Recap / Penny And Aggie The Popsicle War Providence In The Fall

"People come back from loss. You can come back from this. But you'll only hold onto what you have if you come back right."
— Aggie

At Karen's next party, Marshall finds himself fondly remembering his time hanging out with Aggie and Nick, playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Karen responds to his request for a parlour game with a patronizing suggestion that he do so with the "brainiacs" in another room. She also disregards his own suggestion that she disassociate herself from Charlotte.

There follows a flashback which continues the previous chapter's scene in which Penny, Aggie and friends confront Cyndi and offer to spare her reputation if she helps them. Here, they tell her to spike the alcoholic popsicle mix with toothpaste or anything else that will make the popsicles taste bad. In the present, Cyndi, disregarding Stan's warning not to get "creative" with the plan, decides to spike the mix with laxative.

Duane entertains Charlotte with a history of his favourite letter, "A," inadvertently causing her to fall for him all the more. Meanwhile, Omar gets physical in his ongoing flirtation with Karen. After a moment's hesitation, she finally gives in, and they have sex in the bathroom. However, they're interrupted by the first of the partygoers to suffer diarrhea from the popsicles. Karen, panicked over the possibility of this getting back to Marshall, resolves to get Duane drunk immediately in hopes of creating a distraction. However, when she offers him a popsicle, Charlotte turns on her for attempting to corrupt a "person of the book," and claims she can "smell the sin" on her. The guilt-stricken Karen lashes out at her in turn, accusing her of lying about Sara, whereupon Charlotte claims it was Karen's idea.

Marshall, having noticed that several people have come down with diarrhea, goes to alert Karen and finds her and Charlotte in an out-and-out catfight. Charlotte meets his attempt to restrain her with a shoe to the head, and runs off. Karen, still overcompensating for her guilt, then turns on Marshall for failing to restrain her. Stung, Marshall asks her whether she was in any way responsible for the Sara video, whereupon she sarcastically suggests that if he believes Charlotte over her, he should go find her for some "spanky-spanky." Marshall walks out, ignoring her attempts to apologize. Starting to follow him outside, Karen discovers a yardful of guests with the runs.

Down the street, Penny and Aggie check in with Jack and Fred, who've been at the party, and learn that Cyndi's sabotage has worked. Aggie, to Penny's shock, announces she's heading back to Karen's to speak with her because, she says, if they simply leave her socially humiliated, she could end up with her own eating disorder, in "juvie," or worse. Penny's response: "So?"

Aggie arrives at Karen's, having silently snubbed Marshall along the way, just after everyone's left her in anger (and Samantha, who's overindulged more than anyone, in acute pain, leading Omar tenderly to offer her a lift to the hospital). Thinking of her mother, Aggie tells Karen she doesn't know what real loss is, and says she learned the wrong lesson from the help she and Penny gave her. However, not only is Karen in no mood for lectures but, blaming Aggie for all that's happened, she jumps her in a rage. Penny, having tailed Aggie, tries to pull Karen away, but Marshall beats her to it and then, having finally seen the real Karen, calls her what she had just called Aggie: "You bitch." Meanwhile, in Penny's backyard, Penny's and Aggie's once-separate groups of friends bond with each other and celebrate their victory with fireworks.

As Karen unsuccessfully calls after her now ex-boyfriend, Aggie leaves her with a parting word of advice (see page quote) and walks away, telling a still-skeptical Penny that she felt the need at least to try helping her. Penny can only express her wonder. However, Aggie is rather less forgiving toward Marshall, rebuffing his attempt to apologize for his cruel words and suggesting that they need "a few degrees of separation. For now." Across a backdrop of fireworks, Penny and Aggie walk in step with each other, making plans to see a movie the next day.

The chapter, and the arc, ends with a tearful Karen staring at her ant farm, a former hobby of hers. In the glass, she sees an image of her pre-makeover self, smiling compassionately at her.

This is the final Penny and Aggie sequence drawn by founding artist Gisèle Lagacé.


  • Angrish: Karen's rant as she claws at Aggie: "You stupid bitch you think you can come back here and bitch you bitch you bitch you bitch you bitch".
  • Arc Words
  • Broken Pedestal: In the space of a week since the events of Suicide Run, Marshall has become this trope in Aggie's eyes.
  • Camp Gay: Fred, at his campiest.
  • Cat Fight: More comical than sexy, however.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Penny and Aggie.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Bob and Elmer, with an intentionally far-fetched example.
    Bob: Nuke 'em till they glow! Nuke 'em!
    Elmer: Heh-heh, you said "new come."
  • Laxative Prank: Both Played for Laughs and deconstructed. While most of the guests' reactions to Cyndi's sabotage are comical ("My butt! My butt!"), Samantha's is not: she's consumed so many popsicles that she finds herself in serious pain and needs medical attention.
  • Love Bubbles: Seen here in a Flashback to when Aggie was still friends, and secretly in love, with Marshall.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Penny, Aggie and friends celebrate their victory with fireworks, a custom normally reserved for national holidays.
  • Put on a Bus: This chapter marks the last significant appearances of Karen, Marshall and Omar, who have since appeared either as silent background cameos or, in Karen's case, with two panels' worth of dialogue (in the later arc The Belleville Interviews). Samantha isn't seen for some time but plays a minor yet noticeable role in Mister Smiles, while Meg, as the closest thing Cyndi has to an ongoing friend, gets a whole scene to herself in "The Belleville Interviews," and makes brief appearances before and afterward.
  • Shoe Slap
  • Shout-Out
    • The chapter title alludes to Hamlet Act 5, Scene 2: "There is special providence in the fall of a sparrow." This is also a subtle Call-Back to the bird symbolism in the title of the arc which introduces Karen.
    • Aggie's affectionate joke about Nick and Duane playing a game, "Two nerds enter, one nerd leeeaves!", is an allusion to the arena spectators' chant in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.
    • Stan's warning to Cyndi, "You wouldn't like me when I'm catty," references Bruce Banner's Catch-Phrase, "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Charlotte, around Duane.
  • That Liar Lies: Karen, to Charlotte: "Stop lying, you liar!"
  • Toilet Humor: Both played straight and deconstructed with the outbreak of diarrhea at the party due to Cyndi spiking the popsicles.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Karen, when Aggie drops by to admonish her.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Karen with Omar. Subverted in that the damage to her relationship with Marshall stems not from his finding out, but from her anxiety and guilt over the tryst leading her to lash out at him.