Mike's Delayed Reaction Review-#308 (3-34), "Lane Miserables"

MDRR #308 (3-34) - Strap yourself in, this is a long one.

Poor Jake's Almanac - I like Jake. He is still very funny and makes me laugh. The problem is that he has to be completely idiotic to be funny. How can anyone be so oblivious that he or she has no idea how old his or her children are? I am starting to feel sorry for Jake; one of the few male characters that has a chance to be portrayed in a positive light is being turned into an utter buffoon and a walking joke.

Have I Seen You Before? - I find it hard to believe that Amanda Lane would not have shown up in some role, even if it was just in the background, at some point in the past other than in Arts 'N Crass. However, what really pushed my suspension of disbelief to the limit was the fact that all of Jane and Trent's prodigal siblings would all decide to return home at the same time (not to mention their father, who was a bit of a self absorbed, blank slate). I admit that this was a necessary contrivance for this episode to work, but it bothered me nonetheless.

Repeated Lines of the Week - I'll start with the less obvious and work my way up to the blatant. Amanda started to repeat the 'let it be' speech to Helen but gave up about two lines in to it. No big deal, she didn't even get to the butterfly part.... Both Helen and Jake got to play the three questions game with Jane. They both asked questions that I would expect them to ask about Daria. I liked this gag and thought that it worked and was well thought out.... Now for the "too obvious." Let's run down the list of who said "who could that be?" in the order in which they said it. First there is Amanda, then Wind, Penny, Jake, Helen, Daria in her fantasy, Mr. Lane and finally Jake again. This line was repeated more than anything should be in a twenty-minute period. The odd thing is that I don't even think it was intended to be funny the first time.

Attention on Deck - This episode proves to me that for the time being that one of Quinn's main goals at present is to get as much attention from as many people as possible. The main evidence of this is her fantasy where her suitor answers her every whim. The only other thing she needs from him is soda in a crystal goblet (credit Jordan for this point, it was lost on me until he pointed it out). The interesting thing is that she doesn't care if the attention is good or bad. She was nearly going insane about the fact that Trent was getting yelled at about staying out late, while her transgressions were going unnoticed. For further reference, the fanfic that John Berry* named after the reviews explores this point beautifully.

It Really Makes Me Think - The way that Amanda went to Helen for help gives me the impression that they are old friends (especially, when it was found out that she wasn't there to get Jane and Trent). It is certainly reasonable to think that they may be friends. It also gives me more reason to wonder why we haven't seen Amanda more in the past; if Helen is an old friend (or even a friendly acquaintance), since their daughters are best friends.

Kindred Spirits - Despite Jake's buffoonery, he seems to have found the son he never had in Trent. He can relate since he was also "driven from his childhood home" by his family. On the other hand, Trent has found a somewhat stable structure that he can't get under her parent's "we've tried nothing and we're all out of ideas" attitude toward disciplining their children. He needs people to show that they care about him once and a while, like Jake and Helen did. He's long realized that he won't get this kind of attention at home, except maybe from Jane (who was one of the only person to visit him in the tent). Jane ended up a little annoyed by the Morgendorffers (especially Helen) but seemed to feel that that situation it was better than dealing with her own family.

The Obligatory Spooge - I had hoped that the whole Daria/Trent thing would be resolved this season, even if the official position is that it won't be. With Daria's realization that she was "over" him, gave the impression that this was it, only for it to be reversed after Trent left. It wasn't resolved as much as it was redefined. This is one of the first steps for Daria and Trent's relationship away from it being just one-sided crush with Trent' admission that he has some feelings for Daria on some level. Incidentally, I initially felt that the bomb dropped in this episode was the fact that Quinn now knows about Daria's appreciation for Trent. However, the way she reacted seemed to make it look like she already knows about it.

Lane Miserables was a good episode that summed up just how dysfunctional the Lane's really are. It also gave a good insight into how far Daria, Jane and Trent can be pushed until they start to lose control. Overall, besides for the necessary contrivances and the fact that we were led to believe that the crush was resolved, I couldn't find much wrong.

The Bottom Line - A strong episode, even with the obvious shipper fodder.

Grade: A

Daria as a Whole, What's for Dinner? - Helen was cutting lasagna at the beginning of this episode. It's not like we've ever seen that before.

*Hey John, I told you I would find a way to work your name in somewhere.

Next Week - Jake finally has that heart attack we’ve been waiting for (what took so long).

Copyright © 1999 Mike Quinn [All Rights Reserved].

Daria and all related characters are © 1999 MTV Networks, Inc.