"Boom goes the dynamite"! They threw in a "boom goes the dynamite" reference! I am inordinately pleased, and if you didn't get the reference, you'll be pleased, too, after watching this. (Don't feel too bad for the kid; he got a Letterman appearance out of the deal.)
As Rob has said, this episode was "Veronica Mars for beginners," with an intentionally light-weight, "Encyclopedia Brown"-ish mystery about Piz's stolen stuff, a scene where Veronica discusses why she does what she does (as much as she's willing to self-analyze, anyway), a couple of Keith-Veronica banter scenes designed to play to the Gilmore fans. And then, in the last five minutes, we're back into the seriously dark world where Keith inadvertently gets Kendall killed and Veronica inadvertently lets Parker be raped.
But with those parameters in mind, I don't know that I would have put Keith and Cormac's "Dude, Where's My Gun?" adventure into the premiere. Yes, they had to explain what Keith was up to when he blew off the start of the NY trip in the finale, but this felt pretty opaque at times to me, and I'm an obsessive fan. I can't imagine what a newbie would make of it. There was also some weird plot logic at the end there, where Cormac decides to leave Keith alone for the night even though he's, like, 20 feet from the house and half that from the car. Yes, the keys were in the house (you saw Keith pat his pockets as he went out to get the paperwork), but would Cormac really risk Keith hot-wiring it because he was too lazy to walk that far?
(BTW, let me make sure I have everything straight: Kendall is having an affair with the eldest Fitzpatrick brother, Cormac. Liam, the brother who caused so much trouble last season, has it out for Kendall and Cormac because he feels they owe him money. Having driven Kendall the hell out of town after she got all the moolah from Cassidy's business, Keith then picks Cormac up on early release from prison and shuttles him to Kendall's desert hide-out. But Vinnie Van Lowe, who's working for Liam, has snuck a tracking device into Keith's briefcase. While Keith and Cormac are waiting for a tow to fix their car, Keith takes a nap and Cormac -- who's just after the money, not Kendall -- swipes Keith's gun out of the glove compartment. Keith finds the tracking device and realizes Liam is coming, then sees the empty holster and realizes he has more immediate problems. And Cormac killed Kendall because... ? My brain hurts.)
Over on the Neptune campus of California University -- or, if you prefer, Hearst College -- I like our two new additions. Piz and Parker both add new colors to the gang, though it's hard to say what Parker will be like post-rape. A July trip to the writers' office spoiled the fact that she would be the first victim, which made Veronica's non-intervention when she went to get the tickets especially creepy to me. For the unspoiled amongst you, did you have any idea that more was going on in that scene than Veronica knew?
And speaking of spoilers, we have an early front-runner for Line of the Season: "I just ignored all the spoiler alerts, which I know is kind of douchebaggy..." Veronica, Veronica, Veronica... you go and say how you don't want to piss anyone off, and then you go and show up the TA in your favorite class. But that's why we love you.
Is it contrived that Dick and Logan got into Hearst, too? Yeah -- and they didn't even bother explaining how Logan got in, just that it was a struggle -- but the writers can't do nearly enough with either one if they're just bumming around Neptune. So I'll deal.
Pretty good start, especially given the objective, and the final scenes felt especially "Veronica Mars"-ish. I am pleased.
Other random thoughts:
- Poor Mac. Leftover trauma from Cassidy, verbal abuse from Dick, plus a roommate guaranteed to make her feel even more self-conscious about her sexual history (or lack thereof). Still, good to have her around on a more regular basis. (Or, as regular as anyone not named Veronica, Keith or Logan, who remain the only characters who can be in every episode, budget-wise.)
- So it's two boyfriends in a row to complain about Veronica being too macho, first Duncan with her love of "Lebowski," now Logan being uncomfortable with her Clint Eastwood (not to mention the way she sat on the bench exactly like him). If Piz -- whose crush on Veronica felt painfully real -- wants to have a shot at winning her heart, maybe he needs to embrace Veronica's inner Dude. Start wearing pink lace instead of Duncan's leftover argyle. Ask her to pay for meals. Something. Ah, well; at least 'shippers can stop Zaprudering old episodes to figure out whether Logan and Veronica have done it.
- Almost as good as "Boom goes the dynamite" was Moe the RA's use of "Frak," and I'm hoping Veronica's swiping of it isn't just a one-shot deal. Fake curse words are awesome.
- So now the argyle shirt has been worn by Duncan, Logan and Piz. Only a matter of time before Weevil turns up in it, no?
- Not crazy about the remixed theme song, but the new title sequence is vastly cooler than the old one.
- What exactly did Dick mean by "I messed up bad"? Is he referring to not realizing his brother was a mass murderer, to getting kicked out of campus housing, or something much worse? We already know he knows Parker; would they really make a Casablancas brother the villain for the second mystery in a row?
- If you thought Parker's hair looked odd pre-shaving, that's because Julie Gonzalo was wearing a wig; in an episode or two from now, Parker will get a wig that's actually Julie's real hair. And now my brain hurts. Ordinarily, I'd be annoyed that they couldn't just get her to cowboy up and pull a Portman/Weaver/Moore, but given that this show is in real danger of being canceled within a month or two, it's probably not fair to ask her to mess up future auditions when they have a simple, non-appearance-altering solution.
- Donald Fagen? A Steely Dan reference? Okay. Or is it a Dickens reference?
- Why did one of the teenage punks have a strong New England accent?