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Recap: Penny And Aggie The Last Summer Of Youth August
"I'm going to spend my life fighting for some cause or other. Because of who I am, and how I see the world. I need an oasis. I need a place where there is no fighting. I need a little slice of world peace."
— Aggie

In this chapter, the underlying differences in personality and outlook between the title characters come to a head as they attempt to move forward in their relationship. "August" begins with a glimpse of Duane and Michelle on the children's literacy tour. After Michelle reads the children the story of the biblical Jacob and Rachel, she and Duane discuss between themselves how love can be a source of both strength and weakness, as well as a "crapshoot," and how love doesn't necessarily solve one's own issues. The sequence serves as a meta-commentary on the title characters' relationship.

Penny, in the wake of her failure to comfort Aggie after Finister's death, drops by Aggie's house early to a logo-painting session for Aggie's film. She gives Aggie a printout of her blog post drafts she wrote after Rich left her for the last time, to show that she can empathize with feelings of loss. Aggie appreciates the effort and hugs her.

Meanwhile, Sara, shortly before the painting session, chats online with Lucy, who tells her she's found fulfillment in community theatre. As they commiserate about their negative Hollywood experience, Sara, assuming they are or will be a couple, suggests that when they go to college together they should consider starting their own acting company. Lucy, however, has different ideas about attending college at all, and about being anything more than a good friend to her. When the broken-hearted Sara says she wishes she and Lucy had done more than kiss, even though she was still with Daphne then, Lucy has her promise never to let go of the good person she is, and promises in turn she'll never lose her as a friend.

At Aggie's with Penny and Lisa, Sara tries to keep it together but soon breaks down crying in Penny's arms. This time, Penny shows natural empathy and compassion and manages to comfort her best friend by assuring her she'll find the woman she's looking for one day. This is not lost on Aggie, who rewards her afterward by initiating sex.

The foreplay, however, comes as something of a surprise to Penny. Observing that Penny seemed to get turned on when they wrestled at the beach and when Aggie was on top in the closet, Aggie pins her down and tells Penny to struggle against her, urging her on with "You gettin' tired, bitch?" Their subsequent lovemaking is more gentle, however. Lying in Penny's arms afterward, Aggie asks Penny whether she liked it. When she detects some hesitation in Penny's tone of voice, Aggie once again has trouble seeing her in her mind's eye, but only for a moment, as she tells herself to just relax and enjoy her lover.

Later that night, Penny sneaks home after curfew. Tiptoeing to her room, she overhears her parents talking about her relationship and its implications for her future. Lynda says Penny may be rethinking the college choices she'd given them; she no longer seems interested in acting or modelling, and appears to be in love with Aggie and contemplating building a life with her. Rob points out that Penny's been in love before and that didn't exactly lead her to make the wisest choices. He claims that Penny's a bit spoiled, and needs to take her planning for college more seriously.

Some time later, Aggie screens for Penny, Sara and Lisa her finished film, a short viral video showing hundreds of corporate logos in succession, to the tune of the The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." When she asks for feedback, Penny and Sara share an "It's...you," while Lisa looks atypically fearful. Penny and Aggie debate the purpose and intended audience of the film, whereupon Lisa nervously interrupts by saying the person who supplied the camera would like an "assistant producer" credit. Aggie agrees that's reasonable and asks who it is. "Stan Larson?" replies Lisa sheepishly.

As Penny, who still hates Stan, glares in anger, Aggie admonishes Lisa for lying that the camera was from a friend of her father. Lisa says she didn't expect Stan to ask for credit, but assumed that maybe Aggie would find out later that he'd done her a favour. When Aggie asks how Stan's interests are relevant, Lisa suddently erupts in anger: "Because it's not right [that you and Penny are ostracizing him]!" Penny and Sara angrily remind Lisa of how Stan treated Michelle and Brandi. Lisa counters that Michelle already had issues of her own, that Brandi may not have wanted from their relationship what Penny assumes she did, and also that Brandi did try to stay friends with him after their split.

Aggie initially takes Penny's and Sara's side, though less heatedly, but when Lisa asks why Karen and Bob should get a shot at rehabilitation but not Stan, she feels ashamed. So when Penny insults Lisa, Aggie angrily defends her, saying she has a point about consistency and forgiveness. Penny claims it's childish to expect everyone to be friends with everyone. Sara, worried this could escalate into a fight between Penny and Aggie, calms Penny down, but then Lisa lashes out at Penny again, for presuming to exclude Stan from their parties on everyone's behalf. Penny snaps back that she needs to be in charge of their parties because Lisa lacks the "practicality" for it. Aggie takes this last point personally and runs off.

