Episode opens in Ms. Barch’s class. While talking about positive and negitive reinforcement, she gets off on a tangent about her no good husband just leaving her after twenty years with no note while slamming her pointer around during the rant. She calls on students to give examples of positive reinforcement. She calls on Kevin, but of course he doesn’t know, so she calls on Daria whose answer, just like usual is great. And I quote: “Hmm... to make a child stop crying, a mother might say, "That's it! I'm sending you to El Paso to live with your real father." Whenever the child gets upset, the mother might wave an airline ticket in her face, or maybe even frame it on the wall by the clown picture. The ticket stops the girl from crying, or showing any emotion... ever. Despite Ms. Barch’s talking she continues to say, and I quote: “Years later, seeing an airplane or just hearing one fly overhead can unleash a Pandora's Box of repressed anger, shattering the grown child's fragile psyche and triggering a psychotic and possibly deadly episode.” That girl’s just great. Ms. Barch says she likes how Daria thinks then pairs up the students for experiments involving the conditioning of a mouse. Kevin and Brittany naturally expect to wind up as partners but this time they aren’t. Daria gets partnered with Kevin, while Brittany winds up with Upchuck.
Cut to the Morgendorffer house. Helen, Quinn, and Daria are sitting in the living room watching Sick, Sad World. Helen tries to talk to Daria about the science project and Kevin being her partner but in Daria’s usual fashion she tells her mother she signed a confidentiality paper and the other scientists would be mad if she talked about it. So instead, Helen asks Quinn how her day was and in turn, Quinn launches into a story about heels breaking and only two guys asking her out. Helen pleads Daria to tell her about the project. Daria gives in and tells her about the project. After hearing about the project, Kevin being Daria’s partner, and Helen telling Daria that this opportunity could propel her up a few rungs on the school's social ladder, Quinn schemes to nab Kevin for herself Kevin arrives, ready to work on the project. Daria puts her own plan in motion and distracts him with the Pigskin Channel. Quinn then attaches her self to Kevin and Daria leaves to work on the project.
Cut to Upchuck’s house. Brittany, dressed in a long overcoat, wide hat, and sunglasses, looks over her shoulder before joining Upchuck in the garage. He greets her as Brittany pulls down the shades. Upchuck, like Daria and Quinn, too has a plan. He tells her to start sawing and then reveals to her that he has a picture of Brittany and half-naked Sam Stack, the Q.B. of Lawndale’s rival Oakwood, making out in the back of a car. She tries to grab it from Upchuck but can’t. He tells her he’ll start sawing and to get him a soda with two ice cubes. He laughs as she walks into his house and calls her his slave for a week.
Cut to the Morgendorffer’s. Kevin is in the living room, watching the Pigskin Channel while Quinn is coming on to him with all her strength. She brings him a steak and then suggests that tomorrow they go to a fancy French restaurant where the waiters are foreign. He tells her that there’s enough food here and then the doorbell rings, interrupting their very meaningful conversation. Quinn answers the door to find a sopping wet Brittany who explains that Upchuck made her change the fish tank then asks for Kevin. Quinn tells her that he’s busy working on the project and can’t be disturbed. Off screen we hear him ask Quinn what’s for dessert and Quinn tells Brittany she has to go then shuts the door in her face.
Cut to the garage. While Daria is working on the maze, Kevin walks in. Daria immediately thinks that he’s lost and she’s right but the maze that Daria just finished distracts Kevin. He says it must have taken forever then breaks off part of the maze. She tells him to back away from the maze and nobody will get hurt. Kevin spots the mouse and asks Daria if he can stand on his head. Daria replies that he can’t now, he’s tired from jumping rope. Quinn enters the garage carrying a cake but Kevin tells her to leave it by the TV. As Quinn leaves, Brittany walks in. Kevin tells her that he’s been working the entire time but Brittany doesn’t believe him. Daria tells her to calm down and have a piece of the chocolate cake that Quinn made for Kevin. She calls Daria and Quinn vixens and pulls on Kevin’s arm, telling him to leave with her. Off screen, Upchuck calls Brittany in a singsongy tone and reluctantly she leaves but not before telling Daria she knows how to fight for her man.
