Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): Veronica Mars - "Gods of War" (season 4, episode 7)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Veronica Mars - "Gods of War" (season 4, episode 7)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Each day, I am covering every episode (and the film) including the brand new Hulu revival. I am watching this series for the first time, so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (premiered on July 19, 2019/written by Diane Ruggiero-Wright, Heather V. Regnier; directed by Amanda Marsalis): "What's a murderhead?" asks poor Wallace, as Veronica explains that actually they're going to attend a later screening of their planned movie in order to catch up with the latest conspiracy theories about the Neptune bombings. (Man, I hope he gets a quality scene in the finale, as Veronica's best buddy has really been given the shaft this season.) Nonetheless, Wallace takes Veronica's last-minute, admittedly self-serving change of plan in stride. Nicole, on the other hand, is appalled when she learns how Veronica has been using her - minutes after chuckling that whatever Veronica's done, she's done worse, Nicole flatly informs Veronica that actually, planting a bug in her office is something she can't top. She also emphatically denies responsibility for any of the bombings, although I suspect she'll eventually be pinned on the beheading and Veronica will forego the quarter-million and look the other way. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Veronica has professional duties to take her mind off personal problems. It looks increasingly likely that while Big Dick engineered the Sea Sprite and Perry explosions, Penn orchestrated the follow-up. The smoking gun, so to speak, is that nail - it only wound up in Penn's back because it was part of a painting on the lobby wall but it was incorporated into all of the subsequent bombs presumably because Penn assumed it was built into the first device.

Then again, as Keith observes, Penn shared that knowledge with the rest of his crew so it could've been any of them. That concept is forgotten as the Mars chase down Penn in his lovers' cabin in the woods and engage in a shootout with Alonzo and Dodie, who have decided they'll let the professionals lead them to the killer and then take out all three in one fell swoop. Keith, once again wounded by foggy cognition, leave his ammunition in the car and beats himself up afterwards: realizing that his condition nearly killed his daughter, he emphatically declares that he's "done." Fortunately, both are saved by the PCHers who show up on a fleet of motorcycles just as the Mexican hitmen are about to finish the job, and insist that El Despiadado's enforcers be escorted back to Neptune. Penn is taken back to the police station, where Leo says goodbye (and apologizes for taking things a bit too far with Veronica). With Cliff at his side, Penn declares his innocence and insists that the Mars - no hard feelings! - take up his case and find the real culprit. After all, there's another bomb set within twenty-four hours and the most important thing they can all do is figure out who's planting it and how to stop them.

My Response:
Okay, so first things first: it's definitely not Penn who planted the next three bombs, and it's quite likely the douchebag murderhead Don (Clark Duke) - maybe in unlikely association with some of the frat kids (he says he misses Hearst for a reason). That said, I find myself hoping there's something more to it; as obnoxious as that guy is and as satisfying as he'd be as the villain, he feels a little too distant, a little too random. Besides I always enjoy being wrong in my predictions about Veronica Mars, and I hope that tradition doesn't end now; plus the identity of the bomber is probably not the most important question about the upcoming episode. I think Veronica's going to be okay, I think Keith is going to be okay; Logan and Veronica will marry and probably leave town while Keith will get a comfortable gig and the happiness of knowing his daughter is out of "the life." It's Matty I'm worried about if the series wants some tragedy in its denouement. Her presence in Big Dick's house, just as Alonzo and Dodie have been assigned him as a target, puts her right in the crosshairs.

Aside from that, however, I love this development. I have to admit I chortled when Weevil's, the Mexican assassins', and Clyde's purposes all miraculously coincided around killing the corporate scumbag. I do wonder if the original intention for season four was to finally deliver Jake Kane as the supervillain (that's certainly where the season three finale was headed) but Kyle Secor was unavailable. Then again, Dick - an on-the-surface scuzzy real estate mogul, no subtlety involved in his naked, rapacious greed - is a more perfect villain for the Trump era (Jake can be saved for the hopefully upcoming Bernie era, when we can afford to shift our focus to the deeper, more sinister but less immediate threat of the tech giants). With an entire episode to go, will Veronica Mars dwell on plot mechanics, or can it tackle its investigative obligations while leaving enough room for dramatic heavylifting? The title is promising and I want to believe, ala Twin Peaks season three albeit obviously more conventionally, that Veronica Mars will resolve the bomb plot early in its finale and then shift its focus to more ambitious ground for the rest of its runtime.

"Gods of War"'s most satisfying moment, of course, is Weevil's rescue of Veronica, the culmination of roughly fifty-five hours of character development going back to the pilot. This season has been unafraid to show Veronica as a flawed protagonist, someone whose skill and self-assurance has lent her a fair share of hubris. We always understand where her judgments and self-defenses come from even when we don't agree, but the show allows us to see (as she herself often does) the traps she's setting. Whatever his other flaws, Weevil is a loyal friend and a fundamentally honorable person; Veronica's reaction shows that she understands this and represents one of the, in fact, several "moments of clarity" she talks about in voiceover (a bit of an unnecessary touch) as she finally agrees to marry Logan. But all of that, of course, can wait. There's a mad bomber to catch, and only one episode to go.

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