As was pointed out to me, Mike is a rather reassuring phenomenon in his being a more or less realistic teen-aged boy who's totally clueless as to how to proceed with Martha. He doesn't understand why she and her friends go to the washroom in groups of three and explains it away by appealing to a stereotype, he's paranoid about her being attracted to other guys in his absence, he mostly thinks with his genitals and he tends to take her for granted because he's a regular dumb guy from the sticks.
We have to take a side trip to Pittsville, California to meet up with another reassuring stereotype in Luann De Groot. As we all know, she spent a lot of her teenaged years sitting in her room moping because she threw herself at a boy who just wasn't into anything female because she'd fixated on his appearance while not much wanting to understand the man within and interpreted his politely exiting an awkward moment as meaning that at sixteen, she was going to die a forgotten and unloved old maid.
The reason that I mention this is that she at least was aware of Gunther's feelings for her from the get-go and more or less dismissed him because he wasn't model handsome. This contrasts her with Lizardbreath because the dimwit seemed to make a point of not wanting to see what was right in front of her. This is not just Liz being herself and not noticing that she's not as self-aware as she likes to think she is. This seems to be Liz being so in love with the image of not having anyone attracted to her that she had to reject the evidence of her senses because it didn't fit her reality.
As we're about to see, Mike tends to not notice certain things about the clean-up phase of the storm because he's never been especially aware of his immediate surroundings. The same boy who's about to wonder why his family is mad because he made an obnoxious jerk of himself is racing around not seeming to see people shoveling out their cars. The reason is that he's simply not especially all that bright a person. The problem is that Elly would rather not believe that Mike is a stupid little boy who doesn't understand what's going on around him. She would rather believe that he's evil and doesn't care because it makes her life worse and that's a really high priority for a melodramatic twit like her.
We're going to see that soon when Lizzie has another episode of brain failure. We know that Lizzie is too dumb to anticipate what swining the milkbag is going to do because we remember that Elly is raising a family of pliable dimwits who come to her with every little thing. Elly still thinks that she deliberately planned to be as dumb as shit to make her pooooooooor mother's life harder because that's where her idiocy leads her.
The interesting thing about Lizardbreath's love life is not just that she's a passive twit more in love with the idea of being in love than actually being in love with whatever blandly handsome cipher she happens to be standing next to at any given time. The interesting thing is that she blathers mindlessly about the workings of fate and faith and so on and so forth because she's too damned oblivious to notice that what she ascribes to magic is actually the end result of people working hard to get her paired off with someone.
The template for this is how she still hasn't the blindest idea of how much work Dawn and Shawna-Marie put into calling her attention to the fact that Anthony had a thing for her. Miss Keen Senses can't see that because it would mean that Ugly Brother is right about her living in a fog and not seeing what's staring her in the face and she can't thank people because it would mean that she's seen as a charity case who's so passive, she risks being confused with a potted plant.
While this sort of unnoticed (and, if ever discovered, unacknowledgeable) assistance explains the Settlepocalypse, what I recently rediscovered is that Other People pointed her at the hockey player and at Constable Sitting Duck. Candace and Rudy made sure she got together with Eric and Elly made a point of pointing her at Paul.
The fun thing about Liz is that we can have her make a smug remark about how silly it is for April to act like one of her friends is trying to ruin her when she herself has the same drive to make a movie monster out of real people. This makes an even uglier fool of her than it does April because there's a child involved in her casting a real person with real needs as a cardboard villain whose only hope is to see her ruin.
I am, of course, talking about Thérèse. As Anthony's bio makes a point of saying, Liz's rival is an ill-used woman who ruined her life trying to please her stone-hearted and pea-brained ass of a father. She didn't follow her heart and marry her artsy type True Love because she was following an evil, distracting star of her own: a star that led her to marry a man she didn't really love and have a child she couldn't raise in order to make a worthless bum father proud of her. Since this put her in the path of an idiot who can't understand that a person can inconvenience her and also be a good person worthy of love, happiness and friendship, Lizardbreath looks at someone she'd be cheering for normally and sees a soap opera monster who plots her ruin because she watches too much goddamned television and also thinks that she's the protagonist. It doesn't seem to occur to her that life isn't television and no one is the star.
