The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 20-22

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The main problem with revisiting a mystery-based TV serial so long after it first aired is how virtually impossible it is to remain unspoiled. Shortly after I started Season 2, an innocent Google search of Beaver Casablancas's first name brought up the phrase: "Cassidy Casablancas, mass murderer..." and I was devastated. Whoops, now I knew who caused the bus crash! Now I'd have to sit through 22 episodes of pretending to not know where it was all headed? Fortunately Veronica Mars was never the kind of show to center its thrills around a simple reveal. Even though I knew the WHO, I still didn't know the HOW or the WHY, and those reveals ended up being thrillingly surprising and surprisingly complicated. The fact that the Season 2 finale STILL met my lofty expectations was a testament to just how well-written this show was: You might THINK you know what's going on, but you never really do. (And I maybe still don't!) But it never stopped being entertaining and just a little bit heartbreaking. These poor human beings!

Okay, last three episodes of Season 2: Let's nonchalantly step off this skyscraper!



Season 2, Episode 20: "Look Who's Stalking"


The plot thickens: We were definitely outside the realm of cases of the week at this point and this episode in particular was all about setting up the finale. Satisfying closure fans, avert your eyes!

"Look Who's Stalking" began with a weird non-sequitur: Veronica at a doctor's appointment learning she had chlamydia! What?? Which gas station bathrooms had she been hanging out in? Anyway, an explanation for this was still two episodes away, so it was back to business as usual. Specifically, the business of Woody waking up to an O.D.'d hooker in his motel room bed:

Despite Woody's pleas that Keith take the rap for this incident, Keith opted to tell the press exactly what had happened which seemed to put a crimp in their friendship. Oh well! True friends don't ask friends to cover up O.D.'d hooker situations for them. Meanwhile the loose string from a few episodes back—who had hired the escort to steal Cliff's briefcase—was solved when Logan personally identified the suspect in the police sketch: Aaron Echolls' cellmate! So um, yeah. The return of Aaron Echolls was more or less certain at this point.

But the primary case involved Woody's daughter Gia who was apparently being stalked. After Veronica discovered that the "stalker" was actually a P.I. (former Deputy Leo, in fact!) hired to protect her, an actual creepy stalker scenario popped up when yet another videotape was sent to the Goodman household. This time Gia was the object of the stalker's camera and it wasn't long before Veronica sussed out who the creep was:

Lucky the janitor! We'd heard of this guy in an earlier episode and knew that he had a weird, church-based relationship to the Manning family, and it turned out he was JUST as damaged as you'd expect a person with a weird, church-based relationship to the Manning family might be! In an awkward after-hours meeting for the ages, Gia found herself "interviewing" him for a human interest story in the paper only to find herself cornered in the supply closet while he ranted about his military injuries. Things got even more awkward when he pulled out a HUGE KNIFE and started waving it around. Veronica tried to spirit Gia out of there, but he stopped them both and it took some last-minute heroics by Keith Mars to subdue him.

One of the reasons this episode was so frustrating was that several times after Lucky was apprehended, he came THISCLOSE to admitting to Keith Mars exactly what was up with him. We knew he used to be a batboy for the Neptune Sharks, but it still wasn't clear what exactly his grudge against the Goodman family was. Unfortunately just when he was about to whisper his motive to Keith Mars, Sheriff Lamb stuck his dumb face in everyone's business and Lucky clammed up like a... clam. Oh well.

But who cares about closure when such a thrilling bit of emotional storytelling was playing out at Logan's Alterna-Prom? After some rowdy '09ers had gotten the real prom cancelled, they decided to throw their OWN prom (Veronica managed to get a bunch of poor kids invited also). First there was a hilarious moment where Veronica totally dressed down Madison for sleeping with Sheriff Lamb. But later it was a heart-to-heart with Logan that must've had everyone on the edges of their couches. Two people, unlucky in love, admitted to each other that they were at a crossroads, future-wise. Would they even know each other after graduation? Logan clearly wanted to get back with Veronica and she seemed pretty open to it also... until he went in for the kiss and she ran off. Heartache! Things got even sadder the next morning when Veronica arrived at Logan's penthouse to admit that she too wanted to stay close to him, but then realized Kendall had spent the night. Total turn-off, you know? Anyway, the episode closed with our heroine sobbing in an elevator, and there are few things more troubling to the viewer than a crying Veronica.

