I may not know anything about anything, but at least now I know who killed Lilly Kane!! Holy moly, what a surprising and satisfying reveal!
We'll get to that in a second, but first let me put on a backwards Kangol hat, flip a chair around and rap with y'all. Because we need to talk. The first season of Veronica Mars is terrific. Duh/obvs. You guys were right, what a great show. BUT. Even child prodigies wet the bed every now and again, you know? And I bet Michael Jordan probably occasionally broke wind while making game-winning slam dunks. (BTW what is basketball?) And there's a chance Stephen King wrote a bad book at least once. (I'll never know, I can't read.) What I'm trying to say is, Season 1 of Veronica Mars had some problems, especially toward the end, and especially with regard to its treatment of sexual issues. I don't know, obviously this is my personal reaction, but there's a fine line between edgy and irresponsible and I'm afraid this show crossed the line in two big ways before its ultimately triumphant finale. Because it WAS a good finale! Anyway, we'll chat more about it when we get there, but I just wanted to warn you guys that I MIIIIIGHT be ranting later. Maybe. We'll see. Depends on how much candy I'll be eating in next few minutes.
All right, enough yammering. Let's close out the Season 1 dossier!
Case of the week: After a Tracy Flick-ish overachiever was repeatedly pranked and/or sexually harassed via phony sex ads with her image in them, Veronica agreed to help track down whoever was responsible. While it SEEMED like it was the handiwork of her aggressively brokenhearted ex (guest-star Zachery Ty Bryan in his second appearance), suspicion instead turned to aspiring valedictorian Leonard Wu... It turned out they were both in the running for a full-ride scholarship offered by the Kane family and the pranks were meant to throw the girl off her game. But in the end it wasn't Leonard who was behind it, but his father. Leonard then had to forfeit the scholarship, earning him at the very least Veronica's respect. (I'd want that too!)
The plot thickens: After Veronica successfully tracked down Abel Koontz's daughter and convinced her to go into hiding and and provide pertinent documents that might exonerate her father, Keith FINALLY agreed to collaborate with Veronica on the Lilly Kane case! In addition to letting her pore through his secret trove of evidence, he revealed a major clue: Shortly after Lilly's murder, the Kanes hastily laundered Duncan's soccer uniform. Adding that to Logan's admission that Duncan had once strangled him during an epileptic seizure, it was starting to look like Duncan was now that #1 suspect!
Don't I know you from somewhere?
Hey it's The State's Ken Marino! His character Vincent Vanlowe appeared only once this season, but it seemed like he and Keith went way back (as nemeses). I'm guessing he'll be back though? He was too fun to just use once. But the main thing is, Marino is now one more name we can cross off the Future Party Down Cast list. (I'm still anxiously awaiting a Lizzy Caplan appearance—don't tell me if she appears or not!)
Episode verdict: I was so relieved that this episode solved one of my biggest annoyances of the show so far—Keith's reluctance to involve Veronica. Honestly if he had just included her from the get-go he probably wouldn't have lost his job in the first place. Just sayin'! I'm not sure I cared too much about Sabrina's plight, except that I got a vague feeling that the show was making light of her habitual emotional abuse and sexual harassment. In retrospect it was definitely a hint of things to come.
Case of the week: After a series of fire alarms began to disrupt the school with suspicious frequency, Veronica learned that someone had been calling in bomb threats. The two obvious culprits were camo-wearing outcasts, but when Veronica tailed the more likely of the two, she discovered that he was actually an undercover FBI agent looking to bust the second outcast. When Veronica agreed to assist the FBI agent, she learned that the second guy wasn't responsible for the threats and was instead being framed by a nerdy kid who'd been bullied by the guy in the past. In the end Veronica managed to both exonerate the wrongly accused outcast (who, it should be noted, was one of the few students to stand up for Veronica shortly after her '09er ostracism), and also reveal the undercover FBI agent as an evidence-planting fraud. It was a bittersweet victory, however, as a front-page story in the school newspaper got their journalism teacher fired and demonstrated the limits of their supposed freedom of speech.
Oh, and this happened:
That's right, Veronica and Logannnnn!!! While she was chatting on the phone with him, the undercover FBI agent took Veronica 'hostage' (in a total fake-out) and Logan then swooped in to save her, earning him a surprise, but well-earned kiss. Thus completed the Logan redemption arc that had begun a few episodes earlier. The whole thing was pretty sudden, but I guess that was the point!
The plot thickens: Continuing the new thread that Duncan might have been the murderer, word got back to him that Veronica had a file on him and he did NOT take it well. Typical murderer reaction. Anyway, this resulted in him being kinda mean to his girlfriend Meg, then draining his bank account and going on the lam! The cute twist was that earlier Veronica had inadvertently told him the best ways to go off the grid, and he followed her advice to a T. Oh, Veronica.
