Despite worries about her slipping grades, Jane surprises everyone when she joins the track team. Her winning streak, and subsequent rise in popularity, at first trigger jealousy in Daria, but jealously turns to outrage when she discovers the reason behind Jane's suddenly improving grades.
When Ms. Morris attempts to sneak a cheerleader practice into P.E. class, Daria and Jane sit out in protest. She angrily accuses Jane and her entire family of being slackers, then holds both girls after school to make up the class. Later, the girls overhear Kevin tell Mack that he got a bye on his ethics test, which angers Mack (who actually had to take the test). The next day, Daria tells Jane that Helen supported her on the gym class thing, which further hardens Jane's resolve to prove Ms. Morris wrong. To that end -- and to get closer to Evan, a boy she "admires" -- Jane joins the track team, to Daria's total surprise. Daria is not particularly thrilled when Jane makes the team, and is even less so when she finds herself alone more and more as practice begins to monopolize Jane's time. Concerned over Daria's mental well-being, Helen convinces (aka bribes) Quinn to spends some time with her sister, which doesn't exactly go the way she planned when Quinn abandons Daria at the library after meeting a cute guy. Daria's irrational behavior over Jane's absence finally comes to a head when she humiliates Jane in public (and in front of Evan). After getting a well-deserved chewing out, Daria finally apologizes to Jane, and finds that being friends with a track star comes with some perks: both girls get out of gym class when Ms. Morris tells Jane to rest her legs for the next track meet (and since Jane doesn't want to be alone...). Daria is still troubled, though, as she feels guilty for condemning Jane for "surrendering to the system" while simultaneously taking advantage of its perks... guilt that worsens when she finds out that Jane got a bye on her math test. Jane's attempts to justify it as being "just another perk" angers Daria, but when Evan reveals his true colors by insulting Daria's ethics, Jane realizes just how corrupt she's become and quits the team. Ms. Morris, though, isn't willing to let her off that easily, and threatens to have Jane flunked if she doesn't come back to the team; Jane, in turn, threatens to tip off the local news media about Lawndale High's little grade-changing scheme, which forces Ms. Morris to back down. Ms. Morris winds up getting the last laugh, however, when she forces Daria and Jane to participate in cheerleading practice, giving both girls time to reflect on the fact that they really did receive a lesson in how the real world works.
- According to Merriam-Webster, a "bye" is "the position of a participant in a tournament who advances to the next round without playing." In this case, Kevin and Jane getting byes on their tests means that they received passing grades without actually having to take the tests.
(Evan enters; Jane smirks appreciatively)
Daria - See something you like, or just browsing?
Jane - I'm thinking about getting those running shoes.
Daria - Uh-huh. What color were they?
Jane - Just kick the bleachers out from underneath me, okay?
Ms. Morris - Your sister Penny never wanted to participate, either. I taught her a thing or two about the American competitive spirit.
Jane - You sure did. That's why she's spent the last ten years out of the country.
Ms. Morris - I know what kind of upbringing she's had. What's your excuse?
Daria - I'm just plain no good?
Jane - You know, I'd really like to show that Ms. Morris that the Lanes are no bunch of ordinary deadbeats.
Daria - Of course not. You're deadbeats with style.
Jane - Exactly.
Ms. Morris - Miss Lane, what are you doing here?
Jane - Trying out for track team.
Ms. Morris - You won't participate in regular gym class, but you want to join an extracurricular sport?
Jane - I like to run.
Ms. Morris - Okay. Let's see if you're any good at it. (leaves)
Jane - I'd particularly like to run up and down your spine wearing track spikes.
Daria - So you made the track team?
Jane - Yeah. (beat) This is the part where you say, "Hey, way to go, congratulations."
Daria - (flatly) Hey, way to go.
Jane - "Congratulations...?"
Daria - (flatly) Congratulations.
Jane - Now, don't get mushy on me.
Daria - "Thin Thighs For Your Man." But I don't like men with thin thighs.
Evan - Hey, teammate. Did you see this girl run like the wind?
Daria - Have you ever heard her break wind?
Jane - You think it's hypocritical of me to accept favors from a woman I despise?
Daria - Does she have cable?
