Episode Guide

Quinn the Brain
Episode #203
Written by Rachel Lipman

(opening theme song)

(at Lawndale High, in Mr. O'Neill's class)

(Mr. O'Neill is walking amongst the students)

Mr. O'Neill - Now, as I'm handing back your essays, you may have strong feelings about the competitive and discouraging aspects of grading. (finishes and leans on his desk) I care about what you have to say. Who would like to start?

Jamie - Is an F+ the same as a D-?

Mr. O'Neill - I don't believe I've ever heard of an F+, Jordan, but we can talk about it.

Quinn - So she said, "I got those eggshell leggings like you told me," and I said, "Eggshell? I told you eggplant!"

Stacy - You're kidding!

(Quinn and Stacy laugh)

Mr. O'Neill - Quinn? Was there something you wanted to say?

Quinn - Um, I didn't get my essay back.

Mr. O'Neill - That's true, Quinn. I'm afraid I need to see you after class.

(bell rings; students get up to leave)

Stacy - I'll save you a place at the mirror. (leaves)

Mr. O'Neill - Quinn, I'm so sorry, but we need to talk about your performance.

Quinn - Okay, but I'm kinda in a rush today.

Mr. O'Neill - Let's go over our last assignment, "How I feel about polyculturalism." You wrote, "I definitely prefer all-cotton."

Quinn - I didn't copy it, if that's what you mean.

Mr. O'Neill - No, no, I believe you. The thing is... now I don't want to panic or upset you -- please, take this in a constructive spirit -- but I'm afraid you're not doing well in Language Arts.

Quinn - Okay. See you tomorrow! (starts to leave)

Mr. O'Neill - I don't think you understand! You're going to have to get an A on your next essay to maintain a passing grade!

Quinn - (turns back, shocked) You mean, passing as in "passing or failing"?

Mr. O'Neill - Yes! But don't worry. All it will take is some commitment, dedication, and some hard work!

Quinn - Oh, no!

Mr. O'Neill - You can do it, Quinn! You know, when I was in high school, I wanted more than anything to be on the high school gymnastic team, but I just couldn't master the high bar. So I practiced every day...

Quinn - And the big tryout came and you made the team.

Mr. O'Neill - Well, no. But that winter, I learned how to write while holding a pencil in my teeth.

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(Helen walks into the kitchen, holding a piece of paper)

Helen - Quinn? What is the meaning of this? I put in another twelve-hour day and the first thing I see when I get home... (sees Jake sleeping) Jake!

Jake - Ah! I'm up!

Helen - Where are the girls?

Jake - They were here before... I think.

Helen - I'm very upset about this.

Jake - Oh, yeah, I know! See, I was trying to call the number for Movie Phone, and out of nowhere this woman comes on the line...

Helen - Jake, what are you talking about?

Jake - (realization dawns) That's not the phone bill. I... what is that?

Helen - It's a letter from Quinn's English teacher. She's going to fail English because she's not putting in any effort. I'm going to go talk to her.

Jake - Wait a minute. Why can't I ever be the one to talk to the girls?

Helen - Honey, it's not that you can't. It's just... a strong parenting team is like a singing group. The lead singer carries the tune, and the backup singers support her. That's you!

Jake - But what do the backup singers do?

Helen - You chime in at just the right moment and then you fade into the background. Doesn't that make sense?

Jake - Do I get a tambourine or something?

(Quinn walks into the kitchen)

Quinn - Mom, can I borrow... (sees Helen with letter) Um, I'm just going to go run down to the animal shelter and see about volunteering. I heard they got in a new bunch of sick birds.

Helen - Quinn, this note came from school.

Quinn - Don't worry. All I have to do is get, like, an A on my next essay and I'm fine.

(Daria walks into the kitchen and overhears the last part)

Daria - I'll take the Vegas odds on that one.

Helen - Daria, we need to be encouraging. Sit down, Quinn. (everyone sits at their usual spots, Daria wearing a smirk) Honey, this isn't just about one essay. It's about setting goals in life and going after them. You know, when I was in high school, I wanted more than anything to join the swim...

