Recap / Penny And Aggie The Last Summer Of Youth June
"Look, if you saw something that had a one-in-twenty chance of making you a happier, fulfilled person, you'd try it, right?"
In this chapter, Penny and Aggie further explore the new phase of their relationship. Just as May
ended with Marshall taking notes in Nick's class, so does this chapter open with Nick holding a routine parent-teacher conference with Marshall's mother Charisma, who is also Nick's ex. Gently rebuffing her attempt to get back together with him once Marshall's at college in the fall, he says Aggie still has another year of high school coming up and he hopes it'll be a drama-free one. "Good luck with that," Charisma says coldly.
Aggie tells Lisa about her kiss with Penny. At first she claims it "felt right," but when Lisa quips about her own attempt to (play-)kiss her friend the previous fall, Aggie breaks into hysterical laughter, compounded when Lisa suggests she considers Penny "safe" to kiss. When Aggie finally stops laughing, she admits she's "terrified," first because she doesn't know what the kiss makes her, orientation-wise, and second because she's unsure whether she responded to Penny's overture simply because she's her friend and "objectively" attractive. Lisa points out that what Aggie just said means she does
find Penny desirable. Aggie then brings up her third fear, that if they start dating, Penny will try to make her over in her own image, and resent Aggie if she can't. Lisa doubts this would happen.
Penny attends Meg's graduation ceremony with Fred, so that she can bid goodbye to the sort of person she once wanted to be, and to take pleasure in her onetime rival's clear look of uncertainty about her future. Fred asks her why she brought him along, already knowing the answer: she wants to know how Aggie's feeling about their kiss. (At least a few days have passed, and they've apparently not spoken since then.) Atypically cynical and snarky, Fred demands to know whether Penny's in love with his friend or simply views her as an "experiment." Penny says she honestly doesn't know right now. Fred says he's suspicious because of Aggie's earlier "experiment" with Xena (who turned out to be homophobic, as well as racist and generally deranged). She says all she knows right now is that she'd like to kiss Aggie again, but only if it's mutual, thus mirroring one of Aggie's concerns about going with it only because they're friends. She adds, in answer to Fred's objection that she always plans her life, that she never has when it comes to love and prefers to "test" a chance at it first. Fred, admitting that he himself is afraid to make such a leap, says more gently that Aggie seems scared right now, and that Penny should tell her what she's told him.
At the same time, Sara has Daphne meet her at the mall to talk. Sensing what's coming, Daphne is already guarded and angry. Sara says that things haven't been the same between them since Hollywood, and that the problem is she doesn't trust Daphne, having met on the show a "friend" she can
trust. She avoids saying it's Lucy. Daphne pleads with her to reconsider, but Sara maintains that although Daphne has tried to be a better person, especially around Penny, she still feels she has to choose between the two of them. As Sara is finally about to mention Lucy, Daphne accuses her of conveniently deciding it's over just as her "first crush," Penny (whom, Sara says, she'd only crushed on for two days at age nine), has come out. Devastated, she cuts off with a "Fuck you" Sara's attempt to apologize and express hope they can still be friends.
Some days later, Penny has her first post-kiss conversation with Aggie as they watch their friends play basketball. Penny sums up with the suggestion they continue being what they've been to each other for now and see what happens. They then discuss their summer plans, Penny working at an upscale clothing store as Aggie makes a film. Penny agrees to help Aggie with the latter if Aggie agrees to let her use her employee discount to expand her wardrobe. "Come on," she says, leering, "let me get you out of those clothes." This makes Aggie torn between arousal and fright once again. Fortunately, Duane and Fred, happening to sit down beside them at that moment, defuse the awkwardness. Fred says that Daphne's going to need lots of comforting, so their friends shouldn't expect to see much of either of them for the summer. Duane mentions the children's literacy tour he, Michelle and Katy-Ann are going on this summer, centered around Bible stories. Penny and Aggie exchange concerned glances as they notice that Jack seems to be paying more attention to Brandi (and vice versa), and Katy-Ann more to Duane (and vice versa), than either is to their partner.
As they go jogging soon afterward, Penny and Aggie discuss the seemingly uncertain status of their friends' relationships. Although Penny maintains this is just "stuff that's happening," she wishes that there were someone manipulating their lives, because it'd mean someone was in control. She then pauses in her jog, seemingly overwhelmed. Aggie asks her if she's scared and, seeing the look on her face in response, realizes that Penny's feeling just as frightened and vulnerable as she is about their possible future together. Reassured, she takes the initiative for the first time, hugging Penny and then suggesting a nature walk, gently leading her by the hand.
Soon after this, Lisa and Sara, painting corporate logos at Aggie's house for her film, discuss the project and why they're both involved in it: so that Penny and Aggie can "take breaks." The scene "cuts" to the titular characters kissing in another room, indicating, along with Sara's comically ecstatic gushing afterwards, that they're now a couple.
As Jack drives Katy-Ann to the bus pick-up point for the literacy tour, she notices him acting distant and, as they get out of the car, asks him whether he's trying to break up with her. She wants to know whether it's because he wants something she can't give him, at which he pictures a glittering, sweating Brandi shooting a basket. Keeping that to himself, Jack tells her the other reason he's trying to let her go: he feels he's a bad influence on her, as she's been willing to get drunk and lie for his sake, and that she herself thought at first he'd started binge-drinking again and that he might have been Cyndi's assailant. Katy-Ann will have none of this: placing his hand on her heart, she insists that he's a good man and worth getting "a little crazy" about. Then she pulls out of the tour at the last moment, telling the priest in charge that trying to salvage what she has with Jack is more important to her.