Jane - Let's find out.
Evan - What's up with your friend?
Jane - Oh, I rubbed her self-righteousness the wrong way.
Evan - I don't know why you hang out with her.
Jane - What do you mean?
Evan - Well, you're sort of a sports star now. It's not so cool to be hanging around with... you know, losers.
Jane - Yeah, you're right. I've been spending too much time with losers. (leaves)
Evan - I'm glad you... see it my way.
Jane - This all happened because I was trying to prove to Ms. Morris that I'm not a deadbeat.
Daria - And that Evan guy factors in exactly how?
Jane - That jerk? I can't believe you thought he was cute.
Daria - Yeah. Aren't I a dope?
Jane - I quit. I'm afraid I might come out of high school knowing as much as Kevin.
Daria - You came out of kindergarten knowing more than Kevin.
Jane - Remind me of that when he gets his football scholarship.
Jane - Tell me that at least I have my integrity.
Daria - Integrity is a funny word.
Jane - Well, then, at least tell me I'm marginally less corrupt than the jocks.
Daria - You refused to participate in a crooked system where good grades are exchanged for athletic performance. But you didn't try to reform the system, either.
Jane - For fear of complete teenage exile.
Daria - Right. So the system continues, you haven't redeemed yourself, and we're ostracized anyway.
Jane - Come on, now, stop trying to paint a rosy picture.
Daria - You know what?
Jane - What?
Daria - They really are preparing us for the real world.
Delayed Reaction Review
Fashion Faux Pas:
It took Quinn a while to figure out that the hot legs shoes made her feet really hurt. She said that she changed them because her legs were hot anyway, but we all know why she really changed them (they hurt!!!). It was ironic that Quinn walked in with those shoes just when Helen said that "no daughter" of hers would do things to only please men.
Continuity of the Week:
It was good to see that they didn't forget Jane's enjoyment of running (a la "The Misery Chick") and her status as a straight C math student. We get to see how upset Mack gets when Kevin calls him "Mack Daddy" (does anyone else get the feeling that Kevin is the only person that calls him "Mack Daddy"? Or maybe Kevin the only one who is so annoying). They also remembered that Jane's sister Penny is out of the country and put it in the dialogue without beating us over the head with it.
Discontinuity of the Week:
Jane usually sees right past the sort of charming routine Evan played on her to get her to join the track team (Daria saw through it). I almost thought she was playing along because she was a bit attracted to him.
What Is She, The Narrator?
Daria talking to herself was really very weird. It shows some real depth in her character, IMO. She has portrayed herself as a loner to almost everyone she has contact with, and that's how they see her -- everyone's happy. However (and this is a big one), she has become so dependent on Jane as a social outlet that when Jane is absent for any lengthy amount of time, Daria starts talking to herself to fill the void. Daria either needs to get more close friends or accept the fact that Jane is going to do things that she doesn't agree with.
Friends for Life:
Daria and Jane had some real intense tension going on in this episode. Daria is upset that Jane joined the track team ("but that's a sport") and tried to get academic gains from it. Jane is mad that Daria tried to humiliate her in front of someone she "appreciates." Then Daria is upset that Jane is gaining Fashion Club-like "popularity" because she's winning. Perhaps Daria was a bit jealous that Jane was getting all of that attention. Of course, the end of the show (standard for any 30 minute show) resolved the main conflict, but there was definitely conflict and I wouldn't be surprised if some of the tension resurfaces in the future.
Change of Character:
It's funny how one's attitude toward something can change based upon how it will affect him or her. Jane was seemingly disgusted by Kevin getting a bye on a test, but when she is benefiting in the exact same way it becomes acceptable. It was good to see Jane realize that what she did was wrong, but it was also good to see some of that good old fashion human weakness.
There isn't much more I can say about this episode, it was good. Everything worked here (except maybe the splits, but that wasn't even bad for comic relief); even the title was fitting (Jane was "running" from Daria). The show touches on a possible hot topic of scholastic athletics about how some students are given "byes" from test/projects/etc. so they can compete and bring notoriety to their schools. Daria and Jane's friendship is tested like it hasn't been tested before. This one might be a truly classic episode.
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.