Oh, and also Keith Mars started dating Wallace's mom, thus giving Wallace slightly more purpose on the show. Slightly.
Don't I know you from somewhere?
So, call me an idiot, but I hadn't even noticed that Sydney Tamiia Poitier hadn't been in the opening credits since Episode 8! Nope, it wasn't until her character was straight-up replaced by Joey Lauren Adams here that it occurred to me she'd been given the boot. Which was fine, because she was kind of irrelevant, but it's still weird that in Neptune permanent maternity leave is a thing? The character never comes back, right? Anyway, nice guest appearance, Chasing Amy's Joey Lauren Adams!
Sigh. Where have you gone, Jonathan Taylor Thomas? It is my Christmas wish that JTT have a triumphant comeback sometime soon. Unless he hated acting the whole time and now he's feeling better about life, in which case, congratulations guy! But still, it was fun seeing him here even though his character was an awful person.
The former bullying victim in this episode was played by True Blood's Michael "Rev. Newlin" McMillian! I don't know, I was excited. And yes, I still watch True Blood, I will never not.
Episode verdict: Obviously the most notable aspect of this episode was the Logan-Veronica hookup. Again, it seemed really sudden, but in the sense that they are both mercurial teenagers it seemed right, particularly when they didn't know how to handle themselves afterward. Logan had come a long way since his bum-fight days, but I still wonder if Veronica was too easily overlooking the fact that he'd basically been the source of most of her social torment over the preceding year? Oh well, I guess forgiving and forgetting is a thing that comes easier to her than to me.
Case of the week: In a plotline especially unsettling to dog-lovers, one of Veronica's classmates Mandy got her dog STOLEN and possibly KILLED! It turned out to be the most recent in a string of similar dog thefts in the '09er community and only those owners who offered substantial rewards ever saw their dogs again. Veronica eventually deduced that the dastardly villains behind this scheme were actually the employees at a local dog shelter. Fortunately for Mandy, the dog had not been killed and was instead sold to a new owner and they were reunited in no time. Meanwhile, Veronica also looked into the boyfriend of Logan's sister, a potentially abusive scumbag movie producer who'd been attempting to extort money from the Echolls family. In a highly satisfying turn of events, a newly reformed Aaron Echolls turned the tables on the dude and beat him up SO BAD. Seriously, it reminded me of the fight scene from They Live. It just went on and on! VERY satisfying.
The plot thickens: The big twist this week was that Weevil got arrested for breaking into Lilly's bedroom! He lied to Veronica about what he was after, but it turned out he was trying to recover a pink spy pen in which Lilly used to hide notes. Whatchu up to, Weevil?? Meanwhile Veronica and Logan took the next step in their relationship and she broke things off with Deputy Leo in what had to be one of the most mature and level-headed breakup scenes in TV history. In fact, it went so well that Leo STILL helped Veronica deal with the dog-nappers. Also, in a sadly ironic moment, Keith sent in a secret DNA paternity test. Would he ALSO shred his results at 3am near a sleeping family member? We'll see!
Episode verdict: This was a real good episode, just chock-a-block with entertaining moments. Not only were things starting to get pretty tense in Veronica's life, some of the scenes between the Echollses were downright haunting. Obviously that family had some cycle-of-violence stuff they still needed to work out, but I enjoyed watching Aaron Echolls trying and failing to reach out to his son. Add to that the amazing beatdown scene that concluded with Logan finding his father beating another man with his belt, and this thing was just pathos city. So good.
Case of the week: A truly awful guy named Tad blackmailed his girlfriend Carmen into not breaking up with him, which is always a good idea and always works. If she DID break up with him, he'd forward to the an entire school a cell phone video he'd shot of Carmen doing unspeakable things with a Popsicle in a jacuzzi, however that works. Deciding that the best way to handle this dude was via what Veronica termed "mutually assured destruction," they teamed up to fabricate a scandal: They would smear Tad as a—gasp!—homosexual and use Don't Ask Don't Tell to get him preemptively kicked out of the military academy he'd be attending in the fall. Here's the very believable website that Veronica hired Mac to put together:
Tad ultimately sent the video anyway, but Carmen had the decency to decline to smear him back (despite Veronica's protests). After Veronica tied him nude to a flagpole, she asked him where he got the drugs he used to coerce Carmen into making that Popsicle video in the first place, and he dropped a bombshell: Logan supplied the date-rape drugs. Oh, and it all happened the same night as Veronica's rape. So, um. Uh-oh.