As we know, Liz seems to have spent the last few years of the strip trying very hard to avoid visiting Jim. We do know that Mike was his usual self-serving self and, as such, only decided to grace his elders with his presence when he wanted to be praised for something. We also know that he was his usaul empty-headed self and reacted in a fatuous and self-pitying manner when he didn't get the response he expected. What we never saw is any sign of any curiosity as to his life from Liz until she wanted to be validated by Iris in the very end of the story.
An observer might be forgiven for thinking that she's ashamed to face him because part of her feels remorse as regards her morally repugnant act of rewarding a lying thief who flattered her but, much like her mother, she tends to substitute moral indignation for actual morals. Much as Elly will never apologize for what Kortney did to April, Liz is never going to want to feel guilty about Jim's harmonica...especially since he kind of always scared her as a child.
You see, I never had any sort of impression that Jim responded the way Lizzie wanted to when she pretty much flirted with him the way she does with her sick freak of a father and that made Lizzie wary of the old boy. When you base your identity on trading on your looks and someone doesn't buy what you're selling, you don't necessarily like this person. This inability to quite get what she wanted as a child explains why she sat in cars waiting to get away from the smell and sight of scary old people who die when she gets to know them.
The thing about the end-game for Thelma is that it's something we've all seen before by now. Everyone has encountered an older person who, up until a certain point, was the picture of vigor only to have a sudden decline after a certain point. Thelma's decline was simply a lot quicker than most. The problem is that this is going to be Lizzie's first time dealing with someone's death. She was just talking to this person a little while ago and for reasons she can't explain, she just died. A little while later, this Ed fellow also passed away and she was just talking to him to. A few years later, she'll be visiting Marian only to have her get really sick and then just die on her too. Since human beings are built to see patterns in events, Liz is going to be looking for a common factor and finding it staring back at her in the mirror.
While this is a silly but typical thing for someone looking for an answer to think, we can't look to the Pattersons to help. This is because Elly is total crap at explaining anything to children. Either she goes off on a confusing tangent that answers no questions or somehow gets angry at the person for no clear reason or she tries to duck the issue because it scares her; what she's not going to do is actually reassure her children. This probably means that Liz, while not consciously aware of it, has it in the back of her head that if she visits an old person, that person will die within days. Picky-faced Martians see a ditz who turns her nose up at the smell. We see another victim of Elly's cowardice and stupidity.
The interesting thing about the real Cruikshank family is that they have three daughters. The other interesting fact is that they're much the same age as Kate and Aaron are. This is why whenever Cousin Laura appeared, she seemed to be just a little older than the Patterson child she was calling a clodhopper. What this tells us is that something entertaining is happening that the Patterson family are too dim to realize: Bev and Danny also have three daughters. For the sake of convenience, let's call them Karen, Laura and Melanie. They look similar enough that someone not especially familiar with their family would confuse them with one another and none of the three of them especially loved playing baby-sitter because their idiot uncle from the big city was too big of a girl's blouse to deal with the alleged out-of-control behaviour of his slug-like imbecile offspring.
This led the three of them to formulate a plan to prank the moron city folk; said plan involves their conceit that whatever 'Laura' stuck Foob-sitting is an only child. Since idiot Mike and clueless Liz are almost attentive as their moron parents, the gag is a viable one and since by the time the Martian showed up, Karen and the real Laura had moved elsewhere, it seemed appropriate to just let the idiots from the city go right on being ignorant. It should be noted that John was probably as big an asshole as an older brother as he is a father and husband so it's easy to see why Bev and Danny would get in on the fun. After all, there's nothing farm people love better than putting one over on city folk. The success of the Letters From Wingfield Farms series of plays is testament to that.
