Male & Female Agents
A pair of government agents at school, and strange behavior by Quinn and Trent, serve to amp up Daria and Jane's paranoia levels, with the weirdness quickly spreading to everyone else.
The arrival at school of a pair of government agents, who advise students to be on the lookout for "anyone different," is just the start of what turns out to be a very weird couple of days in Lawndale. Daria and Jane attempt to take it in stride, but a segment about aliens on Sick, Sad World -- combined with unusually cheerful music from Trent -- begins to raise their paranoia meters. Daria's is raised even higher by the strange behavior of her family, when her parents start making odd references to aliens and Quinn starts wearing a black turtleneck sweater instead of her pink midriff T-shirt. Things really start spiralling out of control at school, however, as Mr. O'Neill's offhand comments to Daria and Jane about aliens, communists, and how they meant the same thing in 1950's sci-fi movies is overheard and misinterpreted by Kevin, Brittany, Upchuck, Mack, and Jodie... and Mr. DeMartino's arrest by the government agents apparently provides confirmation of everyone's suspicions. Daria and Jane endure more weirdness -- including a visit from U.F.O. nut Artie, who's now working as a pizza delivery boy -- before the misunderstandings are finally straightened out. Mr. DeMartino's arrest? Ms. Barch had turned him in to the Immigration and Naturalization Service as an alleged illegal alien. Quinn's new outfit? She was trying to hide a neck zit. Trent's unusually happy song? It's a jingle he wrote for a local used car dealer, to get some quick cash. And as it did in the beginning of the whole affair, Sick, Sad World provided the perfect capper with an interview of Artie, who claims that alien love goddesses deprived him of his skin and his job... aliens that look suspiciously like Daria and Jane.
Historical & Cultural References:
- The title of the episode is a pun on the 1993 TV series The X-Files, starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as FBI agents who explore "unusual and unexplained" cases (UFOs, government conspiracies, the paranormal, etc.). There are also various other references and allusions to The X-Files scattered throughout the episode.
- Jane's comment about Trent saving the world by playing sucky music is a reference to the 1996 film Mars Attacks!. In it, the Martian invasion of Earth is thwarted by Slim Whitman music (the Martians' heads literally explode).
- Quinn's comment about "aliens impregnating you and popping out of your chest" is a reference to the 1979 film Alien. In the film's most shocking scene, a spaceship crew member (played by John Hurt) is killed when he "gives birth" to an alien embryo that was planted in his chest.
- Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) was a famous football player and NFL coach, most notably with the Green Bay Packers.
- The Immigration and Naturalization Service was an agency tasked with handling immigration and naturalization of citizens, as well as border security. After the creation of the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11, the agency was dismantled and its functions distributed among three different agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- This episode was originally promoted by MTV as "The Lawndale Files," but the title was apparently changed at the last minute.
SSW Announcer - (on TV) From outer space to in your face! Aliens walk among us! A Sick, Sad World exclusive.
Daria - Oh, look, they're going to explain the return of disco.
(guitar strumming cheerily)
Daria - What is that music?
Jane - I don't know. It's been going on for two days.
Daria - You don't know how much I want you to tell me that isn't Trent playing.
Jane - You don't know how much I wish I could.
Helen - Daria, is anything wrong with Quinn?
Daria - If this weren't a school day, I might have the time to begin answering that.
Helen - All of a sudden, she doesn't like aliens.
Quinn - Who does? Aliens impregnate you and then they pop out of your chest and kill you while you're trying to eat lunch. What's to like?
Jane - Hmm. When was the last time you saw Kevin without his neck thing?
Daria - You're talking implants?
Brittany - I heard that, and it's not true!
Jane - I guess she thought you meant her U.F.O.s.
Mr. O'Neill - Have you been watching The X-Files? I know I have.
Daria - And that's good.
Mr. O'Neill - But you know what's interesting?
Jane - Why do you encourage him?
Daria - Now tell us about the time before microwave popcorn.
Mr. O'Neill - Oh, gosh, does that take me back!
Mack - Remember that game when you fell on your head? Remember how you thought Vince Lombardi was sending you plays from hell?
Kevin - Heaven, bro! Vince Lombardi did not go to hell.
Tiffany - But... if Quinn's cousin is an atomic communist from Mars, shouldn't she have a more interesting outfit?
Stacy - Stop it, Tiffany! You're scaring me!
Tiffany - Sorry.
Jane - A lot of weirdness around here lately.
Daria - Yeah. I won't be sorry to see this day end.
Jane - You say that every day.
Daria - Oh, yeah.
Sandi - Quinn's right, Stacy. Just because she was acting completely weird and not confiding in her dearest, most loyal friends is no reason to decide she'd finally given up her sad charade and revealed herself as a two-faced, little... (sees Daria) Um, let's resume discussing... plaids... later.
Stacy - Plaids?
Sandi - Yes, Stacy. Plaids.
Stacy - (nervous) Okay, plaids.
Jake - Don't you see? Daria's turning wholesome and Quinn's a beatnik. What's going on?
Helen - Well, it's simple. They've switched personalities. (giggles)
Jake - They have?!
Helen - It's a joke, Jake. Geez!
Jane - Did we just see a U.F.O.?
Daria - You're getting paranoid. It's probably just an informal get-together of local stalkers. You know, hang out, swap stories, try out each other's skeleton keys.
Jane - But only an idiot would go stalking with a flashlight.