The plot thickens: Aside from the GHB revelation at episode's end, a few more strands came back into play. First was the issue of Duncan: Still on the lam, but now his parents were offering a huge reward for his safe return and Keith seemed pretty confident they'd be cashing in. Meanwhile Wallace's mom took the fall for the bugged plant that Veronica got Wallace to deliver to Clarence Wiedman's office (really hate that guy). Oh, and Veronica happened to notice a classified ad in which it became clear that Keith Mars was trying to serve Lianne Mars divorce papers. Just bad times all around.
Don't I know you from somewhere?
He didn't get any closeups in this episode, but that middle kid is Kyle Gallner, who has now appeared in 85 percent of all TV shows and movies. He was good in Jennifer's Body and Big Love and, um, A Nightmare on Elm Street? Anyway, yup.
Episode verdict: Oof. I am STILL mad about this episode. Are you effing kidding me with this homophobic B.S.? I realize this was 2005 which is definitely OLDEN TIMES, but to have our heroine use homosexuality as a weapon against someone? To "ruin" a reputation and get him kicked out of school? It's bad enough that this high school's only openly gay character (if five lines of dialogue constitute a character) was used as a sassy, drug-dealing STORY DEVICE who actively allowed himself to be a part of this supposed smear-job. But THEN a protagonist we love, trust, and know to be a champion of outsiders decided that BEING GAY is just as reputation-ruining if not worse than being an abusive creep who drugs his girlfriend and sends a sex video to her classmates. Um, THERE is your smear, Veronica Mars. But you chose to paint him as gay instead? Ugh. Honestly, this was irresponsible writing and I hope credited writers Phil Klemmer and John Enbom are embarrassed about it in 2012. [End Rant #1.]
The plot thickens: First off, Keith found Duncan in Cuba and brought him back to Neptune. After that cold open, however, this penultimate episode of Season 1 was ALL about Veronica's date rape. You know, the sex crime we'd learned about in the pilot but that had fallen by the wayside for most of the season. Following up on the revelation in the previous episode that Logan had been the supplier of GHB, Veronica decided to (a) put her relationship with Logan on the back burner, and (b) solve this crime once and for all! So then he episode turned into a cavalcade of former guest-stars, including Sam Huntington, Leighton Meester, and Jonathan Bennett, who all returned to give Veronica their faulty recollections of that fateful party. For a while it looked like Dick Casablancas was definitely the one most likely to have drugged and date raped her, but as Veronica narrowed down the possibilities of what happened that night, we eventually came to the real solution: Both Veronica and Duncan had been separately and accidentally drugged and they made sweet, sweet love that night. Cool?
When Veronica confronted Duncan about this revelation, he admitted he'd left Veronica to wake up alone because he was so ashamed for having slept with HIS SISTER. That's right, we got a definite confirmation that the Kanes believed Veronica to be their kin. Meanwhile Keith was off in Las Vegas hiring hookers except PSYCH! He just needed this one hooker to admit she was with Abel Koontz the night he supposedly killed Lilly. Fortunately she did and the case against Abel Koontz got REAAALL shaky all of the sudden.
Another big event was that Logan and Veronica finally went public with their relationship in the most humiliating way possible: An off-date surprise birthday party that Aaron Echolls threw to win over his son. In a pretty touching moment Logan immediately put all his snippy, judgmental classmates in their places by instructing them to get over it or get out. But then, when he and Veronica sneaked off to the pool house for some shirtless-hugging action, Veronica inadvertently discovered a Sliver-style hidden camera set-up! Ugh, those creepy Echollses.
Oh, and Veronica's useless mother showed up. 'Sup, lady!
Episode verdict: Guys, look. Entertaining episode. Solid reveal. APPALLING message. How convenient that something as serious and horrifying as rape has now been downgraded to a serendipitous accident with a good guy! I assure you all I'm not some uptight, politically correct harpy. But this show can be straight-up tone deaf sometimes. Whether it's taking a bold stance in favor of cults, trafficking in homophobia, or undermining years of sexual assault awareness, Veronica Mars has sought to be gritty and/or surprising but has now at least three times wound up in Reprehensibletown. Even though Logan was now a good guy, he was STILL the jackass responsible for the drugging, but Veronica barely cared and they were making out immediately. Regardless of Duncan having been drugged, Veronica could not give consent to him any more than she could to the dudes who were playing puppet-girl with her during the party. Regardless of the retroactive comfort of knowing that she'd lost her virginity to someone she liked, Veronica DID NOT REMEMBER IT and had spent the greater part of the year believing she'd been raped by a stranger. That kind of psychological trauma goes away immediately? I hate to say it, but I'm kinda mad at Veronica Mars right now. The season finale will have to be REALLY good to make up for it...
