Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): June 2019

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Nevermind the Buttocks" (season 2, episode 19)

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 April 18, 2006/written by Phil Klemmer; directed by Jason Bloom): Harry Greene (Tommy Snider) just wants to find the green Barracuda that ran over his dog. A hulking, brutish but exacting high schooler who shoots arrows with pinpoint precision in his backyard, the bloody vengeance-minded Harry liked his dog a lot - indeed, he likes all animals aside from plastic deer - but does he like people? Veronica has to wonder when Harry's brother Billy (Matt Bush) greets her at the Greene door with a black eye, but eventually we - and finally she - learn the real source of his injury and, as it happens, the family pet's no-so-random slaying. Billy is in the PCH gang and the Fitzpatricks have been beating, torturing, threatening, and otherwise tormenting the young dealers for late or insufficient payments. For their part, Hector (Patrick Wolff) begs Weevil to come back and lead them, but Weevil only returns for one final stand: confronting Liam with Thumper's license-plates-on-wooden-plank client list and threatening to expose all of their elite customers if they don't release the PCHers from their grasp. Billy is horrified when he realizes why Harry hired Veronica, and he begs her not to reveal the truth: not to save his own skin, and not even because he's worried for his brother's safety, but because he's certain Harry will successfully exterminate Liam and spend the rest of his life in prison. Veronica complies with Billy's wish but it's hard to resist her professionl duty, and not just for abstract reasons of justice. If Harry took care of Liam, he would also be eliminating a threat to Veronica and her father, not to mention the likely orchestrator of the bus accident - well, one of them.

Keith's discovery of the Casablancas insurance policy leads to an, um, explosive discovery (sorry). Long before she was a Casablancas, Kendall wasn't even a Kendall - she assumed a dead classmate's identity after a prison stint served alongside Liam's brother and now they're working together. It turns out the car that killed Harry's dog, seemingy a very smallscale mystery, passed Gia and the 09er limo (with someone inside mooning them) just minutes before the bus went over the cliff. So Kendall and Liam could have worked together to kill several birds with one detonator: collecting a hundred million dollars from the tax shelter disguised as insurance policy for which Kendall was the benificiary while, on a much more minor note, punishing the loudmouth Cervando (whom Weevil was worried about, hence his tailing of the bus). Keith finds Kendall's secret second home (no doubt tied in with her and her husband's real estate scams) only for Liam to threaten him inside, but fortunately Veronica already removed the bullets from his gun so her father escapes in classic action film fashion through a giant plate-glass window.

Oh, and also Wallace and Jackie get back together (despite her impending overseas departure), Veronica gets Jackie a job at Java the Hut, and Veronica sets Mac up on an unwanted prom date. Not every initially quiet story ends up in million-dollar heist/gang warfare territory! On the other hand, we find out why Kendall retrieved one of Duncan's hairs from the hotel room. A new murder weapon has been dug up at the burnt-out Echolls estate and this time it implicates Duncan rather than Aaron.

My Response:

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Veronica Mars - "I Am God" (season 2, episode 18)

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 April 11, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero, Cathy Belben; directed by Martha Mitchell): In a reference made explicit in one line of dialogue, Veronica is haunted by her own version of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Varying between self-protective insomnia and disturbing visions of her deceased fellow passengers on the doomed school bus, Veronica decides to take a deep dive in their individual lives. PCH biker Cervando Esparza (Max Arciniega) got in a fight with Beaver after Dick destroyed his new jeans. Meg was being pressured into some kind of arranged romance with "Lucky" (James Jordan), an Iraq vet turned school janitor from her church. Betina Marone (Blythe Auffarth) was fooling around with Dick and hoped to get pregnant so she could make their relationship public. Rhonda Landers (Audra J. Morgan) is remembered by Wallace as "PWT" ("poor white trash") - a description oddly embraced by an episode otherwise attuned to the condescension embedded in class differences - although Keith discovers that her family received a $2 million settlement from Woody. And Peter had a crush on Mr. Wu (Martin Yu), the science teacher who - it turns out - was not himself gay; he also scrawled the ominous message "I am God" with nine coffins on the back of one of the bus seats. This at least is resolved in the episode as a dead end (apologies for the pun): the image and title are off a favorite album cover. Another, even more troubling possibility opens up when Veronica's vision of Cervando asks why Weevil just so happened to be around to give her a ride - particularly since the location of the explosive proves the bomber needed to know exactly when the bus was passing the cliff before setting off the cell phone trigger.

