Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Monday, June 24, 2019

June 2019 Patreon podcasts: LOST IN TWIN PEAKS #5 - Season 1 Episode 5 and LOST IN THE MOVIES #56 - Introducing "Twin Peaks Cinema" & new "Twin Peaks Reflections" approach (+ listener feedback - Cooper's reflections/nonlinear time in Twin Peaks & favorite films archive #45 - #35: Chinatown, Out 1, Rosemary's Baby, The Mother and the Whore, Through a Glass Darkly, Daisies, Hyperballad, Scarface, Snow White, The Gold Rush, The Man With a Movie Camera)

I'm excited to announce a brand new approach to the "Twin Peaks Reflections" section starting next month; each episode will zoom in on three or four characters, two locations, a particular story thread, and a Return episode, David Lynch film, or Twin Peaks spin-off text that relates to that thread. Then comes the big kahuna: the film in focus and "Reflections" are merging to form "Twin Peaks Cinema" - in which I will choose a different movie each month and discuss both its own features and its relationship (sometimes obvious, sometimes obscure) to Peaks. Any titles you'd recommend?

Meanwhile, for the $5/month crowd, my Lost in Twin Peaks rewatch podcast continues into the second half of the first season with one of my favorite episodes. The investigations are beginning to streamline into clear, distinct narratives and consequently I re-organize the "Who killed Laura Palmer?" section to reflect the new clarity of inquiry...

On the main podcast, I go (deep) into the details of the why-and-how of my new approach. I also share some lengthy listener feedback and continue the "Favorites" series with several films that have been frequent subjects on this site...

Podcast Line-Ups for...

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough" (season 2, episode 13)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 8, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Guy Bee): When Jackie volunteered to be dunked into a tank of cold water by baseball-tossing carnival-goers, she just wanted to help fund the school trip. Now, a couple weeks later, the gig at Neptune High's winter carnival has taken on a whole other meaning. As the daughter of the man who allegedly planted a bomb on the doomed school bus, Jackie is widely reviled, and her peers delight in her humiliation. And when someone steals all of the school trip funds from Veronica's stall, Jackie becomes a prime suspect. It's up to a sympathetic Veronica to get to the bottom of this case (literally, when she drains the ball pit to find the missing box) and eventually her sleuthing - and a healthy helping of glitter - implicates Ms. Hauser (Kari Coleman), the teacher in charge of the festival and the one most outraged and accusatory about the theft. Well, partially. Having stolen the majority of the cash long before the official theft, she is not the one who planted the missing box in Thumper's locker - that, unsurprisingly, is a vengeful Weevil. Thumper gets off and Veronica decides not to turn in the real thief although she's sure to let Weevil know what she knows.

Elsewhere at the carnival, Dick and Beaver compete to embarass one another and Logan flirts aggressively with a girl named Hannah Griffith (Jessy Schram). The only non-carnival plot unfolds at the Mars Investigations office where a desperate Terrence hopes Keith can prove his innocence. It turns out Keith has been a huge admirer of the athlete for decades but between flattering anecdotes he keeps demonstrating incriminating information he's already aware of, and pushing Terrence to reveal more. As it turns out, Terrence had ample motive to blow up the bus - one of the victims was a former lover who not only became a stalker and broke up his engagement but also knew incredibly inflammatory information about his baseball career: due to extensive gambling debts, he threw one of the most important games of his career. As a superfan, Keith is crushed but as a detective he's satisfied that Terrence has put all of his cards on the table and believes he wouldn't let even his most desperate self-preserving instincts lead him to murder a dozen teenagers. Going forward, the Cook family will have both Mars in their corners.

My Response:

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle" (season 2, episode 12)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 1, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by John Kretchmer): Following a few teases during the epic Duncan Kane saga last time, Wallace and Weevil emerge to the forefront while the bus investigation simmers in the background (until a big reveal at episode's end). Perhaps figuring that if his daughter is allowed secrets, so is he, Keith uses his now-intimate knowledge of the Neptune Sheriff's Department security failings to break into evidence, steal the tapes from Lamb's interrogations of the 09er survivors, and learn that Curly Moran serviced all of their families' cars. The rat taped to the bottom of one of the seats was less a message to Veronica than a device to drive some of the kids - those who could afford a limo - off the endangered vehicle with its stink. And Gia's father even told her specifically not to ride the bus. It's clear enough why Neptune's elites would want to protect their children. It may even be grimly clear why they wouldn't particularly are about the fates of the others. What isn't clear is why at least one of the poorer kids would have been targeted in the first place. And as it turns out, the upper class folks aren't the only ones linked to Curly. When Weevil is kicked out of his own gang by the rest of his disgruntled underlings, he's threatened with a cell phone video of a fight with Curly that Weevil definitely would not want the cops to know about.