Meanwhile, at her summer job, Penny brings a nervous Aggie a bohemian dress-and-sweater ensemble to try on, telling her with a wink to let her know if she needs any "help." Aggie enters the dressing room overwhelmed, but then peeks out and notices Penny looking vulnerable once again. Aggie thinks to herself that showing vulnerability is the biggest gesture her normally proud, image-conscious girlfriend can make, and rewards it with a come-hither look directed at her. Penny enters the change room and helps Aggie into the dress. Aggie, who'd gone in expecting to dislike Penny's makeover attempts, stares in wonder at herself in the mirror as Penny whispers in her ear.
- The Beard: Discussed, jokingly, by Fred. When asking Penny why she invited him to attend graduation with her, he says he doubts it's for that reason.
- Bunnies for Cuteness: As Sara gushes over Penny and Aggie interacting as a couple ("YOU ARE SOOOO CUUUUUTE"), dancing bunny faces appear around her head.
- Call Back: As Sara and Daphne discuss Sara's brief childhood crush on Penny, a background image shows young Sara looking at a Valentine, recalling this strip from The First Man I Ever Loved.
- Cannot Spit It Out: As in the previous arc, Sara can't bring herself to tell Daphne about Lucy, even, at first, when breaking up with her. When she finally gathers the nerve to do so, she's too late, as Daphne cuts her off with the accusation that the "other woman" is Penny and subsequently cuts short their conversation altogether.
- Double Entendre: Penny is particularly fond of this in the present chapter, to Aggie's discomfort.
- Charisma's response, quoted above, to Nick's wish that Aggie have a "drama-free" year. The comic won't in fact show her senior year, but her summer, at any rate, won't be lacking in it.
- Lisa's joke about "wrestling" and "submission," and Aggie's serious response that "Submission is a possibility," prefigure the kinky turn Penny's and Aggie's relationship takes in August.
- When the question of obtaining a camera for Aggie's film arises, Lisa states, with uncharacteristic evasiveness, that her "dad, uh, has beer with somebody" willing to supply one. This lie as to her source for the camera foreshadows the reveal in "August" that it's Stan's, and the subsequent bitter fight it leads to.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Lampshaded by Katy-Ann who, though increasingly frustrated with Jack's belief he's a bad influence on her, refuses to give up on him.
[Y]ou see yourself through such narrowed, cruel eyes that occasionally it clouds my view of you. Then I remember to feel you with my heart [...] You are a brave, smart, sweet, good, good man.
- I Just Write the Thing: Campbell originally intended for Jack and Katy-Ann to break up in the bus-boarding scene, whereupon the comic would explore the possibility of relationships between Jack and Brandi, and between Duane and Katy-Ann. However, Campbell said, Katy-Ann "rebelled," as it were, against that outcome during the scripting process, necessitating the rewriting not only of that scene but also of the basketball scene earlier in the chapter.
- Imagine Spot: Jack has an erotic one featuring Brandi, complete with shoujo flowers.
- Insecure Love Interest: Jack.
- It's Not You, It's Me:
- Sara, rather disingenuously, to Daphne: "The problem is me. The problem is I don't trust you." (In other words: "The problem is you, because you're not trustworthy.")
- Jack, on the other hand, really does believe he's the weak link in his relationship with Katy-Ann.
- Ladyella: Penny, ever since they became friends, has often called Aggie by affectionate nicknames related to her Granola Girl nature. Here, in reference to that, and to Aggie's decision to make a film rather than get a summer job, she calls her "Bead-ella the Unemployable."
- Please Dump Me: Discussed. Sara confesses that she nearly started a jealous fight with Daphne, over her platonically kissing Fred, in order to precipitate their breakup, but backed off when she realized that would make her a Dirty Coward.
- Precision F-Strike: Daphne's "Fuck you" to Sara. Note, however, that this is the last instance of the trope in the comic. Already, several strips earlier, Penny drops the word "shit" in conversation quite casually, and subsequent chapters include somewhat more liberal use of profanity by Penny, Sara and Lisa, though never quite reaching Cluster F-Bomb level.
- Relationship Upgrade: The title characters.
- Rounded Character: Fred, whom the comic had previously depicted as a Perpetual Smiler and Pet Homosexual, with slight Pollyanna tendencies, here shows a more cynical and biting side, while retaining the compassion and concern for his friends shown in previous arcs. It's also revealed why he's still single: he has a fear of rejection.
- Shipper on Deck: Played for Laughs with Sara, to Penny's and Aggie's mild irritation.
- Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Discussed, with bitter sarcasm, when Sara breaks up with Daphne.
Don't sweat it, Sara. I'm a Joss Whedon
fan, remember? I don't believe in relationships with happy endings.
- Super-Deformed: Although both LagacÚ and Waltrip have made occasional use of chibis throughout the comic, this strip is composed almost entirely of them.
- Will They or Won't They?: Penny and Aggie finally become a couple.