Keith busies himself with a school-sponsored investigation into a doctor who has accepted bribes to diagnose students with a fake grieving disorder so they can bypass final exams. This isn't simply civic spirit - Veronica was recently accepted by Stanford but her helpful class rank may have to be reversed due to a technicality; fellow student Angie Dahl (Kayla Ewell), also a Stanford applicant and contender for the Kane scholarship, stands to benefit from this correction. Much emphasis is placed on an egg-dropping class contest which could boost or diminish her grade (Wallace and Logan are teamed up to try and knock her out of the competition), but ultimately it's Keith's detective work that saves the day. Medical excuse gone, she has to take that test after all. Keith also makes a bigger discovery while helping Veronica: Dick and Beaver had hugely generous life insurance policies. If you follow the money, it looks an awful lot like Mr. Casablancas may have orchestrated the crash to kill the offspring he expected to be on the bus with the others.

My Response:

Friday, June 28, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Plan B" (season 2, episode 17)

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 April 5, 2006/written by Dayna Lynne North; directed by John Kretchmer): Relationships are central to "Plan B," often foregrounded but also occasionally lingering in the background, motivating major stories or carving out memorable moments that could pay off later. Let's start with the most mild: Mac is perplexed and a bit dejected over Beaver's approach to romance - kisses, holding hands, and...well, that's it, really, even after four months. He won't provide a reason for his nervousness but when he discovers that Mac has talked to Veronica about him, he dumps her (most likely some combination of guilt and humiliation stemming from what happened at the party in the penultimate episode). In the coming episode, Veronica is probably going to have to explain some things to Mac. The Jackie/Wallace/Jane triangle - which wasn't really even a triangle until now - emerges as another major source of tension. This isn't a case of two girls chasing one guy but one guy chasing two girls, or, by the end, a chain in which each person is chasing the next. As much as Wallace likes Jane, he has to admit he's still drawn to Jackie, kissing her at the school dance and breaking up with Jane the next day. But Jackie, who sweetly agrees to take the mentally disabled Charlie (Caleb Steinmeyer) to the dance, is trying to shake her reputation as the spoiled, man-eating scion of a murderous dad; she won't even let Wallace sit at her lunchtable - at least not yet.

Elsewhere, although Hannah is nowhere to be seen this episode (far from taking her absence as a serious moral crisis, Veronica only half-jokingly high-fives Logan for being a player), Logan does have a romantic moment...with Veronica. Is it a teasing placeholder, reminding us of their connection while postponing a reconciliation for now? A wistful callback to something forever finished? Or the quiet declaration of a renewed narrative between them? For now, Logan's primary role is in Woody's office - where his plagiarized school essay earns him a ceremonial "deputy" role (which mostly consists of sorting mail). This brings us to the last two, offscreen relationships. The first may not even be a relationship...but something is going on with Woody (who hires Keith to figure out who took a video of his home and then backs off rapidly with a lame explanation). Given his uncomfortable gesture toward Logan in the gym, his constant what-me-hiding-something cheerful facade (amplified by the contrast with his stern wife), and the fact that this season has had an entire case-of-the-week devoted to closeted gay students, I certainly have my suspicions.

Anyway, part of Logan's prize involves detonating the old stadium and indeed he really has no idea what a prize this is for him. In that moment, he kills the person who framed him for murder: Thumper has been chained to a urinal for cheating the Fitzpatricks (he didn't, but Weevil set it up to look like he did). And the path that led him here was initiated by perhaps the most serious relationship all episode - and certainly the one with the most serious, broad-ranging implications. Weevil and Veronica discover that the Fitzpatricks got Thumper to kill Felix (indifferently using Logan as cover) precisely because he was seeing Molly. When they take this discovery to Sheriff Lamb, however, he couldn't care less and Weevil is convinced to take matters in his own hands. Only when Veronica returns the next morning with an eyewitness - a trucker (Jon Michael Souza) who was hesitant to come forward until Veronica reached out to the wife he was trying to protect - is Lamb willing to listen. By then of course it's far too late for Thumper and probably Weevil too.