Daria - Come on. This is Lawndale.
Jane - Oh, yeah.
Daria - Um... that's some song you're working on. It's different.
Trent - Nothing different about it. Nothing at all. I gotta go and, uh, practice my same music that uh... isn't any different from the other stuff I play. (leaves)
Jane - You're starting to get weirded out, aren't you?
Daria - No, absolutely not. (doorbell rings) Eep!
(Jane slowly opens front door)
Artie - Pizza!
Jane and Daria - Aaaaah!
Daria - On your way over here, you didn't see any, um, lights in the sky or anything?
Artie - Oh, no! They're back?!
Mr. O'Neill - Anthony! You weren't kidnapped!
Mr. DeMartino - All right! I finally convinced those glorified dogcatchers from Immigration that I am not an illegal alien. But now I have a question. Who told them I was?
Ms. Barch - Oh, anyone can make a mistake. Damn it!
Tiffany - We're dressed this way for Fashion Club solidarity.
Sandi - One of us has a problem. That's all you need to know.
Mr. O'Neill - Oh, dear! What kind of problem?
Sandi - A private problem.
Stacy - It's a neck zit!
(crowd reacts in horror)
Quinn - Stacy!
Tiffany - Don't worry, Quinn. They still don't know it's you.
(Quinn screams and runs off)
Stacy - Uh-oh.
Tiffany - Did I say the wrong thing?
Sandi - Don't worry about it.
Jane - So you convinced your dad you're not a communist?
Daria - Yeah, I'm showing him how much I love money by hitting him up for it every chance I get.
Jane - What's the going rate for an artist's soul these days?
Trent - 20 bucks, an hour of free studio time and a set of tires.
Jane - That's it?
Trent - They're new tires.
Delayed Reaction Review
I Think I'm Paranoid:
This isn't the first time that Daria has had bouts of talking to herself (not that most people don't talk to themselves sometimes). This time she keeps this to herself more, which I guess is better if you don't want to look crazy. These intense thoughts were brought on by spending too much time with her family but are more because of paranoia about alien abductions and invasions. Though, I did like her rationalization that the strange lights are stalkers and not aliens (that's really comforting).
There was some genuine fear in some of the characters that was attributed to the "aliens." Stacy was afraid to turn her back on Daria out of the fear that her body would be snatched. Trent's jingle all but convinced Jane that there were aliens afoot, but then again, any happy vibes from Trent sets off red flags in her head. And Jake was trembling in his boots over the possibility that Daria might be a Communist. <segue alert> Speaking of Jake...
Fueling the Fire:
You'd think that Quinn would know better than to provoke Jake into a panic like that only "weeks" after he had a heart attack. First, Daria is a Communist; then she's an atomic Communist; and finally, Mr. DeMartino was taken away kicking and screaming. She probably had him started on his own conspiracy theories involving Communist takeovers and the crumble of Capitalism. <another lame segue alert> Speaking of conspiracies...
Jane had the whole deal worked out. She had it figured out why she and Daria were being targeted as suspected aliens. Some unnamed feds come by and tell the kids to look out for weird behavior and odd people; naturally they turn right to Daria and Jane and the rest is history. I would agree with Jane's assessment of alien body takeovers. Why would any intelligent advanced beings want to do some of the stuff that people say that they do?
Lights! Camera! Action!
Almost all of Lawndale was out with their flashlights for various differing reasons: Brittany and Kevin were trying to save the world by following Daria and making out; Mack and Jodie were trying to make sure Brittany and Kevin didn't humiliate themselves (why bother? their very presence is humiliating); Upchuck was on a mission to become an alien love slave; and Mr. O'Neill was hunting Communists. It turns out that they were all stalking up the wrong tree.
U N I T Y:
There was some uncharacteristic solidarity among the Fashion Club through all wearing black turtlenecks and berets, until Stacy blurted out that it was because of a neck zit and Tiffany identified the "perpetrator." No surprise that Sandi let those transgressions slide.
Lawndale's resident abductee makes his second appearance. Why anyone would believe a word he says is beyond me. Sick, Sad World must not be too discriminating about whom they put on their show; anyone with a weird alien story is practically a shoe-in. The saddest part is that he thought that the aliens caused him to get fired. They sort of did, but only because he keeps talking about them.
Trent sold out! I can't believe it! What's a musician who is gig-less to do? He didn't even do that bad; tires and studio time aren't cheap anymore (though he should've tried for more cash). The only thing is that he needed to make "happy music" to sell out, which isn't exactly his specialty. No wonder Jane was scared.
The premise of this episode was miscommunication run amok to various degrees. First, we have the confusion over the word "alien." Jake and Helen are talking about immigrants while Quinn and Daria mean space aliens (honestly I think of Martians, Klingons, etc.). The other miscommunication is that the further removed from the original statement, the more muddled it gets. This was much better than any straight Twilight Zone alien invasion tale could be. The audience is kept guessing why some of the events of this episode happened. For example, it wasn't clear that Mr. DeMartino was a suspected illegal immigrant and not a Martian. Overall, this episode avoided what I feared most: it didn't turn into another dreamy "saga," a la "Depth Takes a Holiday." I had fun.
The Bottom Line:
Couldn't have asked for better results.
Daria as a Whole, The Faculty:
Ms. Barch continues her "feud" with Mr. DeMartino. She has already pelted him with paintballs, kicked him in the groin, and now she apparently tried to have him deported.
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.