When Jane's family returns home from the four corners of the earth, the resulting chaos forces her to stay with the Morgendorffers.
As Helen bemoans the fact that there's very little communication in the Morgendorffer family, the Lanes suddenly become cursed with too much of it as the various wandering Lanes return to the nest: Wind, when his third marriage hits the rocks; Penny (along with her parrot Chiquito), when her Costa Rican craft shop is wiped out by a volcano; and their father, Vincent, who's home to develop his photos of Celtic rock formations. Little by little, Jane feels herself literally squeezed out of her house, and ends up taking refuge with the Morgendorffers. There, she's questioned about Daria by Helen and Jake, who both feel they know too little about their girls. Soon, Trent finds himself in the same predicament as Jane and decides to stay in the Tank for a while, but is able to weasel his way into staying with the Morgendorffers when he drops by to inform Jane of his plans. Having Trent in such close proximity forces Daria to come face to face with her crush on him, but when she finds out that Monique is his girlfriend (after she drops by to pick him up), she imagines -- with a little prodding from Quinn -- how her life would turn out if she actually hooked up with him... and it's not a pretty picture. Amanda finally can't stand having her wayward children (including Summer, who's come back to pick up her runaway kids) around the house anymore, and in desperation, she pleads with Helen to help her get her home back. Helen's plan? A family dinner, where their bickering succeeds in driving the Lane siblings off once again to parts unknown. As Jane and Trent prepare to leave, Trent (who has broken up with Monique for the umpteenth time) comments to Daria that it's too bad she's not a few years older, otherwise he could take her out. With that, Daria's crush -- which she believed she'd finally gotten over -- returns with a vengeance.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The boy pictured on the side of the milk carton is the boy from "Esteemsters" (#101), the one who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with an image from the MTV animated series The Head.
- This episode is arguably the first step towards crushing "the crush," because even though the status quo seems to have been restored at the end, it's really the first time that Daria has really considered Trent's idiosyncracies. "The crush" would, for all intents and purposes, be crushed for good in "Jane's Addition" (#313), when those same idiosyncracies have a negative impact on Daria.
- Monique first appeared in "Pinch Sitter" (#212).
- Amanda was first seen in "Arts 'N Crass" (#201)... well, her legs were seen, anyway. She would next appear in "Art Burn" (#507) along with Wind and Vincent.
- Penny, Wind, Summer, Adrian, and Courtney were never seen before this episode. They were previously mentioned in "The Teachings of Don Jake" (#112) (during the Lane family reunion), and Penny was next mentioned in "See Jane Run" (#211) (by Ms. Morris, who didn't like her slacker attitude). Wind would be seen again in "Art Burn" (#507) along with Amanda and Vincent.
- Vincent's name was never mentioned in the series. It was, however, obtained from a Daria trivia contest on MTV's web site, and has been verified through other sources. He would next be seen in "Art Burn" (#507) along with Amanda and Wind.
- The title of the episode is a pun on the Victor Hugo novel Les Miserables.
- The book Daria is reading at the dinner table is Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre.
- Jake's line about comic strip character B.C. celebrating Ash Wednesday is a comment about B.C. creator Johnny Hart, a born-again Christian who often uses his comic strip (especially the Sunday edition) as a pulpit to reach the masses.
- By a strange coincidence, the first airing of this episode happened to fall on Bastille Day. Now, when you consider that the title is a pun on Les Miserables...
Trent - There were some phone messages I almost forgot about. Let's see... Penny's coming in from Costa Rica; some kind of problem with a volcano. And Dad's finished taking pictures of Celtic rock formations. He's on his way back to print.
Jane - What's that written on your other hand?
Trent - Change name of Mystik Spiral to "Something Something Explosion."
Helen - Jake, do you ever worry that our children are becoming strangers to us?
Jake - Stranger than us? What's so strange about us?
