Jane's latest artistic endeavour is to paint tiger stripes in her hair, for which she recruits Daria's assistance. Botching the job gets her in hot water with Jane, but it's her encounter with Tom that may turn out to be the biggest mistake of her life.
Jane comes up with what she thinks is a terrific artistic expression, a variation on "the lady or the tiger": she will dye blond stripes into her hair, becoming "the lady and the tiger". She talks Daria into helping her, a task complicated by Jane's increasing paranoia and jealousy over what she believes is Daria's attempted theft of Tom. The dye job turns out to be anything but a success, as what were supposed to be smooth blonde stripes end up as jagged orange streaks. Daria reminds Jane that she told her she was no good at this, but Jane -- furious beyond belief -- accuses Daria of deliberately ruining her hair and throws her out of the house. After getting the cold shoulder treatment and striking out on several attempts to talk to her, Daria gives Tom a call to see if he's heard from her. He tells her he has, mainly in the form of incoherent screaming and accusations, and confides in Daria that he's getting tired of it. Jane, meanwhile, tells Trent about the situation, and he helps her to see that her jealousy was getting the better of her; she realizes that she deliberately set Daria up, knowing that she'd botch the job, to give her an excuse to vent. Daria finally patches things up with Jane, but when she returns to her house, she sees Tom parked in front. Tom attempts to talk to Daria, but it quickly turns into an argument when Daria adamantly denies that anything is "happening" between them... right before Tom impulsively kisses her and, after a moment of self-hatred, she goes back for seconds! She flees, but her guilt and confusion builds to the point where she tries first to talk to Quinn, then Helen, but to no avail. Eventually, her guilt becomes so great that, at school the next day, she blurts out what she's done. An enraged Jane confronts Tom and, after a heart-to-heart talk where he tells her that it was his fault, they face the fact that their relationship wasn't going anywhere, and they split up. After talking with Trent once again, Jane works up the nerve to confront Daria, who tries to assure her that she never set out to steal Tom away, that it was something that just happened. Jane seems to accept this, but tells Daria that it would be best if they spent some time apart, leaving Daria alone and miserable. Until the phone rings, that is. "Daria? It's Tom..."
Jane - Ta-da!
(Jane turns the easel around to reveal a self-portrait, only her hair has yellow stripes and she's standing in a jungle)
Daria - Um, very nice. Or is it a cry for help?
Tom - I'd have to go with... both.
Jane - "Golden Heather Blonde," "Dewy Cornfield Blonde," "April Wheat Blonde"... I just want to bleach my hair, not start a freaking farm.
Daria - Well, I'm looking for "Blonde as a Bat," but so far no luck.
Daria - You know I have no aptitude for this sort of thing. Dyeing hair, painting toenails...
Jane - Look, Daria, this is the kind of activity that teen girls do together to cement their friendships. Don't you want to cement our friendship?
Daria - I'd probably do better with actual cement.
Daria - This stuff stinks. Why can't they just mix it before they put it in the bottle?
Jane - Because the vapors would build up and it would explode.
Daria - Oh. Well, that sounds like something I'd want seeping into my scalp.
Daria - You know, one phone call and I could have my sister over here with her little fashion fiends to do this job the way it should be done.
Jane (imitating Daria) - "Hello, Quinn? It's me, Daria. Can you help me make my friend look pretty?"
Daria - All right, you bitch. What do I do?
Jane - Maybe we'd better talk about this later.
Daria - There's nothing to talk about. You're delusional.
Jane - Oh, well, in that case I can just talk to myself about it.
Stacy - It's so good of you to have us over for this, Quinn!
Quinn - Well, you know what I tell myself. Quinn, if not you, who? If not now, when?
Daria - If not leave, puke.
Helen - Look, our entire strategy depends on you analyzing those printouts before the weekend. I don't care if your mother's getting married! I don't care if your mother's getting executed! Do you understand?!
Daria - Can you picture me making out with anyone? Ever?
Jane - (pauses to think) Can I stop short of your wedding night?
Daria - Do you want to come in?
Tom - No! There are girls in there rubbing stuff on each other's cheeks and making animal noises. I got kind of scared.
Daria - That's just the opening rites of the Blushathon. At least you got out before the rhythmic chanting.
Tom - Oh, yeah, I think I saw that on the Discovery Channel.
(Tom suddenly leans over and kisses Daria, who seems to enjoy it... until she finally comprehends what she's doing)
Daria - Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it!
Tom - I liked it, too.
Daria - That's not funny!
Tom - I know.