My Response:

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Veronica Mars - "The Rapes of Graff" (season 2, episode 16)

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 March 29, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): Veronica is off to college, albeit just for a tour. Everything goes as expected: there are the ivy-covered towers, there are the frat kids scoring girls (like, literally, making up scores for girls) in Greek row parties, there is the charmingly nerdy tour guy (Michael Cera) confidently guiding the impressed high schoolers around campus, there's Troy Vandegraff, there are the dorm rooms with their wh - wait, Troy Vandegraff?? Veronica's devious ex-boyfriend and international drug dealer whom we haven't seen since episode four, strolling around campus with a visitor tag like he's just a normal would-be undergrad, convincingly feigning (or...sincerely delivering?) aw-shucks regret for his repented evil ways? Naturally, Troy will soon need Veronica's help to clear his name; the night after their tour he goes upstairs with a girl and the next morning he's in the police station accused of drugging, raping, and shaving the head of Stacy (Alia Shawkat). Despite her doubts, Veronica follows up and finds out there was another victim, assaulted by someone with the same MO months earlier so the charges are dropped while the real culprit remains at large.

Off-campus, Keith takes a momentary break from Terrence's crises to help out a friend in need. Cliff went to bed with a gynecologist and woke up in handcuffs, his briefcase stolen by Sugar Jones (Angelica Bridges), who is actually an escort hired by an unknown third party. They also get surveillance footage of her in an elevator with Sheriff Lamb and his new secret girlfriend, none other than Veronica's classmate Madison Sinclair: knowledge they use to pry the escort's name from Lamb. Does any of this have to do with Logan, whom Cliff was defending until his charges recently dropped? Logan is preoccupied with Hannah, breaking her heart by telling her the truth and then getting her sent to a boarding school in Vermont when they both decide they still want to see each other anyway. A furious Dr. Griffith lets Logan know that there are things he can do to keep the budding Romeo and Juliet apart, and I'm guessing they don't stop at geographical separation. Meanwhile, Logan is not the only one going through relationship troubles, even if he's the only one who seems to care.

My Response:

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Veronica Mars - "The Quick and the Wed" (season 2, episode 15)

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 March 22, 2006/written by John Serge; directed by Rick Rosenthal): While Veronica is hired to find a runaway bride, Keith finds himself on both sides of his client's case. First he dutifully goes to the sheriff with Veronica's discovery, then after talking to Terrence's detailer (Gary Weeks), he wonders why he never saw the supposed bomber's explosives during his monthly visits and why Terrence would leave such incriminating material in such an obvious spot when he was expecting the detailer's regularly-scheduled visit. So Keith returns to Lamb with new evidence - this time vindicating Terrence - only to discover that the relentlessly ill-fated Terrence is now in the hospital after breaking into his former girlfriend's home and getting shot by her father. Speaking of exes, Veronica tracks down Heidi Kuhne (Virginia Williams), the sister of Wallace's new girlfriend Jane (Valorie Curry): she ran off with a long-lost musician boyfriend on the eve of her marriage to a wealthy bachelor. She's convinced that fiance Paul Mann (Christopher Mur) cheated on her first, but as it turns out she's been set up - with the lovably/obnoxiously sleazy Vinnie once again in the middle. The prestigious Manns want to break up their son's wedding but while they succeed, their own cover is blown thanks to Veronica's detective work. Meanwhile Logan's own dark detour continues, terrorizing the naive Hannah's parents as he teases their sexual relationship (even using her mother's email address to send a message about condoms to the father). Finally, Dr. Griffith relents - he'll withdraw his witness testimony and face the wrath of the Fitzpatricks as long as Logan leaves Hannah alone. Teased earlier by Veronica in a lighthearted but stinging manner, Logan ends the episode by dragging what's left of his bruised and beaten conscience to his ex - hoping she can guide him away from the path he's on.

My Response:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Versatile Toppings" (season 2, episode 14)

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 March 15, 2006/written by Phil Klemmer; directed by Sarah Pia Anderson): As in the previous episode, Veronica is preoccupied with a school-based mystery and Logan pursues his new love interest (although a broader connection is emerging) while Keith does the heavylifting for the ongoing season mystery. Terrence proves himself an extremely difficult client. First he can't remember where he was during the time of the murder. Then it turns out he was probably at a casino but he insists that the owner Leonard Lobo (Gil Birmingham) will never provide his alibi due to his oustanding debts. Then surveillance photos reveal he was at the casino at that general time but the exact timestamp of the bus crash is missing. Then Keith discovers you can't make a cell phone call within a mile of the building but Sheriff Lamb refuses to drop charges. Then Lamb is confronted with the incriminating recording of his blackmail but the sheriff calls Terrence's bluff by insisting the legendary athlete has more to lose than he does. Oh, and then for good measure Veronica and Terrence's own daughter discover explosives in the accused bomber's garage. As Keith says, "So much for my gut."

