Mr. O'Neill attempts to resurrect Lawndale's old cybercafé as a coffeehouse where youths can interact and perform. When Daria gets roped into the situation, she comes up with a unique brand of revenge.
When Lawndale's cybercafé, alt.lawndale.com, is vandalized, Mr. O'Neill tries to use the incident as a catalyst for discussion about the Internet and its role in society. When Daria points out the fact that people in a cybercafé spend all their time staring at a computer screen -- a result that decreases human interaction, not enhances it -- Mr. O'Neill decides to start Café Lawndale, a coffeehouse for Lawndale youth to interact and perform. Naturally, he credits Daria for the idea, which is ironic since she doesn't want to have anything to do with it (and makes this known to Mr. O'Neill in no uncertain terms). However, Helen and Jake have been pressuring her to take part in extracurricular activities; as a result, Daria is "convinced" to take part in the project when Helen threatens to send her to music camp for the summer. Faced with the choice of fundraising or reading one of her stories at the café, Daria chooses the least painful option, and even manages to get Jane to join her. To say that things don't go well is an understatement, because while Quinn encounters guys that she can charm into buying things, Daria and Jane encounter people like Mrs. Johannsen, an overweight hypoglycemic who passes out in front of the two shocked girls. When Daria's ethics prevent her from selling chocolate bars to the woman, Ms. Li informs her that she won't get any credit for fundraising (though she can't condemn her for her ethics). In order to get the credit, Daria reluctantly decides to do a reading at the café's opening night. For the occasion, she picks a story with maximum shock value: a yarn about secret agent "Melody Powers," who fights Communism with equal amounts of brains and bullets. This gets the crowd wound up, particularly after the botched Shakespeare acting by Kevin and Brittany and the morbidly depressing poetry by Andrea, and the kids start an anti-Communism rally. Their destructive behavior forces the café to close indefinitely, but that doesn't bother Daria, who already received the extra credit she needed.
Historical & Cultural References:
- Melody Powers is a parody of James Bond, author Ian Flemming's British superspy with a "license to kill," and has appeared in dozens of novels and movies. Over the past four decades, Bond has been portrayed on the big screen by actors Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig, as well as comic actor David Niven (in the 1967 version of Casino Royale).
Daria - Oh, come on.
Mr. O'Neill - Yes?
Daria - Come together with the planet? By staring at a screen for hours? Sitting in a room full of people you never say a word to?
Mr. O'Neill - Right here and now, let's pledge to make Daria's dream a reality.
Daria - You mean the one where people walking down the street burst into flames?
Helen - (walking by) Hi! Gotta change, dinner meeting.
Jake - Did something happen?
Daria - Hmm... depends on your perspective.
Quinn - (walking by) Hi! No dinner for me! Emergency meeting of the Fashion Club!
Daria - I'll make up a nice plate for you and cover it up with cling wrap.
Jake - That was Quinn.
Daria - Yes, but you still haven't identified our first mystery guest.
Helen - You know, Daria, it wouldn't hurt if you got involved in some after school projects once in a while.
Daria - Can't talk now. I'm chairing a meeting of the Resting Quietly Club.
Mr. O'Neill - I guess you want to read one of your essays.
Daria - No, I wasn't actually thinking about performing.
Mr. O'Neill - Maybe that one about feeling like a big misfit whom everybody hates. The other kids will really relate to that. I know I do.
Daria - I don't know if that's such a great idea. That's the one that compares the sophomore class to barnyard animals. It names names.
Daria - Come on. Do it for friendship.
Jane - I have no friends. I walk alone.
Jane - Do you know CPR or anything?
Daria - I once gave the Heimlich maneuver to Quinn.
Jane - Did it work?
Daria - She wasn't choking.
Jane - Five dollars apiece. We would've made over a hundred bucks.
Daria - Yeah, and all we had to do was take a human life.
Jane - You always see the downside, don't you?
Ms. Li - You have no overall problem with raising money for the coffeehouse?
Daria - I believe in coffee. Coffee for everyone. But I don't want to sell any more chocolate bars. It makes me feel dirty.
Jane - The bad kind of dirty.
Daria - How about, "The Bleakness That Lies Ahead"?
Jane - Too sentimental.
Daria - "No Life, No Hope, No Future"?
Jane - Too pie in the sky.
Daria - "Mommy's Little Hypocrite"?
Jane - Too much like a children's book.
Daria - I wish I were dead.
Jane - That sounds promising.
Delayed Reaction Review
Mocking the Cyber-Public:
Daria takes a swing at the cyber-public (i.e. us) while she talked about the destruction of the cyber cafe. A lot of what she said could be true in extreme cases (which are plentiful) but I would hope this isn't directed at us. :)
Kevin, Kevin, Kevin:
What are we going to do with this boy? This episode was his turn to be the dufus ("The Invitation" was Brittany's). He asked Daria if she is a "chick." He had an unholy obsession with that skull. He thought he was being accused (more like confused) of breaking into the cyber cafe. How did this guy make it to high school? I know, I know, he's a good football player.
Maybe blackmail is too strong a word; coercion is more like it. Helen coerces Daria into joining an activity with the threat of music camp. Daria coerced Jane into going fund raising with the promise of getting to look inside people's houses. Jane sort of got her back when Daria was convinced to read one of her writings (which turned out to be the perfect elixir). And finally, Daria really did a job on the football team. What did she say to her father at the end? We need to be vigilant against people who would force us into actions we would never take on our own. She understands that all too well.
The Ethics of Fund Raising:
Ms. Li doesn't exactly have her priorities in order; in other words, she's a bit money-grubbing. At least Daria and Jane understand you can't harm your customers even if they want it (they're not drug dealers, for God's sake). It was a catch-22: if they don't sell the chocolate, they get in trouble, and if they do, the fat woman probably dies. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
This was a great episode. Very funny and it does point out some of the hypocrisy of high school fund raising at all costs. I didn't mention it above, but the fund raising attempt of Kevin and Brittany was very amusing. Jane does what a lot of people do ("we should do something") - take a picture.
Copyright © 1998 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.