At first I was beating myself up over it, being overly critical, telling myself that I should've figured it out a lot sooner. Then a truth hit me: this is only my second time telling a story with a punchline and my first on a 14 week deadline! There's all kinds of framing, continuity and readability issues involved that I haven't had to deal with in the past. So all things considered, taking five weeks to determine the best solution to the problem maybe isn't so awful.
The good news is that I HAVE figured it out and now I'm ready to start animatin'! The goal for the next class is to have a completed, final animatic that includes between 3-5 seconds of pencil test animation. I'm confident that the goal can be met.
Below is the first 20 seconds of the final animatic. I forgot to warn you before: this is NSFW (not safe for work) due to the sound effects.