After The Kiss, when Daria accidentally betrayed her Only Friend Jane by stealing her boyfriend Tom, Jane decides to get away from a repentant Daria by going to an artist's colony for the summer. There she makes a friend named Alison, who is attracted to Jane and causes her to question her own sexuality.
Daria, in turn, gets roped into volunteering at a day camp run by Mr. O'Neill (as does Mr. DeMartino), struggling with that along with her failing relationship with Jane and new romance with Tom. There she meets a Mouthy Kid named Link, whose personal troubles give Daria an unsettling reminder of her own difficulties with people.
Meanwhile, Quinn wants to prove that she's more than just a Brainless Beauty by getting a tutor named David; she not only finds herself getting smarter, but grows attracted to him as well. Other small subplots are sprinkled throughout, like Jodie running herself ragged with activities, Mack getting an awful summer job and Kevin and Brittany trying to be lifeguards.
This episode provides examples of:
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Daria realizes that Quinn got really hurt when she tells Daria that she told David how she felt about him (therefor the first time she ever got rejected). After Daria conforts Quinn, Quinn in exchange makes her feel better about her own issues with Tom and Jane. Daria wouldn't admit to Helen that she did care about Quinn, thought.
- Abuse Mistake: When Mr. O'Neil is talking to Quinn about her test scores, he questions if something is wrong at home, noting that her mother is rather "high strung" with a worried voice (and expecting the worst).
- Abusive Parents: Stacy's Mother is implied to be one after the girl has a panic attack about how stupid she must be to David, saying her mother always looks at her with a disgusted look.
- Becoming the Mask: Discussed.Daria: And I judge myself unfit for human contact.Helen: That's exactly what you will be if you don't start engaging with the rest of us! You keep hiding your real face behind that antisocial mask and one day the mask will be your face. I'm not letting that happen. You're working at that camp!
- Bratty Half-Pint: Link is basically a genderflipped version of what Daria was in her childhood, to the point it takes her a lot of effort to get him to open up. Despite the misunderstanding, Link takes up on Daria's offer to be penpals.
- Character Development: Tons for Daria and Quinn, a good bit for Jane (though mostly in helping her return to her usual confidence). Heck, even Mr. O'Neill and Mr. DeMartino get some, though they're more-or-less back to normal in season five.
- Defrosting Ice King: Link takes a while to start trusting Daria, but his own insecurities made him get away by interpreting Daria's efforts to get closer to him as an obligation from her part. He eventually accepts Daria's offer to be penpals by writing her a brief letter about his problems at home with his step-father.
- Depraved Bisexual: Alison, not in the usual Anything That Moves sense, but she's a Manipulative Bitch who tries to seduce Jane and dates Daniel Dotson just to get up in the art world.
- Fan of Underdog: The kids wind up loving Mr. DeMartino after he makes the local bully cry and then discovers his "fun" side.
- Give Geeks a Chance: Inverted and Deconstructed with Quinn and David, since he rejects her.
- Got Volunteered: Helen volunteered Daria for the Okay to Cry Corral, seeing how Jane's absence was leaving her isolated and lazy.
- "I Hate" Song: The opening theme, "Turn the Sun Down" by Splendora, consists of complaints about summer.
- Incompatible Orientation: When Jane tells Alison that she's straight, Alison insists that she never hits on straight girls, making Jane question herself. Ultimately, though, Jane concludes that she is straight and Alison is just a Manipulative Bitch.
- Poor Communication Kills: Just as Link was starting to open to Daria, Mr. O'Neil gives a compliment to Daria's progress with Link, which makes Link think that she only approached him out of obligation, and refuses to listen to her, even after they part ways on the last day.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Even after she starts being serious about her studies, David considers Quinn too shallow to want to date her.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: David threatens Quinn to leave if she doesn't take their sessions seriously. He actually leaves on the spot after dealing with Tiffany and Sandi in less than an hour with each of them.
- Terrible Interviewees Montage: David trying to teach the other Fashion Club members is a variant. He winds up dropping Sandi and Tiffany pretty quickly; it's unknown if he keeps Stacy.
- Title Drop: Link's first line, summing up his view of the Okay to Cry Corral.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Daniel Dotson is famous in-universe for a work called "Paper Plate Genocide." Most of the artists eat it up, but neither Jane nor Alison is impressed.