And it was! Man, was it good. The first half of the episode layered twist upon twist upon misdirection upon red herring: First Duncan's parents informed him that they'd orchestrated a cover-up because HE was the one who'd killed Lilly. He had been found cradling his dead sister's body, and his illness made a violent blackout more plausible. But! Then Beaver told Veronica that Logan's alibi was in question since he'd raced back from Mexico to see her just prior to her death. In Veronica's mind, the only thing standing between Logan and a LOT of jail time was the love letter he claimed he'd written, so she then infiltrated Lilly Kane's house in this getup:
Duncan caught her in the act of snooping around Lilly's bedroom, but he was heartened when Veronica told him that (a) she didn't believe he'd killed Lilly, and also (b) they weren't brother and sister. (Keith had actually opened HIS test results.) So then they teamed up to discover what Lilly was hiding in her air conditioning vent: miniDV tapes she'd stolen from Aaron Echolls because WHOA: They'd been having a sexy affair and he'd taped it on his Sliver cam. So, um, that's motive and it was pretty clear that Aaron Echolls was our guy.
What followed was about twenty minutes of pretty terrifying cat-and-mouse chase. Starting with Aaron sneaking into Veronica's backseat, her intentionally crashing the car and attempting to take shelter at a secluded house only to have Aaron attack and incapacitate the homeowner. Seriously, the whole thing played out like a horror film! Finally Keith realized Veronica was in trouble and came looking for her, and suddenly he and Aaron were having one of the more brutal fist fights I'd ever seen on television while Veronica was trapped in a gasoline-soaked refrigerator. And here's how loathsome Aaron was: Even after Keith more or less subdued him, his final gesture was to throw his lighter at the refrigerator and set it on fire! That's right, just another casual murder. Keith ended up saving Veronica and being caught on fire in the process. She put him out and they scrambled into the street for help and before we knew it Aaron was being carted off in an ambulance and Charles Kane was shouting at him for having murdered his daughter except that Charles Kane then got arrested ALSO, for obstruction of justice, and it was all VERY satisfying.
One major :( for this episode: Keith had broken up with Wallace's mom so that he could make another go of it with Veronica's mom. Except then Veronica discovered she'd been drinking again and called her out on it. And then Veronica's mom took off, but not before stealing $50,000. So, cool lady! On the bright side, Wallace's mom still came to the hospital to see Keith, so all was not lost there.
Then two more excellent moments: After a long day of solving a life-defining crime, Veronica had a dream where she and Lilly were floating on a swimming pool in bikinis and it seemed like closure had finally arrived. Really touching. But THEN, in what would amount to the most simultaneously low-key and powerful TV cliffhanger I've maybe ever seen, there was a knock on the door and Veronica answered with a smile. "I was hoping it would be you," she said as the picture faded to black.
Aw! Was it Logan, the guy Veronica had incorrectly pinned as a murderer for most of the episode, or was it Duncan, who was now fair game for a romantic rekindling? Or maybe just Wallace. Poor, gentle Wallace. I don't know, but I was just so amazed that I cared so much about such a tiny moment.
Episode verdict: Stellar. I couldn't even remember why I was mad before because now I was so dizzy with excitement. Just a perfect hour of television and a fantastic end to the season. I still can't believe how well they pulled off the mystery. I did NOT see Aaron Echolls as the killer, but in retrospect it makes sense to pin it on a non-regular. There's a bit of a pattern on this show of loopholes that keep the villains around. For instance YES the Kanes obstructed justice and ruined the Mars' lives, but it was all a misunderstanding! Same with the "accidental" GHB drugging in the previous episode. I'm not sure misunderstandings, coincidence, and serendipity would hold up as excuses in a court of law, so in that sense these explanations were slightly weird. But still, all I ask is that a TV show surprise me and Veronica Mars certainly did. Well played.
I'm a bit bummed about some stuff that happened toward the end of Season 1 because otherwise this show's freshman year was as close to perfect as a season of TV gets. Frankly I'm relieved to see the main storyline wrapped up as succinctly as it was (well, except for the Mrs. Echolls stuff), and aside from the romantic cliffhanger, I appreciated that no big Season 2 storyline was set up in the finale. It's kind of nice to get a breather, you know? VERY excited to see what happens next. Thanks to all of you who recommended this show to me, I definitely owe you one.
... Did YOU predict Aaron was the killer?
... Without spoiling who it ended up being, who did you originally think was at Veronica's door?
... Is Lianne the worst? She's the worst, right?