Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "The Rapes of Graff" (season 2, episode 16)

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:
In a foolish prediction (hard to believe, I know) I recently speculated that the Hannah crisis could bring Veronica and Logan back together. Hell, maybe it still could but clearly the show has a few things to take care of first - is a New England road trip in Logan's future? So what's the upshot: was Logan's guilt less about hurting others than losing his own love connection? Does he even know the difference? Certainly he hasn't done anyone other than himself much good; the end result of his efforts appears to be Hannah getting shipped cross-country by a desperate, betrayed father who may have a shamrock-shaped target on his back. I was worried that a Logan-tells-Hannah-he-really-does-love-her twist might be less interesting than something a bit more emotionally complicated, but I can't say I'm shocked they went for the starcrossed lovers scenario. That said, I do apprecite the extent to which (so far) it reminds us of the thorny nexus between Logan's self-pity, self-interest, and self-destructiveness.

More surprises were found at Hearst College, starting with the dual Arrested Development guest spots (paving the way, perhaps, for more permanent recurring roles?) and even more so the return of Troy. If he's going to fool us and Veronica once again (one of my favorite twists thus far), the show isn't ready to play that card yet. Better to soften us up into suspecting him less so that Veronica Mars can more effectively pull the football away in the future. Troy we'll definitely see agian - I have no doubt. And perhaps sooner rather than later; didn't he also go to a boarding school in Vermont, just like the one Hannah is off to? Hmmmm... Logan and Troy may have a reason to cross paths again, or maybe Logan will find something out in his pursuit of Hannah that has implications for Veronica's newfound, very fragile trust of the "reformed" Troy. We'll see.

If his character gets his resolution in the rape investigation (or seems to), no one else does. It's interesting to see the show leave a case-of-the-week hanging (it's also interesting to see the show return to sexual assault, such a recurring theme in season one - hinted at in Veronica's empathetic response to Stacy). This suggests that we'll be returning to the storyline and I wonder if the show is leaving its options open for the third season - which the creators probably couldn't have been guaranteed at the time of the episode's writing - or if they plan to follow up much sooner. I'm also curious if Dean's drily gregarious manner conceals more sinister motives; so far Cera mostly provides an amusing, look-at-me cameo distraction but maybe our prime suspect is hiding in plain sight.

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