Dr. Jean-Michel Millepieds,
The Morgendorffer family attends a weekend retreat at the Quiet Ivy mental health spa to be evaluated, as Helen is being considered for promotion. Over the course of two days, the Morgendorffers come face to face with some very unpleasant aspects of their lives.
Helen's boss, Eric, is considering her for a big promotion, but before that happens, she and the family must attend a weekend retreat at Quiet Ivy, a "mental health spa," so that the company can evaluate them. Daria thinks that the whole thing is ridiculous, while Quinn is under the impression that she can get facials and other beauty treatments at the "spa." At Quiet Ivy, each member of the family undergoes one-on-one therapy sessions, where Helen prattles on nervously and self-consciously, Jake pours out his inner torment, Daria barely tolerates the questioning while making some rather acid observations about her family, and Quinn goes on and on about her Fashion Club friends and how she desperately wants a facial. In an attempt to distract herself from her surroundings, Daria uses one of the spa's computers to view the goings-on at the Lane household via "JaneCam," a live Internet webcam set up in Jane's bedroom. What she sees -- Jane flossing her teeth, Trent talking to Jane while scratching his butt, and Tom goofing on a TV dance show -- is hardly earth-shattering, but it's better than her surroundings. Things finally come to a head at a group counselling session, where each family member is asked to act out what they think is another's traits. Helen and Jake end up imitating each other, with each escalating things until Jake finally hits too close to home by accusing Helen of being a vicious control-freak who cares more about her job than her family. Shaken and upset, Helen rushes out of the room, with Jake and Daria not far behind (leaving Quinn to complain once again about the lack of facials). Daria finds Helen in the parking lot and reassures her that despite the lack of attention and the long hours she puts in at the office, they know that she's doing it for the good of the family, and that, truth be told, they're all a bit guilty in contributing to their overall dysfunction. The family returns home, each perhaps a little wiser for the experience (all except for Quinn), and when Daria visits Jane, she discovers that Tom's anger at having his embarrassing behavior broadcast all over the Internet proved to be the death of "JaneCam."
At least the firm isn't afraid to spend a lot of money to find out who is partner material. I'm pretty sure everyone knew what they were in for when the got those questionnaires, and Helen has undoubtedly seen others go through the process. The odd part is that they seemed to go along with it anyway, especially Daria (Quinn might not have understood exactly what was going to happen, though), who was the only one to offer even a token resistance to the retreat (through her responses and the "1984" remark).
She Knows More Than She's Letting On...
Daria seems to be very perceptive about the psychological problems of her family. She seems to have it down perfectly: Helen likes to work, Jake isn't really that clueless and Quinn is actively trying to avoid looking for any inner depth, for the most part. Her more interesting analysis was the one about herself as "defended." That's not really a big surprise in itself, but a subtle point here is that her little monologue was part of her defense of really trying everything possible to avoids any real conversation with the therapist.
Driving Miss Helen:
Helen is certainly a very career oriented person. She's committed, dedicated and eager to do her work: she's perfect partner material. If this weren't already pretty obvious, it would have been once she revealed her opinion on relaxation. But is her drive ruining her family's lives? It's definitely a source of some tension (which was beautifully blown off somewhat in the role-playing scene), but it also isn't ruining anything by itself. As Daria pointed out, there is plenty of blame to go around in that department.
Quinn did more than her share of scene stealing in this episode. Just about everything she said and did was funny except for what she did to that poor old lady by telling her life story. A lot of them came in the form of well-timed one-liners, again like the role-playing scene (maybe she *has* been learning from Daria). However, her humorous parts were at the expense of any growth she made in the past, or could've made here. Depending on how you look at it, this can be either a good or bad thing (I'd say bad, but that's just me).
She's Singing, All Right:
I think Mrs. Johannsen (who is the fat lady from "Cafe Disaffecto") needs more help than vertical stripes. It's already almost over.
Jane was well aware that not too many people were going to see her live webcast. But it only took a little bit of effort, and all anyone was going to see was some dental hygiene or Trent scratching his arse. In the end, no one really cared except Tom, and that's only because he shook his thing for the camera without knowing it was there. If the Jane-cam served any purpose, it was to possibly give us a glimpse of how Daria compares Trent and Tom as possible boyfriends. I don't think anyone would want to see any friend pick his or her nose, so that's a wash. As for her reaction to Tom's butt, well, she didn't seem to be thrilled about that, either. I think her exact words were "too punishing" to watch, so she wasn't exactly glued to the screen for that. Even though what she meant by "punishment" wasn't completely clear, I think it's safe to say she wasn't thinking about *that*.
Know Thy Role:
The role-playing scene was probably one of the most important scenes of the entire episode. Helen and Jake offer exaggerated but truthful portrayals of each other: Helen pays more attention to her job and has to do everything, while Jake is either confused or angry. In the end, Helen sort of took the high road by just ending it when it was starting to get a bit too hurtful.
Heart to Heart:
If any scene was more important, it was the "make-up" scene. Helen was feeling like she was the cause of all their problems and that she was hated. Fortunately, Daria was able to reassure her that they all contribute to any dysfunction (Jake needs the attention, Daria is afraid to open up, Quinn is just, well, Quinn). This display of the caring, supportive side of Daria is welcome (and is sure to ruffle some feathers), though she did use it as sort of a last resort.
Overall, "Psycho Therapy" was a strong episode in a fairly strong season (it almost makes me wonder when there will be a bad apple, hopefully never). Though no earth-shattering changes were made with the possible exception of Helen's future partnership (which will probably be forgotten about for at least a few episodes), there were some interesting insights made. It turned out (and the last scene said this perfectly) that just about everyone is comfortable or maybe even likes the way things are.
Daria as a Whole, Alter-Ego of the Week:
This week it's a tie between Rock & Rock Randy the Scorpion and Upchuck of Hearts.
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 Reborn.