Until this scene, Weevil's and Logan's awkward joint investigation looks like its going to bail both of them out. They determine that the culpable Fitzpatrick isn't Molly (Annie Campbell) (who asserts that Felix had nothing to do with the rest of her family, who would have killed both of them if they knew of the relationship). Nor, surprisingly - as Veronica reveals after guiltily bugging a confessional on Weevil's behalf - is it Father Patrick Fitzpatrick (James Joseph O'Neill), a good priest with a dark past; it's actually his fellow pastor who has been slipping drugs to Thumper (James Molina), both receiving from and dispensing to the enemy: the rowdy Irish hooligans in the first case and the pampered playboys of the 09 zip in the other. Not that this information helps Weevil much by the time he's lying bloody and bruised in a shipyard, his motorcycle being driven off to be dumped in the ocean. Apparently, for conspiring with Logan to sniff out the traitor, he's considered much more of a turncoat than Thumper.

But as the PCH splits apart, others come together. Enlisting the help of both his on/off-again father back in Chicago and no-longer-(quite-as-)estranged girlfriend Jackie, Wallace clears his name when up-and-coming superstar Rashard Rucker (B.J. Britt) tries to pin him as the driver in the hit-and-run. Jackie will soon have her own problems: "Wallace and Rashard Go to White Castle" ends with Veronica and Keith discovering, via news flash, that her father has been taking in by Lamb for questioning in the bus crash. Does he too have a Curly connection? That mechanic is emerging, more than ever, as the crash's central figure but it no longer seems likely that Aaron Echolls was the one calling the shots. A more sprawling and sinister possibility is emerging, even if the Who is outpacing the Why right now.

My Response:

Friday, June 21, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Donut Run" (season 2, episode 11)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on January 25, 2006/written & directed by Rob Thomas): Veronica has been engaged in some...conspicuous activity lately. Logan and Kendall witnessed her explode in rage when the Casablancas ex emerged from the hotel room shower. Many students were present as Duncan dramatically dumped her, and both her dad and Wallace couldn't help but notice her wallowing in angst (Virgin Suicides soundtrack at all) in the aftermath of the break-up. It's almost as if she's providing a cover story, isn't it? But no, it couldn't be, because we've been watching all of this unfold too, and we always see everything through her eyes, right? Right?? We may like to snicker along with Veronica as she outsmarts law enforcement and rival private eyes, but how does it feel when she outsmarts the audience (especially when she may be outsmarting us with a particularly dim-witted rival private eye)? As it turns out, Veronica IS a secret accomplice in a kidnapping, as Duncan snatches his own child and disappears into thin air. We don't find out until near the end of the episode, when she sneaks into a secret room and meets with Duncan one last time, where they tearfully, lovingly break up in a more final but far more figurative sense.

Until this moment, Veronica seems to be as lost as we are, offended and insulted by attacks on her honor (although there are subtle clues along the way). Ultimately, the duo succeed in a particularly ingenious fashion, hitching a ride to safety with the top cop himself. Sheriff Lamb gets a tip-off that Duncan made it to Mexico, and decides to outsmart the Feds he jealously wants to prove himself too. Of course, he is quickly waved through the border crossing without having his car inspected, but not quickly enough to catch up with Duncan. Or so it seems until his trunk pops up to reveal empty water battles and snack packs and the suggestion that a hidden passenger was with him all along. Back at a rest stop, disguised as a hitchhiker, Duncan jumps in with his mother's assistant and Vinnie Van Lowe, the dopey Neptune detective hired by Celeste Kane to find her son but happy to switch sides for a buck (or two or three, or...). This isn't all that happens in the episode - Logan and Weevil attempt to work out which PCH gang member is connected to the Fitzpatricks (turns out that Felix, the dead guy himself, was dating a woman from their family), and Wallace hides and then reveals to Veronica that he left Chicago not because his new high school didn't have a basketball team (they did, and he was a star player) but because he is plagued by a guilty conscience after a hit-and-run. But even these dramatic turns are completely drowned out by Meg's legacy, the central plot (for now).

