Lost in the Movies: Veronica Mars - "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle" (season 2, episode 12)

Veronica Mars - "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle" (season 2, episode 12)

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 February 1, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by John Kretchmer): Following a few teases during the epic Duncan Kane saga last time, Wallace and Weevil emerge to the forefront while the bus investigation simmers in the background (until a big reveal at episode's end). Perhaps figuring that if his daughter is allowed secrets, so is he, Keith uses his now-intimate knowledge of the Neptune Sheriff's Department security failings to break into evidence, steal the tapes from Lamb's interrogations of the 09er survivors, and learn that Curly Moran serviced all of their families' cars. The rat taped to the bottom of one of the seats was less a message to Veronica than a device to drive some of the kids - those who could afford a limo - off the endangered vehicle with its stink. And Gia's father even told her specifically not to ride the bus. It's clear enough why Neptune's elites would want to protect their children. It may even be grimly clear why they wouldn't particularly care about the fates of the others. What isn't clear is why at least one of the poorer kids would have been targeted in the first place. And as it turns out, the upper class folks aren't the only ones linked to Curly. When Weevil is kicked out of his own gang by the rest of his disgruntled underlings, he's threatened with a cell phone video of a fight with Curly that Weevil definitely would not want the cops to know about.

Until this scene, Weevil's and Logan's awkward joint investigation looks like its going to bail both of them out. They determine that the culpable Fitzpatrick isn't Molly (Annie Campbell) (who asserts that Felix had nothing to do with the rest of her family, who would have killed both of them if they knew of the relationship). Nor, surprisingly - as Veronica reveals after guiltily bugging a confessional on Weevil's behalf - is it Father Patrick Fitzpatrick (James Joseph O'Neill), a good priest with a dark past; it's actually his fellow pastor who has been slipping drugs to Thumper (James Molina), both receiving from and dispensing to the enemy: the rowdy Irish hooligans in the first case and the pampered playboys of the 09 zip in the other. Not that this information helps Weevil much by the time he's lying bloody and bruised in a shipyard, his motorcycle being driven off to be dumped in the ocean. Apparently, for conspiring with Logan to sniff out the traitor, he's considered much more of a turncoat than Thumper.

But as the PCH splits apart, others come together. Enlisting the help of both his on/off-again father back in Chicago and no-longer-(quite-as-)estranged girlfriend Jackie, Wallace clears his name when up-and-coming superstar Rashard Rucker (B.J. Britt) tries to pin him as the driver in the hit-and-run. Jackie will soon have her own problems: "Wallace and Rashard Go to White Castle" ends with Veronica and Keith discovering, via news flash, that her father has been taking in by Lamb for questioning in the bus crash. Does he too have a Curly connection? That mechanic is emerging, more than ever, as the crash's central figure but it no longer seems likely that Aaron Echolls was the one calling the shots. A more sprawling and sinister possibility is emerging, even if the Who is outpacing the Why right now.

My Response:
This feels like a relief after the wild ride of episode 11. For one thing, it's good to see Wallace's storyline(s) actually amounting to something for a change - and who knew Jackie would be so missed? The show has a lot of fun playing on our distrust of her to pull of a repeat of last week's "you thought you were in on it, didn't you?" twist in a minor key. It's mildly annoying that we still haven't gotten any clear picture about Wallace's relationship to Nathan, let alone how Alicia feels about ANY of this, but maybe with the potentially criminal matter cleared up he'll have a decision to face about where he really wants to live...although of course he won't be very welcome in Chicago anymore. I was also engaged with Weevil's plot although it's still not really clear to me where it's going even in a broad sense - did the Fitzpatricks order the PCH to kill Felix as retaliation for his relationship to Molly? But the biggest relief of the episode is the return to the bus mystery. After my detour into Manningland (a red herring that looks particularly red in retrospect), I'm reminded that the crash has always been pretty firmly rooted not in individual desire for punishment of this or that student but in the enmity of the rich for the poor in Neptune. Or, perhaps (and even more coldly), their utter, contemptuous indifference.

Was there a profit to be gleaned somehow from the crash? Were the dead students less targets than collateral damage? After a pretty chaotic if broadly entertaining opening half, this season of Veronica Mars has plenty of room to tighten its focus while broadening its scope within that focus and I hope it does. Even if the thrust of the first season led toward the personal foibles of a few wealthy individuals, rather than the broader social portrait humored along the way, the season 2 premiere did a great job reminding us of broad class conflict as the larger context. Neptune consists not just of the colorful fish who swim into view but the sea they swim in - or in this case, the sea they crash and drown in.

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