Lost in the Movies: July 2019

Veronica Mars - "Entering a World of Pain" (season 4, episode 6)


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 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld; directed by Tessa Blake): And just like that, Logan's gone. A phone call from the Navy and he turns in his resignation as the congressman's bodyguard, effective immediately, and says goodbye to his girlfriend via voicemail (she can't answer her phone because she's in a strip club, natch). Before he departs - who knows for how long - he's already made an important contribution to the investigation(s), dressing in uniform to visit Daniel's blackmailer...17-year-old white nationalist Barton Netherfield, Jr. (Cyrus Arnold). Playing the part of a fellow traveler, Logan congratulates the teenager for "neuter[ing] that Muslim cuck...a Manchurian candidate taking his orders from the mullahs." Getting him to open up, Logan then forces him to delete all the video files, apologize to the congressman, and withdraw his threats. But the surly alt-right troll fires one departing shot: he has recorded a not-so-cryptocurrency transfer from Daniel into the accounts of two Mexican cartel members. This leads Keith and Veronica to sneak into Alonzo's and Dodie's hotel room, where Veronica snaps photos of the Carr brothers' IDs and Keith fakes a heart attack to distract the cleaning lady while Veronica sneaks away. But they aren't as clever as they think; the cleaning lady is, of course, Claudia, and when she returns home she tells both brother Weevil and boyfriend Alonzo that Veronica was snooping around (she also reveals that she's been fired for unrelated reasons; yet another small business is folding under the pressure of Casablancas' onslaught). Weevil, who predictably explodes at Veronica when he discovers what she did with Juan, is nonetheless clearly uncomfortable with the prospect of Alonzo paying her a visit.

Veronica Mars - "Losing Streak" (season 4, episode 5)


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 David Walpert; directed by Scott Winant): To hear Calvin Linden (Mather Zickel) tell it, his despised dead son was a prince. No, literally. "Prince Bryce Linden" was apparently heir to the throne of an island kingdom Calvin purchased on the back of his "gambling empire" built from a credit card with a $500 limit. Told off by Chief Langdon (who savors the opportunity to finally give it back to one of these pricks), Calvin offers a $250,000 reward for anyone who can catch his son's killer. Soon after Langdon's satisfying dismissal of this jerk, she has another rare opportunity to relish her job: a strange, sloppy anonymous letter threatens another bombing unless its absurd demand is met. Mayor Dobbins must run through the entire town, in broad daylight... completely naked. (His wife, played by Mim Drew, concurs that sneakers are probably okay.) If meant to humiliate the mayor, the stunt backfires: his courage and even his physique earn public admiration and soon dozens of equally naked men are jogging behind him. This results in a humorous moment as Alonzo and Dodie toast their brief sojourn in the land of "Normal," just before that flock of streakers passes by the coffee shop window.

Alongside these farcical elements, the strain of Veronica's personal life begins to wear her down (Logan compares her, to his mind, self-imposed suffering to the character in The Crucible who demands an ever-greater pile of stones on his chest rather than give in to his accusers). Her father's memory issues are now unavoidable and when she presses him to take a vacation after this case, he reveals that he'd rather close up shop altogether and free her to do something else, somewhere else. Logan concurs, even broaching the sensitive matter of a breakup if she thinks she'd be happier elsewhere. She wouldn't; asked where she'd be without Logan or Keith weighing her down, she embraces Logan and tells him her head would be in an oven because she would have lost the two people she cared about the most. This moment is worth keeping in mind when both Veronica and Keith struggle to trust newfound friends. Keith is tempted to excuse Clyde's suspicious activities even as Veronica digs up mountains of dirt. Veronica, meanwhile, is alarmed by the fervor with which Nicole shoots bottles during some stoned target practice (she proclaims the names of men she hates as she fires at each one). But she denies that the club owner could play any role in the bombings, even if they do link up to incidents at Comrade Quack's - a business, Veronica learns, that Nicole won in a lawsuit against its former owner, whose lax safety policies got her raped. Even if she was capable of building and setting off bombs, Veronica reasons, why would she harm her own pocketbook? This seems even more pertinent when another bomb goes off right inside the bar itself; but then Veronica learns that Nicole is just biding her time until the end of the season - the business has already been sold...to Nicole's supposed archenemy Big Dick.

Tensions emerge with an older friend as well; Weevil and Veronica fight over young Juan Diego, her mugger, whom Veronica decides to use as a pawn, getting Weevil (or, failing that, Juan himself) to identify Clyde as the liaison who orders and pays off the biker gang to disrupt life in Neptune. (Meanwhile, Penn and fellow murderhead Carol, played by Dannah Feinglass Phirman, make their own discovery: identify Big Dick as the author of the mayor-threatening letter based on how he words his tweets. They make love in celebration - or at least they would if they didn't discover a dead duck planted under their sheets.) Weevil, already unhappy with Veronica, is going to be pissed about Juan. And in a long, tumultuous relationship, this may be the point of no return, a risk Veronica runs to prevent future bombings and save lives. Veronica's other old pal fares better in "Losing Streak," even if just for the span of a line and a gesture. Wallace, still barely a featured character (his house party is an important early setpiece but we don't see much of him there either) earns an amusing moment on a school bus. There he watches his student Matty bat her eyelashes to melt brainy, standoffish Owen (Nick Alvarez) and get him to hack some secret documents. Chuckling as he recognizes who's encouraging this behavior, Wallace mumbles knowingly, with a big grin, "It's a slippery slope, Owen."

My Response:

July 2019 Patreon podcasts: Early access to Martha Nochimson interview, LOST IN TWIN PEAKS #6 - Season 1 Episode 6, and LOST IN THE MOVIES #57 - Twin Peaks Cinema - Fire in the Sky (+ favorites films archive #34 - 24: Band of Outsiders, White Heat, Easy Rider, Singin' in the Rain, Red Hot Riding Hood, Goodfellas, Fists in the Pocket, The Searchers, The "Up" Series, Mamma Roma, Young Mr. Lincoln & Twin Peaks Reflections: Cable, Chet & Sam, Teresa, Sam's apartment, Buenos Aires hotel, Teresa Banks case/Inland Empire)


Welcome to the new format for the Lost in the Movies podcast, in which my broad interest in cinema meets my particular emphasis on Twin Peaks. First up is a sci-fi film from shortly after the original series; like Peaks, Fire in the Sky features a disappearance that shakes up a small town while an out-of-town detective navigates local suspicions, as well as a terrifying abduction in the woods accompanied by a blinding light. The culprits, however, are much more specific and the film falls more firmly into a particular genre (or does it?).

On Lost in Twin Peaks, the $5/month members reach the first solo Mark Frost teleplay and we explore how his concerns are reflected in the results...



In addition to Fire in the Sky, my main podcast for July uses The Missing Pieces as a springboard to study several Twin Peaks characters and locations while connecting the Teresa Banks case to Inland Empire. My Favorites archive series covers a couple gangster flicks, a couple sixties Italian classics, and a couple John Ford masterpieces, and I close off the episode by updating listeners on my activities in the spring...