My Response:

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Veronica Mars - "One Angry Veronica" (season 2, episode 10)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on December 7, 2005/written by Russell Smith; directed by John Kretchmer): Although it feels like there's a lot going on this episode (I mean, there is), most of the action is contained within three clear storylines. First, someone has stolen the Lilly Kane/Aaron Echolls surveillance footage (called either evidence or a sex tape, depending who's asking) from the police vault, compromising - albeit not fatally - the prosecution's case and dangling the prospect of a deep public humiliation for the long-suffering Logan. "Mayor" Woody hires Keith to investigate his old department and he eventually concludes three things: despite Lamb's pompous protestations, the sheriff's security sucks; Leo is the one who stole the tapes, hoping to fund the education of his little sister who has Down's syndrome; and ultimately the guilty Leo sold them to Logan for a pittance, resulting in the tapes' strategic erasure just before Keith comes knocking (he knows, but can't prove a thing). As Keith haunts his old job, Veronica finds a new - albeit temporary - gig: jury duty. Elected foreman to preside over what should be an open/shut case in which two young 09ers were accused of attempted rape by a Latina woman whom they allege and can seemingly prove was a hooker trying to rob them. Doubts emerge alongside communal divisions with a particularly loutish "Captain of Industry" (Robert Curtis Brown) pitted against a skeptical, perpetually-knitting older woman (Ivonne Coll). And Veronica is harassed by both the PCH gang and the 09er contingent (depending which way the wind is currently blowing) who've taken sides in yet another front of the Neptune class war.

Perhaps the most momentous events, however, consume little screentime - occurring near the end of the episode and involving a return and a departure. Or, in one of the cases, a return followed quickly by a departure. Meg awakens from her coma just as Veronica and Duncan are grappling with the implications of her pregnancy (which neither knew about before her hospitalization). They sneak into her room and get to say, as it turns out, goodbye. Meg dies suddenly when a blood clot shuts off oxygen to her brain but her daughter is delivered and now Veronica must fulfill the promise she made to the forgiving Meg. Terrified that her parents will send the child off to a strict, disciplinarian religious orphanage that she calls a "license for abuse," Meg is even worried by another prospect: that her folks will take their granddaughter themselves. We've already seen what that means. She asks Veronica to make sure this doesn't happen. And then, on a much more uplifting note, Veronica opens the door to her apartment expecting to see a pizza man, and finds Wallace instead. The friends cuddle on the couch and watch the ball drop, ushering out a dark 2005 and (hopefully) a more promising 2006.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Veronica Mars - "My Mother, the Fiend" (season 2, episode 9)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 30, 2005/written by Phil Klemmer, Dayna Lynne North; directed by Nick Marck): Veronica has a baby! Not really. Her sex ed teacher asks the students to assign themselves a partner and prepare to take home an electronic infant doll; as Veronica chuckles about the prospect with Duncan, he's not quite as into the comedy of it all. Babies, real or otherwise, are all over the episode after she discovers a secret about her mother. While reorganizing permanent records as part of a detention - her infiltration of office records has been belatedly unearthed and weaponized against her - Veronica finds out that Liann Reynolds (the maiden name of the future Mrs. Mars) was suspended for spreading rumors about another student in 1980. Veronica, as much as she'd like to think she's moved past any attachment to her mother, is crushed to think that the woman she considered a good person, at least once upon a time, might never have been very good. This is seemingly confirmed by a deaf cafeteria worker who knew her and signs that she was a "fiend" - of course Veronica's sign language isn't very good, and she missed the "r"). That rumor was about the ostensible pregnancy of Celeste Carnathan, later of the Kane clan, which suspiciously coincides with a baby found in the girls' bathroom on prom night.

