Recap / Penny And Aggie Live Free Of Dye

"Working in a group like this, you will accomplish more, in less time, than you believed possible. You will astonish yourselves."
— A United Mission staffer

Aggie and Lisa spend the summer after sophomore year in Sri Lanka, with a charity mission program that combines camping activities with building homes. Back home, Lisa's parents, socializing with Nick, admit that, much as they love Lisa, the program gives them a break from her constant chatter. Nick, for his part, hopes that the summer will teach Aggie activism through teamwork, not just solitary sign-carrying.

Nick's hopes bear fruit, as Aggie and Lisa not only apply themselves to house-building but also form an unexpected bond with one of the former "Pennies." Katy-Ann, although initially cool to Lisa because of their earlier argument over religion, warms up to her sense of humour as Lisa tells a satirical ghost story about Michael Jackson. As they work together, Aggie reflects silently on the importance of mutual trust, despite who one's friends are back home. Soon enough, Katy-Ann and Lisa in particular become close as they discover a common love of singing and dancing.

Around the campfire, Aggie tells Katy-Ann she's much more approachable than she'd imagined her to be. Lisa teases her best friend for having pre-judged Katy-Ann, just as Lisa and Aggie had once pre-judged each other. This leads Katy-Ann to open up about Penny and her friends, claiming that they expect perfection from themselves. As a result, she says, they not only fail to recognize their mistakes, but devote themselves to those errors all the more, making Katy-Ann fear for them. This ominous note serves as a segue to the major arc "The Popsicle War," in which Penny and her friends will face an unforeseen, dangerous challenge to themselves as a group and as individuals.


  • Black Comedy: Attempting to calm a panicky Aggie during a white-water rafting trip, Lisa jokes that "You can get up to all kinds of things in a riverbed. You ever download Deliverance?" She's alluding to the notorious male-on-male riverbed rape scene (which is not played for comedy) from that movie. Aggie's reaction is of the Dude, Not Funny! sort.
  • Cat Smile: Lisa, in this strip, while teasing Aggie.
  • Duet Bonding: Katy-Ann and Lisa become friends while singing and dancing to the song from the Pixar Short Bounding.
  • Genki Girl: Katy-Ann and Lisa.
    Aggie: Dear Mr. President: I have solved the world's energy needs. All you need to do is put two girls I know on a treadmill.
  • Motor Mouth: Lisa, by her parents' affectionate admission.
  • The Power of Trust: Through building homes together, Aggie and Lisa learn to trust Katy-Ann, and vice versa.
  • Selective Obliviousness: What Katy-Ann, with concern, sees on the part of the Pennies: Sara's Transparent Closet behaviour, Michelle clinging to a relationship with the uninterested and commitment-averse Stan, and Penny's Make Up or Break Up troubles with Rich.
  • Shout-Out
    • The arc title, referring to Aggie, Lisa and Katy-Ann leaving off colouring their hair while overseas, is a pun on the New Hampshire state motto, "Live free or die."
    • Lisa's satirical "ghost" story about Michael Jackson (who was still alive at the time the strip ran) references the lyrics to his 1986 hit "Bad."
    • Lisa's mother, referring to her daughter's Motor Mouth habit during movies, describes her as "her own personal Mystery Science Theater 3000."
  • Waving Signs Around: Nick wishes to wean Aggie off this, in favour of teamwork.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lisa's mother asks Nick, out of the blue, when she and her husband are going to get him to start dating again. Nick is taken aback. However, this exchange is neither followed up on nor referenced in the remainder of the series. (Campbell did say in the forum that after Aggie left for college, Nick resumed dating Charisma, but eventually broke up with her for good, and only then started seeing other women.)