Episode verdict: The developments of this episode were strictly of the set-up variety, but "Look Who's Stalking" still managed to wring tons of tension out of its various situations. That scene where Lucky pulled a knife on Gia and Veronica was really disturbing mostly because it was never clear if he actually intended harm or if he was just a creep. And I knew I'd love that scene between Veronica and Logan when the conversation began with "I like this song..." It was a good song! But I also love when characters map their emotional lives via pop music. It just seems so real to me. Anyway, good episode, but I feel bad for anyone who had to wait A WEEK for the next one.



Season 2, Episode 21: "Happy Go Lucky"


The plot thickens: The most important plotline in this double-whammy of a disturbing episode involved the big reveal of Woody Goodman's villainy. It was all sparked off by fresh-from-jail Lucky showing up during Neptune's lunch break firing a gun everywhere!

After a truly terrifying standoff during which he pointed the gun directly in Jackie's face until she sobbed, Wallace tackled Lucky, and Lucky fired the gun at Wallace at point-blank range (blanks!), Lucky was gunned down for real by a frightened security guard. It was a truly harrowing incident (due in part to some recent real-life events), and it certainly erased whatever sympathy we might've had for this troubled dude. Anyway, the main thing was, he was looking for Gia Goodman for some reason, which only fueled Keith and Veronica's curiosity about what exact skeletons were in Woody's closet? Fortunately Gia invited Veronica over to study and it gave her a perfect opportunity to hack into Woody's email:

Another scary scene transpired in which Woody basically caught Veronica in the act just as she was forwarding a sound clip to her own email account (hope you deleted those "Sent" emails, lady!). But man, has Steve Guttenberg ever been as frightening in a role as he was here? Perfect casting, seriously. What the emails revealed was very unsettling: Lucky had been one of four people who'd been molested by Woody in their youths and were now blackmailing Woody into revealing his crimes. The identities of the other three victims (one of whom had been edited out of the recording entirely) were still in question, but there was no disputing that Woody was a BAD person and it made that earlier scene of he and his wife disciplining their son even more disturbing.

Keith even confronted Woody with these accusation and Woody's stone-faced anger more or less confirmed his guilt. But because this was Veronica Mars, there was a slight twist in that the victims hadn't been (teenage) batboys, but actual children who'd played on the Neptune Sharks little league team. Typical Veronica Mars, revealing even worse details right after we'd come to accept the already-awful ones. Anyway, some quick deductions and confirmations on Veronica's part showed that at the other two audible victims on the recording had gone on to become bus crash victims, which mean that Woody was now the #1 suspect behind the crash. It especially seemed that way when Lamb finally agreed that Woody needed to be arrested but discovered that he'd fled town already. Oh, Sheriff Lamb.

Meanwhile in a twist that proved just as upsetting, Aaron Echolls was acquitted of Lily Kane's murder! It's not just that he got away with the awful crime Veronica had worked an entire season to uncover. He apparently wasn't even prosecuted for locking her in a refrigerator and setting it on fire? Or assaulting that homeowner (who then mysteriously vanished)? Plus the trial was just outrageously hateful, forcing Veronica to talk about her new STD and all the various semi-legal things she'd done in her private investigation work. It was just this huge, humiliating circus that was made somehow even worse by the throngs of supporters outside the courthouse holding up "Aaron is Innocent" banners. Seriously, this show definitely painted one of grimmest portraits of our justice system I've ever seen.

Adding insult to injury, Veronica ditched a test in order to attend the hearing, thus presumably marring her perfect GPA and losing that Kane Scholarship. (Although, maybe Veronica's teacher should've allowed the case's STAR WITNESS to make it up? What a MEAN teacher.) Bad times all around.

Episode verdict: Well, despite those two bummers of plotlines, it still felt pretty exhilarating to get all those Goodman reveals. Plus Echolls' acquittal really created a confusing situation for Logan, so the injustice will at least lead to some electrifying scenes, right? But "Happy Go Lucky" also featured some truly touching moments, in particular Veronica and Wallace's heartfelt conversation about how much they'd miss each other next year. I mean, I still to this day thing Wallace was a weak link on this show, but at least he seemed to recognize just how important Veronica was to him. One of this show's biggest recurring themes was that no good deed went unpunished, so it was nice to see Veronica get at least a shred of credit for all the awesome things she'd done. Great moment in a great episode.



