"Dazzle 'em. Play the game!"
Two of the cast's biggest game-players see the consequences of their games catch up with them in this arc.
Stan is about to enjoy an intimate moment with Brandi at home when his father returns early, and drunk. He learns that his father had been laid off two days previously, and that he's been trying to look for work since then, but lacks the self-confidence to look interviewers in the eye, hence his drinking. Stan gives his father a self-help pep talk about creating his own image of confidence and worth, then gets him to bed and returns sadly to Brandi, who cheers him up with the promise of lovemaking.
At school, Cyndi's once-confident boyfriend, Braz, ponders the hold she has on him, making him willing to do anything she says in the hope of one day getting to sleep with her. Just then, she seductively tells him that if he helps her in the class presidency race this week against Stan, "maybe this weekend" he'll get his wish. He's putty in her hands once again. However, as the campaign gets underway, it appears that whatever move Cyndi makes, whether directly or through Braz or Samantha, and whichever constituency she tries to reach, Stan is able to one-up her, either directly or through Brandi and her friends.
Meanwhile, Tharqa tries to interest Charlotte in filming another "rape slander" video, this time directed against Stan, and is annoyed when she refuses, saying she's no fun anymore. She insinuates that she's transferred her loyalty to her "wank focus," Duane, who's going for re-election, this time with Aggie as his running mate. During one of their speeches, as Aggie coyly fends off Braz's attempt to embarass them by claiming they'd "blackmailed" Cyndi the previous fall (during Everybody Loves Duane
), Charlotte goes off the rails, calling the audience "filthy degenerates" who don't "deserve" an honest man like Duane. As Aggie cringes, Tharqa gets her revenge on Charlotte by bringing up her libels against Katy-Ann and Sara (leaving out her own part in those). As Duane holds Charlotte back from striking her with a textbook, Lisa and Aggie tell Tharqa off, actually managing to intimidate her into walking away. Charlotte, immediately realizing that she's just ruined her best friend's campaign, is distraught, but Duane assures her of his continued loyalty to her.
That evening, as the "good guys" gather to watch Sara's show, Duane tells Stan he's withdrawing from the race and offers his support. Stan declines it, in light of how his speech went, but says he can use Aggie's and Lisa's support. Meanwhile, Katy-Ann, inwardly reminding herself about forgiveness, invites Charlotte to join her friends in building a Lego replica. Charlotte bashfully accepts.
As everyone heads home, Brandi tells Stan she's surprised at how well he seems to be routing Cyndi; he puts it down to maintaining a consistent image, unlike his opponent. Nevertheless, she warns him not to underestimate Cyndi.
At the same moment, Cyndi's mother Trisha tells her daughter over dinner that a parent had called her with concerns about her behaviour. (That parent was Lynda, putting into practice Rob's suggestion that they help Penny in this area.) Cyndi plays the good little girl, asking whether it was because she'd "called Daphne a fart," and then suggesting that other girls were spreading jealous rumours about her.
Meanwhile, as Jack and Katy-Ann walk home, Braz waits in ambush, then tries to assault Jack with a lacrosse stick, claiming it's a "message for Stan." However, Jack, with far more street-fighting experience, easily disarms him and says that if it weren't for his girlfriend's presence, he'd put him in the hospital. While Braz runs off, Katy-Ann phones Penny to let her know what just happened. Shaken by Jack's violence and "trash talk," she tells him that he's his "own best reason" to hold off on injuring people. "No," says Jack. "The people I care about come first."
Penny, assuming that Braz was acting on Cyndi's orders (he wasn't, and Cyndi's furious when he tells her about it), sends her father Carl the recording she and her friends had made of Cyndi admitting that causing other people drama entertains her. Carl and Trisha confront their daughter about it, whereupon she cries crocodile tears and says it was just a drama exercise for the school play, and how could anyone be so mean as to try and frame her? Carl comforts Cyndi, but Trisha is now suspicious.
On election day, Stan and Cyndi hold a debate in the school auditorium, using relationship and fidelity metaphors for their commitment to the student body. While Cyndi claims never to have cheated, Stan exploits his own "playboy" reputation, promising to give his classmates a fun time without expectation of further commitment. Cyndi, seeing an opportunity, begins to grill Stan on this, finally asking him (as he gets increasingly nervous) whether he'd then be willing to spend "another lazy Saturday afternoon" with her. Stan, recalling his own words about maintaining a consistent image, says yes, eliciting cheers from the student body...except for Brandi and her friends.
With the presidency effectively his, Stan tries, as everyone files out, to explain himself to Brandi. She tells him she understands why he said what he did, but also realizes now that she'll always be second to his own ambition, and that while she won't rule out being casual with him again, their serious relationship is over. She walks off in tears. Cyndi offers him a sarcastic congratulations, prompting Stan to ask her sadly whether she'd even wanted the presidency. She claims, in a rare moment of honesty, to have once
wanted it until she saw how much he
did. Aggie, having figured out Cyndi's game during the debate, angrily tells her to back off, because Stan, unlike her, doesn't deliberately try to hurt others. Penny shoos Cyndi off with a threat of further recordings, then begins to tell Stan off. Meanwhile, a silhouetted figure has been following Cyndi's movements.