Cut to Pizza King. Daria and Jane are sitting at their usual table talking about the project. Kevin comes over and tells her that he’ll stop by the garage later tonight. The three J’s overhear this and decide to find out why Kevin is spending time with a brain. Brittany and Jodie approach Kevin and Daria. Brittany tells Kevin to take her to the new Whitney Houston movie. He tells her that he has to work on the science project but Daria tells him he can have the night off. He uses practice as an excuse and runs off. The three J’s approach and after completely ignoring Brittany, each one asks Daria out. Brittany leaves, disgusted, and Quinn comes over to the three J’s. She asks which one of the three J’s were going to take her home. All three follow and offer their services to Quinn.
Cut to Upchuck’s house. Brittany walks into the garage with a bag of groceries. She tells him she shined his spoon collection, filed his magazines and finished his shopping. He looks in the bag and sees that she bought the wrong kind of honey. After threatening ‘Back-seat Brittany,’ she leaves to get the right honey. After getting the honey, Brittany makes a stop at the Morgendorffer’s to sabotage Daria’s project by stealing Daria’s mouse. She gives the mouse to her little brother and tells him not to let it out of his sight. He peers into the box and chuckles evilly.
Daria comes home to find that the mouse is missing with a bear shaped honey jar in it’s place. Daria goes to Kevin’s to tell him the bad news. Of course, he’s happy at the news thinking it was something worse like Daria’s cable was out or the game got cancelled. At the Morgendorffer’s, Quinn keeps flirting with Kevin but despite a really short skirt, he doesn’t even notice. Daria finds out from Quinn that Brittany brought over the bear for Kevin.
At school, Daria backs Brittany into a corner by telling her that without the mouse, her and Kevin will have to work on a make-up project that could take months. This would mean that Kevin would spend even more time away from Brittany and with her instead. Brittany admits that she took the mouse and the girls strike a deal. Brittany gives up the mouse and Daria returns Kevin, who she never actually wanted. Daria and Brittany shake hands, with both of them thinking, "Sucker." Kevin turns to Daria and asks if he can still come over to watch the Pigskin Channel. Both girls walk away thinking “Jerk.”
In Daria’s garage, Brittany turns over the stolen mouse. The box is dirty and battered and Daria asks if Brittany has a little brother. When she puts the mouse in the maze, it immediately curls into a ball and shivers in fear. Brittany and Kevin leave to watch the Pigskin Channel on her new Dish.
At school, the students present their project. Brittany and Upchuck go first. Ms. Barch makes Brittany explain her project, which she can’t since she was Upchuck’s slave, and they fail. Time shifts to Daria and Kevin’s project. Daria is giving the conclusion to their project: , this mouse -- through no fault of my own, Brittany -- was repeatedly abused by a ten-year-old boy. As a result, the mouse's primary response to everyday stimuli is fear. Similar reactions also occur in humans. Take the mugging victim, beaten with numchucks in an alleyway. As he, or she, recalls the attacker's face -- his scraggly goatee and cheap, dangly earring -- she learns to hate and fear all men, regardless of age, race or taste in jewelry. After her conclusion, Ms. Barch gives Daria an A and Kevin, who she calls hateful scum like she does with all the other boys in the class, receives a D...Read the full recap
Brittany: (to Kevin) But babe, we've never been separated on a lab project before. What'll we do?
Daria: In conclusion, this mouse - through no fault of my own, Brittany - was repeatedly abused by a ten-year-old boy. As a result, the mouse's primary response to everyday stimuli is fear. Similar reactions also occur in humans. Take the mugging victim, beaten with nunchaks in an alleyway. As he, or she, recalls the attacker's face - his scraggly goatee and cheap, dangly earring - she learns to hate and fear all men, regardless of age, race or taste in jewelry.
Ms. Barch: Don't interrupt, hateful scum. Excellent job, Daria. You get an "A."
Kevin: All right!
Ms. Barch: Not you, you man. You get a "D."
Kevin: All right!
Daria: Hmm ... to make a child stop crying, a mother might say, "That's it! I'm sending you to El Paso to live with your real father." Whenever the child gets upset, the mother might wave an airline ticket in her face, or maybe even frame it on the wall by the clown picture. The ticket stops the girl from crying, or showing any emotion ... ever.
Ms. Barch: Right, that's ...
Daria: Years later, seeing an airplane or just hearing one fly overhead can unleash a Pandora's Box of repressed anger, shattering the grown child's fragile psyche and triggering a psychotic and possibly deadly episode.
Ms. Barch: I like the way you think.