(she and Tom then engage in another lip-lock, this time deliberately)
Tom - That was definitely not funny.
Daria - I gotta go!
Jane - What am I going to do, tag along on your dates? Forget it. That's too weird for me.
Tom - Yeah. I don't know why we expected her to do it.
Tom - I really like you, Jane. You're smart and you're funny, you have a great attitude... you do everything on your own terms. You're, like, from a cooler world.
Jane - I am, aren't I?
Tom - You really are.
Jane - Too bad you're such a dork.
Tom - I know.
Trent - Hey, you know, about Tom and all... it'll be okay.
Jane - Yeah, some part of me knows that. Some part of me is actually saying that breaking up is right.
Trent - Maybe it is.
Jane - So how come every five minutes I feel like I'm going to throw up?
Trent - I don't know. You haven't been eating out of the refrigerator again, have you?
Daria - Are we still friends? (pause) Are we?
Jane - Yeah. We're the kind of friends who can't stand the sight of each other.
Daria - Temporarily, right?
Jane - I hope so, Daria.
The show opens up with Jane staring down a tiger at the zoo (Lawndale has a zoo?). She was looking for a way to reinvent herself as the "tiger lady." As part of this new image, she wanted to dye her hair with blond stripes. So far, so good, but here comes the problem: she forces Daria to do the job, even over Daria's very vocal objections. To compound the problem, she makes Daria listen to a series of fearful accusations while doing it, and then tries to drop the subject with a "don't worry about it" after Daria got upset (quite justifiably upset, and maybe a tad bit nasty). Then, to cap off all the fun, after telling Daria that she imagined the whole thing, Jane went nuts after the striping process, as everyone probably expected, went horribly wrong. Jane, herself, even knew it was a big mistake to give Daria the job: Daria told her multiple times that she didn't want to help because she was very likely to mess it up and was afraid that she would, but, on some level, she wanted to cause a commotion that would lead to getting to what was the real problem that was bothering her (she admitted as much later on in the episode). Daria just had the misfortune of being there when Jane decided to start confronting the problems. Daria was only part of what was upsetting Jane, not the whole thing. In essence, Daria was the dog, and Jane was kicking her.
Voice of Reason:
If you want to take all that "guardian angel" jazz from a few episodes back a step further (I know, "Groped by an Angel" must seem like ancient history at this point), Trent is kind of almost acting as a patrolman over the whole situation with Daria, Jane and Tom. His most active role, obviously, is with Jane since it seems that he has always been her protector by default, anyway. After all, he did do a good job of cheering Jane up after all the unpleasantness. He's also had a knack lately for very precise insight on the situation, mainly with things that others realized didn't want to admit. In "Fire!," he made sure Daria acknowledged Tom's attention to her, and in this episode, he called Jane on her unjustified anger at Daria for messing up her hair.
Wrong Moves, Kids!
After the smoke started to settle from all the bad vibes created by the hair dye, and after Jane had avoided pretty much everyone for a while, the fire seemed to get a new spark. When Daria finally caught up with Jane, it didn't take long before Jane went right back to hinting around about a possible thing between Daria and Tom (which led to one of the most memorable lines Daria has ever uttered, which I'll get to later). Then, after Daria spent some energy diffusing that bomb, she walked right into a minefield when she got home and Tom was there, waiting for her. Why exactly was he there? He wanted to talk? I guess we'll never know exactly what he was thinking, but it's not hard to guess (though he did seem to be curious as to why "everyone" was mad at him). Daria pretty much spelled it out for him: he was causing her to fight with the best friend she's ever had. Then, when Tom added that he was getting bored with Jane and that it was no one's fault, Daria rightly pointed out that she couldn't stab her friend in the back, despite any feelings she might have, and then, well, let's just say I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I saw that because I would have spit it out all over the place. The first kiss was all Tom, but the second one was more than mutual: she must have liked it a little bit.
Non Sequitur of the Week:
Remember when Daria called Helen's office and didn't actually talk to her because she was busy? Helen was yelling at someone about his or her eighty-year-old mother's wedding. If you think that's crazy (and I do), and to give you a little insight as to how screwed up my family is, my own grandmother got married not much before her eightieth birthday. Let's just say it's a real long story.