Veronica's own case also involves blackmail; it doesn't involve murder but for many of the frightened students it might as well. The member list of a private chat room for Neptune's gay teenagers has been stolen by a mugger knocking out pizza guys. Veronica identifies the thief (Mario Ardila Jr.) through a sting operation but it's clear he has no clue about the blackmail; this must be an inside job using the robberies as cover. After several surprise outings - a few privately to Veronica, one publicly on the school's TV, and at least one inadvertent - she gets her woman. Kylie Marker (Kristin Cavallari) was tired of being unable to afford college, tired of living in the closet herself, and especially tired of hiding her relationship to Marlena Nichols (Miriam Korn), whom she outed in particularly humiliating fashion. Meanwhile Logan continues to see Hannah...who as it turns out is the daughter of Dr. Tom Griffith, the coke-addicted "witness" whom the Fitzpatricks forced to finger Logan for Felix's murder. And Logan is able to turn Hannah against her father when she discovers his habit - as well as the Fitzpatricks' name and family bar among many recent calls on his home phone.

My Response:

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 care 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:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Driver Ed" (season 2, episode 2)

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 5, 2005/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Nick Marck): In the aftermath of the bus tragedy, the show doesn't have much room for a light-hearted Veronica-helps-a-student B story. Instead, Wallace takes over that role for an episode, assisting the tough-as-nails Jackie Cook (Tessa Thompson) - on whom he develops an instant, proudly proclaimed crush - as she tries to figure out who scratched her wealthy father Terence Cook's (Jeffrey Sams') car in the school parking lot. Even there the resolution has a connection to the larger tragedy: the culprit is a reporter posing as a student, part of the rabid media presence that has descended on Neptune recently. One of the most grotesque news stories involves Ed Doyle (no actor listed), the bus driver whose last day on earth becomes the focus of a police investigation and social gossip as well as press smears. Convenience store clerk Duane Anders (Kevin Smith, yes that Kevin Smith - very much playing to type) shows up on a broadcast to pontificate about what Ed bought at the store, and then begins selling "angel bus" merch (T-shirts and hats featuring the school bus decked with halo and angel wings) to exploit his proximity to tragedy.

The glum but pugnacious Jessie Doyle (Ari Graynor) hires Veronica to salvage her dead father's name, but the prospects don't look good. Not only does Sheriff Lamb haughtily announce Ed's past mental problems, but the cops found what appears to be a suicide note on his hard drive. Plus Ed bought a St. Christopher's medallion from Duane only to toss it in the trash before taking his last ride. Case closed? Not quite. Veronica's sleuthing, perceptive as always, builds a counter-case from numerous little details. The medallion was purchased to make change for a phone call, and Veronica traces that call to Carla Cotter (Kristin Dattilo)...Ed's mistress. That note, it turns out, wasn't written because Ed was going to kill himself but because he was going to leave his family for Carla. A distressed Jessie pleads with Sheriff Lamb to re-open the case and he refuses, inspiring a previously reluctant Keith to run against Lamb in the upcoming election (a nice tie-in for what seemed to be a minor subplot throughout the episode). But "Driver Ed" has one more surprise in store: Veronica's name, scrawled on the palm of a corpse (the driver's?) as it is pulled onto shore.

My Response:

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Normal Is the Watchword" (season 2, episode 1)

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 September 28, 2005/written by Rob Thomas; directed by John Kretchmer): The tension in Veronica's life has been released. Well, mostly. When we met her at the outset of season one, her fire burned brightly: resourceful, traumatized, lonely, loyal, and observant, she'd been cast out of the town's elite circles alongside her beloved father. Despite intersecting with many different social spheres, she did not have a firm place in any of them and this outsider status endeared her to us. Throughout that season, her family life consisted of broken ties and terrifying secrets, her professional life was submerged her in the community's dirty business, her school life grappled with social stigma, and her romantic life endured frequent betrayals and disappointments. Now? At the start of her senior year, Veronica's mother is long-gone and not missed (her father has moved on and continues to date Wallace's mother); meanwhile, her dad is her dad and Duncan is, thankfully, very much not her brother. She is working at a restaurant instead of as a private eye (while her father reluctantly banked on the Echolls bust to publicize a true-crime bestseller), she's been accepted back into the company of the upper-class "09" zip code, and after breaking up with the moody-as-ever Logan Echolls (whose star has fallen as much as hers has risen) she is back with kind, quiet Duncan Kane.

