to spite Kevin (Marc Thompson), though later she states that she was interested in seeing what the kids who aren't interested in sports do in their spare time. Brittany is clearly out of her comfort zone here, but what makes this interesting is that she not only proves a willingness to go out of her way to understand those around her, but there's also a continuing hint of her unhappiness in her relationship with Kevin. While it can be argued that she doesn't show much growth as a character on a regular basis, this story proves that there is, to a point, something beneath the surface.

Quinn (Wendy Hoopes) comes to Daria's aide as she struggles with her skin condition, and though Daria questions her sister's motives, Quinn states simply that "skincare crises transcend personality conflicts" and proceeds to help her sister out. The implication here is that the two of them are generally not on good terms due to the pressures of their wildly differing social statuses, but Quinn proves to care for her sister in these moments as Daria has proved time and again in the past. There's also a hint that Daria's outcast status may be more self-imposed than even she realizes, as soon after Jane (Hoopes) arrives to check on her in the hospital, Jodie (Jessica Cydnee Jackson), Mack (Kevin Daniels), Brittany and Kevin all come to wish her well, implying that they each consider her something as a friend. While it could be argued that neither Brittany or Kevin come out of genuine concern for Daria, Jodie and Mack are a different case, and it should be interesting to see how their friendships progress should Daria accept their kindness. As the episode comes to a close Daria even shares a moment with both of her parents as she thanks them for worrying about her as Helen (Hoopes) acknowledges how well she handled the situation. So often Daria's shown to be opposed to the people in her life for little to no reason, but here she has the opportunity to connect with each of them on a human level, and it's nice to see her bond strengthen with the people that are important to her.

Jake (Julián Rebolledo) worries that Daria's taking, or dealing, drugs, and gives her a pamphlet on the subject to question whether or not the warning signs apply to her. Daria's quick to point out that he shouldn't be giving her a list of the behaviors she should avoid, as it could simply act as a guide of what she needs to hide in order to continue her alleged illicit activities, and Jake's abilities as a parent are really called into question here. Were Jake not always the dimmest bulb of the bunch it would seem as though the story was dumbing him down for laughs, but even so it's a wonder that he's able to function as a human being at all.

Kevin questions Brittany about her hair long after it had been dyed black, despite having been in the same class with her earlier that day, and likely having interacted with her prior to the end of the school day. It's a strange running gag that isn't all that funny to begin with, and it's questionable why Brittany simply wouldn't have worn a hat or made any kind of effort to conceal what she had done to her hair since she's trying to keep the events of the previous night a secret.

I understand that it's an acting choice on Mertz's part, but Brittany's voice is beyond grating, and though it's become a very established portion of her character at this point, I keep holding out hope that she'll change it in the future in some subtle way. Daniels seems to be settling into his portrayal of Mack fairly well, and the rest of the regular cast is enjoyable in their parts, too.

Director Sue Perrotto lets a few small issues slip through the cracks here, notably the pacing, which seems all over the place as the story treads on. Daria's rash comes on quickly and unexpectedly, but the animation for said rash is strange, and it may have been better done to just reveal it without showing the redness creep up her neck. The only explanation given for the rash is stress, brought about in the end by her encounter with Trent, but it's a wonder that this has never happened before now, and is likely never to come up again. Daria chooses to exit the club through the emergency exit, and it seems as though she's debated whether or not to go through due to the sign stating that the alarm will sound, but when she walks through the door there's no sound made, and though it can be argued that that's suitable given the state of the club itself, it's odd that the sign would have been included at all were it simply going to be ignored. On a positive note, Daria experiences a fever dream wherein she's ushered to Heaven by the previous resident of her hospital room, only to be rejected for being a brain and being sent to Hell, and it creates an interesting commentary on how she feels she relates to the rest of her peers, despite the fact that many of them appear here to see her in a much more positive light than she's aware.

Writer Peter Gaffney utilizes many techniques derived from silent movies in order to create something of a slapstick feel to parts of the script, weaving the stories together in order to force the cast to confront one another with their misunderstandings of certain situations. Brittany initially goes to Jane in order to make sure that Daria hadn't said anything about her date the night before, in effect revealing everything that she had asked Daria to keep quiet, while Jane, in turn, tells Brittany everything that Daria had asked her to keep secret, and in trying to cover her tracks she makes things worse by telling Brittany that Daria's has a rare brain fever that landed her in the hospital. While it's a relatively fun episode to watch, it's also nothing more than a throw-away, but it certainly does have it's moments.

While the rash here is intended to be another road block in Daria's efforts to date Trent, it seems likely that a romance between the two will never come to fruition, either through the formation of a more familial relationship or the introduction of another love interest. What's more interesting is the fact that Daria's circle of friends appears to be growing, despite her resistance to the people around her and obliviousness to how much they really care for her.

Next: Fair Enough


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