Season 2, Episode 22: "Not Pictured"


The plot thickens: How does one begin the best-yet episode of Veronica Mars? Well, "Not Pictured" began in a low-key way: Veronica and Keith outside the courthouse dealing with Aaron's acquittal. In typical Mars fashion, they alternated between resigned cynicism and passionate promises of revenge, not necessarily in that order.

Fortunately their helplessness in the Echolls situation forced them to focus their rage toward the other big villain in their lives: Woody Goodman. Things got started when Vinnie Van Lowe contacted Keith from jail and offered to share all the information he'd stolen from the Goodman property (the crime for which he was arrested). This bounty of information—including tax returns, credit card information, plus medical records which indicated Woody had chlamydia!—allowed Veronica to impersonate his daughter and get Woody's lawyer to give up the game: Woody was hiding out at a hunting lodge in Northern California! Keith flew up there, tracked him down, and ended up tussling with the disgraced Mayor, and the fight itself was kind of hilarious:

That's just a good move right there! Fortunately Keith was able to taze Woody before he leapt out the window, so at least one villain wouldn't get away in this episode.

But the bigger storyline belonged to Veronica and how graduation day had finally arrived at Neptune High. The episode's best element was this pink-hued "What If?" dream sequence in which Veronica imagined how that day would've been different had Lily Kane never been murdered. Man, was this devastating:

Mom still there. The nice house. Keith as Sheriff. Cool yacht-themed decor:

And happiness. So much happiness! Strangely, though, in this dream Veronica and Logan were together. (Did this imply that perhaps Veronica and Duncan may have still suspected they were siblings?) Also Veronica and Wallace never really became friends, and indeed only even met for the first time on graduation day when their gowns were switched. There was even this slightly devastating moment when Veronica enthused about how great high school had been and Wallace just said, "Oh. You're one of those." Dang, fake-Wallace! Also, Lily was there:

I guess I'd forgotten that Lily was actually OLDER than Veronica and Duncan. Something about her always registered as a younger sister type. But apparently she'd been almost a senior when she died. Anyway, in this alternate reality she went off to college and probably got involved in tons more inappropriate romances. But it was all moot seeing as this was definitely a dream sequence. Still though, super poignant.

The actual graduation was a nice scene. Not sure I cared about the "Weevil graduates!" nonsense. So he passed a math test and got to graduate, only to get arrested for Thumper's death minutes before getting his diploma. Am I supposed to feel bad? Weevil legit commited a crime! Don't worry guy, the ceremony was just symbolic. I'm sure they'll mail you the diploma anyway. But yeah, I liked the moment between Veronica and the principal on stage. Now whom will he turn to for everyday teen espionage?

In a major "no care" plotline, Jackie ditched Wallace and claimed she was flying to Paris when actually she went to Brooklyn to be reunited with her waitress mother and, oh yeah, TWO-YEAR-OLD SON. She only 'fessed up when Wallace flew out to try and meet her, but I was already so mad at Jackie that I didn't even care. Like, I'm glad she finally had an interesting back story, but the class-motivated lying was pretty despicable. Bye forever, Jackie!

So, anyway, it was BOMBSHELL time. While all of her classmates were gathering for a post-graduation party in Logan's penthouse (and Keith was still up north), Veronica had a hunch about Woody's molestation victims. That's when she decided to pay a visit to Woody's hamburger joint, which was DEFINITELY NOT a Carl's Jr.:

And that's when she found an official team photo of the little league team Woody had coached/molested, and unlike the previous ones Veronica had seen, this one had a little notation on the bottom. "Not pictured: Cassidy Casablancas."

And just as the camera began an epic zolly, we knew as soon as Veronica did that we'd discovered the mastermind behind much of the town's bad times. This guy:

Apparently he too had been molested by Woody Goodman and he'd plotted to kill the other two victims when they made it clear they wanted to step forward and get Woody in trouble. So, either Beaver killed them out of fear of having his molestation made public, OR he killed them because ruining Woody would've interfered with Beaver's real estate schemes. Either way, it was all pretty messed up.

Except the villainy didn't stop there. First of all—in a reveal that was, in my opinion, totally unnecessary—we found out that Beaver HAD INDEED raped Veronica on the night of her consensual non-raping by Duncan. And he gave her chlamydia. Which HE had gotten from Woody Goodman during his little league days. I mean, just five or six disturbing concepts that didn't seem to bring anything to the table except to upset us even more. But yup, chlamydia mystery solved! And Veronica was retroactively re-raped!

