Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "Versatile Toppings" (season 2, episode 14)

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:
Remember Dr. Griffith? I didn't, at least not until the show refreshed my memory. Granted, I've been watching the second season over several months (on the other hand the remainder, along with all of season three, will be viewed in quick succession as I'm writing this fairly close to the season four premiere on Hulu). But this season has also been throwing so much at us that it would probably be hard to keep track even at a quicker pace! Increasingly, I wonder to what extent this hyperactivity will pay off specifically in an interrelated mystery, with Logan's frame-up somehow relating directly to the bus crash...if the hyper-fundamentalist WASPy Mannings aren't the ones orchestrating the slaughter of the innocents, could the culprits be the backstreet Catholic Fitzpatricks? This direction is a far cry from the previous episode's "the 09er 1%ers did it" impulse but I like how each episode hints at different, perhaps even contradictory, conspiracies.

As for Logan's cutesy new infatuation, I did suspect something was up last week even if I missed the fatherly connection. How much of his ardor is sheer cold calculation remains ambiguous. Terrence, on the other hand, I'm sure is innocent. The show is having too much fun teasing and than yanking away his guilt to give up the game now. But Lamb for one better hope a conviction doesn't stick. If it does, his already-questionable calculation reverses itself: a disgraced baseball career beats the hell out of life imprisonment for blowing up a school bus and Terrence would have no reason not to spill the beans on Lamb's blackmail. One more possibility occurs to me, its very mundanity perhaps the furthest out of all. What if the bus "accident"...really was an accident after all? What if the explosion was not a bomb but something else? In a way this might be the perfect twist, with all sorts of character flaws revealing themselves as suspects or detectives are driven to commit further crimes all for the sake of something that never even happened in the first place: a MacGuffin that actually reveals, and revels, in that secondary status at mystery's end.

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