Recap: Penny And Aggie Undertow
"If I'm being used... at least I have a use."
This arc, like Omega Sisters
, is a Helen story with guest art by Randy Milholland of Something*Positive
. Helen goes to see An Inconvenient Truth
with Aggie, Lisa, Fred and Daphne and tries, awkwardly, to participate in their mutual friendly snarking. As they leave the theatre, Aggie and Lisa kid each other about their respective celebrity crushes, when Marshall comes by with Karen, at which Aggie jumps into a bush in panic. The couple make friendly small talk with Helen, disregarding Lisa's open contempt for Karen. Afterward, as Aggie re-emerges, Lisa explains teasingly to Helen that Aggie's in love with Marshall, and says more seriously that Aggie would be a better match for him, prompting an angry warning from her friend to drop the subject. Aggie advises Helen not to get too friendly with Karen, not just because of her crush, but because Karen uses people. "How's that different from anyone else?", Helen asks.
Despite Aggie's advice that she should befriend only people who share her interests and like her for herself, Helen finds Aggie's friends judgemental and dismissive of her tastes, and so she seeks to expand her social circle. Reluctantly, she goes shopping with Tharqa at her invitation, despite Tharqa still being Charlotte's friend, as well as a thoroughly mean-spirited and spiteful person who, after Karen flees in insecurity and nausea from seeing her overweight figure in an unflattering swimsuit, contemplates "slip[ping] her a constipate." For her part, Helen contemplates cutting Tharqa out of her life before she becomes her next target, but lacks the assertiveness to do so.
Although Helen initially feels out of place at Karen's sleepover, she changes her mind when Karen flatters her by telling her friends Helen looks like Hermione Granger
and then gently probes her for dirt on her former childhood friend Penny. Helen is well aware that Karen's merely using her, as Aggie had warned, but doesn't care because she now feels she's fitting in somewhere.
- Celeb Crush: Aggie on Al Gore, Lisa on Tobey Maguire. Lisa's ever-changing celebrity crushes are a Running Gag in the comic.
- Deadpan Snarker: Aggie, Lisa, Fred and Daphne. Helen tries to be one but doesn't quite get it right.
- Emo: Although not an example of the trope herself, Lisa admits to finding this sort of celebrity attractive.
- Extreme Doormat: Subverted in that Helen wants others to use her.
- Fee Fi Faux Pas: The socially awkward Helen commits two, albeit apparently without signficant consequence. As Aggie and her friends tease each other in the theatre, Helen says with a grin, "We're judgemental bitches!", and then adds in embarassment, "Too on the nose?" Later, having learned of Aggie's crush on Marshall, she asks her, "[C]an I tell Fred you're not gay? He and Daphne have a bet."
- Filler Strip: At the end of the arc is an out-of-continuity gag strip paying tribute to Shaenon Garrity, who had just completed Narbonic. It features cameos by Betty Cooper, Ringo Starr and the time-travelling future teenage daughter of Narbonic's Dave.
- Fish out of Water: Helen has trouble fitting within social circles.
- Hopeless Suitor: Aggie for Marshall, as Lampshaded by Lisa.
- Jerkass: Tharqa.
- Manipulative Bastard: Karen befriends Helen so as to gather intelligence on Penny.
- Shout-Out: Helping Aggie out of the bush, Lisa comments on her "abusive non-relationship" with Marshall, asking her, "Did the brambles feel like a kiss?" This is an allusion to the Crystals' controversial 1962 single, "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)."
- Slapstick: Aggie jumping into a bush in order to avoid Marshall.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Helen, given her view of friendship as an opportunity to use or be used, falls solidly on the cynical end of the scale. However, that doesn't stop her from desperately trying to fit in socially.