But if Veronica's life has returned to normal (and a "normal" with heavy class connotations), Neptune has only plunged further into a kind of cold civil war with occasional hot flashes. The night Aaron Echolls was arrested for Lilly Kane's murder, a knife-wielding Logan was found passed out next to a dead biker. He claims innocence, and Veronica believes him; so does the justice system - but at least half the town does not. Instead, no doubt due in part to the shocking revelations about his celebrity father, Logan becomes the poster boy for unjust privilege in a town already simmering with class (and, as Weevil reminds us, racial) tensions. Veronica sticks with him through this trauma, which earns her the enmity of Neptune's have-nots (except the ever-loyal Wallace), but their relationship doesn't last once Logan, Dick, and Beaver vandalize the community swimming pool (knowing all the rich kids have pools in their backyards) as revenge for Weevil's gang firing a shotgun at the car of Logan and Veronica. Logan confronts Veronica about the break-up (she accuses him of partially enjoying the drama) and an angry Keith storms inside, throws the ex-boyfriend against the wall, and warns him never to come by again. Duncan, who has been showing up at the cafe where Veronica works all summer, is the beneficiary of this break-up which sours Duncan's own ex, the once-sunny Meg Manning (Alona Tal), on her former buddy. Logan, on the other hand, moves on by sleeping with with the Casablancas' boys new stepmom, the scintillating young Kendall (Charisma Carpenter), a former Lakers cheerleader.

On a lighter note, Veronica offers her long-dormant services to Wallace and several other athletes kicked off their teams for failing drug tests (even goody two shoes Meg fell victim). She quickly disposes with a red herring, the bullied Vincent "Butters" Clemmons (Adam Hendershott), who had access to the test results because his dad is the principal, before settling on the real conspirators: a group of wealthy parents whose children stood to benefit if the top stars on each team were dispatched. There is pleasure in revisiting these gumshoe antics, but most of the premiere's energy is focused on these more long-term crises and they come together in the episode's last act. Following a field trip to a baseball stadium, where the town's wealthy mayor (Steve Guttenberg, natch) introduces his daughter Gia Goodman (Krysten Ritter) to her new classmates, Veronica is invited to take a limousine ride with Gia, Duncan, and the Casablancas brothers. She initially accepts, which leads Meg to refuse; a guilty Veronica decides to get back on the school bus that took her there so she can make up with Meg. It doesn't work, and then at a rest stop along the way Veronica runs into another friend-turned-enemy; she and Weevil hurl accusations back and forth (she thinks the biker was killed by one of his own gang while Weevil too was out cold, and he thinks she abandoned all of them because inside she's an 09er too).

They argue so fiercely that Veronica misses her bus and Weevil, softening, offers her a ride on his bike. In fact, this argument appears to have saved Veronica's life. Along a coastal highway, the motorcyle slows to park alongside the limo on cliff's edge. Gia stands shocked, staring down below, and Duncan races to Veronica's side, embracing her. Strewn among the rocks below, floating in the stormy surf, is what's left of the bus. Coming after a year of shocking violence and simmering tension, this accident is just the thing to spark an all-out war amongst the hostile members of the fraying community. All the more so since, as Veronica's ominous narration reminds us, nothing in Neptune happens by accident.

My Response:

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Veronica Mars viewing diary

In 2018, fourteen years after the pilot episode on UPN, I began publishing my episode-by-episode of Veronica Mars. I had never watched the show before, so this was a first-time journey into its story - there are no spoilers and I offer an in-the-moment take including my speculation about where the series would go. That spring I reviewed the first season and in 2019 I learned that Hulu would be streaming a limited series revival, so I carried on with seasons two and three, followed by the feature film and then the new episodes of season four.

Here is my full episode coverage of Veronica Mars...

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Veronica Mars every day, leading up to the Hulu premiere on July 26

I started watching Veronica Mars in 2016, although it took me a while to really get going on the first season viewing diary that I published in 2018. This year turned out to be the perfect opportunity to follow up on the rest of the series because Hulu announced a return as a limited series. Eight episodes will drop all at once on July 26, 2019, and the timing worked out for me to run the diary for seasons two and three and the feature film right up to that date. Aside from a round-up page which will go up tomorrow and an announcement just before season four, every day will see a new post. I'm also threading not just these upcoming entries but my viewing diary from last year on Twitter, along with a countdown to the Hulu premiere.

On July 26, I will review the episodes as quickly as I am able over a "live marathon" weekend. I will be stopping after each entry to write my response, so future viewers won't get spoilers and those who watch it all at once can have at least suspense, waiting for my replies!

Here are a whole lot of images from the original series and film, gathered for my viewing diary but unused until now. See you in Neptune on Tuesday...