Death of a Dangerous Trend
The Death of a Dangerous Trend was the second chapter in the famous (and infamous) Kain Saga of 1997/1998 by Chris Smith, the longest-running series of Daria fanfics at the time (until Kara Wild's Driven Wild Universe series in early-1999.)
Originally, The Virtual Massacre was the second chapter in the series, until Chris went back and filled in some gaps in the overall timeline of November 1997, to which the series took place.
This chapter took place between November 10 and November 12.
Daria, Jane, Mike Andrews, Mara Jacobs, and Kain (who, for purposes of speeding things along will be referred to as the Gang of Five, or GOF for short) are walking to school, discussing Sandi's disappearance, learning that she suffered a mental breakdown at the sight of six Quinns, and is recovering in a mental hospital. When they reach the school, they see Ms. Barch holding a protest, attempting to sway people to her cause: That men in general need to be eliminated. Kain, now the principal of Lawndale High, orders Barch to his office. As Janet takes her time walking to the Principle's office, Kain addresses the school to turn to channel 3 on the school's TVs. Janet walks in (possibly to expect Kain to apologize for getting in her face during the protest), but after a heated exchange regarding her teaching record, Kain suspends her without pay. Janet attempts to threaten Kain, but to no avail. He then reveals that the conversation was being broadcast live on the school's closed-circuit network, and Janet becomes enraged. Out of anger, she attempts to attack Kain, but he repels her just in time for school security to escort her off the grounds. The effect was felt almost immediately, as teacher and student alike began questioning the direction of the Feminist Movement, with only a few people that still defended Janet's actions over the years: Brittany and the Fashion Club. Later that day, Kain meets with Daria and Jane at the Lane house, and eventually goes downstairs to jam with Mystik Spiral, who are trying out a keyboardist (In an attempt to take the band in a Dream Theater-ish direction. Later, it would be announced that it didn't work out well). That evening, Quinn and Daria are discussing with Helen the pros and cons of Barch's suspension (Quinn remained convinced that she was fired, not suspended). Jake decides he's had enough and decides to press criminal charges against Janet Barch, and after some convincing, Helen agrees to represent someone in said criminal charge.
The following day, people are standing in line in front of the school voting on who would represent the male student body in the Barch lawsuit. The GOF meet in the Principle's office regarding the protection of the students representing the male student body and equip themselves with high-tech surveillance gear. Meanwhile, Quinn attempts to assume the Fashion Club's leadership. Unfortunately, Stacy and Tiffany have come to their senses about the club being a joke and disband membership. Infuriated, Quinn heads to the Girls' Locker Room and recruits Brittany for a new Fashion Club, and plot for a way to get Barch reinstated as a teacher. A small security camera happened to pick up the conversation, which prompts Kain to request that Daria watch over Quinn. Mike Andrews manages to discover a student being propositioned by a much older woman, definitely not a Lawndale High student. After Kain emerges to question her, it turns out that she was recruited by one of the cheerleaders. Mike notices this and follows her to Barch's old classroom, where a meeting is taking place. Daria is also outside the classroom, and forms a plan to get inside. Unfortunately, her plan failed, and could not get a clear picture of who was orchestrating the meeting. Daria decides to leave her pen-camera (Given by Kain) in the class before leaving. The meeting resumes with the leader turning around (revealing herself to be The Popular Girl), and discussing how to get Barch reinstated. Quinn suggests the idea of seducing Kain at his home and videotaping it, thereby destroying his credibility. That evening, Quinn is picked up from home by one of the girls from the meeting. A small group assembles outside Kain's estate, including a "a drunken posse" armed with AK-47s. They all enter via the front gate, but after much screaming and gunshots, Quinn and Allison (The girl from the meeting) are the only ones who escape alive from "The monster" patrolling Kain's front yard.
The following morning, the court case against Janet Barch is underway. One by one, students and teachers are called to the stand to testify against their former teacher and colleague. Janet continues to display fits of rage in the courtroom, racking up fines of up to $25,600. Eventually, Janet herself is called to the stand, but refuses to swear to testimony from a male bailiff. The judge, having seen enough, is about to hold her in contempt, when Kain addresses the court to take a small recess to discuss an odd proposal. Shortly, in the Judge's chambers, Kain explains to Janet that she can give herself a fighting chance to avoid jail-time, if she fights five of the school's best, one-by-one, in the school's new wrestling ring in two weeks. Janet nods in agreement, and the deal is done. In the meantime, Janet is to be placed under house-arrest with her telephone lines cut.
The chapter ends with Kain wrestling a football player in the gym.
The chapter was met with some criticism regarding the demonization of Ms. Barch's character and her state of mind. Her official character wasn't developed enough at the time to learn that she had not completely abandoned the opposite sex. Chris eventually regretted the direction the story arc between Kain and Barch drove itself towards. Mostly in regards of mistaking the Feminist Movement as a radical agenda towards gender role-reversal, and coming off as chauvinistic.
Like most of the chapters in the series, Kain seems to have taken over as the lead character, with the rest of the cast in the background. This style is not uncommon among Mary Sues.
- Jane quoted several George Carlin jokes he used as product ideas during his acts.
- Chris didn't realize, then, that Jake was not a lawyer, but a consultant.
- The first mention of Sandi having a professional hit man as a brother is brought up between the Three Js
- Chris didn't know who Popular Girl was, and like other fanfic authors, gave her the name "Jennifer".
- The supercomputer's name was finally revealed as Sally, named after Kain's deceased wife.
- The judge was named Reese, which might have served as a precursor to giving Kain a first name in later years.