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Say what you will about Jamie and Ellen's relationship, they don't have the same conversation twice.

Some of you may be perplexed, at this point, about Jamie's contention that he's never dated. After all, he went to dinner with Gina in what she had assumed would be a date. And he did ask Carol out in the laundromat, before he knew she was poly.

And, more specifically, you may be wondering how I can justify calling him under-socialized and then depict him successfully adopting alter-egos and bluffing his way through an almost entirely deception-based murder investigation. That is a valid question about a perceived inconsistency in Jamie's character, and it merits being addressed.

So I'd like to talk about Scud the Disposable Assassin for a bit.

Scud the Disposable Assassin was a comic book about a robot hitman that came out of a vending machine. He has a dial for "contempt" - it can be set from one to ten, and that setting affects how he carries out his function. At one point, we see another assassin model whose dial has been set to zero - his contempt is so low that he cannot function. He sits, motionless, in the center of the room, because to speak or gesture in any way towards other people, to directly affect them in any way, would be to impose himself upon them in ways they may not want. The implication - nay, the statement - is that in order to interact with another person, on some level, you have to not give a shit.

Jamie, whether he recognizes or admits it or not, has a certain amount of contempt for others, particularly strangers. His contempt dial is set too high for people he doesn't know, and is set too low for people he does know. Ironically, if he had known who Carol was when he first met her, he would not have been able to ask her out, even if she had been single. Jamie has come to like and trust and care for and be connected to Ellen too much, at this point, to impose himself on her. It's a self-esteem thing, it's an inertia thing... and yes, to some extent, it's a fear thing.

Ellen has a tendency to get forceful when she's exasperated or frustrated, and has had power over Jamie for almost the entire strip's runtime. Even though the Rule is no longer in effect, that power dynamic still lingers.

There are other elements in play here, but at this point, we've gone into more subtext than there is text, which is always dangerous territory. Better end this comment file here.

(Sunday night, INT: EB and JH's apartment)

EB: Well, dating isn't just about assessing, right? It is intended to be pleasurable in and of itself, isn't it? Do you not like dinners and movies?
JH: I... well, it's expensive. And I'm not really a movie guy.
EB: Okay, so we'll... we'll play games together for free, you like that. And you can cook something.
JH: That is literally already what we do, like, every day.
EB: Why are you making this difficult?
JH: I'm sorry. I suck.
EB: That is not a helpful answer.
JH: I'm sorr-
EB: Don't you dare say you're sorry for being sorry!
JH: Um... how about my fear of disappointing or offending you? Is that an acceptable sentiment to express?
EB: Oh my God, I'm being a giant bitch again. And, as I'm sure you're aware, I don't even have PMS to blame it on.
JH: Hey, now. If I'm not allowed to be unhelpfully self-deprecating, neither are you.