"Lucky Strike" was written by Peter Elwell.
Lawndale High's teachers try to wrangle a pay rise out of Angela Li, who gives a counter-offer of a new coffee machine for the teacher's lounge. Anthony DeMartino, head of the union, demands a 10% rise but Li sneers it away: she remembers the last time he tried this, "or have you forgotten that the dental insurance was contingent on your teaching a sewing class?" That crack sets Anthony off: he's calling a strike!
Determined to keep the school running, she hires substitutes to replace the striking teachers. One of them, Mrs. Stoller, is an old woman who doesn't seem to be connecting very well: she thinks the senior class are abnormally big first-graders, and thinks Kevin is called "Cubie" (for "Q.B.") and continually chides him for his bad posture. The replacement for Mr. O'Neill is a budding author named Ken Edwards, whose book is about "a slightly older, sensitive man and the love a budding woman child feels for him when she gets to know him better". He starts paying way too much attention to Tiffany, and the instant Helen hears about it she puts the legal gears into motion and gets him fired; incensed (and desperate), Ms. Li demands that Daria take his place. After a brief internal debate, Daria accepts because she could make Quinn's life miserable.
Quinn is terrified at the idea of Daria as her teacher, fearing both social embarrassment if people know Daria's her sister and that Daria will deliberately mark her down. Jake is hoping "does this mean we can just do our parent-teacher conferences here? Hello, free time for model railroading!"
On the picket line, the teachers don't seem to be getting their message across very well, until Ms. Defoe asks Jane to help with some strike posters and Mr. O'Neill convinces Trent to help him write a stirring strike song. Mr. DeMartino, however, is livid over Ms. Li's latest offer, and decides to brave the lion's den and not come back until she accepts the teachers' offer.
In English class, Daria discovers that the students were studying Romeo and Juliet, and after a few classes, prepares to give them a test on the material. Sandi urges Quinn to convince Daria to go easy on them, threatening to let people know that Daria is her sister, but Daria is not swayed; she's determined to do the best she can in a thankless position. Quinn is smarter than they are, Daria reminds her, and they deserve to fail if all they're interested in doing is figuring out how to pass the test with little to no effort. Dejected, Quinn hunkers down to study, but when Jake tries (and fails) to help her, she finds that she already knows the material.
The next day, in History class, Mrs. Stoller gives the students an ultra-simple test, which almost everyone aces (Brittany gets a "C," and Kevin gets an "F" for not knowing the colors on the U.S. flag... which is right in front of him!). Meanwhile, DeMartino and Li are engaged in high stakes negotiation, with DeMartino threatening to picket naked. ("You think I'm bluffing? This is Goodwill polyester I've been sweating in all night. I want to picket naked!")
In English class, Daria's test consists of one question: say what you thought Romeo and Juliet was about and back up your opinion. (The Fashion Club react in horror at the prospect of thinking) Most of the students do well, since Daria was more interested in having them expand their thinking instead of simply reciting facts, but Sandi, Stacy, and Tiffany -- who copied off each other -- all get a "D-" for talking about the Leonardo DiCaprio movie. Quinn, however, gets a "B+," and when Sandi accuses Quinn of sucking up to Daria "like she's a relative or something", Quinn turns around and puts Sandi in her place by defending Daria... before revealing, in public, that they're sisters. Sandi tries to use this revelation for one last shot at humiliating Quinn, but it backfires when Stacy and Tiffany tell her that they (and almost everyone else in the whole school) already knew about it and hadn't said anything because they were being polite.
At home, Daria reassures Quinn that she earned her grade solely on her own merit; after all, she says, would she ever do anything nice for Quinn?
As for the strike, it ends after Li and DeMartino are found passed out at her desk... with the contract signed and the wages secured! DeMartino's elation at his victory is short-lived, however, as he once again faces the one obstacle that's nearly impossible for any teacher to overcome: teaching Kevin.
On Daria: The Complete Animated Series, replacement tracks by Extreme Music were used, including:
- Slow Death (for a scene of Mrs Stoller)
Daria's Reading MaterialEdit
At the kitchen's table, while Quinn is talking about Ken Edwards, Daria is reading As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner.
- The name "Lucky Strike" refers to a brand of cigarette, Lucky Strike, as well as to the teachers' strike being a lucky thing for improving the relationship between Daria & Quinn and the strike actually succeeding.
- The school heard Daria was Quinn's sister back in "Esteemsters" but everyone seems to have forgotten that happened - or at least Quinn and Sandi have.
- Daria refers to Quinn's intelligence, continuing the subplot from "Is It Fall Yet?"
- The wage dispute is only for Lawndale High, not for all the schools in the district or state. In the real world, schools do not work that way.
- Ms. Morris, Coach Gibson, and Margaret Manson all appear in the strike, all of them after long absences from Daria (and making his first visual appearance in Gibson's case). In Morris' case, it's the only appearance she ever had outside of her first episode.
- The strike shows several teachers we have never seen or heard of before: a tall black man in a blue suit, a pudgy black man with glasses, a brunette woman in a yellow blouse, a bald man with a large brown beard, and a skinny, seemingly middle-aged woman with short, spiky blonde hair.
- This is also the only episode, aside from Daria reading them out loud in "Speedtrapped", where someone else is singing Trent's lyrics.
- Neither Kevin nor Brittany know the colours of the American flag (which is in the room with them).