Tell It to the Judge:
Daria did the right thing by telling Jane about the "kiss." She might not have picked the best time for it, but it's not like there would ever really be a good time for that news. Of course, this makes Jane go directly to Tom for an explanation. He nobly took the blame for the whole thing, but he also didn't seem like he was going to come forward with any of this information on his own (though, in his defense, Daria might have told Jane before he had a chance to). Tom and Jane realized that they were going down this road a while ago, but just didn't say it out loud. Jane, especially, seemed torn and confused by everything that happened. She doesn't want Tom to date Daria, but then she tells him to "give her a chance." She's not quite sure she knows what she wants and she is a little insecure about what the immediate future holds.
Helen was preoccupied with her big case a lot more than she usually is; she was talking to no one for a while there. However, I think this over-over enthusiasm for her work was used to showcase just how important her family is to her when Daria finally got up the courage to go see her. Daria wanted Helen's advice and guidance and support from the very beginning, but wasn't sure if it was a good idea. Good thing Helen showed that it was. Behind her cool cynical demeanor, Daria realizes that her mother is looking out for her best interests, even if it doesn't always seem that way, and that Helen will be there to help. As for the little talk they had, Helen gave her honest advice and perspective: we are never truly in control over most situations, we just tell ourselves that we are to make it through the day without going insane. She also noted that it was a lousy situation that wasn't Daria's fault (which was already well established).
A couple of things I noticed the second time watching this episode that kind of felt like subtle foreshadowing. Actually, I found a bunch of them, but I'll only mention two that had to do with the big kiss scene. The first one, when Daria walked in on Tom and Jane smooching, Jane said "you had to learn about kissing sometime," and she sure did. The second one I'll mention, after Daria caught up with Jane after the bad dye job, their conversation got a little ugly and Daria said, "Can you picture me making out with anyone?" It seems that we all did, about a minute later.
First, whew! Boy that was a lot of ground to cover (and I still left out some minor stuff). Second, whoa! I'm still not really sure I believe I saw what I did. When I started watching Daria, I never thought I would see anything like this. Now that I have, is it a good or bad thing? I can't really answer that for anyone, but I can say this: the ride has been and will be a wild (and probably interesting) one. Also, I don't really buy that Daria is being turned into a soap opera by this story arc, but I can see how it would ruffle some feathers of fans of the show who have been fans since the beginning. Daria had seemed to stand against a lot of this stuff: look at any time Daria and Jane had made fun of the Fashion Club for proof of that. While I can understand why this would turn people off, a simple love triangle isn't even slightly racy enough for the tamest soap out there. That being said, let's get a little bit back to some of the things of this episode. I get the sense that Daria is in denial about something, or at least she doesn't want to acknowledge what was happening. Her feelings about it have been the least pronounced of anyone involved and she doesn't really want to talk about it with Jane or Tom. What she is hiding, if anything, isn't really clear yet, but it centers around two things: she doesn't want to hurt Jane -- who has been her best friend -- and she isn't sure how much she likes Tom back (the thought of liking him at all seems to be scary to her). Also, she has been more noticeably nervous in these last two episodes than all of the others put together (she was repeating herself and talking fast at some key moments). As for Jane, she has gotten stressed out by the whole thing to the point where she is hardly any where near "unflappable" anymore. This is a side of her that we've hardly, if ever, seen of her before, and is out of character for her, but then again, she's never been in a situation quite like this one before, either. For Daria and Jane's friendship to survive, they need to be away from each other for a while, even if only to calm down, because they aren't sure what they should feel (as evidenced by their last conversation). But just like "Fire!," we had another "dual" ending, with the huge question mark being what will result from Tom's phone call to Daria at the end. In that sense, this was the perfect set up for what might happen in the upcoming movie.
A little less conditional A-
Daria as a Whole #1, Alter-Ego of the Week:
I'll go with Jesse in a bottle, because most of them sucked and there were less to begin with because of the movie promo.
Daria as a Whole #2, The Grades Are In:
Taking a quick look at my grades for season four, they end up with an "Episode Point Average" for the entire season of about 3.4, which blows away the composite grades of both season two (3.07) and season three (3.19) and even rivals my biased grades for season one (3.43). Season four (so far) was definitely better, in my opinion, than seasons two or three, and even though it may have not had as many episodes that jump out as classics, its bad episodes were far better. Consistency does mean a lot.
Daria as a Whole #3, Not Over Yet:
This episode confirms to me that "Is It Fall Yet?" is supposed to be part of season four. So it seems we're getting sixteen of seventeen episodes this year.
Daria as a Whole #4, Thanks, Thanks and Thanks Again:
I'd like to thank you all again for making these reviews worth doing. I look forward to the movie and season five. Also, be on the look out for the "Season Four Wrap Up," sometime after the movie.
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.