And that was before Beaver remote-exploded Woody Goodman's airplane (supposedly also containing Keith) RIGHT ABOVE THEM.

I mean, if we're being honest here, I think Beaver was a bad person. You know? Then he attempted to get Veronica to commit suicide, but she craftily texted Logan to come up on the roof and a tussle broke out!

At one point Veronica picked up Beaver's gun and looked VERY ready to murder him A LOT, but Logan talked her down, reasoning that she was not a murderer. And Logan would know. Fortunately for everyone involved, Beaver took this as his cue to casually step off the side of the building. Logan and Veronica seemed pretty confident he was dead, but if it were me, I would've run over to make sure he hadn't jumped onto a pile of pillows on the penthouse balcony. But I'm a worrier like that.

Speaking of dirty justice, Aaron Echolls got in some last-minute sexy time with Kendall before getting VERY murdered by a silencer-equipped gun. First reaction: YES! Second reaction: Okay, who did this?

It was Duncan! He'd hired heretofore Kane Security jack-of-all-crimes Clarence Wiedman to do his dirty work. The best was that when Clarence called Duncan (who lived in Australia now, btw) to confirm he'd killed Aaron, Duncan answered, "CW?" Now by most accounts this was a winking reference to the fact that Veronica Mars would be moving to the CW for Season 3. But in retrospect it was some creepy foreshadowing. The CW certainly WAS an untrustworthy assassin, wasn't it?

Back in her apartment, Veronica and Logan were re-enacting the Pietà (as newly orphaned teen P.I.s are wont to do). Veronica even had another pink-hued dream in which she was a toddler and Keith performed a puppet show for her. Devastating! Then she woke up to someone in the kitchen cooking bacon only to discover that it was Logan. But it was a fakeout, because then Keith came out of his bedroom!

Now, I have some questions. Had he been there the whole time? Just sleeping in the other room and Veronica never thought to look in there? And Keith didn't hear them come in or sob or anything? Or did he sneak in somehow during the night? I mean, I'm glad he was alive, it just seemed like a weird reveal, is all. Especially after all the stuff each character had been through during the previous 12 hours. Maybe a courtesy text message could've helped clear up that misunderstanding? Who knows.

So while it wasn't nearly the summer ruiner that Season 1's cliffhanger was, Season 2 did definitely leave us with a question mark. Apparently Kendall Casablancas came into a ton of money following Cassidy's death and she intended to hire Keith to do something for her. He needed to leave for the airport (separately from Veronica, for some reason) and didn't want to help Kendall, but she enticed him with the contents of a briefcase. But WHAT was it? Whatever it was, it made Keith stand up Veronica for their Manhattan vacation. Again, the logistics of this misunderstanding were puzzling to me, but I guess that's just how the Mars family rolls.

Episode verdict: So this was the all-time best episode of Veronica Mars, right? I don't know, I'm hearing mixed things about Season 3, so I have to assume this was as good as it got. And it was SO GOOD. But in typical Veronica Mars fashion, it still had a fair helping of maddening and/or off-putting elements. Like, why bring back the rape plotline? Couldn't Cassidy have just been a murderer? Also, can someone really have chlamydia for THAT long without noticing or getting it treated? You know what, I won't dwell on the details. This episode was just a total triumph for how it brought together SO MUCH from the past 22 episodes and beyond. I loved the Aaron Echolls assassination. I loved that last image of Duncan enjoying his victory in a perpetual magic hour on some Australian beach. I especially loved the It's a Wonderful Life-esque dream sequence. This episode was so good that even though I knew Beaver was the bad guy, I still came away shocked by many of the reveals. That's just good writing right there.


SO MUCH good happened this season—which, dare I say, was stronger overall than Season 1? Yeah, I said it. Season 2 was a lot more consistent and confident in its writing. It was just a real pleasure to watch. I've been warned to adjust my expectations for The College Year, but I can't help it: I gotta see what these people do next.


QUESTIONS:

... Were you surprised by the Beaver reveal?

... Do you prefer Season 2 or Season 1?

... Did you think that Jackie and Wallazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

... Is Veronica's dog off chillin' with Jeremy's dog in Colorado?


PREVIOUSLY:
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 1-8
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 9-16
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 17-22
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 1-4
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 5-8
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 9-12
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 13-16
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 17-19

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