Helen - Honestly, Jake, sometimes I wonder if you know even the most rudimentary facts about our girls. How old is Quinn?
Jake - Uh, eleven... ish?
Amanda - Oh, Jane. Everyone will work things out in their own way, in their own time. Remember when you kids were young?
Jane - How far back? Diapers creep me out.
Helen - Jane, since you're staying with us and all I thought... well, you're Daria's best friend, and she's, she's so hard to talk to these days...
Jane - Maximum of three questions. No betrayals. Immunity from prosecution.
Helen - Agreed. Drugs?
Jane - Nope, unless you count TV.
Helen - Depressed?
Jane - No, just realistic.
Helen - Sex? Oh, that's too obvious. Can I have another one?
Vincent - Your mom and I find role-playing a super way to work out conflicts. We also enjoy hitting each other with large foam rubber bats.
Wind - I'd do it, but Katie isn't here.
Vincent - Well, I'll be Katie. Trent, would you mind being the flirtatious girl at the check-out counter?
Trent - Uh, I gotta go sharpen my guitar pick.
Jake - Say, uh, Jane... I know you're Daria's best friend and... well, she's so hard to talk to these days. I was wondering...
Jane - Maximum of three questions. No betrayals. Immunity from prosecution. And, uh, talk your wife into finding a new speed-walking route.
Jake - Done! Age?
Jane - Seventeen.
Jake - Uh... height?
Jane - Five foot two.
Jake - Mm-hmm. Favorite color?
Both - Black.
Jake - Oh, that's too obvious. Can I have another one?
Jake - Trent, my man, you want to stay for dinner?
Trent - Well, it is nice and warm in here. Not like the Tank. I bet your doors lock, too.
Helen - Trent, would you like to stay here tonight?
Daria - Eep!
Daria - What?
Jake - Quinn, your date is here! (opens door, sees Monique) Wow, I really don't know my kids!
Jake - Trent, your date is here!
Trent - Thanks. See you. (hands toothbrush to Jake)
Helen - Trent, where are you going?
Trent - Out.
Helen - And when are you coming back?
Trent - Later.
(Trent and Monique drive away in the Tank)
Jane - Don't worry. You're twice the woman she is.
Quinn - No, that would be a size 12.
Daria - Oh, Trent. Whatever happened to the man I married?
Trent - We never got married, remember? I overslept.
Jane - You okay there, sister-in-law?
Daria - Hmm. I think I just got over something.
Helen - Good morning, Quinn.
Quinn - If you're wondering why I overslept it's not because I was out late or anything; my alarm clock simply malfunctioned.
Daria - I certainly accept your convincing explanation.
Quinn - Doesn't anyone want to know what ungodly hour I got in?
Helen - Trent, one day you'll have your own home and you can live any way you choose. But while you're under our roof, young man, you will respect the rules of this household.
Trent - (contritely) Yes'm.
Trent - We don't really have any rules at our house. Right, Janey?
Jane - Well, there's that one about not building a fire in the rooms that don't have fireplaces.
Amanda - Hello, Helen.
Helen - Why, Amanda! I guess you've come to claim your children.
Amanda - Are they here?
Helen - Jane is free to go, but Trent is grounded.
Amanda - Oh, I don't believe in that. You know, Helen, if you try to hold a butterfly tightly in your hand, it will die. You have to let it go and-- (frantic) You gotta help me! I need my house back!
(everyone begins arguing)
Amanda - I have such interesting and articulate children!
Amanda - And grandchildren!
Trent - Too bad you're not a few years older, huh? I could take you out. (chuckles, coughs) See you. (leaves)
Trent - Daria, you're the best thing that ever happened to me.
Daria - Damn.
Poor Jake's Almanac:
I like Jake. He is still very funny and makes me laugh. The problem is that he has to be completely idiotic to be funny. How can anyone be so oblivious that he or she has no idea how old his or her children are? I am starting to feel sorry for Jake; one of the few male characters that has a chance to be portrayed in a positive light is being turned into an utter buffoon and a walking joke.
