Panel 1: A little while later, their popcorns are eaten; so Mike, Martha and Gordon have the opportunity to scope out their environment as people often do in movie theaters (if they are trying to set up a story point and punchline and are willing to ignore how people really act in movie theaters in order to do that). Martha says the only thing she will say in this entire storyline and it is packed full of meaning. She says, “It’s crowded tonight – See anyone you know?” This tells you:
- Mike and Martha have been coming to the theater often enough for Martha to be able to know when the theater is crowded compared to other times when it wasn’t. In other words, this is not their first movie. In fact, it’s probably not their second or third either.
- Martha is interested in knowing if there is anyone there Mike knows. Why is that? Well, considering that Michael’s parents don’t know they are dating and don’t know they go to the movie theater on a regular basis; the only way Mike’s parents will find out is if someone Mike knows spots them there and reports it back to his parents.
Panel 2: Gordon goes goggle-eyed and stares at the reader as he seems to do pretty often when someone says Allyson’s name. In this situation, Lynn has drawn Gordon behind Mike and Martha, so this reaction can be missed. That’s probably the reason Lynn Johnston repeats it in Panel 4. If Lynn was looking for a comic effect, it would have been better to put the focus on Gordon, but that would require an artist who knows how to use art to tell a story. I will note that my impression yesterday that the audience was almost all male is confirmed by Michael, whose list of names only includes one female.
Panel 3: Gordon goes into exposition mode as he explains that Allyson lied to him about baby-sitting. Yes, Gordon. Girls can lie. Girls are also not obliged to tell you the truth about their personal lives and why not? If Allyson had told Gordon she was going out with Peter Kent, she might have to endure a lecture about what a terrible person he is, etc. Better to lie than get lectured by Gordon Mayes.
Panel 4: Goggle-eyed and staring at the reader again is Gordon, while Michael delivers an insensitive punchline suggesting Peter Kent is the baby being sat.
Summary: Allyson lied to Gordon, which is something Martha will never do to Michael, because she has pretty much stopped talking.