As I see it there are at least two things wrong with today's strip:
1. The author tries to avoid the Mary Worth Syndrome by introducing a brand new fact in the first panel -- the small troll, Shecky, is in love.
Isn't that ducky. In the last panel of the previous strip we were told that he's here to spend Christmas with his fellow troll, saving us from the banality of the "who's taking the troll home for Christmas?" storyline. This new information renders the entire previous strip a total waste of time -- well, three out of four panels at least. The introduction of Shecky is the only event that has carried over.
2. In the third panel, two things happen: Shecky reveals the less-than-romantic nature of his infatuation, and the Brent character snatches something out of his hands.
What's wrong with this picture? The look on Shecky's face makes no sense given the continuity of the panel. Here's what happens:
Shecky holds up picture » He says "Heh. Loaded!" » Brent snatches the photo
The look on Shecky's face is obviously not reflecting his one line in the panel ("Heh. Loaded!"), so it must be reacting to Brent's actions. This is odd because Shecky is both on the left side of the panel (the first to be seen) and has the first line (the first to act chronologically), yet when you first approach the panel he is reacting to something that has yet to happen, either spatially or chronologically.
While time is obviously subjective in comics, the author hasn't left himself enough room in the panel to take liberties.
Fun Punchline Facts
Punchline exists? Yes.
Punchline rating: 2 out of 10 (penalty for overused "ugly tree" cliche)