Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "Green-Eyed Monster" (season 2, episode 4)

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:
With another fairly low-key episode, clearly the serialized drama is - apologies to the drowned students - treading water. There's no follow-up at all on the Casablancas drama and minimal follow-up on the big Echolls reveal; instead, the Duncan/Veronica relationship provides fodder for several storylines and Wallace's first real standalone arc (his relationship to Jackie) is now quickly followed by his second (the emergence of his dad). Having played sidekick for the whole first season, the character is beginning to emerge from Veronica's shadow in narrative terms. As a standalone episode, "Green-Eyed Monster" has its charms (although Julie is way too wacky for my tastes) but my questions about the effectiveness of the overarching narrative device remain. I've heard good things about the season's storytelling - that it even plays as a tight, evocative little noir - so I'm hoping things will coalesce for me soon, but after a strong start the last couple episodes have left me wondering if the show lost its overarching mojo by making Veronica more of a secondhand player in the town's turmoil. (Emphasizing her ambivalent relationship to and guilt over Meg is obviously an attempt to counter this.)

On the other hand, Keith has some of the more promising threads going forward. If Wallace is the obvious center of the Nathan Woods melodrama, Alicia is the character whose relationships will be thrown into the most turmoil and Keith is going to have to find his place in all of this (she could, of course, fairly argue that the Mars have used her family in the past so she was only evening the score by encouraging Keith to intimidate Nathan). And although the episode encourages us to think otherwise, it's still possible that Alicia wasn't simply lying about Nathan even if she didn't give Keith the whole truth. As the race for sheriff heats up, Keith will also be thrust right back into the center of the town's class warfare and his daughter's relationship to the Kanes could even become a campaign issue. All in all, there's still a lot of material to play with in this season but it's not as tightly molded to a character's own needs and desires, and the delivery seems a little jagged - as if the writers aren't fully confident they have enough material for twenty-two episodes.

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