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Recap / Penny And Aggie Awakening

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"Pick a role or society will pick one for you."
— Penny

This arc further explores the consequences of Rich's stabbing and Sara's realizing she's gay. At school, the day after Bedside Manners, an exhausted Sara talks privately with Penny, who's still denying her persistent love for Rich. Sara urges her not to leave things like this with him, but to visit and talk to him again, as it's still unclear whether he'll ever wake up. As they hug, Sara struggles to come out to Penny, who reveals she's already guessed, not only from her behaviour at the dance party, but because she can't recall her ever having shown interest in boys. Penny assures her best friend she's okay with this and agrees, at Sara's request, to keep her sexuality secret, even from their other friends.


Sara approaches Lisa, the other person to have guessed her sexual orientation, for advice. Lisa takes her bowling with Aggie, Fred and Daphne, and teases her about assuming they're all gay. "You're half right," she says, in that Fred and Daphne are. Daphne then invites everyone to her home to give Sara a makeover. In the process, Sara babbles nervously on about her previous reactions, or lack thereof, to guys, revealing in the process that she'd been somewhat interested in Marshall and had kissed him. This sends Aggie into a jealous rage. Outside, Lisa attempts to put the best possible spin on this, but Aggie's not in the mood. She tells Lisa to leave her alone, shoves her to the ground and walks off.

While Sara and her new friends are bowling, Stan spots "Gary the stabber" at a fast-food place and calls Jack, implying that he wants to personally avenge Rich. Jack talks him out of it, telling him to call the police instead. Stan does so and watches smugly with Jack as Gary is arrested.


Eventually, a grateful Sara leaves Daphne's house, as Penny visits Rich in the hospital and whispers gently into his ear. Meanwhile, Fred and Daphne, acknowledging their school is a "het-fest," hope they've done the right thing. Daphne tells him she'd hoped Aggie was gay and still suspects she may be. Fred comforts his lonely and sexually frustrated best friend with the assurance that helping others will pay off for her eventually.

At school the next day, Sara proudly reveals her new, "alt" look (complete with short, boyish hair and Venus-symbol necklace), to her friends. Michelle and Brandi hate it. The suddenly nervous Katy-Ann, wishing to stop her friends from fighting, defuses the situation with silliness. Penny, meanwhile, pulls Sara aside and tells her that while she supports her, she can't help her be out and closeted simultaneously and urges her to make up her mind. At this moment, Rich shows up to agree with her. Meanwhile, Aggie apologizes to Lisa, revealing that although she's to start jogging with Marshall the next day, she's still struggling with being able to face him. Although initially sullen and hurt, Lisa forgives her and they're friends again.


As a stunned crowd gathers around him, Rich reveals that he'd heard her shout "Hurry up and die" at him in the hospital, teasingly adding "You know I never do what you tell me." Penny's mortification turns to joy as they embrace, while Sara and Michelle look on happily, having gotten past their resentment of Rich. As Sara decides to stay with her post-makeover look while remaining closeted to most people, Penny tells Rich she's ready to make a long-term commitment to him. Ignoring his attempts to bring up financial issues he's facing, she seduces and finally sleeps with him. However, her bliss is short-lived as Rich later tells her their private school has expelled him for inability to pay his tuition, due to the hospital bills. Moreover, his (apparently single) father's kicking him out for the same reason, having given him some cash and told him to make his own way. Rich plans to leave town right that moment on his motorcycle to look for work, and asks the shocked Penny to come with him.


  • Ambiguously Gay
    • Although Sara is out only to a handful of people, her Joan Jett-inspired post-makeover look does (and will, in subsequent storylines), suggest her sexual orientation to others.
    • Lisa's statement that she's "all about Topher Grace this week" suggests she may be Ambiguously Bi, although it won't be until There Are No Rules that this possibility is revisited.
  • Butch Lesbian / Lipstick Lesbian: Sara's makeover combines aspects of both.
  • The Cameo: Several, to the point where many readers, and subsequently Campbell himself, felt they intruded on the story.
    • Penny, explaining that she'd long suspected Sara was gay, reminds her that she'd thought actor Viggo Mortensen was a financial firm. In the same panel, an imaginary Mortensen appears in the foreground, asking the reader, "Is your money taken care of?"
    • Gary's arrest draws the attention of Scott McCloud and his family, who were on a cross-country blogging tour at the time; each of them gets a line in reaction. Lagacé draws McCloud in his own stylized look from Understanding Comics, but depicts his wife and daughters in a more realistic style.
  • Celeb Crush: This week, Lisa's is Topher Grace.
  • Coming-Out Story
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Penny talks to the comatose Rich again, this time with affection. However, upon awakening he reveals that he heard her earlier raging at him.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Awakening" refers to Penny realizing her true feelings for Rich, Sara embracing her homosexuality, and Rich waking up from his coma.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Exaggerated as Aggie flies into a cartoonish rage, making her resemble a cubist painting and then an angry cat, upon hearing that Sara kissed Marshall.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Daphne, to the extent that her sexual orientation is news to her friend Aggie.
  • The Makeover: Includes an Important Haircut.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Sara approaches her in the school library, Lisa notices her exhaustion and tells her she needs to sleep. She's proven correct when Sara shouts in panic, "I'm not sleeping with you!"
    Lisa (embarassed but amused): Good work! That'll throw everyone off the scent!
  • Motor Mouth: Sara, during her makeover.
  • Pun: Fred refers to Sara's self-obsessed babbling—which Lisa notes is "part of the coming out process"—as "the bi-torrent."
  • Revenge: Once again, subverted. Stan longs to beat Gary up in retribution for stabbing Rich, but Jack talks him into calling 911 instead.
  • Sadist Teacher: Principal Giuliani reacts with delight to a student's panicked realization that exams are coming up, and revels in the anticipated mass anguish to his secretary.
    Giuliani (throwing horns): Hail Satan!
  • Shout-Out
    • Aggie wears a t-shirt bearing the logo of Campbell's and Lagacé's other webcomic, Cool Cat Studio, which had just relaunched at the time.
    • As the police arrest Gary, Stan points and laughs at him with a speech bubble that includes an image of Nelson Muntz.
  • Symbol Swearing: Apologizing to Lisa for shoving her, Aggie calls herself a "¢#$#." Had the word appeared uncensored, this would've counted as a Precision F-Strike, as not only was the comic still avoiding spelled-out curse words at this point, but Aggie never otherwise utters "hard" swearwords even if censored.
  • Their First Time: Penny and Rich.


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