Plus which, Liz's reactions don't quite ring true. She seems so happy when Ant tells her he's engaged http://catalog.fborfw.com/indexdate.php?q=2001-12-31&Submit=Search ...but that's not quite consistent with her ants-in-pants joy at seeing "the sweet boy I dated in high school." When I first saw that (back when I took for granted that Pattersons would have normal responses and use earth-logic), I thought Liz's "happiness" was her trying to save face, and in fact, she was hardly overjoyed. Really, if a guy I used to date asked me to a formal event and sprung it on me at midnight on NYE that he was engaged to someone else, I'd be anything from mildly annoyed to super-pissed. Depending on how much I had invested in him. I can't really see myself being triangle-mouthed with happiness if a guy who'd been acting like a DATE, not a FRIEND, all night, capped off the evening by telling me he was engaged. And if he'd told me beforehand, I might not go, also depending on circumstances. Like in this instance, never having met the fiancee, thus not wanting her to get a wrong idea. And if Ant's reason for not telling Liz beforehand was that she might not go, if that's a risk he doesn't want to take, he shouldn't be engaged.
And as I think I've said before, I took this final panel http://catalog.fborfw.com/indexdate.php?q=2002-01-09&Submit=Search totally the wrong way. I thought Ant looked stricken because he intended this to be his and Liz's last embrace ever. Sad to be leaving her in the past, but it had to be. I mean, he does say goodbye. It just doesn't have to be tragic.