What Veronica discovers is that that baby grew up to be...the perfectly-aged housekeeper whose grad school tuition Celeste is paying! Oh no wait, that's not it, because when Veronica contacts the adoption agency she discovers that the girl found in the bathroom was adopted...into the Echolls family! It's Trina, who has conveniently returned to produce a hammy Shakespearean production at Neptune High. So Trina is Celeste's long-lost daughter, and after Veronica initially takes advantage of Trina's hospitalization for a minor injury to set up Celeste, she (sort of) more honestly joins forces with the eager Trina to manipulate Celeste to come forward, revealing the truth. But wait...that's not quite it either: when the fake story about Trina needing bone marrow hits the tabloids, it's Mary who comes forward, weeping and embracing her long-abandoned child. And she didn't leave Trina in the bathroom back in '80, she left her at the father's house and he panicked, staging the prom abandonment to cover himself. That father was now-Principal Alan Moorehead (John Bennett Perry). Veronica's mother is cleared as it becomes clear that this was the scandal she was trying to expose, and Veronica deduces that this entire investigation was the devious brainchild of soon-to-be-promoted (thanks to her) Vice Principal Van Clemmons. He's the one who assigned her apparently arbitrary detention early in the episode, and his smirking replacement of the nameplate on his desk is both a great punchline and a nice visual callback to Veronica at the Mars office.

This story dominates the episode, although Keith also comes clean about the rat he's been keeping in a plastic baggie in the office freezer (apparently it was actually duct-taped to the bottom of a bus seat, not naturally there as I originally thought) and Beaver approaches Mac to help him set up a fake business he'll use to set up his despised stepmother (who's still trying to seduce an uncomfortable Duncan). But the most crucial aside comes in the end when Veronica, at the hospital for other reasons, decides to drop in on Meg's room. Surprised to see two EKGs hooked up to Meg, she pushes aside the tray covering her belly and discovers...that the lone survivor of the bus accident is quite pregnant. Meg has a baby! For real this time. And as if that wasn't enough, after Veronica leaves the room, the patient opens her eyes.

My Response:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Ahoy, Mateys!" (season 2, episode 8)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 23, 2005/written by John Enbom, Cathy Belben; directed by Steve Gomer): Marcos Oliveres is the main subject of this episode, but he's a name (and uncredited voice) without a face - he died in the bus crash, and ever since then his parents have been harassed. Carlos (David Barrera) and Maria (Norma Maldono) come to Keith for help; they're suing the school district and they suspect the toy buses, cologne sprays, and calls with recordings of Marco's voice are coming from officials who are trying to intimidate them into dropping the lawsuit. Keith realizes that the only evidence he can confirm was planted by them, so he doesn't want to make a deposition and encourages them to settle. Despite their desperate eleventh hour hoax they were being harassed before that, and it's the younger Mars who finds the actual culprit. It turns out Marcos, a quiet presence in school, was the co-host of a pirate radio show that mocked Neptune High. Veronica enlists Mac for tech assistance and eventually determines that the Oliveres harasser was Ryan (Bradford Anderson), a student who was in love with Marcos and whose flirtation with him led to the boy being sent to a conversion therapy camp.

Veronica's other mission is to help Logan figure out why Dr. Griffith is setting him up. This leads them to the secret bar of the Fighting Fitzpatricks, a surly Irish gang led by Liam Fitzpatrick (Rod Rowland) that nearly tattoos Veronica's face before Logan bursts in with a gun to save her. Later, Logan isn't so lucky, kidnapped by masked assailants who play Russian roulette with his hands and then his genitals. Thrown into a ditch after this torture, he manages to snatch one of the kidnapper's cell phones and dial the person they were calling: Weevil. Weevil has been investigating his PCH underlings all episode; when Veronica confronts him after her Fitzpatrick encounter, he realizes that someone in his gang is dealing drugs on the side and may have even killed Felix Toombs (Bradly Joseph) on that bridge. The cover story, that several gang members witnessed Felix's stabbings, is proven false so Weevil wants to confirm Logan's innocence. Logan is none too pleased to be let off the hook in this style and swears to Weevil that their war is only just beginning. With all this drama unfolding, Duncan doesn't have as much to do as other characters; however, he ends the episode dramatically. After several dreams in which Meg pleads with him to save her, he decides to open up the envelope he found in her house (and hid from Veronica) in the previous episode. When he discovers its contents he gasps, and the episode ends.

My Response:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner" (season 2, episode 7)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 16, 2005/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Nick Marck): Veronica has several cases to juggle, literally ricocheting between her ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend within a few seconds. Logan pleads for her to look into the plastic surgeon Dr. Griffith (Rick Peters), who has come forward as a witness in the supposed murder he committed, and then Duncan admits to stealing some files from Meg's laptop and asks Veronica to get to the bottom of the emails Meg sent to Child Protective Services. Meg was a prolific babysitter so Veronica spends the week hopping amongst the various demented spawns of the either psychopathically controlling or criminally negligent 09er social set, but nobody's handwriting matches the journal found when Veronica and Duncan break into Meg's home. Then it dawns on them: Meg wasn't actually reporting one of the families she babysat for. She was reporting her own. Sure enough, when the black-clad duo sneak into Meg's little sister's room, they discover dozens of journals all filled with the same horrific sentence - "That path to God is paved with righteousness" - and even worse, Meg's little sister herself locked into a closet. The parents arrive with a baseball bat and call Sheriff Lamb to arrest Veronica and Duncan, but after putting them in handcuffs, he returns to the home to confirm Veronica's claim about the room in the closet, lets the culprits out of the car around the corner, and then hovers outside the Manning house as a watchful presence.