Cyndi heads out to her car, exulting in how hurting others is better than sex, when the figure brutally assaults her with a lacrosse stick, knocking her to the ground and drawing blood as she cries out. Then the assailant takes off in her car.
Meanwhile, Penny tells Stan never to speak to her again, while Aggie adds that although he doesn't do harm on purpose, he nevertheless just chose "power over love and friendship." She says he'd better be prepared to face the consequences, as she and Penny walk off in step with each other. "I kinda have to be," he answers, "don't I?", then forces a smile when a supporter congratulates him.
- Adults Are Useless: Although this arc sees parents become more involved than usual in their children's affairs, the school faculty, when present at all, appear to take a hands-off approach to the election shenanigans. These include Brandi and two Fanservice Extras in tight "Stan" t-shirts and short shorts inviting a crowd of boys to chase them down the hall, Cyndi and Samantha attempting to drug Stan's soda practically right under the principal's nose, Charlotte going berserk and nearly assaulting Tharqa in the hall, as well as Stan and Cyndi engaging in increasingly blatant sexual innuendoes (not lost on the cheering student audience) during their election day debate.
- Alcoholic Parent: Stan's father. Suggested not only by his staggering home drunk when he should be looking for work, but also by Stan's claim that "He's never hit me or ma, never."
- All Elections Are Serious Business: Although Stan, as always, projects a "party" image, in contrast to Duane's and Aggie's more sober campaign, he in fact takes the presidency seriously enough (as a way to bolster his college applications) to spend unknown amounts of money on a school pizza party and t-shirts for his supporters to wear. Cyndi, for her part, views the race, if not actually winning it, seriously enough to attempt twice to drug Stan, while Braz considers it high-stakes enough to warrant felonious assault.
- The Beard: Discussed by Braz, albeit with Insane Troll Logic: Seeking to undermine Stan's "ladies' man" reputation, Braz tells a Stan supporter that there's no way he could've been with all the women he's claimed to have been with, and that he's mostly been seen with Brandi lately. This, Braz says, must mean that she's his beard, because he's gay. (For Stan's response, see this arc's Funny Moments tab.)
- Berserk Button: Don't ever insult Duane in front of Charlotte.
- Better Than Sex: What hurting others feels like to Cyndi.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: At home, Cyndi plays the part of a good girl, so innocent that the worst thing she can conceive of doing is calling someone a "fart." For the school election debate, she sports a modest, girly dress and wears her hair in pigtails, in order to reinforce the claim that the "rumours" about her For the Evulz nature are untrue.
- Daddy's Girl: Cyndi. Carl Kristoffer appears to be much more indulgent of, and in denial regarding, his daughter than Trisha is. And then there's the "collector's Porsche" (as described in "Missing Person") that he lets her drive to school.
- Dumb Jock: Braz, here overlapping with Jerk Jock.
- Fatal Flaw: Stan's is ambition, which he allows to trump his love for Brandi. Campbell has stated more than once in the forum that this will be Stan's lot in life: he'll achieve a reasonable degree of success in his career, but this drive for success above all else will make him lonely in the end.
- Forgiveness: Katy-Ann's mantra as she reaches out to Charlotte.
- For the Evulz: Cyndi's real motive in running against Stan, in the end, was not to win the presidency, but to manipulate him into sabotaging his first serious relationship.
- I Am Not My Father: Stan's drive for success above everything else appears to stem from the desire not to take after his alcoholic, financially struggling, unconfident dad. Note, however, that unlike with many instances of this trope, Stan genuinely loves and cares for his father.
- Insult Backfire
Tharqa: Y'r hair's ridiculous.
Lisa: Of course it is!
- Insult to Rocks: Lisa to Tharqa: "Insultin' you is cruelty to animals."
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: The arc ends with Cyndi's brutal assault, although the identity and motive of the attacker won't be revealed until "Missing Person."
- Liquid Courage: Stan's out-of-work father claims he needs this so he can meet interviewers' eyes.
- Manipulative Bastard: Cyndi.
- Ms. Fanservice: Brandi appears near-naked at the beginning of the arc, not to mention with breasts that appear to increase a few sizes when unclothed.
- Sadist: Cyndi. "Oh my God... So much better than sex..."
- Shout-Out: When Cyndi does outreach to a trio of nerd girls, she wears a t-shirt with the slogan, "No tips for Alliance scum," an insult used by Marigold Farmer of Questionable Content.
- Slipping a Mickey: Cyndi attempts to do this to Stan a second time, this time with Samantha's help (although Samantha claims to support Duane, even wearing his button) and this time unsuccessfully.
- The Tease: Cyndi, who keeps her boyfriend under her thumb with the future promise of sex.
- Was It Really Worth It?: Stan's sad expression, as he watches Brandi walk away from him in tears, and shortly after, as Penny and Aggie castigate and then shun him, suggests this trope is what he's thinking.
- With Friends Like These...: Given that Meg is an Alpha Bitch, and Cyndi a Manipulative Bastard For the Evulz, is it any wonder their "friendship" involves exchanges like this:
Meg: Oh, finally! Finally you say something not aimed at the Maxim-reading demographic!
Cyndi: Meg! You said you were my biggest female supporter!
Meg (studying her nails): Oh, I am. Xena wants to throw rocks at you, and Aggie wants to throw strongly-worded leaflets.