Penny catches up to her girlfriend, who resents that Penny seems to think showing concern for "issues" is immature and impractical. Penny says, more gently, that it's time for Aggie to get practical and to plan, because it's time for the two of them to consider their future together. Aggie is stunned speechless. Penny, on whom her father's words clearly made an impression, says they have to start applying to colleges in weeks, and she wants to go to college with her. Aggie is overwhelmed and unready to have this discussion ("This is so big"), but Penny urges her on, saying they're "out of time" and she herself needs to plan her future either around Aggie or without her. Meanwhile, Sara and Lisa, eavesdropping, overhear just the words "so big" and "I want it to be around you" and, thinking to their shock that Penny and Aggie are having sex, sneak out of the house.

Their discussion of colleges soon goes badly wrong, as Aggie concludes, from Penny's reaction to her mention of a film department, that she hates her movie and becomes upset that Penny hadn't said anything sooner. Penny, now in a panic, tells her to "nut up" because she wants to face their long-term issues with her, not protect her from them. Urging Aggie to "show a little spine," she shakes her violently. This proves the last straw for Aggie, who pulls Penny into her father's study where they collapse onto the desk, biting and scratching and ripping each other's blouses. This leads directly to raw and angry, though consensual, sex.

Afterwards, as they lie on the floor, naked below the waist and with destroyed blouses, Penny is ecstatic, calling it the best sex she's ever had, and telling Aggie it makes confronting the "hard questions" worthwhile. Aggie, however, says she's not sure she wants this. She claims that she and Penny want different things out of a relationship; whereas Penny wants a "wrestling partner" who needs to earn her respect—and Aggie's tried to give her what she wanted—all she wants is someone to love her. "I love you," says Penny for the first time. But that isn't enough to reassure Aggie, who can't respond one way or the other to Penny's question whether she loves her too.

Aggie acknowledges that Penny's tried her best to be supportive and nurturing, but that it doesn't come naturally to her, more like a gesture. Penny says they need to "fight" for their love. Aggie, in tears, responds that she's going to spend her life fighting for causes dear to her, and what she's looking for in a partner is someone to protect her and offer her a respite from that (see page quote), whereas Penny seems to take joy in fighting with her.

Penny apologizes for pressuring Aggie about their future, but implores her not to end what they have because of one fight. Aggie says she won't, and that maybe it's still possible for them to work things out, because they've meant many different things to each other. "But who I am to you now," she says, "I don't think that's who I am to me. And the woman I want to become...is not the woman I think you see in me." As she speaks, the lovers from the conclusion of 20 2020 Pennies figuratively look on in resignation as they fade away, suggesting that at any rate this potential future, in which Penny succeeds in transforming Aggie into a wholly different, more cynical and "tough" person, won't come to pass. Whether Penny and Aggie, as they are now, can make it as a couple is still, however, an "open question."

