Spoilers for "House" and "Veronica Mars" just as soon as this nice doctor takes my temperature...
Late in the first season for both shows, I wrote a column discussing all the thematic similarities between the two shows. It was really just an excuse to get "House" fans to give "Veronica Mars" a try, but lately I'm starting to wonder if my fake thesis was such a stretch.
Specifically, Veronica has wandered through this entire season like someone who not only doesn't care what people think of her, but who would rather leave a bad impression than none at all. She's smug and curt with virtually everyone (Keith, Wallace and Mac being the notable exceptions), even people who don't remotely deserve it. The kid at the pizza place worshipped Veronica, wanted to talk about how awesome she was, and if this was a cable show, I'm thinking Veronica would have flat-out told him to STFU and answer her questions. Sure, she eventually made it up to him by letting him participate in the case a little, but the non-stop hostility and holier than thou attitude is getting old.
Now, House acts this way with everyone. But the misanthropy is the entire point of the character. He's not in any way a nice guy, he's often wrong in his personal and medical judgements, and he deserves every bit of grief that Detective Tritter is about to rain down on him. (Tritter himself is essentially House without the sense of humor, but that doesn't make him any less right in his assessment of House as bully.)
Veronica's supposed to be prickly and hard-boiled, but this season, she's moved beyond that to (as she almost put it herself in the premiere) straight-up douchebaggy. I don't know how much of this is in the scripts and how much is Kristen Bell; both writing and playing Veronica so that she's tough but likable requires a lot of effort, and it feels like at least one side is falling short this year.
And yet as much as Veronica was annoying me, as much as I wanted to yell at her for automatically jumping to conclusions with Weevil (more on that in a minute), this was maybe my favorite episode of the season. With the exception of Dick, every remaining season one character was used and used well -- Cliff cracking up Keith (and playing off Daran Norris' other career as a voiceover actor), Weevil and Logan getting chesty, Lamb belittling both Veronica and Weevil -- and even though all the stories felt like they had a scene or two missing, the episode overall had such momentum that I just went with it. Hell, they even had a cliffhanger ending to the mystery arc for the first time in forever. I dug it.
A couple of specific issues, though. Number one, making the first arc deal with an ongoing threat instead of something that's over and done with should be lending it more urgency. I get that Veronica doesn't trust Lamb, and also that the theft of the necklace distracted her, but the rapist is still out there, still attacking women, and she has a picture of who she thinks is the guy. Shouldn't she be bringing in additional help here, even if it's just Keith? Shouldn't "Have You Seen This Man?" fliers be up all over campus? Something? To me, the cliffhanger suggested that Claire may have made up the rape story to increase pressure on the Pi Sigs, but for most of the episode, Veronica has no reason to not think she'sthisclose to catching the guy before he rapes somebody else, and she's moving at half-speed at best.
Number two, the Weevil story would have worked better, I think, if Veronica assumed Weevil's innocence from the jump. (Maybe you tie the criminology class in more, either with one of the students trying to learn through doing and taking advantage of Weevil's recent guest lecture to find a useful patsy; or, failing that, just with the jerky TA hassling Veronica about bringing a thief onto campus.) As he says, they have too much history, and the pizza order in particular seemed like such a rookie mistake that she had to know Weevil didn't do it. I know this friendship has had its ups and downs, but this felt off to me.
I also wish there had been a clearer resolution to the Wallace story. Did he get caught recycling answers (which, since he used an old test, isn't an ethics violation at some schools), or did he just confess in the blue book to being out of his depth? And I wish there could have been even a single scene of him interacting with another castmember. The whole limited use thing feels more apparent this year than in seasons one and two for some reason.
Still and all, I really liked it. Ditto "House," which brought in David Morse as the kind of equally smart nemesis House has never really had. The Chi McBride character's danger came more from his wealth and power than any ability to match wits with House, and every now and then the show needs someone capable of taking him down a peg or 12.
Also pleased with Foreman getting one over on House with the nurse bet, and Cameron's "No, I'm hitting that, and it's totally hot," which was funny precisely because it was so out-of-character. Maybe House's sense of humor is finally rubbing off on the young'uns.
What did everybody else think?