Recap / Penny And Aggie The Popsicle War Suicide Run
"Ready to save the world, you post-ironic post-yuppie?"
The morning after the previous arc, as Penny mourns the loss of her friends, Aggie meets Marshall for a jog and enacts her plan: trying to convince him that Karen is ultimately responsible for Charlotte's slander against Sara, as part of a scheme to ruin Penny's reputation and friendships. Marshall, though acknowledging that Karen is insecure, refuses to believe she could be behind such a thing. He says further that Karen's the only one who's ever loved him for him, not just his looks. "You sure?" says Aggie, leading her to confess that she's loved him from the moment she first saw him.
Marshall loses his temper, saying that Karen had warned him recently Aggie might try to steal him, but he didn't believe it. Now, he says, he feels betrayed, that he's tired of girls expecting him to "whore" himself out. Ignoring Aggie's tearful pleas to hear her out, he runs off, saying "Your parents would be ashamed of you."
Aggie falls to her knees crying, while a car pulls up, seemingly watching her. A few minutes later, she gets a call from an angry, also tearful Karen, who calls her a "slut" and a "shrill, self-righteous poser" who cares only about her feelings. She also claims that if she'd kept those feelings in check and "stuck to your so-called morals," she might've had a chance with Marshall. She hangs up.
Now at her lowest ebb, with everything she stands for having been called into question, Aggie recalls her mother's death in graphic detail and thinks that she can't go on.
Then someone gets out of the car and walks over to her. It's Penny. She tells Aggie that she doesn't, deep down, care about superficial trappings of fashion and popularity, and thus doesn't even care that much about Karen's popularity games, because they aren't important in the long run. Except, she says, that unless Karen's stopped, she'll go on to hurt many others throughout life, as she's hurt Aggie. With that, she extends her hand to Aggie, who accepts it and allows Penny to pull her up. The comic's titular enemies are now allies.
- Chekhov's Gun: Subverted. The comic's very first arc has Penny discover that Aggie's greatest vulnerability is her grief over her mother. However, when in this arc it's finally used in a way that hurts Aggie, it's not Penny who does so, but Marshall, the last person she'd have expected to say her parents (note the plural) would be ashamed of her.
- Played straight with the car, driven by an unseen person, that pulls up right across the street from Aggie just after Marshall ditches her. Before The Reveal, there was considerable debate on the comic's forum as to whether the car was significant and, if so, who was driving it and what their intentions were in observing Aggie.
- Darkest Hour: For Aggie, until Penny gives her Rousing Speech.
- Double-Meaning Title: The word "suicide" here has multiple shades of meaning. A "suicide run" is a type of running drill. Aggie, however unintentionally, kills her own plan to stop Karen when she prematurely and hamfistedly confesses her love for Marshall, turning him against her. As a result, Aggie entertains thoughts of suicide in the literal sense.
- Fallen Princess: Penny's loss of her "queen bee" status leads her to admit what's truly important to her, and to bury the hatchet with Aggie.
- I Miss Mom
- Kick Them While They Are Down: Karen to Aggie. Understandable to an extent, in that she loves Marshall and is genuinely afraid that Aggie could steal him.
- Love Confession
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore / Mid-Season Twist: Penny and Aggie end their rivalry, thereby permanently changing the comic's basic premise.
- Rousing Speech: Penny uses this to shake Aggie out of her despair and make peace with her so they can stop Karen:
That's what she'll do to the world. I always felt like I had this little safety zone, because a lot of the things I cared about...I didn't really care about. I don't really need the perfect shoes. It's just fun to pretend I do. And I could look at her! And not really care. So she fools peons into thinking she's hot, so what? Who'll care in a few years? We're all going to college or startups. Except...so is she. She'll go far in this world. And she'll get whatever she wants...by making dozens, hundreds, of people feel like you feel right now. And we gave her the power. So it will be our fault. Unless... (extends hand to Aggie and pulls her up) Ready to save the world, you post-ironic post-yuppie?
- Shout-Out: The opening sentence of Penny's Rousing Speech is a nod to the passage in Robert Cormier's The Chocolate War, in which Jerry accepts the challenge of facing Janza in a boxing match, because of "[w]hat guys like Archie and Janza did to the school. What they would do to the world when they left Trinity."
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Inverted, in that Aggie's plan, though indeed unspoken in the previous chapter, fails miserably.
- Unwanted Harem: Marshall resents having so many girls crushing on him, when the only one he loves is Karen, and Aggie doing so is the last straw for him.