"Depth Takes a Holiday" is the third episode of the third season of Daria (episode number 303). It aired on March 10, 1999 and was written by Sam Johnson and Chris Marcil. Even Marcil has said "it was crazy, it was so crazy. I may have to go back and look at it but it was such a weird peyote-like episode." Glenn Eichler listed it as a top episode in an interview with Nerdist: “Where she meets Guy Fawkes Day? I mean come on, how often does that happen on TV?”
"Should I care that none of this makes any sense?" ― —Jane
Daria encounters two kids identifying themselves as Cupid (AKA Valentine's Day) and the Saint Patrick's Day leprechaun, who claim that Christmas, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Day ("British dude") have left Holiday Island and gone to Lawndale to start a band.
At Jane's house, Daria meets the three errant holidays, who've come there to jam with Trent, and takes all of them out for pizza at Pizza King, where they encounter Cupid and St. Patrick's Day. The holidays refuse to return because Holiday Island sucks; Cupid warns that this means the human holidays of Christmas, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Day will cease to exist, but Daria and Jane don't care. Meanwhile, Quinn is convinced that her parents' newfound amorous feelings signal an intent to have another child, and starts following them around to keep them from having sex.
Having failed to convince Daria to help them, Cupid and St. Patrick's Day attempt to recruit Kevin and Brittany, but redouble their efforts to get Daria's help after they actually talk to the two. A trip to the mall -- showing that Christmas and Halloween sales are dying -- doesn't convince her, nor do the annoying antics of the three AWOL holidays, but an amorous Helen and Jake prove to be the last straw.
When Daria and Jane arrive at Holiday Island, they find that it's just like a high school and that the "beautiful people" -- in this case, the President's Day presidents -- have taken over. Daria cooks up a scheme to put Christmas, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes back in their rightful position at the top of the pack by convincing them to play at the Holiday Island High School Prom. The holidays haven't the slightest interest until they see who's running the place and reclaim their old role in a prom concert. Trent leaving puts the Holidays' future in jeopardy but it turns out one of the Presidents' is willing to join up.
The only loose end is Cupid's love spell but that naturally wears off, and Helen and Jake go back to their old, arguing selves.
Reputation of the Episode
For the longest time, many Daria fans considered "Depth Takes a Holiday" as one of the worst episodes ever written. The bulk of the complaints come from the "off-canon" nature of the episode, where there is no disclaimer of any kind that this is a dream or some figment of Daria's imagination. It is one of only two Daria episodes that a number of fans view as non-canonical, the other being the equally silly "Daria!" - and "Depth" is the one that's more often dumped.
However, there is a growing segment of the fandom that appreciates "Depth Takes a Holiday" for its creativity and general wackiness. As time goes on, you're more and more likely to see people admit, in public, that they liked it. Its value to certain fanfiction authors cannot be underestimated.
The title can also be interpreted as the series taking a break, in that it diverted far from its standard plot lines for an episode. "Depth" representing Daria herself, and "holiday" meaning "to get away from things for a break".
- In the late 2010s, the MTV streaming site called this "all-holiday show".
- Since Cupid and St Patrick's Day are pointing to direct and presently-occuring problems caused by the Holidays being on Earth, this episode has to take place sometime during the autumn, before October 31st. (Notably, all three of the escapee holidays take place within a two-month space of each other.) This would fit with the assumption that Daria Series 3 and Series 4 take place during Daria's junior year at Lawndale High School, placing this early S3 episode early in the academic year. An MTV website flipbook (now dead) said the holidays were on the run for a fortnight.
- The holidays are described as "holiday spirits" by Daria.
- The backgrounds used for Lawndale High School have clearly been reused for the Holiday Island High School. The locker design is the same except that the lockers are now colored blue, and murals of ocean waves have been added to the formerly bare purple walls.
- The band that Halloween, Christmas, and Guy Fawkes Day wish to start is described as having a "hiphop-punk-electronica vibe" by Cupid. Their song I'm a Teen Holiday doesn't sound at all electronic, but perhaps that will change when one of the guitars is replaced with a keyboard.
- UK fans are often amused (or annoyed) at Guy Fawkes Day, since they call the Fifth of November Bonfire Night instead.
- The episode's title is derived from the 1934 film Death Takes a Holiday.
- When asked who the bulk of Holiday Island students are, Cupid replies "Bunch of saint's days. Who can keep track?". Valentine's Day is itself a saint's day, which he (read: the writers) seems to have forgotten. Saint Patrick's Day seems to have forgotten too...
- Cupid says there's "no need" for him to reverse the love-spell on Helen and Jake. Since they almost immediately get into a vicious argument and they first turn up arguing, the implication is that Helen and Jake naturally overpower the spell with their own antipathy. This carries on the trend of Daria material that had their marriage in dire straights, which wouldn't end until "Sappy Anniversary".
- There's an adult janitor sweeping up the Holiday High prom. What holiday is he?? Is he an outside contractor??
- This is the only episode in which Daria admits her feelings for Trent. This was accomplished by Cupid's interrogation. During the romantically intense interrogation, Daria legitimately similes.
- In the Latin American version, St. Patrick's Day is named el duende irlandés (the Irish elf), Halloween is named Día de muertos (Day of the Dead), and Guy Fawkes Day is named Bastilla (Bastille Day).
- This is the only holiday themed episode of the show. This would explain where the idea of having every holiday at once came from, as they may have planned not do any further holiday episode.
Depth Takes A Holiday and fanfiction
Initially, if fanfic writers touched on this episode it was so they could erase it from existence. "A Desperately Needed Ending (to "Depth Takes a Holiday")", written by Kara Wild the month after the episode aired, is a prime example: Daria hallucinated the whole thing due to food poisoning. Explaining the fic away as a hallucination, dream, or story by Daria would pop up time and again. Otherwise, writers would ignore this episode ever happened.
Over time, fanfic writers fond of alternate universe stories, fantasy/science fiction, or simply bizarre tales have used this episode as an in-canon springboard for their work. Starting with "Illusions" by The Angst Guy, the wormhole to Holiday Island became an "Architect Gate" in a number of fics, retconned into being a wormhole device by ancient aliens that could lead to any time and place. (Others have simply had it be a wormhole) A few of this odder fics will have Daria characters mention the events of this story ("Box to the Future" by Smijey) - other fanfics will imply or show that the characters were either mind-wipped or have convinced themselves it was all a dream/hallucination.
Other writers have simply used the concept for the purposes of humour, such as Smijey's "The War on Christmas", Halloween Visit by legendeld, Angelinhel's A Day (un)Like Any Other, thatLONERchick's "Will Ye Go Lassie, Go?", and Charles RB's ""Depth Takes a Sale". You will very rarely see the Holidays themselves in a serious or semi-serious story that springboards off this episode, exceptions being Dennis's "Last Dance" and Angst Guy's unfinished JÖRMUNGANDR and surreal adventure story "A Hard Days' Night" - the latter taking place simultaneously with the episode and developing the holiday idea further with the personification of 'bad days' like Friday the Thirteenth.
Writers of alternate universe series have outright avoided making AUs of this episode until 2011, when both "God Save The Esteem" (played straight) and then gender-flip AU Not So Different (left ambigious) did versions of it.