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Recap / Penny And Aggie Second Looks

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"Sometimes these 'looks' give you perspective...and sometimes they're just puttin' things off. You tell yourself you're just taking a sec. And then another. And you feel like you're doin' somethin' by thinkin' ...even if you know better than you feel."
— Jack

This arc interweaves several brief stories, told from different characters' perspectives, in some cases simultaneously.

As Penny's friend Katy-Ann hangs a puzzle box outside the school, she sings a modified version of Bette Midler's "From a Distance," a song of faith in God's watchfulness despite the world's apparent evils. Lisa mocks her for this belief as Charlotte observes silently. Later, during a Scrabble game with Aggie, Helen and Fred, Charlotte claims Penny and her friends are jealous of Aggie because she's "smart" and they're "dumb." Aggie isn't so sure on either point, and specifically defends Sara. Helen, as a former childhood friend of Sara, bitterly disagrees.


Michelle and Sara, observing Stan and Jack together, react differently, Michelle lusting for Stan, Sara revealing that she views him and Jack as secretly in love, like Penny and Aggie. Penny, for her part, still putting off telling Duane she's not interested, dreams to her horror of waking up in bed with him and Aggie.

Later, Michelle attempts to pick a fight with Aggie for showing Penny up in English class. As a curious crowd gathers, Aggie notices Principal Giuliani watching her, recalls his warning about causing disruptions, and instead delivers a barb at Penny's expense, thinly veiled as an apology. Undaunted, Michelle calls upon Duane to defend Penny, which he does as diplomatically as possible. Penny is less than comfortable with his public show of affection.

Meanwhile, Aggie spots Charlotte, Helen and Tharqa stealing and photocopying one of Katy-Ann's papers. (Minutes earlier, Charlotte had suggested punishing her for "misrepresenting God's love.") She calls Nick for advice on choosing friends and overlooking their flaws. However, Nick, in the midst of a workout/makeout with Charisma and fretting about how Aggie will take his relationship, is too distracted to be of much help.


Penny's friends advise her to let Duane go quickly. Katy-Ann adds she should do so gently, and suggests she should look at this from a long-term perspective and concentrate on attracting the sort of boy she does want. This inspires Michelle to make a move on Stan. Although aroused by this, Stan is reluctant to take her up on it because Rich, having once "dated" Michelle, may see it as a betrayal. Jack tells him he's overthinking things (see page quote).

As Helen, at Charlotte's urging, reluctantly forges Katy-Ann's handwriting, Penny finds Duane who, to her shock, has filled his campaign office with elaborate Valentine's Day gifts for her. This finally spurs her to tell him, gently, that ever since their kiss, she hasn't been eager to kiss him again, and that this must mean something. Duane walks out angrily, and seeing him this way, Penny is tempted for a split-second to kiss him again.


Meanwhile, Aggie discovers what Charlotte has been up to: she's just posted, on a bulletin board in the hall, a puzzle-box bomb threat purporting to be from Katy-Ann, claiming it's "God's will" that everyone die. Aggie is too stunned to react, but Helen steps in, tearing down the forgery. Charlotte angrily cuts her off as a friend and smashes the puzzle box in frustration, while Aggie thinks, with sad, self-disparaging irony, "My name is Aggie D'Amour. I'm an activist."



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