Tropes

  • Animal Motifs: Aggie cries as she recalls Penny's "look of joy" moments ago, after they "mated like tigers." Her choice of words reprises the motif, in The Lady and the Tiger, of that animal as a dark and destructive aspect of one's personality.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Although Aggie has lost her temper on more than one occasion, throughout the strip she has, with one exception (in Awakening when she shoved Lisa to the ground), consistently remained an Actual Pacifist, even to the extent of not fighting back when Karen jumped her in Providence in the Fall. In the present chapter, however, a bitter argument with Penny and friends, followed by an argument between her and Penny alone and culminating in Penny forcefully shaking her, finally pushes Aggie past her breaking point and she fights back physically, even primally.
  • Bi the Way: When Sara assumes Lucy's a lesbian like her, she clarifies that she likes both women and men.
  • Book Ends: "The Last Summer of Youth" opens in spring with the image of a floating dandelion pod, and concludes towards autumn with the image of a leaf falling from a tree. Both images represent transition and transience, two of the themes throughout the arc.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Aggie, though initially siding with Penny (though less angrily) on the ostracism of Stan, quickly switches to this position after Lisa reminds her of her attempts at reaching out to Karen and Bob. Played for Drama in that this leads neither to a resolution of the conflict between Penny and Lisa, nor to an Agree to Disagree outcome, but to an argument between Penny and Aggie over their more fundamentally contrasting worldviews.
  • Call Back
    • This strip visually references the moment when Stan breaks Brandi's heart in Mister Smiles.
    • Aggie's question to Penny, "What if you learn to resent me?", for wanting Penny to protect instead of struggle with her, recalls her fear in June that Penny would come to resent her if she couldn't make Aggie into someone more like her.
    • Authoress Penny and Butch Conservative Aggie of 20 2020 Pennies make another figurative appearance.
  • Clothing Damage
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Aggie finds herself caught between her best friend and her lover as they fight over whether Stan deserves forgiveness.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: Penny and Sara respond to Aggie's film with, "It's...you," a comment Penny later reiterates when Aggie thinks she hates it.
  • Destructo-Nookie: Penny's and Aggie's second sexual encounter begins as a primal, physical fight and results in destroyed blouses, a trashed study and a near-breakup.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Sara, who broke up with Daphne partly because she'd fallen in love with Lucy, is crushed when Lucy can't give her anything but friendship.
  • The Ditz: Lucy, in her IRC chat with Sara, continues to display her considerable emotional and moral intelligence but also, true to character, her more limited cognitive intelligence. (On that note, her misspellings below have been left intact on purpose.)
    Lucy: Comunity theater is way better than tv. I was scared of it at first, but it turns out comunist theater is something diffrent.
    Lucy: We may not live happily ever after like Romeo and Juliet, but you won't lose me.
    • Bob is a more extreme version of this trope. A one-panel Flashback shows the outcome of Aggie's attempt to reach out to him and help him become a better person. She drops by his house with a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People. His response: "So are you, like...comin' on to me?"
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: Penny, in the following exchange with Aggie, who's taken personally Penny's comment about practicality:
    Penny: I was yelling at Lisa!
    Aggie: Oh, so you think I'm a practical person, then?
    Penny: No! Wait...that was a "gotcha" question...
  • Fanservice: In their two sexual encounter sequences, Penny and Aggie are shown about as close to nude as feasible for underage characters. However, the second such encounter, with its angry, brutally violent nature and unhappy aftermath, may lead some readers to consider the near-nudity Fan Disservice in context.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In contrast to Behind Closed Doors, which bore a general PG-13 rating for the entire arc, four strips (three of them consecutive) in this chapter, which depict Penny and Aggie near-nude and in sexual situations, bear a Not Safe for Work and "not intended for children" warning and require the reader to scroll down to view them. Unlike the strips bearing this advisory towards the end of Campbell's webcomic Cool Cat Studio, there's no actual frontal nudity in this arc. Presumably, then, Campbell and Waltrip included the advisory because the characters are underage.
  • Hypocrite: Lisa calls Aggie out for being willing to give Karen and Bob another chance, but not Stan. Aggie believes she has a point.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Penny to Lisa: "I'm an empathetic person, you ridiculous twit!"
  • Kung-Shui: Downplayed. The titular characters' rage sex spills the contents of Nick's desktop and wastebasket and knocks over his chair, but nothing of material value is outright destroyed or damaged, apart from their blouses.
  • Make Up or Break Up: By the end of the arc, the lead characters haven't actually broken up, but neither have they come close to resolving their differences.
  • Mood Whiplash: The sequence from the beginning of the fight amongst the four friends through the end of the chapter is one long instance of this, veering sharply from conflict to apparent resolution and back to conflict, from drama to comedy and back again, from anger to tenderness and back.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Aggie has one when Penny violently shakes her and tells her to grow a spine.
  • Scenery Censor: Various pieces of clothing, stealthy panel frames, word balloons, and even the characters' own carefully positioned (but not deliberately self-positioned) hands conceal Penny's and Aggie's crotches after their rage sex leaves them naked below the waist.
  • Second Love: Penny and Aggie are this for each other. (Although Aggie doesn't say "I love you" within the comic itself, as Penny does here, Word of God confirmed that she said it to Penny between the end of the chapter and their breakup later that fall.)
  • Secret Relationship: Lisa comes close to revealing her Friends with Benefits arrangement she has with Stan ("Not everyone needs the things from a relationship that you do, Penny! Some of us even like our secrets!") but doesn't quite go that far.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Penny: "Stan's a rancid dick and I'm sick of having to swallow him!" (Recall that Penny has a history of Unresolved Sexual Tension with Stan.) Subverted in that neither Penny nor the other characters pick up on her extremely, if amusingly, poor choice of words.
  • Their First Time: Penny and Aggie, though played with in typical Campbell fashion.
  • Yes-Man: Lisa accuses Sara of being this to Penny, during their argument.
Penny And Aggie The Last Summer Of Youth JulyRecap/Penny and AggiePenny And Aggie Six Septembers Later

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