Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Lord of the Bling" (season 1, episode 13)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on February 8, 2005/written by John Enbom; directed by Steve Gomer): Suge Kni - er, Percey "Bone" Hamilton (Black-ish's Anthony Anderson), a rap producer with a reputation for violence, discovers his daughter is missing. When he visits Keith ("I don't like police, and the feeling is mutual," he tells the private eye, "I think you'd understand"), Veronica is inclined to help out for a few reasons. For one, she always like to involve herself with her dad's sleuthing; for another, his back problems mean that he needs assistance...most importantly, however, she palled around with Yolanda Hamilton (Jowharah Jones) a year ago, and feels guilty for abandoning her. As we learn through flashbacks, Yolanda briefly kissed Logan at a party and was cast out from her new social group by a jealous Lilly. Veronica and Keith get to the bottom of the kidnapping when they discover it wasn't a kidnapping at all. In a Romeo and Juliet scenario, Yolanda ran off with Benjamin Bloom (actor unlisted), son of wheelchair-bound attorney Sam Bloom (Bruce Nozick), who was nearly killed in a drive-by attributed to Bone. In a Big Lebowski-esque move, the "kidnapping" cover story was concocted by Yolanda's nerdy brother Bryce (Jermaine Williams), who resented Bone's constant refrain that he was too "soft."

Elsewhere, Logan and Aaron stumble through Lynn's funeral, Aaron a mess of self-pitying nostalgia and Logan a bitter cynic mocking the whole affair. As it turns out, though, Logan isn't simply infuriated that his mother has died. In fact, he believes she hasn't. Logan reveals to Duncan that she left a lighter - engraved by her Korea POW father with the words "Free at Last" - on her dresser, an indication that she was running away, not killing herself. And at episode's end, Logan, the person Veronica least expects to see, shows up on the young detective's doorstep, asking her to find his mom.

My Response:

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Clash of the Tritons" (season 1, episode 12)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on January 11, 2005/written by Phil Klemmer & Aury Wallington; directed by David Barrett): Three stories dominate "Clash of the Tritons," to varying degrees of seriousness. The lightest plot is the one Veronica is most directly involved with. She is framed - even forced to do a perp walk - for manufacturing fake IDs. Rick (J.D. Pardo), the student who was busted when he dropped his now-comatose friend off at an ER, claims that Neptune High's elite secret society the Tritons forced him to (pardon the expression) ID her as the culprit. Through surveillance, clever deduction, and dedicated investigation, including a visit to a karaoke bar to belt out Debbie Harry, Veronica determines that the mysterious but ultimately goofy Tritons were never involved with this conspiracy. Rick got caught out on the town with a friend on his own prerogative, blamed the Tritons out of resentment that they wouldn't induct him (despite past family members getting initiated), and chose Veronica as the patsy because her father exposed his own dad for fraud when he tried to get revenge on a hedge fund that had treated him poorly.

Meanwhile, Ms. James has not left Veronica's life simply because she stopped dating Keith. She is interviewing all Neptune students about Lilly's death as part of grant-funded study of adolescent grief. This is quite convenient for Veronica, who sets up a recording device (disguised as a stapler) on Rebecca's desk and listens in to the various interviews. Most alarming is Duncan's, as he describes not being able to remember the days surrounding his sister's death, and confesses that he's taking an array of different medications. Death and medication coincide most toxically in the third story, which initially seems to just be a gossipy soap opera tangent. Logan's parents may be headed for a divorce; someone has leaked Aaron's affairs to the tabloids, causing extensive humiliation for Logan at school. Eventually, that person is revealed to be Lynn herself. She flees the school after her son confronts and threatens his angry father, hopping in a car and popping a pill before tearing off. The last shot of episode 12 reveals her convertible on the edge of a high bridge, police helicopters whirring overhead. The vehicle is empty.

My Response:

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Patreon update #20: My questions before Twin Peaks season 3 & film in focus: The Devil Rides Out (+ making Journey Through Twin Peaks)


For the last time - at least for a while! - I'm releasing a podcast at the very end of the week. I've already got a lot of the next one down, which is good, because from now on the episodes have a hard deadline of Monday at 6pm (these updates/round-ups will continue to post on Saturdays). My Return rewatch begins in a couple days, just in time for the first anniversary of the May 21 premiere. The last "Twin Peaks Reflections" before that rewatch is an epic countdown of questions I posed both before the third season and before the finale last September. I go down the line and answer each one as best I can, determining how accurate my assessment of Cooper's direction was, whether the elements coalesced in Parts 17 and 18, and if the Frost/Lynch dynamic played out in new and interesting ways. I had a lot of fun revisiting these questions, most of which I hadn't looked at since writing them - this was pretty much a "live" response to that speculation.

