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Daria - Episode-by-Episode Analysis

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Ill/Fair Enough

"Ill" and "Fair Enough" don't really have that much in common. "Ill" focuses on Daria's character and social standing, while "Fair Enough" is another scattershot episode.

I'm grouping them because neither episode really has much that's new to say. While "Ill" offers more evidence that Daria is less of an outcast than she might think, this is territory already covered by "The Misery Chick" back in the first season.

Which isn't to say "Ill" is a bad episode, far from it. Daria's plight garners sympathy and it's fun to watch the school react to her absence. It's not quite heart-warming—Kevin, at the very least, seems motivated more by macabre curiosity. Still, when Jodie, Mack, Kevin, and Brittany all show up at the hospital, it proves that Daria's made at least some impact on Lawndale High.

The most interesting scene in "Ill" is Daria's dream sequence. Here, the oft-mentioned Mrs. Sullivan acts as Daria's psychopomp, ushering her into the afterlife. Unfortunately, it turns out that Heaven isn't for brains and the boorish inhabitants soon condemn Daria to Hell.

The scene reflects Daria's fears of again being an outcast and in a pretty dramatic why. It doesn't get much more final than the afterlife. As will be shown in “Groped by an Angel” Daria's either agnostic or atheist, but such ideas still have symbolic power for unbelievers. Being damned to Hell (or perpetual shunning) is a pretty intense fear.

The episode largely works to counter this anxiety by having Daria's classmates show up. Clearly, people outside of her family care about her. Yet early experiences leave a deep impact. Daria's not an outcast in Lawndale High but she was one in the past. That's not something she can just shake off.

"Fair Enough" is a fun, lightweight episode. A lot of the characters have good lines and the medieval setup is entertaining, but there really isn't much of a theme.

Medieval or renaissance fairs are common enough events. The first official Renaissance Pleasure Faire took place in 1963 and was actually a fundraiser for the radio station KPFK. Since then, they've boomed in popularity. I went to a few as a kid and they're good fun.

There's a lot that could be said about how modern society chooses to interpret medieval society. "Fair Enough" touches on this, with some of Daria and Jane's remarks at the end but it's mostly background noise. Again, it's a shame that Ted didn't become a major character since this really would have been the perfect place for him.

The episode has a few odd character moments. Quinn was wise to Sandi in the past but seems entirely oblivious to her machinations in this episode. The show wasn't always consistent about how Quinn and Sandi related with one another. I can't complain too much, though—the episode does provide Sandi with one of her few great villain (or maybe just antagonist) moments.

I also don't really understand why Mr. O'Neill is so impressed with Kevin's performance. While Mr. O'Neill is dangerously "nice" and wouldn't hesitate to praise bad performance if he thought a student's self-esteem was at risk, it's odd that he wouldn't extend the same courtesy to Brittany. Not a big deal, but it doesn't make much sense.

Notes:

  • "Ill" gives us our first appearance of the Zon.
  • Jake's clownishness becomes much more apparent in these episodes and will grow more pronounced as the show continues. I'm not sure this is for the best.
  • Andrea gets another one of her too-scant lines.
  • So Chuck can apparently play the mandolin. That's… honestly rather impressive.
  • When Jeffy gets the part of Palamon, Jamie seems to deliberately redirect him to the Pardoner's Tale, which raises an interesting question: is Jamie familiar with The Canterbury Tales? Is he secretly a brain?