"The last days of summer..." Heh... Leaves can be such drama queens.
Following directly from the previous arc, the storyline opens with Penny trying to determine what's got Aggie so upset. Aggie blurts out that it has something to do with Karen. Unable to understand her speech through the sobbing, Penny, based on the little she knows about Aggie, assumes that Karen taunted her about her deceased mother the same way she'd once contemplated
doing. However, when she figures out Aggie's actually crying over Karen having "snatched away" Marshall, she claims boys aren't worth getting upset over. Miffed, Aggie snaps back into snark mode and the two are enemies once again. But now Aggie, having accomplished her initial mission to blow off steam, through antagonizing Penny, feels better.
As the summer draws to a close, Aggie composes a love sonnet for Marshall, loosely based on Classical Mythology
, but thinks better of showing it to him just yet.
Meanwhile, Penny catches up with her friend Michelle Brown, who's just returned from an abortive family relocation to California with emotional baggage involving body issues and resentment of her father. (Subsequent storylines reveal the reason for this resentment and bring her body image problem more into focus.)
Aggie's father Nick, feeling old after spraining his back, joins a gym on his doctor's recommendation and begins dating his trainer, Charisma, a free spirit now looking for a man who's more mature, like him. Nick soon makes his peace with getting older.
At the end of this chapter, the strip moved from pay site Modern Tales to Keenspot
, and spent several months rerunning all the strips so they'd be in the free archive before Variety Pack.
- Aside Glance: Nick in this strip. Although he appears to be smiling at the reader, T Campbell—who otherwise has avoided Breaking the Fourth Wall in the comic—handwaved this as simply Nick smiling to himself, out of Aggie's line of sight.
- Call Back: Penny imagines Karen mocking Aggie's loss of her mother with the same words and same stance as she'd contemplated using in The Best of Enemies, and with the same devastated reaction from Aggie.
- Comically Missing the Point: Penny in the following exchange:
Penny: Babe, there are so many things more worth crying over than boys! Drugs, periods, missed periods, chipped nails, carbs...
Aggie: What about people who casually dismiss your deepest feelings?
Penny: Eh, don't give them the satisfaction.
- Hypocritical Humor / Ironic Echo: Penny, having spent the last day of her Cloth Mart job putting up with yet another Unsatisfiable Customer, is relieved she'll never have to do so again. She then proceeds to be such a customer for a clerk at another store, right down to echoing the Cloth Mart customer's line almost exactly.
- Inelegant Blubbering
Aggie: She snadged away uh mos bootiful boy ih thuh whuhuhuhuhuh! ("She snatched away the most beautiful boy in the world!")
- Mundane Made Awesome: Aggie's sonnet portrays the Love Triangle between Karen, Marshall and her as a grand mythological epic, with Karen as Persephone, Marshall as her prisoner Adonis and Aggie as his rescuer Aphrodite. (Campbell admits to taking liberties with Classical Mythology here.)
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Penny and Aggie in the opening sequence.
- Reset Button: In the first story within this arc, Penny and Aggie seem poised to become friends, given Penny's genuine attempt to console Aggie and the latter appreciating it. However, when Penny learns the real reason for Aggie's sadness and thoughtlessly dismisses it, the two soon fall back into fighting. According to Campbell, founding artist Gisèle Lagacé's original concept for the strip was that the title characters would remain locked in a perpetual, though comical, rivalry, often on the verge of becoming friends but never quite making that leap. However, Campbell has said he got bored with that setup before long, and the comic eventually took a different turn.
- Stalker with a Crush: Lampshaded with Aggie thinking of showing her love sonnet to Marshall and then imagining him seeing her this way, complete with a Shout-Out to Fatal Attraction (imaginary Aggie clutching a rabbit). She decides to hold off.
- Stylistic Suck: Aggie's sonnet is pretentious and overwrought, and is meant to be. It's a recurring trait of most, though not all, of her creative efforts.
- Unrequited Love: Aggie for Marshall.