My film in focus this week has a bit of Peaksian charm about it, as many have: a "drawing room horror" movie from the sixties, with Christopher Lee as the good guy battling a Satanic cult, The Devil Rides Out plays with social conventions in interesting ways while also being occasionally too straightforward for its own good. "Other topics" this week include several films and TV shows I've been watching, including Isle of Dogs, Downsizing, and Homeland, while my archive series finally reaches Journey Through Twin Peaks (my selected highlight, however, may surprise you).

See you Monday night on Patreon.





Line-up for Episode 20

INTRO: longer than usual - invitation to submit memories of "Twin Peaks in-between years, announcement of rewatch schedule

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: Veronica Mars series (were the 00s a distinct era?)

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: 2nd Tier biweekly preview - Josie

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: Twin Peaks characters runners-up (the New Mexico townspeople)

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS/Pre-s3 questions, part 1: Cooper, before the premiere

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS/Pre-s3 questions, part 2: Before the finale

FILM IN FOCUS: The Devil Rides Out

OTHER TOPICS: Isle of Dogs, Downsizing, Homeland (Russia episode), Ferdy on Films ends its run

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Journeying into Twin Peaks" (July 2014 - February 2015), this week's highlight: Opening the Door - interview w/ Lynch scholar Martha Nochimson

OUTRO

Friday, May 18, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Silence of the Lamb" (season 1, episode 11)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on January 5, 2005/written by Jed Seidel & Dayna Lynne North; directed by John Kretchmer): The E-String Strangler strikes again! An old case brings Keith (temporarily) back to the Neptune police force when a dead body washes up on shore. The guitar chord wrapped around her neck suggests the work of a serial killer who had supposedly been captured; in need of Keith's expertise in the area, Sheriff Lamb swallows hard and partners up with his nemesis to track several suspects. They seem particularly close when they detain an amateur pornographer (Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad's Jesse making a second appearance in my spring viewing diaries), but Keith - constantly butting heads with the arrogant but insecure sheriff - has doubts about all the circumstantial evidence. Sure enough, just in time to save a suffocating victim locked inside a safe, Keith discovers the real murderer: a jovial guitar store owner (Steven Monroe) who was right there in front of them all along.

Veronica uses her dad's return to the sheriff's station, and young desk officer Leo D'Amato's (Max Greenfield's) flirtatious overtures, as an opportunity to sneak into the evidence room and retrieve a CD with the anonymous tip about Lilly Kane. With the help of techie friend Mac, she figures out who left the distorted phone call that identified Abel Koontz - it was Kane employee Clarence Wiedman (Christopher B. Duncan), who took those threatening photos of her (and whom she implicitly threatens with photos as well by episode's end). Mac is returning a favor for Veronica, who looked up her parents (part of a thriving side business which Mac would like to launch as a global web service), discovering that Mac was accidentally switched at birth with spoiled rich girl Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret). Crashing the 09ers' birthday party, Mac discovers a family as interested in art and literature as she is, and a little sister who looks and acts like a junior doppelganger. She makes her peace with the painful truth, but before leaving on a family trip with her adopted parents (who have no idea what she knows), Mac finds her biological mother (Carlie Westerman) watching her from a parked car. The melancholy teenager places her hand on the window longingly, and the teary-eyed Lauren returns the gesture, both of them wishing for something that never was but should have been.

My Response:

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Veronica Mars - "An Echolls Family Christmas" (season 1, episode 10)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on December 14, 2004/written by Aury Wallington; directed by Guy Bee): The Echolls estate anchors both big storylines this week. Weevil joins an elite poker game at the 09 mansion and wins, only to discover the pot has been mysteriously stolen. The other players strip down to demonstrate their innocence, but the money’s gone somewhere, so Weevil vows to terrorize them until the culprit is revealed. Veronica's on that case, while her father is hired by the elder Echolls to identify a stalker - first he's mostly in touch with Aaron's wife Lynn (Lisa Rinna), and then with the movie star himself, once Aaron realizes the gravity of the threats (and the possible scandals intertwined with it). Reluctantly admitting that he's had multiple affairs, including a fling on the night of the family's Halloween party, Aaron insists that none of his mistresses is the jealous type. Both Keith and Veronica must narrow the culprit down from a small but convincing stable of suspects, while keeping their eyes open for personal motivations and visual evidence.

