Well, we got two of the key players for the second scenario at hand.
Panel 1; We start the strip with Elly staring at the bathroom mirror SIGHing. Reason: she's started to believe that she's as ugly as John says she is.
Panel 2: We next see her at the kitchen table. Mike confides that he thought she was the prettiest mom at Parent's Night. She asks if he's sincere.
Panel 3: She hugs him, tells him it's a sweet thing to say and asks why he said it.
Panel 4: He doesn't know....
Panel 5:...but it looks to him that she needed positive reinforcement. This proves three things. First, he's aware she ain't getting it from Daddy Douchenozzle. Second, he's using age-inappropriate vocabulary because Lynn wants to remind us that she met Charles Schulz. Third, that Aaron was a proud but discreet member of Team Lynn during the divorce.
Summary: Now that we've proved that Mike's later insensitivity was caused by his corruption by Darth Trainman, let's kill the fish so we can get the puppy.