Sources say that either the exclamation “Great Scott” is not attached to any particular person with that name; or else may be associated with Sir Walter Scott, or with U.S. General Winfield Scott. But here, with the talk of Antarctica and the South Pole, surely they intend some kind of glance at famous and unfortunate polar explorer Robert F Scott?
And another from Andréa, who calls this “Barely an oy”. Also fodder for you dialectologists out there.
I find the hovertext even more confusing than the cartoon itself: “The only other person to walk by was a linguist back in the ‘80s, but she just spent a while directing the phrase ‘help me down’ before getting distracted by a squirrel and wandering off.”
(Edit: the hovertext actually says “dissecting,” not “directing.” So that’s much less confusing.)