I'm also beginning to open up my old Lost in Twin Peaks episodes for all tiers (these will be published six months after the $5/month tier gets them, all the way through the rewatch). This kicks off with a special two-and-a-half-hour episode on The Missing Pieces, deleted scenes from Fire Walk With Me. Today is the fifth anniversary of their release, so dig in if you haven't already...



Finally, I offered an interview with Martha Nochimson, Lynch scholar and author of the new book Television Rewired. Here is the full conversation, which will become public next month but is only available for patrons for now...



To clarify a point, I added a nine-minute bonus a few weeks later...



And here is a short highlight made public on YouTube...



Podcast Line-Ups for...

Veronica Mars - "Heads You Lose" (season 4, episode 4)


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 David Walpert; directed by Rachel Goldberg): Sometimes style can be more effective than scale. If the previous bomb terrified beachgoers for its indiscriminate violence, the latest is chilling in its specificity. Bryce (Ian Bamberg), an obnoxious Comrade Quack's patron tossed out for spiking women's drinks, wakes up on the beach with a device strapped around his neck. Panicking, he races onto the boardwalk, shoving silverware into various slots as passerby scream and run away. And then, poof, with a small pop a headless corpse collapses into the sand. Few shed tears for this particular victim but it's hard to ascribe righteous motives to his murderer. With an apparent serial killer on the loose, Mayor Mark Dobbins (Andrew Friedman) calls the FBI to town. One of the agents, a certain Leo D'Amato, calls on Veronica for professional reasons (and perhaps a dash of old time's sake) - he's uncomfortably greeted by Logan at the door - and the duo end up staking out Clyde after he lingers near nails (for a bomb?) at a hardware store they're looking into. As it turns out, his bag is full of light switch covers and he's more interested in knocking back drinks at Keith's office than knocking off tourists at the beach. More suspiciously, however, several business owners who've decided to flee the town are selling to investors from their own home regions - obviously some kind of front for shadier real estate machinations. Having backed away from his Rep. Maloof theory without learning the larger lessons, Penn (who's been bugging Neptune Investigations) loudly proclaims Dick's and Clyde's guilt at a town meeting before being escorted out. If the Mars - embarrassed and potentially exposed by Penn's outburst - are wishy-washy on that interpretation, they still have their suspicions. Veronica visits Chino for interviews with two men she sent away in her Hearst days. Withstanding the expert needling of both murderous T.A. Tim Foyle and campus rapist Mercer Hayes, she manipulates them into providing information about Clyde and the other prisoners who've popped up in recent overlapping cases. Meanwhile, her re-acquaintance with Weevil is less successful. After saving her from his underlings' assault, he's scolded by her for running a chop shop and youth gang. But Weevil scoffs at her binary judgments as he walks away: "Must be nice to have a choice."

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Keep Calm and Party On" (season 4, episode 3)


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 Joaquin Sedillo; directed by Heather V. Regnier): Case closed. Matty is now ready to bring her troubles to the Mars family; they've been vouched for by Penn and Matty's physics teacher - Wallace as it turns out. She identifies a man with a mole as the guy from the Fitzpatricks' business who delivered the deadly vending machine to her father and a little surveillance work follows, during which Veronica begins to take the broken bird under her own wing (Matty asks her if she was angry after Lilly was murdered, and Veronica answers, "I'm still angry"). And Perry Walsh is soon identified as the culprit, his information turned over to Chief Langdon who leads a SWAT team on his house. Blowing himself up before he can be captured, Perry leaves a misogynist manifesto on his computer; the Mars collect their checks from the Maloofs, shrug as Langdon refuses to credit them for the tip, and tell each other not to indulge in their mutual history of "tilting at windmills." But when Alex asks Veronica if she really believes they got their man, she says, flatly, no. As she asks in the closing narration, gawking at a massive fireball on the beachfront while everyone runs away in slow motion, "Why do I always have to be right?"

Moving toward the halfway mark of the series, we reach a number of turning points. The bomb plot and Matty have already been noted, but we also meet Penn's murderhead crew who pester Veronica and Logan with prying questions about the legendary Lilly. Keith bonds with Clyde, who sends him to a lavish health service run by Dick, as he takes the Casablancas assistant's missing-girlfriend case and swats down Veronica's suspicions that they're behind the bombs. Daniel's stressful life has the most twists and turns; he asks Mars Investigations to find out who's blackmailing him over a masturbation video, gets kidnapped and tortured by the Carr brothers, and is rescued and nearly killed by Alonzo and Dodie before a radio report of Perry's death vindicates him. This wild ride ends with the congressman hiring his would-be murderers to kill the Carrs on his behalf. Alonzo meanwhile has been seeing hotel employee Claudia (Onahoua Rodriguez) who invites him to a family barbecue where he's introduced to her brother: Weevil! Recognizing Alonzo's tattoo he wonders if the Mexican's business in Neptune is related to the bombings, and when Alonzo assures him he didn't set any bombs, a savvy Weevil mutters, "That's not what I asked..."

A Chino connection between many of these disparate players is discovered; Dick Sr., Clyde, Perry, and even the random disgruntled customer Keith found planting rats at Hu's store all did time in the state prison. This as much as anything encourages Veronica to believe there's a larger conspiracy at work - well, this and that whisper of a feeling. She's also mugged by an incompetent young PCHer (Tyler Alvarez) before turning the tables on him. Inside his own wallet, she discovers six crisp C-notes. This same teenager, incidentally (or not) was photographed taking a dump in the ice machine outside the Sea Sprite. Is whoever he's working for a Chino alumnus too? (We see the boy, rather ominously, wandering around Weevil's barbecue.) Despite these shadowy connections and dark subjects, there are a few moments of fun and games onscreen (and not all of them involve poop). They usually star the younger Dick. He strips in Nicole's nightclub before taking ecstasy with her, Veronica, and Logan, and later he plays a promotional volleyball match on the beach with Logan as his partner. But even that later moment, one of the lightest and least consequential we've lingered over, ends with the second bomb. Going forward, there probably isn't going to be room for either half of the episode's title.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Chino and the Man" (season 4, episode 2)


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; directed by Michael Fields): With the town reeling from catastrophe, everyone has something to do in "Chino and the Man," and few witnesses, friends, or family members are content to demurely answer questions for the detectives - emphasis on the plural. Indeed, many are more interested in joining the ranks of those detectives themselves. Penn, it is revealed, is not just a pizzaman but a cold case-obsessed sleuth in his spare time. And as he tweets to his newly grown follower base, he has little faith in Neptune officialdom. ("But didn't you lose an election due to evidence-tampering?" he asks Keith, wide-eyed. "Didn't you investigate the wrong person in the Lilly Kane case?") A bit of a meta-element within this world, a true crime Greek chorus, Penn explicitly ties Neptune's present to its past even if his understanding of what went down then and now is a little screwy. By episode's end he's on national television spouting theories about Daniel Maloof planting a bomb in his sister-in-law-to-be's make-up bag. Given the Carrs' already belligerent attitude toward the Maloofs - the stereotypical roughnecks, looking for Tawny's expensive engagement ring, attack the congressman before Logan lays them out and gets hired as Daniel's bodyguard - I don't think murder accusations are going to help the family dynamic.

Penn's cavalier pronouncement also places the prominent U.S. politician in the Mexican cartel's gunsights - after Alonzo and Dodie have already slain the (apparently) wrong suspect. For the most part, their antics are played for laughs (even this bloody execution, with a severed head as the punchline). Attempting to fit in with the crowd of American kids the duo are more comfortable making smiling threats than casual small talk; if they operate as comic relief it's thanks to their bemused fish-out-of-water quality rather than incompetent bumbling. Then again, their cold-blooded proficiency as strongmen and assassins is not exactly matched by investigative prowess. Taking some frightened college students at their word is an amateur move and if these two are going to actually earn the wad of cash El Despiadado gave them, they'll probably have to join their ruthlessly sharp teeth to a real detective's keen nose. (I can think of just the Van Lowe for the job.) Veronica seems to desire a similar arrangement between her and Matty, but the kid has her own plan. She confronts Liam Fitzpatrick for selling her dad a possibly explosive snack machine and destroys their merchandise before Veronica arrives just in time with a getaway car and a gun. "Goddamn, I hate that girl," Liam growls, to which his pals retort, "Which one?" The now fully-grown Mars is forced to see herself through the looking glass: "Parents split up, then a murder, followed by the agony of not knowing where to focus her rage. I know the sort of person who emerges on the other side. I thought if I could solve the case quickly enough, she might not have time to set and harden. Once a girl sets and hardens, her life becomes a series of apologies."

And Veronica primarily owes an apology to Logan. Punishing him for his gentlemanly stoicism - why has he taken her rejection so gracefully? where's that old explosive Echolls temper? why does he seem so sedated? - she eggs him on until he punches a hole in the kitchen cabinet...and then they go straight to the sack (or rather, they don't even make it to there). Veronica, it seems, has internalized and articulated the writers' own rueful recognition: the more fucked up these two get, the hotter their chemistry. Logan, currently seeing a therapist and trying to keep his traumatic battlefield experiences from simmering to the surface, immensely - and rightfully - resents his girlfriend's expectations. If Veronica knows this dynamic is unhealthy she still craves it, or at least some sort of unattainable balance between the bad boy and the grown adult. Logan's beloved sardonic side, at least, does reveal itself more in the presence of the Casablancas, who feature heavily in episode two. Dick, Jr. is now an actor celebrating his latest movie while Dick, Sr. cavorts around the golf course and boardroom boasting about his years in the slammer. He even goes by "Big Dick," as his arm tattoo proudly proclaims, although a flashback reveals that the mark - violently etched by burly gangbangers - was supposed to read "Bitch" before Clyde Pickett (J.K. Simmons) intervened to protect him.

In fact, Clyde planned that whole encounter, guessing correctly that it would encourage a worried Dick, desperate for an ally, to offer Clyde employment on the outside. For the most part, Clyde spends the episode quietly observing, obeying, and enforcing (as when he chases away an underage girl, played by Victoria Bruno, who's clinging to Dick, Jr. at an afterparty). There's one notable exception: the gruff buzzard gently approaches Veronica to ask if she can find an old lover and she firmly but respectfully shoots him down. Clyde is impressed by her integrity and we almost wonder if this gesture was a test on his part. And why did Veronica, always pushing her dad to run a business rather than a charity, take the high road here? Perhaps she just wants one less thing to apologize for.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Spring Break Forever" (season 4, episode 1)


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 Rob Thomas; directed by Michael Lehmann): In the spirit of "something old, something new" (a phrase whose implications our protagonist is determined to avoid), Veronica Mars deftly mixes familiar faces with updated-for-2019 references. From the opening scene in which Veronica brazenly assaults a smart house and earns a cool six grand as her reward to the conclusion in which the sight of a newly fatherless young girl reminds the thirtysomething detective of the vulnerable teen she once was and the quasi-orphan she nearly became, we are navigating good old Neptune through clear eyes, wizened by experience but freshly attuned to the present moment. As the episode title suggests, it's peak tourist season in town; the show's familiar social dynamic, the hardworking middle class vs. the entitled 1% (or, in Mars terminology, the 09ers), plays out against this backdrop. Small businesspeople like bar owner Nicole Malloy (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and motelier Sul Ross (Brad Morris) are eager to maintain the cashflow produced by party-hearty spring breakers (although not unethically eager, as Nicole demonstrates when she saves an unconscious young woman from a lecherous patron). And cleanliness-obsessed (or perhaps property value-obsessed) elites like Dick Casablancas, Sr., everyone's favorite white-collar criminal/father of a mass murderer, seek to "beautify" the town by chasing away the grubby tourist trade. Meanwhile Keith is hired by shopkeeper Hu (Francois Chau) who wants to maintain his small base of low-income clientele despite the rats being mysteriously released into his grocery store. A smallscale challenge (as are - for the moment - Keith's memory lapses which become evident as he initiates this investigation), cases like this aren't going to keep the Mars family business afloat.

Then comes the big bang. A devastating explosion in the lobby of the Sea Sprite, the shabby if serviceable inn of choice for beach-bound students, kills Sul, arrogant law student Jimmy (Mark L. Young), cheerfully nerdy Gabriel (Rudy Martinez), and Tawny Carr (Chanel Marriot), the fiancee of Alex Maloof (Paul Karmiryan), who is the little brother of Arab-American U.S. Representative Daniel Maloof (Mido Hamada). We meet Daniel and his mother Amalia (Jacqueline Antaramian) at the hospital where survivors are being treated. This scene not only introduces us to Chief - Neptune no longer calls for a sheriff, apparently - Marcia Langdon (Dawnn Lewis), who appears much more well-intentioned than the Lambs but inspires little confidence in the congressman. It also delightfully re-introduces Cliff. Elated by the cash crop of injured individuals, the amoral lawyer strolls through the ER, handing his card out left and right. A darker version of this cheerful-to-be-alive-and-profiting-from-pain persona is revealed south of the border where Alonzo Lozano (Clifton Collins Jr.) dispatches an informer for cartel head El Despiadado (Marco Rodriguez) while smilingly spouting his deterministic philosophy. His storyline dovetails with our central case when his boss' ex-wife Silvia (Alanna Ubach) convinces the powerful drug dealer to avenge her nephew Gabriel's death. Alonzo and Dodie Mendoza (Frank Gallegos) hit the road with a generous cash allowance and a promise they can keep everything they don't spend - as long as they deliver the bomber's head on a platter. Back in California, the Maloofs hire the Mars family to find out who maimed Alex, destroying his promising athletic career, and, very secondarily as they make clear, killed the woman his family did not want him to marry. Wounded like Alex, albeit to a much lesser extent, is Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt), a garrulous pizza delivery man; wounded emotionally if not physically is Matty Ross (Izabela Vidovic), Sul's daughter whom Veronica sees wandering the wreckage after they take the case. Something about this figure calls to her, and as Veronica's voice returns on the soundtrack to bookend the episode, she remarks, "There was a girl. And I started to care about the girl. And if you know anything about what I do, that's never good."

Forget it, Veronica - it's Neptune.

My Response:

Veronica Mars (the film)


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 (premiered on March 8, 2014/written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero, story by Rob Thomas; directed by Rob Thomas): Bonnie DeVille is dead. Who? A huge pop star who attended dated Logan Echolls for years, she was once known as Carrie Bishop (Andrea Estella, replacing Leighteon Meester on the series) - the gossip girl whom Veronica once helped take down a teacher that had an affair with her friend Susan Knight (Christine Lakin). This callback to season one's "Mars vs. Mars" is one of many times that Veronica Mars the film draws deeply upon details of Veronica Mars the series. It's the best kind of fanservice, elegantly nesting callbacks, inside jokes, and familiar faces inside a tight feature thriller plot that could theoretically get by fine without them. This is, of course, very much a film for fans. They clamored for it beforehand, they funded it by setting Kickstarter records, and they likely made up the vast majority of its generally small but profitable audience. A brand new viewer could watch it without seeing the series - hell, they could even walk in late after the opening explanatory montage - and still understand the basics, but they'd miss well more than half the picture. And what are those basics?

A young lawyer is pursuing a prestigious corporate law job in New York. The interviewer Gayle Buckley (Jamie Lee Curtis) asks her about her past, as a teenage private eye from a California beach town, involving multiple cases ranging from dognapping to murder, as well as her own sex tape circulating the internet. She handles their inquiries gracefully and is offered the job; this as well as her healthy love life, recently resumed with a young man she dated in college, indicate a promising future...but her past quickly comes back to take a bite. The death of a famous musician, and the charging of her ex-boyfriend (meaning both the lawyer's and the musician's) sends her home to help the suspect - whom she hasn't seen or spoken to in nine years - pick a good defense lawyer. But she gets drawn back into her old life in numerous other ways, attending a a disaster of a tenth high school reunion, investigating curious connections of old acquaintances to the murder, helping out her father and an old friend who are both attacked, and eventually vindicating her ex (no longer just her ex after she hooks up with him and her present boyfriend dumps her) and finding the real killer. The law firm passes on her when she fails to return their calls, and she decides to stay behind and re-join her father's investigative practice, back to her old ways (which she compares to an addiction) after she came so close to fully leaving it all behind.


Of course, fans - Marshmallows as they've been called since that term was used in the pilot back in 2004 - know that this young lawyer-turned-private eye is Veronica Mars. The victim she's investigating is the aforementioned Carrie Bishop, her ex is Logan Echolls (now an Air Force officer and veteran of Afghanistan), her New York boyfriend is "Piz" Piznarski, her father is Keith Mars, and the old friend who's attacked is "Weevil" Navarro. (The killer, in perhaps the weakest element, is Stu "Cobb" Cobbler, an entirely new character played by Martin Starr, who doesn't make much of an impression). What's more, the bratty Neptune alum humiliating Veronica at the reunion is Madison Sinclair, the killer's associate whom Veronica surveills to uncover the crime is Gia Goodman, the celebrity snoop who assists her in exposing their conspiracy is Vinnie Van Lowe, the carjacked rich woman who fearfully shoots Weevil when he tries to help her is Celeste Kane, the lawyer who comes to Veronica's help when she's arrested for snooping on crazed Bonnie superfan Ruby Jetson/Della Pugh (Gaby Hoffman) is Cliff McCormack, and the San Diego cop who turns up some helpful information for Veronica - along with some light-hearted flirting - is Leo D'Amato. And, with no real relevance to the plot but an absolute need to be part of the experience, Wallace Fennel (now a high school coach), "Mac" Mackenzie (now a well-paid if ashamed Kane employee), and Dick Casablancas (still a cheerfully crude surfer dude, but now with a new medical license for pot brownies) also appear. After the reunion melts down into the playing of Veronica's sex tape, Logan and a dozen others brawling at the bar, the sprinklers soaking everyone, and Veronica finally punching Madison in the face, Principal Van Clemmons even pops up to tell Veronica it's been awfully boring since she's been gone.

So the film's primary appeal is this checking-in-on-friends aspect, but it delivers an involving mystery too. Bonnie was electrocuted in a bathtub, her first music video featured ample water imagery, and her last album was called "Confessions." Veronica realizes that Bonnie was haunted by the death of her friend Susan on a boat years ago. Gia, Dick, Cobb, and others had all been there too - mostly 09ers partying the night away - but the lower-class Cobb was their drug dealer and ultimately the blackmailer who would hang Susan's overdose, and their disposal of her body, over their heads (using the secret to procure money, sex, and favors). Obviously inspired by the Natalie Wood drowning scandal, and the rumors that have swirled around since 1981, this plot offers many key elements of the Veronica Mars mythos: celebrity, crime, class tensions. Meanwhile, Keith is nearly killed (and poor, mustachioed Deputy Sacks is even less lucky) in a cover-up of corrupt Sheriff Dan Lamb (Jerry O'Connel) - less the comic incompetent like his dead brother, more the purely venal overlord. And when Weevil is shot, the cops plant a gun in his hand, following up the scene where Keith and Veronica watch police brutalize local Hispanic youths; the already divided, oppressive community of the series has become nearly dystopian in post-recession America.

It's this as much as anything that pulls Veronica back in. She may frame her proclivity for detection as a personal flaw, an embarrassing social stigma, a self-destructive addiction, but it's also clear that she's called to justice rather than comfort. New York offers the opportunity to service an elite and pat herself on the back for escaping her troubled past; but Neptune offers something more important, and she recognizes this in her memorable closing line. "I convinced myself winning meant getting out. But in what world do you get to leave the ring and declare victory?"


My Response:

Veronica Mars - "The Bitch is Back" (season 3, episode 20)


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 22, 2007/written by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero; directed by Michael Fields): Eager to get revenge for her surveillance and exploitation, Veronica unleashes her wrath on the scummy men who passed her video around. It turns out that the reason she was spied on in the first case is, of all people, Wallace. Not on purpose of course, but since his athletic performance got him recruited into "The Castle," a legendary, exclusive secret society, he was being watched by existing members. Piz being his roommate, and Veronica being - at this point, pretty fully - Piz's girlfriend they simply got caught in the crossfire. Who could have expected that the weird guy trailing Wallace in the library, in what seemed to be the most minor of minor subplots, would lead to Parker dumping Logan, a hospital visit for Piz, Wallace undergoing sadistic shock treatment, the unveiling of a century of elite secrets, Veronica's privacy and personal reputation unfairly destroyed, a scandal that may remove Keith from office and even place him in prison, a possibly permanent rift between Veronica and Logan and, hell, maybe even (someday) Logan's murder?! On the bright side, Veronica and Nish get to patch things up, Veronica and Weevil get to steal a douchebag's tires, and Logan eventually apologizes to Piz for brutally assaulting him. And Gorya "Gory" Sorokin (Matthew Alan) the vicious son of a Mafioso - this time a much more deserving target - also gets demolished by Logan, although the consequences could be, well, consequential. We'll take what we can get.

The initiation for "The Castle" pledges is held at a grand Neptune estate that Veronica doesn't recognize. She parks outside, hops over the gate, squeezes through the doggie door, and hides behind the curtain. A middle-aged man enters his office with a college student and uploads video files onto a heavily-guarded hard drive. The videos are of pledges forced to confirm their gravest secrets, to be used as implicit blackmail keeping the entire tight-knit elite group in line for the rest of their lives. Veronica realizes whose home she's in when, tiptoeing past the room where the pledges are gathered, she comes face to face with a creepy painting of Lilly Kane. The Kanes are back in Neptune and Veronica is going to be in a lot of trouble. So is her father; he quickly realizes that the break-in he's been called to investigate was her doing. A thread from her sweater was caught on the doggie door and the neighbor's security system shows someone who looks a lot like her trespassing next door. As Jake and Clarence demand that Keith turn over the DVR that he confiscated, the sheriff has a decision to make - as if he really had a choice. At risk of losing his job and worse, he destroys the only evidence that can confirm Veronica's theft. Veronica, meanwhile, has used Mac to crack the drive's password and returns it to Jake in exchange for him letting the matter drop. He will, for his part, but it's too late for Keith. The district attorney has brought him up on charges of obstructing justice and the scandal is front page news, on Election Day no less!

Veronica goes to the polls to casts her lone ballot, exits into the wet street, and heads into the horizon as "It Never Rains in Southern California" plays and the show ends on a melancholy, ambiguous note...for now.


My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Weevils Wobble But They Don't Go Down" (season 3, episode 19)


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 22, 2007/written by Phil Klemmer; directed by Jason Bloom): Weevil is in trouble again; several students allege that he was the one who sold them mock-student IDs with fake credit on them. This time even Keith believes he's being set up but in his role as Sheriff Mars he has to recognize the case against him is pretty strong. Veronica quickly determines that Weevil could not have programmed the machine that produces student IDs. When she discovers that a number of students associated with the charges against him are part of an Aspen ski club, she records them offering her a deal and then reveals the recording, demanding that they let Weevil go. They do but Keith - listening carefully to the conversation - tells Veronica they haven't really confessed to anything. She agrees, but got what she wanted out of the situation, mostly, since Weevil has been freed. He calls her to say he couldn't find the additional machine they claimed to have stashed away but we, and only we, see that he's lying: in his lap as he chats with Veronica is one of the machines. Could the Mars clan be wrong about the ex-con's reformed ways? Keith of course has much more going on than Weevil's case. The sheriff's race is drawing closer, in both senses, and Piz invites him on his live radio show to rebut Vinnie. It doesn't go well; a slick Vinnie hammers him particularly hard on the bar-busting issue and Keith is stiff and uncomfortable in the debate.

Aside from these storylines, Wallace is trailed by a mysterious stranger (Nathanael Johnson) who claims to be offering him membership in an exclusive society called The Castle. But the biggest drama is saved until the end. Veronica's romance with Piz has blossomed into something more serious than she originally intended, and she wants to let him know she'll miss him in Virginia this summer. They kid around in his dorm room before hooking up. Then, somehow, a video of this encounter circulates on an email chain. Dick, who has been struggling all episode with his familial demons and even goofily tries to make amends with Mac, pops up next to Logan with a laptop and casually wonders if Veronica knows she's all over the internet this way. Logan's eyes narrow; he already didn't like Piz, sarcastically clashing with him at the beach earlier, but now he has a real reason to hate him. As Piz records his show, Logan storms into Piz's booth to attack him. Punches are thrown - and this is no scrappy tussle but an all-out brutal brawl as Logan connects repeatedly to Piz's face, bloodying himself in the process. Piz gets off a few defensive shots but is mostly battered. A bruised Logan appears at the Mars Investigations office, prepared to inform Veronica about...something. And there, presumably for the last time (until 2019), an episode of Veronica Mars leaves us with a cliffhanger.

My Response:

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:

Veronica Mars - "Debasement Tapes" (season 3, episode 17)


UPDATE: Yesterday, apparently as a surprise, Hulu began streaming the entire fourth season a week ahead of schedule. This obviously completely nukes the timing I worked out for this viewing diary which was supposed to build up to the announced premiere on July 26. As such, I will no longer offer a marathon of new reviews next weekend (as originally planned). Instead I will continue to post season three episodes each day, followed by the film, and then I will release my revival viewing diary one day at a time as well, concluding this whole series on August 2.

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 8, 2007/written by John Enbom; directed by Dan Etheridge): Keith has settled into his new/old job and will be officially running unopposed (until the final scene, anyway). Whatever sparks Piz and Veronica set off in their momentary embrace have been extinguished (also until the final scene, if holding hands counts as re-ignition). Logan pulls an all-nighter with Mac designing a website about asses, Keith and Leo stake out a Fitzpatrick robbery which ends as they anticlimactically watch Vinnie tie things up himself, and Veronica spends a weekend trying to figure out how rock star Desmond Fellows (Paul Rudd) lost his backing track tapes. Putting her sleuthing skills to the test, Veronica discovers...drum solo please...he accidentally switched bags at the airport. There are a few pitstops along the way - a spurned would-be groupie, a "Semites for the Savoir" organization protesting Fellows' appearance - but the path from A to B is not very complicated, and this must be the mildest case Veronica has ever taken on. Desmond, formerly the brains behind the cult band My Pretty Pony, has lost any enthusiasm for life and music but Veronica and Piz, when not preoccupied with cancelling their own fling for lack of interest, attempt to convince Desmond that he should play his new solo material. Eventually they conspire to force his hand, declining to show up with the tapes they've rescued so that he'll have to take a chance. The crowd cheers and Desmond's faith in his own art is restored. It's everyone else's faith that may be in trouble.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Un-American Graffiti" (season 3, episode 16)


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 May 1, 2007/written by Robert Hull; directed by John Kretchmer): With things settling down at Hearst and in Neptune, Keith and Veronica branch off into two relatively low-key mysteries. Okay, calling Keith's story a "mystery" is a stretch. It's pretty clear how and why underage drinkers are getting into Neptune's bars, and the only moment of very, very mild revelation involves Deputy Gills (K.C. Clyde) openly declaring to bar patrons what he thinks of the "temporary" sheriff and his new-fangled (if also old-fashioned) way of doing business. Veronica, on the other hand, has an actual investigation to conduct albeit one that doesn't (yet) involve physically violent actions. Someone has been marking a local restaurant, run by immigrant family Rashad (Anthony Azizi), Sabirah (Carole Raphaelle Davis), and Amira Krimani (Azita Ghanizada), with anti-Arab graffiti. After a few wrong turns, Veronica finds Derrick Karr (Cole Williams), the right-wing brother of a wounded Iraq War veteran (Eric Ladin) who was enraged to find Nasir Ben Hafayid (Haaz Sleiman) handing out illustrations of U.S. troops entering Iraq and coming out the other side as coffins. Since Nasir works at the restaurant, Derrick targeted the whole family and he refuses to apologize when Rashad confronts him. Although he has a criminal record and could get sent to jail for his crimes, Rashad declines to press charges; in fact Rashad decides to stop protecting Nasir who - without a job or prospective marriage - is arrested and deported by the INS (an anachronism in 2007, showing how little-known ICE was at the time). The episode ends when Logan throws a party for Parker, where Dick tries to proposition two different MySpace acquaintances, Mac hits it off with Max (his tech talk is more her speed than Bronson's long hikes) and Veronica is about to tell Piz they should just be friends when he kisses her, and she decides she'd rather make out with him instead - just as Logan walks off the elevator.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Papa's Cabin" (season 3, episode 15)


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 27, 2007/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): Just six episodes later, we have another climax: the Dean's true murderer is found. And then found again. And again. When Keith turns the screws, Hank and Mindy turn on each other, declaring that it was the other one who killed the Dean. Veronica and Tim team up to vindicate their professor, and a very femme fatale shot of Mindy coldly donning shades as she collects her insurance payout leads us to suspect they're on the right path. They track down a woman (Dendrie Taylor) whom he encountered outside a convenience store at the time of the Dean's death. But his alibi falls through when they learn that Hank called her from a burner phone to set this up. By then Hank has been released and, like Mindy, he vanishes, but Tim's and Veronica's sleuthing, now turned against their professor, reveals that they fled to Mexico. And there Keith finds the shaken Hank on Mindy's boat, confessing not the murder of the Dean - Hank still firmly believes Mindy killed her husband - but to the accidental slaying of Mindy herself. Hank, of course, is arrested and charged with both crimes. And Tim, who learns from Hank's phone (ostensibly bugged by Steve Batando) that the professor had declined to recommend him to a colleague, is now promoted to teaching the prestigiuos criminology course with Veronica as his de facto T.A. It's almost heartwarming to see the two rivals come together like this, bonding over an investigation into their mutual mentor. Almost.

As Tim lays out the case against Hank for the hyper-curious class, something starts to dawn on Veronica. When she pulls apart her phone in her seat, she discovers a bug and realizes that Tim knew some key information he could have only learned by spying on her. It was all a set-up, every last bit: the initial suicide cover story, the incriminating evidence, the reliance on the two suspects turning on each other and clumsily trying to cover their own trails (it's actually Hank who switched the Dean's and Steven's keyboards), even the stumbling into Veronica's office at night and begging for her help. Veronica openly confronts Tim in the middle of his lecture, offering only one cold comfort for the perfect murder-plotter. At least the professor won't disrespect his intelligence ever again.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Mars, Bars" (season 3, episode 14)


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 20, 2007/written by Phil Klemmer & John Enbom, story by Phil Klemmer, John Enbom & Joe Voci; directed by Harry Winer): What a reversal! The Dean's supposed suicide is more clearly than ever a murder, while the Coach's murder turns out to be a suicide. Thanks to a peanut allergy, Josh escaped from jail and kidnapped Mason, whom he shows Veronica gagged and bound in the back of his car. But Mason's gun does not match the "murder" weapon, Mason is freed, and Veronica convinces Josh to meet with her again in twenty-four hours so she can help him flee the country. Cashing in his rare coin collection, he finds a DVD in a safety deposit box that he wasn't supposed to access until he was 21. On it, Coach Barry movingly tells his son that he's suffering from a fatal illness (information Keith tracked down earlier earlier in the episode) and that he's going to make his suicide look like a murder so that the family will be able to get his insurance payout. And so Veronica, initially unsure if she would set a trap and turn Josh in, helps another fugitive with a desperate family situation cross the Mexican border. It's a good thing her father finds out when he does because a few minutes later he might be professionally bound to turn her in or be complicit in a police cover-up: he's about to become sheriff again.

One of the biggest plot developments in the entire series occurs as part of of the Dean O'Dell case. Veronica realizes that the time of death was wrong: a gunshot was heard after Mindy's car had returned to the hotel, not while she was out. However, Weevil finds a shirt with Hank's initials stitched onto them in an old, non-working incinerator, pointing suspicion back in her and her lover's direction. Nor does her ex Steve come off clean; Lamb picks him up after his fingerprints are found on the Dean's keyboard, Cliff gets him out on a technicality, and then he breaks into the O'Dell house. Lamb, ever incompentent - tragically rather than comically this time - fires at his own reflection and then is blindsided by Steve before a deputy shoots him down. Lamb bleeds out as Keith arrives to call in medical care, and when the county commisioner delivers the news that Lamb has died in the hospital, Keith is assigned to be acting sheriff. In that capacity, with the full weight of the law behind him now, he confronts Mindy with the monogrammed piece of clothing and demands answers.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Postgame Mortem" (season 3, episode 13)


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 13, 2007/written by Joe Voci; directed by John Kretchmer): Despite dipping even further into death, the heart of the episode is with Logan and Heather Button (Juliette Goglia), a bright-eyed, hyperactive 11-year-old whom he's forced to babysit. They make quite an amusing odd couple, the college student (who's on the verge of failing his classes) barely able to get up from the couch, unshaven and perpetually clad in his bathrobe, peppered with questions and offered unsolicited advice by the cheerful, chatty little girl. She's there because Dick invited her big sister Melinda (Lisa Jay) to a party, which turns into a trip to Vegas, which turns into into a drunken marriage, which turns into a honeymoon, which turns into a miserable ride back to California. Heather seems unconcerned, maybe even relieved to have nowhere to be and nothing to do, and she quickly preoccupies herself with teasing out and attempting to resolve Logan's love life. When Veronica, looking into the Dean's case at the Grande, finds herself in the same space as Logan and Heather (how many awkward trips has she taken in that elevator?) the pint-size matchmaker can barely contain herself. Finally Logan snaps and makes her cry, before learning from Melinda's sister that Heather - who seems so infinitely delighted by life, thrilled with Logan's taken-for-granted luxuries and convinced that he's living the dream - is actually on Prozac and has experienced wild mood swings since her father left the family. Logan and Heather reconcile over ice cream and the next day he's sufficiently recovered enough to show up for school.

That school, by the way, has become murder central over the past few months. The students are safe now that the serial rapists have been apprehended but two prominent staff members have died: Dean Cyrus O'Dell and, now, Coach Tom Barry. And in both cases, the very family members who ask Mars Investigations to look into the case are prime suspects. Keith's investigation of the Dean's "suicide" proves definitively that Mindy's car left the Grande and that two men were arguing in her room that night (as we already know, given what we saw of an armed Cyrus approaching). Mindy resists his initial request to end the investigation, even chuckling about his suspicions of her, but he keeps pressing and she keeps insisting that she and Hank, and no one else, were in the room together all night (save for a few minutes when she went down to get a toothbrush, which Hank convincingly verifies). Finally she gets fed up and fires Keith but it's too late; after reading the Dean's heartfet recommendation letter for Veronica, he is committed to finding the real killer even if it's free of charge and unwanted by the fickle, evasive widow. Keith's other clients are Kathleen and Josh Barry (Tracey Needham and Jonathan Chase), desperate to prove that Josh didn't murder his dad after quitting the basketball team in rage. Veronica - who suspects Wallace's friend Mason of killing the coach and trying to pin it on Josh - sympathizes with the coach's son, even delivering concealed cookies when he's locked away in the sheriff's cell. Somehow she ends up handcuffed in Professor Landry's classroom, informed by Lamb that she helped Josh escape. Does Josh, or his cellmate, have allergies (the cookies look like peanut butter) that helped him stage a jailbreak?

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "There's Got to Be a Morning After Pill" (season 3, 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 6, 2007/written by Jonathan Moskin, Phil Klemmer & John Enbom, story by Jonathan Moskin & David Mulei; directed by Tricia Brock): Terrorized by visions of Logan having sex with her mortal enemy Madison (who accidentally roofied and very purposefully slut-shamed her at the Casablancas party sophomore year), Veronica breaks up with Logan yet again. Ignoring his voicemails and Dick's admonitions (although Dick also is pissed to find out Logan slept with his ex), she sticks to her decision and even plots revenge against Madison. Watching the spoiled brat get a new Mercedes for her birthday, Veronica plots with Weevil to crush the car up into a little cube with the vanity plate placed atop it in her driveway. Only the intersection of a pregnancy crisis, an overreaching best friend, and a Christian preacher eventually change her mind. Bonnie Capistrano (Carlee Avers), whom we met as Tim's - and Dick's - girlfriend in previous episodes was secretly administered RU-486 and she hires Veronica to find out who terminated her pregnancy for her. This search leads Veronica to Capistrano Ministries, where she meets Carlee's father Reverand Ted (Chris Ellis), a staunch traditionalist who nonetheless rejoiced at the opportunity to become a grandfather - and grieved when he learned that his daughter miscarried. Veronica suspects his assistant Thurman Randolph (Vince Grant), who runs a pro-life snoop shop that sends pictures of women visiting the clinic to their family members. Thurman also wants to start his own ministry and would like to avoid a scandal. But it was Bonnie, not her father, who was betrayed by someone close to them: long-time pal and current roommate Phyllis (Toni Trucks) snuck the drug to Bonnie, fearing that her future would be compromised by a child. Ted holds Bonnie close and gently shushes her as she flies into a rage at her (former) friend, advising her that anger only makes things worse and forgiveness is all that can heal. And so, umbrella and second thoughts in hand, Veronica treks over to Weevil and asks him not to destroy Madison's car after all. Although he does have her permission to ventilate some tunafish through the A/C vent before he returns it.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Poughkeepsie, Tramps and Thieves" (season 3, episode 11)


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 January 30, 2007/written by Diane Ruggiero; directed by John Kretchmer): Taking a break from selling cheat aids to Neptune's desperate students, Max (Adam Rose) has a strange case for Veronica. A while ago, he fell in love with a beautiful woman at ComicCon - they established a deep connection without ever sleeping together, and she left her contact information in his hotel room but when he returned the cleaning service had already come through. He never heard from her again, and then he received a text from a random number saying she'd given up trying to reach him and was about to get married. Veronica gets to the bottom of this quickly: Max's friends (Nathan Frizzell and Richard Keith) hired a prostitute to take his virginity and felt bad when he took it too seriously, so they sent the text themselves (from a co-worker's New York area code). Max is still determined to track her down and when Chelsea, actually Fiona, actually Wendy (Brianne Davis) shows up, to Veronica's surprise she really does seem to be truly in love with the nerdy young man. They spend the following night together but when she's forced to leave abruptly the next day (another sex worker shows up with a fake black eye, demanding she return) and Max forks over some money to help her, Veronica asserts that he's been scammed. They decide to blackmail a prominent judge, one of her top clients, but her madame (Jackie Debatin) intervenes to inform them that no, Wendy really did love him but really is deep in debt. Max pays the $10,000 she needs, but the spell is broken and he can't look at her the same way. So Wendy leaves him again, this time with a note and payment for Veronica's service - in folded cash notes she got from returning to her old strip club job.

Veronica's own love life becomes complicated again when she and Logan share secrets in bed: he admits to sleeping with the surfer girl, and denies ever visiting a prostitute. Later Veronica runs into good old Madison Sinclair - with a brand new hairdo and look - at Victoria's Secret. It turns out when she showed up at Logan's door for a booty call earlier in the episode, she did not expect to find Dick there, as Veronica assumed. No, she was looking for Logan, whom she'd hooked up with during the brief break-up. As Veronica frets about sex and lies, Keith explores possible suspects in the O'Dell investigation, focusing on the Lilith House members who egged the Dean's office and car the night before. Except it turns out his car shouldn't have been there; either Nish is lying about egging a Volvo or Mindy (who traded cars with her husband earlier in the day) chose not to mention paying the Dean a visit...right around the time he was killed. Maybe she found him dead (or even saw the killer), freaked out, and came to Keith hoping he could discover who really did it without exposing that she was there? No picture is forming yet - too many missing pieces.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Show Me the Monkey" (season 3, episode 10)


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 January 23, 2007/written by John Enbom & Robert Hull, story by Robert Hull; directed by Nick Marck): Despite the big ending of "Spit & Eggs," this follow-up slows things down. Six weeks have passed, and the Dean's death has been ruled a suicide but Mindy has her doubts. She frankly acknowledges that at issue is her life insurance payout but also tells Keith that Cyrus wouldn't have gone out like that. When Veronica hears the circumstances - a very cliched note on his computer screen - she's suspicious too; not only does it seem too bland for so colorful a character, it's the exact scenario she described in her "How to Plot to Perfect Murder" paper for Professor Landry's class. What clinches it for Keith though is, sure enough, that bottle of scotch Cyrus was saving for years. It's unopened. Veronica is mostly preoccupied with literal monkey business as some animals have been stolen from a school lab. Pauline Elliot (Linara Washington) is convinced that the animal rights collective P.H.A.T. kidnapped "#24", as he's known (the scientists don't name their test subjects lest they get attached) but ultimately the culprit is her own partner Gil Thomas Pardy (Eric Jungmann) who grew attached and couldn't bear to kill the little creature. Veronica decides to cover for Gil, although she's troubled to hear that it only takes six days for "another one" to arrive. On a more upbeat note, Parker encourages Veronica and Mac to get out there and meet guys with her. Mac lands Bronson Pope (Michael Mitchell), the leader of P.H.A.T. (a group she and Veronica prove themselves to by tricking a right-winger country singer - originally to be played by Ted Nugent!! - into wearing a "Meat is Murder" t-shirt). As for Veronica, after a pep talk from Piz in which they agree about pursuing what you want, she ends up with...Logan.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Spit & Eggs" (season 3, episode 9)


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 28, 2006/written & directed by Rob Thomas): Where to begin? "Spit & Eggs" reveals the result of Veronica's serial rape investigation, sets up an entirely new mystery arc, dives into the fraught tension between the Greek system and its opponents on campus, centers the simultaneous collapse of Dean O'Dell's personal and professional lives, and resolves - if that's the right word - Logan's and Veronica's relationship crisis. Let's take the last first; after a few days of tension, Logan tells Veronica he's been doing a lot of thinking. Things aren't going well between them because they have such different needs and neither one is going to change. Veronica always needs to be the star of her own show (literal or otherwise) and Logan doesn't want to be on the sidelines. Logan is distressed to be delivering this recognition but understands that sharp, immediate pain is better than something far more devastating if they cling to each other for longer. Veronica is stunned but seems, initially, unflustered. It takes hours for the full weight of the break-up to make her break down. From here on, for now, she'll be going it alone. Sort of.


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:

Veronica Mars - "Of Vice and Men" (season 3, episode 7)


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 14, 2006/written by Phil Klemmer; directed by Harry Winer): Veronica is feeling betrayed by the men in her life. Her boyfriend refuses to provide his and Mercer's alibi for the night of one of the rapes, and then finally admits that they burned down a hotel in Mexico and ran away without waiting to see if everyone was okay (Veronica, as it turns out, doesn't need this explanation; Mercer is cleared by the logs of his radio show.) She's seen her would-be-mentor heading to the Dean's wife's hotel room with a bottle of champagne, and now he's apparently trying to buy her off by hooking her up with a summer internship at the FBI. And her father is carrying on an affair with a married client, and when she confronts him he offers every lame rationalization that they've heard a million times from the other side. Actually, Keith gets to hear it from both sides in this episode because Vinnie shows up with an envelope of photos; he's been hired by Harmony's husband to prove she's having an affair. He offers to destroy the evidence for $4000, double what Mr. Chase would pay him for it and Keith resigns himself to the cost and breaks up with Harmony as much due to Veronica's admonition as Vinnie's blackmail. Actually, Vinnie shows up with two requests - the first is that Keith tell him where Kendall is hiding, so that they can split the Fitzpatricks' money (although the clan also wants to know where Keith is keeping what she paid him). Keith denies any knowledge, but Vinnie and the Fitzpatricks intersect with the Mars clan elsewhere in "Of Vice and Men" when Veronica, quite against her will, ends up back in the River Stix bar. Liam torments Veronica, lifting and swinging her around from behind, until Vinnie pretends to drunkenly take and text a photo to Keith, forcing Liam to back off.

Veronica is there to help Meryl (Amanda Walsh), an out-of-towner checking up on her absentee boyfriend Sully (Michael Grant Terry). All the evidence suggests that he is cheating and purposefully avoiding her to facilitate a break-up, but in fact he was just taking advantage of the Fitzpatricks when he stumbled drunkenly into the wrong bar the other night and wound up sleeping it off in jail. Meryl never doubts him - even preferring to believe he was on the run with a top-secret space laser rather than the more obvious answer. When Veronica apologizes for assuming the worst, Meryl forgives her by noting "If I'd never been in love, I wouldn't have believed it either" which is certainly chastening. Before she can reconcile with Logan, however, Veronica takes a routine trip to the cafeteria and discovers a hair in her food. When she exchanges the dish, the camera lingers ominously on her soda, and when she returns to takes prominent sips, well...we know what's coming. She begins to hallucinate, recognizes the feeling from the first time she was given GHB, and stumbles into a parking garage before collapsing when she sees a black-clad figure approaching. With barely enough time to activate her car alarm, and with the extreme good fortune for Logan to be randomly passing by, she is saved before the would-be rapist can do more than clip a few locks of hair. She ends the episode back at the Mars homestead (she'd been staying in Wallace's room for a few days), with Keith and Logan taking care of her.

My Response:

Veronica Mars - "Hi, Infidelity" (season 3, episode 6)


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 7, 2006/written by John Enbom; directed by Michael Fields): The lingering question at the end of the previous episode is dealt with right away: Claire lied to create a rape hoax, Veronica has proof, Claire is expelled. And Nish - who is removed as editor of the school newspaper for declining to publish Veronica's report - is none to happy about any of this. For that matter, neither is Veronica, even if she's convinced justice has been served. Her investigation of the Parker incident, however, continues; Parker recognizes the cologne of Mercer Hayes (Ryan Devlin), the guy who runs the student casino, and when Veronica infiltrates his room, she finds clippers. And for once, Lamb doesn't give her grief when she comes to him with information...he recalls that mixed in with the cash stolen from Mercer in the previous episode were samples of a date rape drug (the same that both Veronica and Duncan drank at the infamous Casablancas party). Only one person seems to disbelieve Mercer's guilt: Logan, who informs Veronica that he was with Mercer when the crime supposedly occurred...but he can't tell Veronica what they were doing together. Once again, an episode ends with a cliffhanger.

Veronica is mostly consumed with her own personal problem throughout "Hi, Infidelity": highlighted as the star pupil by Professor Landry, who wants to become her mentor, she's framed for plagiarism. Sleuthing through school and hotel alike she finally realizes the name used on the email belongs to the professor's alias. He stays in the hotel a few times a month as "Rory Finch" with various women - the latest being the Dean's wife - and it turns out that jealous and/or concerned T.A. Tim set up this little mystery to warn Veronica of what his own former mentor was really like before she replaces him as protegee. Should she be grateful? Wallace's storyline turns out to be less minor than it originally seemed: he chooses his desired career of mechanical engineering over basketball when increased study time cuts into his readiness for practice, taking the season off from sports so he can pursue his dream despite the professor's admonition that he's not cut out for this work (he and Veronica have an alternately heartfelt and amusing interaction around this dilemma). Keith meanwhile lends the episode its title by nervously socializing with Harmony, his client from a few episodes back, while her husband is out of town. They attend a noir festival and sip martinis in the hotel lobby but when she outright tells him that she got a room, he leaves. Then he gets into a (genuinely shocking) accident. He laughs with amazement at being alive, at the fact that had he said yes to Harmony he wouldn't have nearly died, at the randomness of the universe, or perhaps at all of the above. And he returns to Harmony's room, passionately kissing her the moment she opens the door.

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