Elsewhere, Veronica follows the surgeon into a cigar shop which Keith later reveals as a notorious drug den (is Logan being set up by a rogue element within the PCH gang?) and the Casablancas stepmother tries to figure out what her role in this family and community (and show) can be after her sugar daddy fled the country and had his assets frozen. Dick, Beaver, and their actual mother Betina (Kate McNeil) all have access to trust funds but Kendall has nothing - other than her wits. ("Why don't you get a job?" Logan sneers, to which she responds, "This is my job.") Disconcertingly, she exposes herself to Duncan in the hotel room that she, Logan, and Duncan all share now, and when Logan confronts him about this he's evasive. What is he hiding not just from Logan, but from Veronica? We cut away before we see how he reacts to his overtures, but he's already made it clear to Veronica that he finds his friend's girlfriend highly attractive. Finally, in a scene that qualifies less as a subplot than the seed for one, Keith golfs with the town's new (quasi-)mayor Woody, who proposes a plan to incorporate the wealthiest sliver of Neptune into an independent city, and invites Keith to become its new police chief. But when Veronica visits the Goodman household, ostensibly for a sleepover with airheaded Gia but actually to keep an eye on her little brother Rodney (Ian Ward), she detects a domineering, abusive strain in their mother (GiGi Erneta). Sure, the Mannings turn out to be the big bads but her - and our - eyes are still on the Goodmans as well.

My Response:

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Rat Saw God" (season 2, episode 6)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 9, 2005/written by John Enbom, Phil Klemmer; directed by Kevin Bray): In a dramatic, unforeseen gear shift, "Rat Saw God" races past the sheriff's election (Keith gets 49% of the vote but there are no prizes for second place) and postpones Wallace's paternal denouement (Veronica sends unanswered emails keeping him in the loop of Neptune's events). There are currently bigger fish to fry. Logan is re-arrested when a new witness comes forward to claim he stood over the dead PCH gang member's body with a bloody knife, screaming racial epithets and swearing his father's money would save him. Never passing up an opportunity to play the churlish, caustic jester, he makes a mockery of the line-up and will only accept a public defender (the marvelous Cliff McCormack who gets some of the best lines in an already very well-written episode). But he can't ride this out: his cellmate turns out to be his father, who insists - despite the obvious facts that he slept with Lilly and tried to kill the Mars family - that he didn't actually murder his lover, and when he finally makes bail he returns home to a burning mansion.

Aaron also gets a visit from Keith, who threatens him less with his words than the realization that he can get access to him whenever he wants (Aaron encounters him in an interrogation room, escorted by a deputy who will swear that Keith was never there). Keith is fuming because Lamb has informed him about Veronica's name appearing on a corpse's hand, and Veronica is forced to tell him about the whole (possible) Echolls conspiracy to kill her by destroying the bus. But if Veronica comes clean on this, she's keeping him in the dark about everything else going on - at the exact moment he calls her up. She's in a small Californian town, at a dingy motel (clerked by the fantastically grungy Tracey Walter in one of my favorite Mars cameos ever) trying to find where Amelia DeLongpre currently resides - yes, that Amelia DeLongpre, paid-off Abel Koontz's daughter whom Veronica tried to leverage in the first season. As it turns out, this is her final resting place - Veronica traces her phone (and body) to a nearby ice box - and it looks like a Spanish boyfriend (as yet uncredited) might be the culprit. Abel hired Veronica to trace her and bring her to his deathbed, but she kindly lies to him instead. "Rat Saw God" ends with Keith hiding inside the decrepit school bus, dredged up from its watery grave thanks to the evidence his daughter brought forward, shining his flashlight on the titular rodent encased on the bottom of a seat. I have no idea what it means yet, but it's a vivid visual to end one of the strongest episodes of the entire series, and easily the most exciting of this season.