Keith realizes who the stalker is at the last minute - a server whom Aaron had fired when she came across him and another woman making love at the party - and he attempts to crash the family's Christmas party, only arriving in time to tackle the woman (Alexandra Fatovich) after she's already stabbed Aaron in a rage. Mostnof the guests miss the violent altercation, as they've already filed outside to enjoy carolers under an expensive fake snow shower - a Hollywood touch from a Hollywood star (or, one could say, a phony gesture from a phony guy). Veronica's investigation has a less bloody but no less clever conclusion; she is able to identify specific reasons why each player didn't steal the money before revealing that "the butler's son did it" by stuffing the cash in a recyclable bottle and picking it out of the trash the next morning. The surprise isn't just his guilt but the fact that he's a butler's son at all...he pretended that his family owned the house his father worked at. There’s a racial component to all of this (highlighted when Logan continuously slurs Weevil) - the Latino isn’t the only one at the table from the wrong sides of the track, but the white guy is able to pretend otherwise and use his appearance to both fool his peers and rob from Weevil.

Finally, before the "Echolls Family Christmas" climax, Veronica confronts Jake, asking why he hired someone to take photos of her (a confrontation Keith witnesses on his way to rescue Aaron). Jake denies any knowledge, but Veronica sees him angrily demand answers from his wife a minute later - it looks like perhaps the Kane behind Veronica's many woes (and perhaps more, besides) may actually be the wife, not the husband.

My Response:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Drinking the Kool-Aid" (season 1, episode 9)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 30, 2004/written by Russell Smith, story by Rob Thomas; directed by Marcos Siega): The Moon Calf Collective sounds for all the world like a dangerous cult. An agricultural commune located in the country, it's led by charismatic guru Josh (Chris William Martin) and promoted by Holly Mills (Amy Laughlin), a flaky English teacher who has roped in Neptune student Casey Gant (Jonathan Bennett). The young man has abandoned his wealthy family and now spends all his free time with Moon Calves, so his parents (Rebecca Kitt and Albie Selznick) hire Keith to dig up some dirt, bust the cult, and break their son free. They've even employed a "deprogrammer" (Ray Proscia) to convert Casey back to their way of thinking once they've exposed the collective. There's only one problem: the dangerous cult isn't actually a dangerous cult. The more time Veronica spends with the Moon Calf Collective, the more convinced she is that they are harmless, even beneficial. Besides, Casey's parents have less than pure motives. Casey is about to come into a vast inheritance from his dying grandmother, and they're terrified he'd give it all to his newfound community.

One thing's for sure: Veronica much prefers the new, improved Casey over his bratty earlier incarnation. And Keith has to admit she has a point about all of this, even though the $5,000 reward is pretty tempting. Ultimately, they decide to sit on some potentially damaging information they've acquired (a member of the collective, played by Megalyn Echikunwoke, is a minor, who ran away from abusive but legal foster care). Nonetheless, Casey is kidnapped by his parents at his grandmother's funeral; when the episode ends he's back to a more materialist "normal." Veronica has her own familial concerns, tricking Keith into drawing blood and sending their samples to a DNA-testing company. Initially convinced that she must find out if Jake Kane is her father, Veronica finally changes her mind at episode's end. If Casey's true family can be compassionate strangers rather than his much colder blood relations, then Veronica's real father can definitely be the man who loves her deeply rather than the tycoon who never raised her. The loyal daughter shreds her DNA results before reading them, confident that she's better off not knowing.

