Recap / Penny And Aggie Darren Darren Danforth Who Are You
"Everyone tries to change people. You do it with guilt and I do it with hawtness, because, y'know, that's what we're good at, but we all do it!"
Aggie, poring over her social network page, tells Penny that with Marshall out of her life, she misses spending time with someone who makes her "tingle." At this, Penny blushes, and immediately resolves to find her new friend a man. An awkward and unsuccessful attempt to hook her up with a jock leads Aggie to request that Penny hold off on matchmaking for now, because she's not quite over Marshall yet. Penny, however, remains adamant, while sidestepping Aggie's question as to why she's suddenly taken an interest in her dating life. That night, she has another erotic dream about Aggie, and upon awakening, tries to calm her fears by looking at a beefcake magazine.
Meanwhile, Aggie decides to get Penny off her back by looking for a guy on her own. She finds one in transfer student Darren Danforth, a clumsy and somewhat dim, if good-natured, sort whom girls nevertheless find irresistible, to the extent that he often finds himself overbooking dates. As he volunteers with her and Lisa at a charity car wash, Aggie asks him out, while Lisa amuses herself with just-out-of-earshot, off-colour suggestions as to what her friend might get up to with him.
Later that afternoon, Penny, passing by the ice cream shop, sees Aggie inside, flirting with Darren. Though unable to see his face from outside, Penny assumes he's a "bad boy" type, especially when he carelessly gets ice cream on her shirt. She decides to drive him off, ostensibly so Aggie won't "get hurt." However, once she gets a look at his face, Penny realizes she had him pegged wrong and backs away in embarassment. As he and Aggie go for a jog, Darren wonders what it is girls see in him. Various girls along the way look fawningly at him, picturing him respectively as a soon-to-be-wealthy nerd, a cat-lover, a beatnik and a stoner—in other words, as their own preferred "type."
- Call Back: In Penny's dream (see below), Cyndi sprays her with a rainbow hose, recalling her doing so in waking life, with a regular hose, at Karen's party.
- The Cameo: The strip introducing Darren features an appearance by Kimiko Ross of Dresden Codak and Paige Fox of FoxTrot, fighting Betty and Veronica-style over him.
- Closet Key: Aggie for Penny, reluctant as Penny is at this stage to admit it.
- Chick Magnet: Darren is puzzled by his attractiveness to girls of different personality types and interests. Although he likes girls, he passively lets them pursue him.
- Coming-Out Story: Penny once again wrestles with feelings of attraction to Aggie.
- Erotic Dream: Penny, for the first time since Second Looks, has one about Aggie. More broadly, the dream also reveals her fear that she may be gay, featuring as it does her gay friends offering stereotypical fashion suggestions and Cyndi soaking her with a rainbow-spouting hose.
- Expy: Darren, with his clumsiness, unaccountable attractiveness to girls, and careless habit of booking two dates at the same time, is closely based on Archie Andrews, albeit more passive. His friend Needleneck, with his beatnik appearance and cynical disinterest in women, is a Jughead stand-in.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Penny's abortive attempt to sabotage Aggie's date with Darren, although supposedly with Aggie's best interest in mind, is more likely rooted in Penny unconsciously wanting Aggie for herself.
- The Klutz: Darren.
- New Transfer Student: Darren.
- Self-Harm: Played for Dark Comedy. Aggie, regretful over having urged Duane (in "Smiley") to ask out Michelle (forgetting that she's in recovery from an eating disorder and other issues), pictures a cartoonishly stupid version of herself shoving Duane at Michelle, who's staring at her wrist and thinking of a razor blade.
- The arc title alludes to an old Archie Comics digest, Archie...Archie Andrews, Where Are You?
- When Cyndi, in Penny's dream, urges her to embrace her queerness by spraying her with a rainbow-producing hose, she says, "Taste the rainbow!", which is a Skittles slogan. (This may also be a Call Back to Penny having earlier compared boys to Skittles.)
- Wishful Projection: Girls tend to see in Darren a reflection of their own interests or notion of an ideal man. Even Penny, though not attracted to him, labels him at first sight as a "bad boy" type. Recall that her first love was Badass Biker Rich.