Quinn - (holds ears) No! No! Please, not again.

Helen - Huh?

Daria - Mom, if you're going to reminisce, I'm afraid I'll be forced to call Social Services.

Helen - All right, Quinn. Let me try to put it another way. No matter what you do in life, a solid education...

Quinn - You gave this talk when I got caught cutting my... when I forgot where my math class was.

Jake - Helen, let me. Honey, did you ever here the tale of the ant and the grasshopper?

Quinn - Ewwww! Bugs?!!

Helen - Try imagining it this way, Quinn...

Daria - You could be left back and be the oldest freshman at Lawndale High.

Quinn - (eyes wide) You know what? I gotta get to work. Bye! (leaves)

Jake - That's my girl!

Helen - (motions to Daria) You see how it's done?

(outside of Daria's room)

Quinn - (knocks on door) Daria, are you in there?

Daria - No, I'm taking it easy in Tahiti for a few days.

(Quinn walks in)

Daria - Hang on, I'm just ordering another tray of coconut daiquiris.

Quinn - Um, I was wondering if...

Daria - I don't think so.

Quinn - I just need a little help with my essay. Like, could you write it for me?

Daria - And what's my motivation again?

Quinn - Come on, Daria, we're sisters! We gotta stick together.

Daria - Unless we're in public, you mean.

Quinn - But you're so smart, and this essay's so important. Believe me, I would do it myself, but I have a date.

Daria - Oh, that's different. When does the subject of compensation come up?

Quinn - Ten?

Daria - Twenty.

Quinn - Fifteen.

Daria - Done.

Quinn - Thanks, Daria. This is going to work out for both of us. I mean, I get my essay written, and for once you'll have something to do on a Friday night instead of sitting around like a loser, you know?

Daria - (frowns) That's it, Shakespeare. Do your own damn homework.

(Quinn's mouth drops open as she realizes she's just blown it, big time)

(later, the doorbell rings; Daria answers the door and finds Corey on the front step, holding a bouquet of flowers)

Corey - Um, is this Quinn's house?

Daria - Someone by that name does live here.

Corey - Cool!

Daria - She's upstairs doing schoolwork.

Corey - I gotta pay more attention when I get these addresses!

(Quinn comes down the stairs, dressed to kill)

Quinn - Corey, I just came down to say I can't see you tonight. I have to write an essay.

Corey - (laughs) Good one! Come on, I've got a special evening planned. Let's go before there's a line at the drive-in.

Quinn - No, really, Corey, I have work to do and you have to leave. Sorry!

Corey - Quinn, what have they done to you!

(Quinn shuts door in Corey's face)

Daria - Did you just spend two hours dressing up to go the door for one minute and dump your date?

Quinn - Daria, if you look your best when you blow a guy off, it makes them feel like you care.

Daria - Well, that advice should prove very helpful. Sometimes your shallowness is so thorough, it's almost like depth.

Quinn - Thanks. All right, twenty.

Daria - No.

Quinn - Fine! I hope you realize you're making me do my own homework! (stomps up the stairs)

Daria - That is a scary thought.

(at Lawndale High, in Mr. O'Neill's class)

Mr. O'Neill - I have a special surprise everyone. One of our students has so improved since last week's essay, I'm going to share her work with the class.

Quinn - I really like your leggings.

Stacy - Yeah, but now I have a shoe thing. Strappies?

Quinn - Platform jellies!

Stacy - Quinn, you're so smart!

Quinn - Only about important stuff.

Mr. O'Neill - Quinn?

Quinn - Um, I didn't get my paper back.

Mr. O'Neill - That's right Quinn, because I'm going to read it aloud!

Quinn - Oh, no.

Mr. O'Neill - "Academic Imprisonment," by Quinn Morgendorffer.