Remember how I keep harping on about the nit-witted racism that accompanies all the breezy bullshit about how Pablo Could Not Survive The Canadian Winter or how Paul Wright Is Made Of Snow And Will Melt? Well, if Lynn's stupid travelogues didn't get you to realize that Patterson means paternalistic moron who doesn't own his or her own knee-jerk racism, Elly's insistence on thinking of Mtigwaki as being a set piece from Nat Geo instead of a real community is going to seal the deal. As I've said in the past, we're dealing with an unreflective mind who accepts the pompous bloviation of her Social Studies textbooks as gospel owing to her growing up stupid under the Red Ensign.
This would be bad enough were it not for the fact that Liz's reaction to having her nose rubbed into a steaming pile of the reality that Paul simply wasn't able to transfer on a whim and that he ended up falling hard for someone with brains, class and honesty was to witlessly declare that her imbecile mother was right about the dusky heathens and their strange and hostile ways. To admit that she'd randomly damned good people because she couldn't take too much objective reality owing to the substance showing her to be a clingy, unrealistic and jealous cow with a distinct absence of morals and empathy would be implausible so we get shit about beaus and arrows from an empty-headed bitch who's probably in the process of brainlessly alienating her step-daughter because she's from the other solitude.
As we know, Lynn appears to have set a rather arbitrary starting point for the Letters From The Characters that got preserved. They seem to take place after the Going After arc for something of a reason; said reason is that Liz reacted not very well to being told by other people how she should have handled the Howard Bunt situation. Since she was more or less a mouthpiece for Lynn when people who should have minded their own business and alleged fans who clearly didn't like her told her that handling a serious issue like attempted assault as if it were a scene from an old Western was, at best, questionable and at worst, a dangerous disservice, Liz politely thanked all and sundry for their concerns and their 'helpful' comments about pressing charges and keeping him from attacking other women with a cheery means to telling them all to take a flying leap.
This, I should think, is because Liz has internalized a very Canadian way of dealing with Things She Doesn't Want To Hear like "Letting that bastard Howard go was a dumb idea" or "What did you expect Eric would do since you wouldn't put out?" or "You might not have wanted trouble with Therese but you were bound to collide because Anthony made that happen" is to smile a smarmy smile and thank people for the concern they should have up their arses. This, of course, is not a universal thing and only extends to people she feels like impressing. Picky-faced Martians who want her to think about Uncle Jasper's harmonium get a face full of "NOT NOW" because they shouldn't have enough power to make her feel bad about being The Human Clusterfuck.
As we know, Beth strongly hinted that Greg had to pull an awful lot of strings to get his blended family to Milborough. While the Liography pulled its punches by having Connie speculate that maybe Greg might have perhaps called in a bunch of markers to make her happy and torpedo Molly's relationship with some other proto-emo sulking because he thought he was the first person ever to realize that the world isn't a sunny place, it's a dead certainty that he had to do a lot of horse-trading to move everyone next to the Sainted Pattersons. Connie doesn't really realize this because she's Patterson-like enough to think that transfers are easy and convenient.
What she also doesn't realize is that it's pretty much a dead certainty that he's going to be facing legal trouble from his first wife for violating their custody agreement. It's bad enough that he seems to have made a point of keeping his wife away from them back home in Thunder Bay and worse that he married a woman too stupid to understand that the reason she and the kids don't hear from the woman she replaced is that Greg is keeping that from happening. While any major dude could have told her that more or less kidnapping them in order to placate a moron was never going to fly, said imbecile and her nitwit buddy Elly blamed Molly's more forceful personality for bullying Gayle into returning to her obviously inferior mother when anyone with a brain would have no choice but to realize that it would have to be a family court magistrate's call.
The problem with Connie and Elly's common inability to realize those two super-critical facts (which is, of course, based on Lynn's ignorance) is that Lizardbreath thinks that Paul and Warren didn't really love her because she doesn't understand what a contract is either and how even with the best will in the world, they're stuck where they are. She also doesn't understand that the reason Thérèse isn't there is because someone's lawyer has placed a sort of force field around Françoise that she'd get in trouble for violating.