Have I Seen You Before?
I find it hard to believe that Amanda Lane would not have shown up in some role, even if it was just in the background, at some point in the past other than in "Arts 'N Crass." However, what really pushed my suspension of disbelief to the limit was the fact that all of Jane and Trent's prodigal siblings would all decide to return home at the same time (not to mention their father, who was a bit of a self absorbed, blank slate). I admit that this was a necessary contrivance for this episode to work, but it bothered me nonetheless.
Repeated Lines of the Week:
I'll start with the less obvious and work my way up to the blatant. Amanda started to repeat the "let it be" speech to Helen but gave up about two lines in to it. No big deal, she didn't even get to the butterfly part.... Both Helen and Jake got to play the three questions game with Jane. They both asked questions that I would expect them to ask about Daria. I liked this gag and thought that it worked and was well thought out.... Now for the "too obvious." Let's run down the list of who said "who could that be?" in the order in which they said it. First there is Amanda, then Wind, Penny, Jake, Helen, Daria in her fantasy, Mr. Lane and finally Jake again. This line was repeated more than anything should be in a twenty-minute period. The odd thing is that I don't even think it was intended to be funny the first time.
Attention on Deck:
This episode proves to me that, for the time being, one of Quinn's main goals at present is to get as much attention from as many people as possible. The main evidence of this is her fantasy where her suitor answers her every whim: the only other thing she needs from him is soda in a crystal goblet (credit Jordan Bassior for this point; it was lost on me until he pointed it out). The interesting thing is that she doesn't care if the attention is good or bad. She was nearly going insane about the fact that Trent was getting yelled at about staying out late, while her transgressions were going unnoticed. For further reference, the fanfic that John Berry* named after the reviews explores this point beautifully.
It Really Makes Me Think:
The way that Amanda went to Helen for help gives me the impression that they are old friends (especially when it was found out that she wasn't there to get Jane and Trent). It is certainly reasonable to think that they may be friends. It also gives me more reason to wonder why we haven't seen Amanda more in the past if Helen is an old friend (or even a friendly acquaintance), since their daughters are best friends.
Despite Jake's buffoonery, he seems to have found the son he never had in Trent. He can relate since he was also "driven from his childhood home" by his family. On the other hand, Trent has found a somewhat stable structure that he can't get under her parent's "we've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas" attitude toward disciplining their children. He needs people to show that they care about him once and a while, like Jake and Helen did. He's long realized that he won't get this kind of attention at home, except maybe from Jane (who was one of the only persons to visit him in the tent). Jane ended up a little annoyed by the Morgendorffers (especially Helen) but seemed to feel that that situation was better than dealing with her own family.
The Obligatory Spooge:
I had hoped that the whole Daria/Trent thing would be resolved this season, even if the official position is that it won't be. With Daria's realization that she was "over" him giving the impression that this was it, only for it to be reversed after Trent left, it wasn't resolved as much as it was redefined. This is one of the first steps for Daria and Trent's relationship away from it being just a one-sided crush, with Trent's admission that he has some feelings for Daria on some level. Incidentally, I initially felt that the bomb dropped in this episode was the fact that Quinn now knows about Daria's appreciation for Trent. However, the way she reacted seemed to make it look like she already knows about it.
"Lane Miserables" was a good episode that summed up just how dysfunctional the Lanes really are. It also gave a good insight into how far Daria, Jane and Trent can be pushed until they start to lose control. Overall, aside from the necessary contrivances and the fact that we were led to believe that the crush was resolved, I couldn't find much wrong.
The Bottom Line:
A strong episode, even with the obvious shipper fodder.
Daria as a Whole, What's for Dinner? Helen was cutting lasagna at the beginning of this episode. It's not like we've ever seen that before.
* Hey John, I told you I would find a way to work your name in somewhere! :)
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 Reborn.