Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "I Know What You'll Do Next Summer" (season 3, episode 18)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Veronica Mars - "I Know What You'll Do Next Summer" (season 3, episode 18)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. I will cover each TV episode (and eventually the film), several days a week, concluding with the Hulu revival. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on May 15, 2007/written by Jonathan Moskin & David Mulei; directed by Nick Marck): The school year is almost over. Veronica has been accepted into the FBI program (despite her inside connection getting sentenced to prison). Piz has his choice of internships: Pitchfork Media in New York or a more humble but convenient opportunity in Neptune radio. Max faces explusion and Mac has to decide if she's ready for a summer of sensual sloth or if she needs to get both of them back on track. Logan and Dick are going on a four-month surf trip to South America...at least until Parker pushes Logan to give more consideration to their relationship. He invites her along too but the whole plan is derailed when "Big Dick" Casablancas (yes, that's how he's billed) shows up in Dick's room. Having turned himself in, he's facing a mere year in prison but he wants to spend the months beforehand making amends with his estranged son. The usually affable Dick flies into a rage, blaming himself and his father for the death of - and the many deaths caused by- Beaver. "We used to have competitions to see who could make him cry," he spits at the corporate criminal - but after letting it all out he tells Logan that he will spend the summer with his dad after all.

Finally, Wallace makes a big decision with an ease most of the other characers can't muster. He will go to Africa with an organization rehabilitating child soldiers. Veronica's case-of-the-week also involves this work: she assists Kizza Oneko (Babs Olusanmokun), a man who claims to be the father of Hearst student, ex-child soldier, and bestselling author Apollo Bukenya (Nelsan Ellis). Apollo is skeptical of Kizza's motives and arranges an elaborate ruse to convince Veronica that he did not actually write his memoir and is facing a massive scandal and the loss of a lucrative movie deal. This way he can be sure that if Kizza still wants the paternity test, he's not just looking for money. Even before the results come back, though, it's clear the two are long-lost family, and they embrace when the father mentions a book Apollo's mother used to read to him. This is Veronica's first official case as a licensed private investigator in her own right, settling into Keith's old office with ease (as long as she doesn't get caught using silly pens with fluffy cat tails). Keith himself faces a steep re-election challenge from Vinnie of all people, who is working with Liam and a crooked home security company to facilitate burglaries that will crash Keith's reputation. How can Keith beat a candidate who manages to win the endorsement of the Neptune homeowners' organization AND the very criminals ripping them off?

My Response:
The hangover has lifted and the air around Neptune feels fresh and clear. The Piz/Veronica casual relationship thing, which seemed so stale an episode ago, is now striking the right combination of relaxed and romantic (meanwhile Parker/Logan and Max/Mac also find their charms). The topical storyline, instead of resulting in a faceplant like "Un-American Graffiti," is earnestly effective thanks in large part to the performances of Ellis and Olusanmokun. And Keith finally has some drama at the station, while Veronica takes over the family business and gets her dream internship. Hell, Wallace even get to make a big decision (although that bit does edge over into just feeling like a straight-up commercial for Invisible Children, the nonprofit that Bell, Dohring, Hansen, and the show itself endorse before the credits roll). Perhaps most surprisingly, Dick gets depth - in a fashion not only earned but long-awaited; as he himself points out, whatever nonchalance he affects, every day he passes the spot where Cassidy splattered all over the sidewalk. In an episode structured around a moving father/son reunion, the dysfunctional 09ers provide the yin to the Apollo's yang. One other thought occurs to me: with the senior Casablancas returning to town, this might be the perfect time to bring back Kendall.

There's another major character, though, whom we haven't seen in several episodes and whose last major storyline occurred much earlier in the season. The next episode is titled "Weevils Wobble But They Don't Go Down" and I'm hoping it gives the ex-PCHer a proper series send-off...while living up to the latter part of its name. I certainly hope Weevil will be around for the film and Hulu revival. If the show has any unfinished business, it's with the Fitzpatricks, who could easily draw Weevil, Vinnie, the Mars family, and even the Casablancas (via Kendall) into one last plot thread. Of course, Veronica's sojourn with the FBI promises plenty of material too and I wouldn't be surprised if the finale is a standalone set in Quantico offering a glimpse of future seasons that were not to be. Then again, FBI Special Agent Veronica Mars and local Sheriff Keith Mars might go too far over onto the side of official law enforcement, abandoning the scrappy outsider P.I. roots established in the pilot a long time ago.

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