My Response:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Blast from the Past" (season 2, episode 5)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 26, 2005/written by Phil Klemmer, Cathy Belben; directed by Harry Winer): Picking up where we left off, Wallace goes straight to his mother to tell her he met Hank and wants answers. The answers she provides are initially reassuring, at least as reassuring as they can be in context. No, he's not lying, but he is misleading; a narc who went in way too far, he was not a reliable person to have in their lives and she considers Wallace's stepfather - the man he grew up thinking was his biological father - to be the real parent. But then Wallace is whipped back again when Hank comes to his workplace and delivers a huge stack of letters, written over many years but always returned to sender. Here Wallace and Alicia reach an impasse; he's deeply hurt that she lied to him and prevented any possibility of a relationship with this man and she's furious that he is disobeying her demand not to talk to him. Wallace tries to share this crisis with Veronica, but her mind is mostly elsewhere, and it seems like he's not ready to include Jackie into his circle of secrets, much to her annoyance. Surprisingly, though, Jackie and Veronica begin to bond when Jackie's credit card is "kidnapped" and racks up mysterious expenses; after Jackie reluctantly comes to her for help, Veronica proves it wasn't Jackie's pal Cora (Dana Davis) - whose recent income influx is due to a weekend job in a giant chicken suit - and traces the charges to the psychic Madame Sophie (Christine Estabrook), a palm reader who also runs a popular live show on a local access channel. Disgusted with Madame Sophie's exploitation of grieving classmate Michelle Thompson (Samantha Klein), Veronica conspires with Jackie to cause the charlatan's comeuppance.

Meanwhile her dad goes from heavily favored frontrunner to neck-in-neck in the sheriff's race, when Lamb pulls up an old bungled DUI stop from 1989 in which the then-Officer Mars ruined a chance to keep the future school bus driver off the road. Determined to get some dirt on the no-doubt corrupt current sheriff, Veronica plants a literal bug in Lamb's office in the guise of an encased beetle that's ostensibly a gift from Duncan's out-of-town father (it's a cheeky reference not just to surveillance but to Lamb's frequent campaign trail rhetoric about an infestation of crime in Neptune). And get dirt she does, in a development that begins to draw the various subplots together. She discovers that Jackie's dad, a retired baseball star and compulsive gambler, has bet on baseball; Lamb blackmails him in order to secure a massive campaign contribution and endorsement. At first, Veronica is hesitant to use this juicy evidence for Jackie's sake, but that changes when she goes on Madame Sophie's show and the table is turned: the psychic reveals an embarrassing personal secret that she confessed only to Jackie and it becomes clear that this entire investigation was an elaborate prank Jackie designed to humiliate someone she considers a rival for Wallace's affections. The stunt backfires when Wallace - who has been nominated for homecoming king thanks to Veronica's attempt at at a pick-him-up - refuses to take Jackie to the dance. Meanwhile Veronica, not knowing they didn't go together, yells at Jackie when she catches her drunkenly dancing with Logan and only makes things worse.

Wallace is just as mad at Veronica as he is at Jackie, accusing her of not caring about his own personal needs and desires; he's sick of being her second fiddle, always offering her emotional support she doesn't reciprocate, and so he begs her not to take whatever revenge she's planning to take on Jackie. As a result, she leaves a CD - featuring the burned audio of Lamb exposing Jackie's dad - on the kitchen table instead of taking it to the DJ at homecoming. Will Keith discover the "music mix" and blow the whistle? He's demonstrated reticence on another front already; when Veronica speaks to Michelle about the psychic show she discovers the girl has a voicemail from her deceased friend moments before the bus went off the cliff, revealing that there was an explosion before the bus hit the guardrail. Keith doesn't want to exploit this for his own gain so he takes the recording to Lamb instead of the press (and almost immediately regrets his dutifulness). Anyway, Keith and his daughter soon have another problem on their hands: Alicia calls up, frantically looking for Wallace, and Veronica knows it's because he watched her make a scene with Jackie at the dance. "Blast from the Past" (multitude of meanings in that title) ends with Wallace's dad driving him into the desert as he refuses to pick up his best friend's call.