My Response:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Like a Virgin" (season 1, episode 8)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 23, 2004/written by Aury Wallington; directed by Guy Bee): In a gesture possibly inspired by the Harvard scandal that launched Facebook a year earlier, a Neptune High student has created an online quiz asking students to see where their sexual and other (but mostly sexual) experience ranks on a "How Pure Are You?" scale. As a bonus twist, the myster quiz-crafter emails the student body with a follow-up: pay $10 and find out anyone else's score. Veronica, with her scandalized reputation, gets a 14. More shockingly, archetypal "good girl" Meg Manning (Alona Tal) lands somewhere below 50%. Veronica goes on the case, discovering that between the IT guy Renny DuMouy (Rudy Dobrev) and Meg's jealous friends Pam (Shanna Collins) and Kimmy (Annie Abrams), who's sleeping with Renny, passwords were stolen and quiz results were forged. Veronica is assisted in her investigation by Mac (Tina Majorno - I knew I recognized her!), a computer whiz who, it's eventually revealed, designed the quiz in the first place to fleece '09ers for new car money, an angle Veronica has to respect.

There aren't too many other storylines in this particular episode. Veronica's father gets in good with Wallace's mother Alicia (Erica Gimpel) by intimidating a deadbeat tenant (Jeremy Masterston) off her property. And Veronica gets a "meeting" with Abel on death row, posing as a Southern crime reporter from his hometown. Abel takes the meeting but reveals that he knows exactly who she is, and refuses to deny culpability for Lilly's death. Worse, he presses the point I brought up in yesterday's entry (which I didn't expect to become relevant so quickly): she's probably not the daughter of some "schlubby sheriff" but "the king and queen of the prom." This observation was so shockingly on-the-nose that I initially thought it belonged to a dream sequence. It doesn't, and it forces a stunned Veronica out into the parking lot where she weeps in her car.

My Response:

Monday, May 14, 2018

Veronica Mars - "The Girl Next Door" (season 1, episode 7)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 9, 2004/written by Jed Seidel & Diane Ruggiero, story by Jed Seidel; directed by Nick Marck): Often Veronica Mars likes to surprise us, but in this case it plays its cards right up front. We begin with classic flashback framing: someone is being transported out of the Sunset Cliffs Apartments (the Mars' home) into an ambulance as Veronica watches and wonders if she should never have gotten involved with her neighbor's problem in the first place. The credits, so often postponed for seven or eight minutes, begin right after this introduction and we jump back a week, slowly leading up to that fateful night. Sarah Williams (Jessica Chastain), a pregnant, troubled young woman, lives with Andre (Adam Kaufman), a painter with whom she frequently fights. When she vanishes, Veronica suspects the worst. Sarah's mother Emily (Eve Gordon) and stepfather Randall (John J. York) show up in Neptune and hire Keith to find their daughter but it's Veronica who eventually tracks her down.

Veronica may solve the case, figuring out who stole Sarah's journal, where she was hiding, and that Sarah was raped and Andre isn't the one who got her pregnant. But she misses one crucial detail, hinted when Emily casually identifies Sarah's change around the time she remarried. Randall is the father of Sarah's child, and when she reveals to her mother that he assaulted her, a fight over a gun ensues. Keith fires through the window, and so the person we see transported to the hospital at episode's beginning - and end - is Sarah's stepfather, not Sarah, and as it turns out Andre has nothing to do with any of it. Veronica speculates that perhaps digging into Sarah's past only exacerbated the situation, openly wondering if sometimes secrets are better left unexplored. This is a question which has additional meaning given some of the other discoveries in this episode (and incidents from earlier ones too).

On a lighter note, Weevil and Logan end up sharing detention and their revenge on Mr. Daniels (Steven Williams), spiking his car on a flagpole - I still have no clue how this was accomplished - almost gets Weevil expelled, until Logan takes credit and essentially bribes the principal into letting them both off easy. Even this storyline, however, hints at a broader significance. Weevil's buddy mocks Logan in the bathroom, noting that Weevil slept with the white boy's girlfriend (Weevil protests that it wasn't like that), and at one point Logan notices a Lilly heart tattoo on Weevil's back. Despite lying and saying it's his sister's name, Weevil clearly had some involvement with the dead girl, a fact hinted in previous episodes (he cried at Lilly's memorial service, and Wanda asked Veronica if the rumors about Weevil and Lilly were true, which Veronica denied). Veronica also discovers another hidden relationship when she's assigned a class reunion montage and finds out her mom was one half of the Class of '79's star couple...with Jake Kane.

Indeed, when she says that some secrets should remain secrets, it's hard not to keep that revelation in mind. The episode's flashbacks dwell on Duncan's break-up with her, which actually precedes Lilly's death, and there's just the slightest hint that Veronica wonders if she herself is actually a Kane. When her father says something to the effect of, "You have to really love someone to raise a child that's not yours," Veronica pauses and has what looks like an epiphany. It could be the realization that Sarah was abused by her stepfather...or it could be something closer to home.