(class laughs as Quinn sits, horrified at being singled out)

(at school, in Mr. O'Neill's class)

(Mr. O'Neill is reading Quinn's essay out loud to the class, while Quinn is doing her best to make herself invisible)

Mr. O'Neill - "So go ahead! Lock me up with your homework and your tests! Rob my freedom with your reading and your thinking! As far as I'm concerned, the only difference between school and prison is the wardrobe. Or do you want to take away my outfits, too? The End." Wow. Would anyone like to share their reaction?

Quinn - (raises hand) May I please change schools?

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(Helen attaches Quinn's essay to the refrigerator with a magnet; there are only a few other items on the door, including a crude drawing by one of the girls from their elementary school days)

Helen - There. Now it's on full display.

Daria - Quite the door of achievement.

Jake - Come on, kiddo. You want to encourage your sister, don't you?

Daria - To get her own place, yeah.

(Quinn walks in)

Jake - Hey! It's my daughter the genius.

Helen - Our own academic achiever.

Jake - We're all so proud of you. Aren't we, Daria?

Daria - Sure, if you mean proud as in "stunned."

Quinn - Mom, Dad, making you happy is the greatest reward I can ask for. Of course, when other kids get a good grade, they sometimes get a little present.

Helen - Now, Quinn, I really think...

Jake - I'll handle this. You're absolutely right, sweetheart. You get an A, you should be rewarded. (hands her a twenty) Here ya go!

Quinn - Thanks, Dad.

Daria - Wait. Isn't that a double standard?

Jake - Huh?

Daria - You just gave her a twenty for getting one A. What about all the As I get for free?

Jake - Yeah, but this is a special occasion, so Quinn gets a special reward! It's a motivational thing.

Daria - But won't that demotivate your other daughter, whose work is consistently good?

Helen - (arches eyebrow) Yes, Jake, where are you going with this?

Jake - I wasn't finished. Daria should have a consistent reward for her consistently good work. (hands her a bill)

Quinn - Hey!

Jake - And Quinn should have a special one-time reward for her one-time effort! (hands her another bill)

Daria - But what about a higher reward for maintaining a standard of excellence over time? Perhaps with compound interest?

Jake - (looks from one girl to the other, then throws down wallet) Here, just take it! Helen, I told you I was no good at this parenting crap!

(at Lawndale High)

(Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie approach Quinn, who's at her locker)

Joey - Hey, Quinn, you're famous!

Quinn - Oh, you guys. I'm just really popular.

Jeffy - He's talking about your essay in the Lawndale Lowdown.

Quinn - It's in the school paper?!

Jamie - It's in the Smart Thoughts column.

Quinn - (closes locker and puts arm to forehead) I'm ruined.

(down the hall, Jane and Daria are reading the school paper)

Jane - "Academic Imprisonment," by Quinn Morgendorffer.

Daria - It's great, isn't it?

Jane - "No light shines through these four brick walls. For the school is my prison, and its teachers my imprisoners."

Daria - I'll bet you didn't even know that the word "imprisoners" existed.

Jane - Yeah, but now I can't wait to use it. Why exactly is this great?

Daria - Because now Quinn's going to see firsthand what is feels like to be a brain.

(in the cafeteria)

Jane - Listen to this. "Like a hamster on one of those wheel things, school runs us around and around until we yearn for the food pellet. But only more homework awaits." You know, it's like she read my mind.

Daria - Right after you suffered a severe blow to the head.

(Quinn walks in wearing hat and sunglasses and sits down next to Daria)

Quinn - Could you put that away? They're everywhere.

Daria - What are you doing here? Bomb scare at your table?

Quinn - Keep it down, okay? I'm trying to keep a low profile since the paper came out.

Daria - Lucky for you, the Pulitzer committee has already finished eating.

Jane - They had the meatloaf.

Quinn - Ha.

Daria - You must be very excited about what people are calling you.

Quinn - What?

Jane - "Brains" Morgendorffer.

Quinn - Come on, because of one little essay?

Daria - It's a slippery slope. Behold, the future. (gestures at table of nerds, who laugh as one of them squirts milk out of his nose)

Quinn - Ewww!

Jane - Last week, they were trying out for football, then they won one debate tournament.

Quinn - What am I gonna do? I can't be a brain! My friends will hate me!

Daria - Yes, but just think of all the new friends you'll make in Chess Club.

Quinn - Maybe I can steal all the newspapers before anyone else reads them.

Daria - Hey, wait a minute, "Brains." You don't even have lunch this period, do you?

Quinn - Of course not! I cut Science so I can talk to you. You think I'd sit with you while my grade is at lunch?

Daria - About that being mistaken for a brain thing? I wouldn't worry too much about it.

(in the hallway)

Brittany - Why do you have to study during study hall, anyway?

Kevin - Quinn's tutoring me in English so I can stay on the football team. Mr. O'Neill set it up.

Brittany - Kevvy, I could tutor you! I speak English too, you know.

Kevin - Babe, I've got a plan.

Brittany - I'll bet you do, you, you high school Casablanca!

Kevin - No, babe, I'm doing this for us. I'm going to, like, observe the way a brain acts, and then we could act that way and be cool, too.

Brittany - Oh, Kevvy. You're so smart. You're already a brain in my eyes.

Kevin - Thanks, babe. (both leave)

Daria - Only Quinn could turn being smart into a fad.

Jane - Don't worry. Today it's brains, tomorrow pierced tongues, then the next day, pierced brains.

Daria - Well, it's not like it's going to get her anywhere.

Quinn - (walking by) So then Mr. O'Neill said I could skip the rest of his class and leave early because he said I was catching on so fast. Isn't that great?

(Daria frowns)

(in Mr. O'Neill's class)

Daria - You asked to see me?

Mr. O'Neill - Daria, you know I'm a big, big fan of your writing. But lately, it seems kinda, I don't know, flat. I was hoping for something a little more... jazzy!

Daria - You want me to put in a drum solo?

Mr. O'Neill - I was wondering how you'd feel about some one-on-one tutoring. Sort of a mini writing workshop. There's somebody I want you to meet. She should be here any minute...

Quinn - (walks in) Hi, you wanted me to... (sees Daria) ...help somebody?

(Quinn and Daria stare at each other, mouths agape)

Mr. O'Neill - Do you two know each other?

(later, Daria and Jane are sitting outside on the lawn; Quinn, Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie are sitting nearby)

Daria - I should have said, "I don't need tutoring to write like her. Just some big crayons."

Jane - Tough day.

Daria - I'm not letting it get to me.

Jane - Yeah, I can see that.

Quinn - Look everyone! I wrote another poem while I was eating my fries.

(Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie all make to grab the poem, with Jeffy winning out)

Jeffy - My turn to read! "The greasy fry, it cannot lie. Its truth is written on your thighs."

Joey - Wow. That's amazing.

Jamie - Beautiful.

Jeffy - Genius.

Quinn - I know!

Daria - Hold it. I think I feel a poem coming on. (burps) Sorry, false alarm.

(in the hallway)

(Daria and Jane are at Daria's locker; Quinn and the Fashion Club walk past, headed for the drinking fountain down the hall)

Quinn - Yeah, I might do writing for a career. It's not like real work or anything.

Sandi - Really. I mean, how hard it is to type stuff?

Quinn - And there are lots of opportunities. Like, did you know they pay money for those poems in greeting cards?

Stacy - Oh no! I've been giving away my poems for free!

(it's too much for Daria, who slams her head down on her books with a hollow thud)

Daria - Do me a favor, will you?

Jane - Yeah?

Daria - Close my locker.

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(Daria stands in Quinn's doorway, watching Quinn try on various articles of black clothing)

Daria - Did a mime crawl in here and die?

Quinn - I'm putting together an outfit. For your information, this is how deep people dress.

Daria - Yeah, deeply affected people.

Quinn - Thank you. By the way, do you know what existential means? Because today someone told me my writing was existential, so I thought I should coordinate, you know, with wardrobe.

Daria - Yeah, that's what Camus would have done. For your purposes, existential means "pseudo-intellectual poser with accessories from the street fair."

Quinn - Listen, I'm still available if you want some help with your writing. Does this black match?

Daria - Matches my mood. (leaves)

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(television close-up shows a doctor using a tongue depressor to examine a little girl's throat)

SSW Announcer - Can renegade surgeons transplant your brain while you sleep? The frightening truth, next on Sick, Sad World.

(pan out to show Daria sitting on the couch, a pillow over her face, as Jake walks in)

Jake - Is something bothering you, Daria?

Daria - (muffled) No.

Jake - You know, it's all right to have a heart to heart with Dad. I've been known to do a little parenting in my time.

Daria - (muffled) It's okay.

Jake - What's on your mind? I'm up on the issues. Drugs, peer pressure... or is it a problem with your gang?

Daria - (muffled) It's more of a personal issue.

Jake - It's not... hygiene or anything...

Daria - (removes pillow) Dad, let's say you have an identity that you didn't even like...

Jake - Oh, sure! Like, one day you wake up middle aged and resenting the hell out of it.

Daria - Um, okay. But even though you don't like this identity, somebody comes along and steals it from you.

Jake - And you're upset. You earned that resentment, it's your right.

Daria - Well, it's more like, you didn't want this identity, but if they take it away, you've got nothing. What do you do?

Jake - They took your identity, Daria? Then you walk away. You change your name, move to another state, get some ID. It's not too late to start over, Daria, it's not too late! You're still a young man! You don't have to live with your mistakes! Get out while you can! (grabs Daria's shoulders)

Daria - Um, you're not going to shake me, are you?

Jake - What I meant was, you hang in there and everything's going to be all right.

Daria - Dad, talking to you has made me feel better about myself.

Jake - That's what I'm here for, kiddo. (Daria leaves) Backup singer. Ha!

(at Lawndale High)

(Quinn is sitting in the cafeteria with Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie)

Quinn - Yeah, I just found out that poems don't even have to rhyme. How easy is that?

(all three boys start praising Quinn just as the Fashion Club approaches; Sandi has a full head of steam)

Sandi - There's a problem, Quinn. We need to talk.

Quinn - What problem?

Sandi - It seems that other girls are following your weirdo example and abandoning their fashion statements to wear all black. (points at other girls sitting in the cafeteria)

Quinn - Dressing in all black is a fashion statement. It's deep, it's meaningful, and it's slenderizing.

Sandi - Not according to this. (holds up Waif magazine) Everyone knows that eggplant is the current neutral.

Quinn - Well, I can't help it if I have influence around here. People admire me for my brains.

Sandi - That's not how the Fashion Club works. You're officially ordered to take a fashion sabbatical until you get your priorities straight.

(Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany leave; Quinn rests her chin on her hand, depressed)

(in the hallway)

Sandi - I'm concerned about Quinn. We need someone close to her to make her see the error of her ways.

Tiffany - But who?

Sandi - I have a plan. We'll talk to that girl she knows.

Stacy - You're so smart, Sandi!

Sandi - And you'll notice I don't make, like, a big thing about it.

Tiffany - But that girl is so weird. She freaks me out.

Sandi - That's why I'm president of the Fashion Club. I'll handle her.

(the girls approach Daria and Jane; they then leave just as quickly, after Sandi becomes tongue-tied and is unable to do anything other than utter a few unintelligible noises)

Daria - What do you think that was about?

Jane - I supposed we'll never know.

Daria - Jane, look closely. Have I grown another head?

Jane - No, just the two.

Daria - See ya. (leaves just as Quinn walks up to Jane)

Quinn - What's wrong with her?

Jane - Nothing.

Quinn - Anything a little brain power can fix?

Jane - I think she's had about her fill of that.

Quinn - Can I ask you something?

Jane - I guess. What?

Quinn - You don't think I'm a brain, do you?

Jane - The thought never crossed my mind.

Quinn - Mine, either. I mean, I really like the way this getting to Daria, but I'm starting to feel like a phoney.

Jane - You're starting to feel like a phoney?

Quinn - So I wrote a stupid essay! What's everyone making such a big deal about?

Jane - Well, you know, condition people to expect nothing and the least little something gets them all excited. Ask Pavlov.

Quinn - The custodian?

Jane - (puts hand to head) Whoa. Never mind. Return to your world, and I'll return to mine.

(at the Lane house)

(Jane is at her easel, while Daria is laying on Jane's bed, her head hanging over the edge)

Jane - Hmm... by the way, anything eating away at your soul?

Daria - Her writing's bad. Don't people know the difference between good and bad?

Jane - She's cute. There's different standards for cute people.

Daria - You mean, no standards.

Jane - Right.

Daria - Isn't there ever a time when how you look doesn't affect how you're judged?

Jane - When you donate an organ, unless it's your eyes. Listen, it's no big deal.

Daria - The thing is, if she's a brain, what do I get to be?

Jane - You're still a brain.

Daria - Yeah, but she's a brain with bouncy hair. I can't compete.

Jane - Okay, then you get to be... a super-brain. An even bigger outcast than before.

Daria - I don't think I can survive being a super-brain.

Jane - Then she's got to be stopped. But how?

Daria - (gets up on one elbow) Oh, I know how. I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it... until now.

(at Lawndale High)

(the scene plays out like a repeat of the day before, only with Joey, Jeffy, and Jamie taking the place of the Fashion Club)

Daria - Yes?

(as before, the boys get tongue-tied and start to leave)

Daria - Wait.

Jeffy - No, um, it's a mistake. We thought...

Daria - If you squinted hard enough, maybe I'd look like a different Morgendorffer?

Joey - Um...

Daria - Look, do you really want Quinn back?

Jeffy - Yes.

Jamie - A thousand times yes.

Joey - Bring her back! You gotta bring her back!

Daria - Then do exactly what I say, and I'll deliver the goods.

(at the Morgendorffer house)

(Daria implements her plan to get her identity back: she dresses up as Quinn, right down to the jeans, pink midriff T-shirt, and makeup; she also ditches her glasses)

Daria - (to reflection in mirror) Hi! Could you get me a soda? (puts hand to forehead as she realizes what she's doing)

(doorbell rings; Jake answers it)

Jake (VO) - (acting cool) Hey, dudes! Whazzup? Quinn! Your dates are here!

Joey (VO) - Actually, we're here to ask Daria out.

Jake (VO) - Huh?

Jeffy (VO) - You know, your other daughter.

Jamie (VO) - By the way, how's Quinn?

Jeffy (VO) - Shut up, Jamie!

(while this is going on, Daria walks past Quinn's door, kneels, and adjusts her bootlace, giving Quinn ample time to see how Daria is dressed)

Daria - Hi, Quinn.

Quinn - Hi, Daria.

Daria - Well, I'm off for my dates. (leans against the wall) One... two...

Quinn - Ugh! Wait! (runs up to Daria) You win, all right? (runs downstairs)

(Daria's small smile says it all: "checkmate")

(at Lawndale High)

(the Fashion Club walks down the hallway, with Quinn spinning a story to explain her recent behavior)

Quinn - Yeah, I didn't even write the essay. I found it in the garbage and handed it in. The whole thing was, like, a runaway train.

Sandi - Well, that still doesn't explain black clothes, but I guess I can let it slide.

Quinn - Don't worry, I'm through being an intellectual. I'm too well-adjusted.

Tiffany - Messing with the mind can be so dangerous.

Quinn - Tell me about it.

(Daria and Jane watch the Fashion Club walk past them and continue down the hallway)

Jane - I guess things are back to normal.

Daria - Fashion: good. Thinking: bad.

Jane - Yeah. We win.

Daria - I'm on top of the world.

(closing credits)