My Response:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Green-Eyed Monster" (season 2, episode 4)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 19, 2005/written by Dayna Lynne North; directed by Jason Bloom): Although I don't think we've seen her (maybe a quick glimpse?) since before her fateful bus ride, Meg continues to hover in critical condition at the hospital. Veronica visits only to receive two rude awakenings. Meg's parents (Geoff Pierson and Katie Mitchell) and sister Lizzie (Anastasia Baranova) apparently hate her almost as much as Meg did, merciless not only in their accusations of man-stealing but, more directly (and even more unfairly), of forcing Meg to take the doomed bus. That's maybe not too surprising, but a bigger shocker is the other visitor waiting by Meg's room, who also gets an earful from Meg's family: Duncan. This causes Veronica some anxiety: who is her boyfriend really in love with? Her personal bout of ambiguous jealousy is complemented by the episodic case, in which the fanatical but secretive rich girl Julie (Laura Bell Bundy) wants to dig up every possible detail on her supposedly humble fiance Collin Nevin (Michael E. Rodgers). Is he cheating? Is he a gold-digger? As it turns out, after several wacky escapades including a teasing Veronica trying to hit on him at Julie's request, Collin is both a devoted boyfriend and, himself, secretly wealthy but due to crossed information Julie thinks he's poor and breaks off the engagement (much to Collin's benefit, we're sure). Bundy and director Bloom play this comedy very broadly to offset Veronica's more lowkey emotional strife.

Ultimately, Veronica is able to help her estranged frenemy; Lizzie comes to her with a hard drive full of Meg's personal information that needs to be transferred without her parents getting a look at it and the detective enlists good old Mac to help her hack in and bail out. And if this gesture of good will wasn't enough, she also denies her urges to sneak a look at Meg's digital diary herself - having seen what "the green eye" did to Julie. Elsewhere in the episode, Veronica links the dead Curly with both Weevil (whose earring was found in a related evidence bag at the police station and who received a call dropping a tip about Curly's involvement with the crash) and Logan (whose house the call came from on the night after the crash, while he was throwing a party that Weevil invited himself to). And in the storyline that pays off the most in episode 4, Alicia enlists Keith in an effort to frighten off the man they ran into on vacation: Carl Morgan, an ex who appears to be stalking her. Keith even tries to involve his political opponent, Sheriff Lamb, but is told that "Carl Morgan" is in fact Nathan Woods, a Chicago cop with a great reputation. As Keith registers that Alicia has been lying to him, we learn Nathan's motivation for coming to Neptune. He introduces himself to Wallace not just by his real name, but his real relation to him: he is the boy's long-lost father.

My Response:

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang" (season 2, episode 3)

Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week; this will conclude just as the revival (which I will also cover) premieres on Hulu. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 12, 2005/written by Phil Klemmer & John Enbom; directed by John Kretchmer): Once again, Veronica's "minor" high school investigation spills out into other storylines, with implications for her as well as other major characters. Beaver Casablancas hires her to find out who his new stepmother is having an affair with; Veronica's surveillance reveals not only that Logan is the culprit (revealed to Beaver before she has a chance to find out herself) but that Dick Casablancas, Sr. is engaging in real estate fraud. While Veronica ensnares her classmates' parent in an SEC raid (the episode ends with Dick racing through the office and shredding files before leaping into a rooftop helicopter), her dad heads out of town for a relaxing weekend with Alicia. However, as they attempt to enjoy their vacation a strange man (Cress Williams), whom Alicia acts as if she doesn't recognize, follows them around. He flashes a badge at the hotel concierge and later makes a phone call, confirming that he's located Alicia. Back in Neptune, another Mars has her eye on another Fennell; Veronica is not taking to Wallace's new girlfriend Jackie and suffers through several viewings of Pride and Prejudice in which the showoff-y new girl boasts about all of her adventures.

The real drama of the episode is elsewhere, hinted at the end of episode 2. That corpse that washed up on shore wasn't the bus driver after all - although the dead man is (at first just loosely) connected to the bus accident. After being told that her name was written on his palm, and shown a photo of the late Curly Moran (Adam Bitterman), Veronica recognizes him as someone she encountered at the makeshift memorial on that cliff. When she gathers his belongings from the mechanic shop where he worked, she discovers a photo signed by Aaron Echolls and at Logan's house - we'll get to why she's there in a moment - she spots a poster with Moran's name on it: he was the stunt coordinator on an Echolls action classic from the eighties in which he helped set up a legendary sequence...featuring a school bus. With horror, Veronica realizes that she was the intended target of a mass murder; Aaron must have hired Curly from prison to kill Veronica.

My Response: