Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "Lord of the Pi's" (season 3, episode 8)

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Lord of the Pi's" (season 3, 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 21, 2006/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Steve Gomer): Generally a lighter episode than the previous one, "Lord of the Pi's" ends with a bombshell...maybe two. Until then the focus is on two mysteries and a relationship crisis. The lately divergent Mars squad teams up for a cheeky caper involving a trustee who's about to vote on banning Greek life from the school. One of Hearst College's primary benefactors, descendant of the powerful family whose bequeathed the institution their name, she is a wealthy heiress who achieved political notoriety in the seventies...no, no, of course it's not Patty Hearst! This is a fictional character named Selma Hearst Rose. And she is played by...um, Patty Hearst (just in case you thought Paris Hilton was the most infamous real-life heiress this show could summon forth as a guest star). In an unapologetic homage to The Big Lebowski, including at least one directly quoted and re-staged scene, Selma's wheelchair-confined husband Budd Rose (Charles Shaughnessy) - serviced by an overly devoted sycophantic assistant named Brant (Brian Kimmet) - plots her fake kidnapping. Keith and Veronica, discovering that she's being blackmailed for having an affair with her dog-walker Hallie Piatt (Keri Lynn Pratt), whom we met in the sorority episode, help her turn the tables in clever fashion. Budd will not be able to financially exploit her in their divorce nor put through a corporate deal she opposes.

Veronica's solo investigation explores why Chip Diller (David Tom) was found lying nearly naked on the quad, his head shaved, sodomized by an egg with mysterious Roman numerals. When Veronica realizes the numbers form a date, she looks up the campus newspaper and discovers that three years earlier, freshman pledge Patrice Pitrelli "fell" off the roof of the sorority. In fact, she walked off, deep in despair because of how the sorority sisters and fraternity brothers tormented her, drawing on her body in permanent marker and mocking her for weeks afterwards. It all comes together for Veronica when she discovers Claire was a pledge that year: her "Lilith House" crew has been staging up the "rapes" (which have not provided any forensic evidence) - or at least they don't deny it when Veronica confronts them. They wanted revenge on the Sigma Pi for what they did to Patrice, who now resides in a mental health facility, and this is their elaborate plan to get them booted from campus. That's bombshell #1 although it remains officially unconfirmed. Bombshell #2, although it's more of a ticking time bomb right now, involves Logan and Veronica. Worried sick about her safety, he demands that she step away from the rape cases (she of course refuses) and then he hires a hulking bodyguard to keep an eye on her. Infuriated, she demands that he stop acting like this but he claims they are who they are and can't change each other. They both profess their love for each other, embrace, and assert that they're okay now, but when Logan calls Veronica at the end of the episode she decides not to answer...not knowing that he's standing close by, watching her, his heart sinking as the truth sinks in: this thing that means so much to both of them is probably not going to make it.

My Response:
Obviously one of those bombshells is more dramatic, and much more problematic, than the other. The suggestion that the feminists created a fake rape crisis is a big, thorny development, but as noted in my previous entry, I've remembered more of what I read about this arc in the past so I'll wait to comment further - probably just one more episode - in case my memory is correct. As for the Hearst stunt, it was cute, and it's always fun for father and daughter to team up as detectives, although the episode indulges a penchant for exaggerated wackiness (both there and in the Dick scenes) more than I tend to prefer. The Logan/Veronica material continues to emphasize their friction: these are characters who seem destined to cause each other angst, pulling apart and reuniting. But then, is that surprising? We've been through so much on the show that it's easy to forget, but this is a romance between a guy whose girlfriend was murdered by his father and that girlfriend's best friend, who was almost murdered by said father. This is a pretty fucked-up basis for any relationship but also something that draws the two together: can anyone else out there really understand what they're experiencing? I expect the next episode to excavate some of the Lilly Kane material for this purpose (perhaps Weevil will return to expand on his aside to Veronica a few episodes ago). Then again, the emphasis may be entirely on resolving the rape investigation unless this episode's big reveal is a misdirect. That would be preferable, but we'll see.

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