My Response:

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Veronica Mars - "Return of the Kane" (season 1, episode 6)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on November 2, 2004/written by Phil Klemmer, story by Rob Thomas; directed by Sarah Pia Anderson): It's election season on the series, as it was in the U.S. at this time (this episode aired the very night that George W. Bush defeated John Kerry). Rebellious student Wanda Varner (Rachel Roth) launches an impromptu campaign for student council president, which takes off like wildfire. Condemning the "Pirate Points" awarded to wealthy students for "09er"-dominated activities, Wanda attracts constituencies among excluded groups like artists and band members, tapping into a widespread resentment among the school's have-nots. Veronica herself finds Wanda's message - and her energetic delivery - attractive, and when Wanda loses to Duncan (who didn't even want to run but has been put forward as the figurehead of the school's elite), Veronica is able to prove that the results were manipulated. A recount ensues, as does as a negative smear campaign condemning Wanda as a narc. Ultimately it works and, more surprisingly, it's true. Weevil tells Veronica that a friend of his was busted soon after he began dating Wanda, and when Veronica tests this theory, it leads to her own near-bust...and Wanda's confession (she was caught with drugs herself a year earlier, and informing is the only way she can keep this off of her record and get into a good school).

Anyway, Veronica was already having second thoughts about Wanda; although she condemns Duncan at one point for "standing idly by" while other rich kids act badly, she also remembers a time he let a less popular kid sit at their lunchtable, shutting down a bully from his own class. Sure enough, when Duncan officially wins he offers a reform to the Pirate Points, preserving the perk but expanding it to other clubs at the school as well. Logan makes a stand of his own this episode, albeit a generally less noble one. Having arrogantly bribed homeless men to box for him and his pals, the story is blown wide open by gossip columnists...after all, Logan's dad is the movie star Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin). Humiliated by this event, but only because it makes him look bad (not because he actually cares about his son's greedy abuse of the town's underclass), Aaron forces the boy to volunteer at a soup kitchen and make a public apology. Logan turns the situation on its head by announcing that his dad has decided to donate half a million to the town's food bank, a subversive fuck-you to the old man that earns a literal whipping but seems worth it to him.

Meanwhile, Veronica finally reveals her interest in - and pursuit of - Lilly's real killer to her dad, showing how a sneaker cited as evidence for Abel Koontz's guilt was actually still at the crime scene when photographers arrived. Koontz has fired his lawyer and seems ready to be executed, but Veronica believes in his innocence - and in someone else's guilt (we're not just sure who yet). As one Kane leads the student body, another leads Veronica and Keith back into a case that caused them so much pain, and may cause more yet to come.

My Response:

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Patreon update #19: Twin Peaks in the In-Between Years/1992-2014 & The Lobster (+ getting back into Twin Peaks)


For many years it seemed like the post-1992 era of Twin Peaks was a kind of “forever epilogue,” not really part of the story at all. Twin Peaks burned bright, it burned out fast, and that was that. Everything else was an afterthought. In 2014, of course, all of that changed with the announcement of a new season. Looking back on those year now we can see the creators move in different directions, shaped by the experience they had on that show, as fans (aside from a few small Lynch contributions) kept the spirit alive. As I prepare for the Return rewatch, this episode - one of the longest “Twin Peaks Reflections” yet - explores this long “In-Between Era” in depth.

I also muse about the amusing international co-production of The Lobster (whose whimsy nonetheless feels distinctly Irish), share a Twin Peaks cartoon, and recall my own personal experience of re-discovering Twin Peaks at the tail end of that very “In-Between” era.

One last thing, an invitation (including to those who are not or not yet members): next week I'm going to be covering my own speculation and questions heading into the third season as a whole, as well as the finale. What were some of your own, and how were they fulfilled, disappointed, exceeded, answered, or subverted? I will include these as part of the next episode.




Line-up for Episode 19

INTRO

WEEKLY UPDATE/recent posts: "3 first seasons" intro, Veronica Mars series

WEEKLY UPDATE/Patreon: moving to Mondays soon

WEEKLY UPDATE/work in progress: character runners-up

TWIN PEAKS REFLECTIONS: The In-Between Years, 1992-2014

FILM IN FOCUS: The Lobster

OTHER TOPICS: Jeffries teapot cartoon

LISTENER FEEDBACK: Value of Twin Peaks season 2 (*correction: this is feedback for Episode 17, not 15)

OPENING THE ARCHIVE: "Getting Lost in Lynchland" (March - June 2014)

OUTRO w/ preview for next week - including invitation to send feedback about speculation/questions going into season 3

BECOME A PATRON

Friday, May 11, 2018

Veronica Mars - "You Think You Know Somebody" (season 1, episode 5)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 26, 2004/written by Dayna Lynne North; directed by Nick Gomez): The good vibes of the previous episode overflow into this one...at least initially. All is well with Veronica and Todd, even after he "misplaces" his dad's car on the ride back from Tijuana with Logan and Luke (Sam Huntington). He's freaked out that his father will probably send him away when he discovers the theft, but not so much that he doesn't still grin and joke his way through his "last days," trying to get frisky with Veronica while she attempts to do her detective thing and locate the stolen vehicle. The stakes are raised when she learns that Luke was transporting a pinata full of steroids across the border. But, of course, everything will work out in the end, right? Right? Things seem less rosy with Veronica and her dad; he's trying to warm her up to his new girlfriend (no dice, and he eventually dumps her due to Veronica's hostility) and she's suddenly concerned about her mom after seeing her as the villain for a long time (a visit to a safety deposit box yields photos of herself with a target painted onto her head, suggesting that Lianne may have fled for her daughter's safety, rather than selfish pride). Indeed, the episode ends with Veronica, her hearing blocked by a Discman (every episode manages to remind us that the world has changed a lot in fourteen years!), receiving a call from her mother, hinting at an explanatory (and exculpatory) secret.

Meanwhile both Mars provide background checks on each other's partners, and so Veronica learns that Todd was kicked out of many previous schools for drug trafficking (which he dismisses as some minor dope-dealing). She confronts him and he offers the plausible excuse that he wanted to wait before telling her, denying that he knew anything about the steroid deal (a claim even Luke backs up). After a number of episodes where the central investigation is neatly settled in the end, Veronica fails to find the car or the drugs, Todd's dad follows through on his threat, and Todd is shipped off. If that seems like an unexpected turn of events, what follows goes much further: a cocky Todd arrives at the border stop, retrieves the pinata he stole from his own backseat, and roars away in his car, calling up his old girlfriend to let her know everything went according to plan. Or did it? When Todd tears open the pinata he discovers a bunch of candy and a note from Veronica letting him know how she found out and what she's done with his stash (somewhere between her toilet and the Pacific Ocean). It's a hell of a kiss-off for a character who turns out not to be a recurring part of her circle at all, but simply another opponent to be bested.

My Response:

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Veronica Mars - "The Wrath of Con" (season 1, episode 4)


Welcome to my viewing diary for Veronica Mars. Every day, except Saturday, I will offer a short review of another episode until I finish the first season. I have never seen this series before so there will be NO spoilers.

Story (aired on October 19, 2004/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by Michael Fields): A homecoming dance provides the central pole of "The Wrath of Con," serving as an upcoming event to solidify Veronica's romance with Troy, a flashback revealing more of Lilly than we've seen before, and a subversion of Lilly memorial's video into which footage has been spliced from that earlier dance (or rather from the night of the dance - Veronica, Duncan, Logan, and Lilly skipped the actual event in order to drunkenly ride around in a limo and party on a beach). The titular investigation shifts our focus elsewhere - Wallace's crush Georgia (Kyla Pratt) has been conned, and Veronica uncovers hotshot young techie college students (Robert Baker and Adam Wylie) who hire unwitting actors to enable a phishing scam. This leads Veronica and Wallace to explore college life as well as the geekier subcultures of Neptune (gaming and anime, or as Wallace calls it in the one dated element of an otherwise prescient topic, "Japanime"). Veronica's dad meets (and intimidates but approves of) Duncan, Georgia kisses Wallace, and with the con artists caught out, all seems to end well. There is, of course, still a reminder of the town's tragedy in the memorial dedication to Lilly but even there a spirit of good cheer prevails. The home movie of a drunken Lilly disrupting the otherwise gauzy montage takes the audience by surprise, but ultimately charms even her uptight parents, bringing a poignant tear to their eyes.

My Response: