I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who surmised that the De-Bait Team would be involved, as I noted during the pre-dawn fishing trip.
It also seems clear that today’s strip was deliberately composed only to set up the punchline about Mark’s reputation for destroying boats, the same way Capt. Kirk destroyed his uniforms. But it doesn’t move the story along.
Moving on to the art, it has been consistently competent in its layouts and figures this week. However, the image of Duke in panel 4 is bizarre. Duke’s face looks like two different drawings (from different views) were stapled together with little regard for continuity, proportion, or skill. For example, the beard does not fit the face, looking like a fake beard glued on (think O Brother Where Art Thou?). Duke’s mouth—at least, I think that is what the white shape is in the center of the beard—is outrageously large, missing teeth and tongue, and just too big for the top half of the head. Rivera also accidentally elongated Duke’s neck, probably to subconsciously match the relationship of the collar to the beard, as we see in panel 2. In fact, the collar should be up and behind the chin of the opened mouth, along with raising the torso.