Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Veronica Mars: Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Spoilers for the "Veronica Mars" rape story finale just as soon as I try to figure out who that funny brunette in the "Ask me about my STD" t-shirt was supposed to be...

And so we've come to the end of our first "Veronica" mini-mystery, and I'm mostly happy. There were the usual scares as Veronica faced the big bad, but not in a way that copied either "Leave It to Beaver" or "Not Pictured." All but one castmember (Lamb) appeared, and all but one of the rest (Weevil) played a significant role. Rob and company played as fair as they could with the identity of rapist(s), though with only nine episodes to play with instead of 22, they had to toss out some very crucial information very quickly.

In particular, the relationship between Mercer and Moe and how it was forged during their own stint in Professor Homer's Stanford Prison Experiment had only one hint prior to this episode, way back in "My Big Fat Greek Rush Week." I quote Couch Baron's TWoP recap of the scene:
Wallace tells Moe that he can't be there because of the experiment, and Moe replies that he did it the year before [...] and says that it's pretty intense. He gets an odd look on his face as he adds, "It's, like... life-changing." He pauses long enough before leaving to prompt "Buh?" looks from Wallace and Veronica.
Maybe it wouldn't have felt so out of left field if we had been able to see more of Horshack and Rafe, the freshman class's equivalent of Mercer and Moe (albeit without all the rape-y badness), but the bit about Horshack helping Rafe cheat happened off-camera, and as far as I know, the first time we knew Mercer did the Experiment was when Veronica saw the picture of him and Moe in their respective costumes. (And even there, it had been so long since I saw the episode that all I noticed was Mercer and Moe and not their costumes; the backstory didn't click in my head until Mercer slapped Moe and said, "Stop blubbering, prisoner!")

That aside, there were a couple of other nagging issues, but nothing that troubled me overly. First, how could it not have occurred to Veronica sooner (like back in the episode where she exonerated Mercer) that it's possible to pre-tape a radio call-in show, how could it have not occurred to the cops to ask (Lamb's a smug ass, but not an idiot), and how could no one at the radio station have noticed that Mercer often wasn't in the studio when his show was airing? Second, if Moe was too squeamish to do anything but bait and shave Veronica's head, who committed the rape when Mercer and Logan were having their Light My Fire trip south of the border? Did Mercer order Moe to do it to give him an alibi (which turned out to be useless after the motel fire), or was that one of the Lilith House women doing a copycat fake? As Veronica asked last week, exactly how many of the rapes were real?

I like the role that Parker played in rescuing Veronica this time. Given the nature of the plot, Veronica almost had to get drugged at some point, which also meant she needed some saving (unless she has a mutant healing factor we haven't been told about), and it felt appropriate that it was a former victim -- and that Veronica managed to get her licks in with both Mercer and Moe before the GHB completely got to her.

We'd been heading towards the Veronica/Logan split practically since the season started. Good as Jason Dohring is at the puppy dog eyes, I hope he doesn't have to keep at it for too long. The thing is, Veronica does let people help her, as we saw when she recruited Wallace, Piz, Mac and even Moe (whoops) to assist at the Pi Sig party. It just has to be on her terms, and she has to clearly be in charge, and Logan's not having that. He wants to be Veronica's savior, not her sidekick. Nice closing touch with him getting himself thrown into a locked room with Veronica's attackers, though at what point is he nearing his third strike?

Meanwhile, Rob quite cleverly threw the start of the new mystery into the tail end of the first one. A few weeks ago, I dismissed Dean O'Dell as a serious rape suspect because "I think it'd be a waste of Begley and a good character who could be around for several years to dispense with him in nine episodes." Show's what I know: they find a way to get rid of the guy without making him the rapist, or even seriously discussed as a suspect. Sigh... I liked the guy, but now it's on to guessing whodunnthis. I think the Lilith women were busy throwing eggs outside, so that leaves his wife, Dr. Landry and the influential (and mobbed-up?) alumnus who bullied him into reinstating the Greek system.

So what did everybody else think? Satisfying conclusion or not?

30 comments:

velvetcannibal said...

To answer the question about the victim over the summer: Nancy was the 3rd victim. Before her was the Hawaiian girl, who didn't report her rape, and Alia Shawkat's character who did. Parker also reported. Lamb said a couple episodes back that GHB was only used in 2 of the rapes, which means that Parker and Alia were the real rapes. Nancy was probably a fake like Claire. Hawaiian girl never reported. It works out that way.

I'm still digesting. I'm pretty satisfied, though I'm so sick of them having Veronica run off to save people without TELLING ANYONE. God. I thought Piz and Mac were still at the party? I know they have to do it for dramatic whatever, but honestly. At least it was Parker to the rescue this time.

I will miss the Dean. He was such a loveable, bone-marrow stealing character. I liked the classic noir setup for his death, too. Cool all around.

And I loved the little bit of Logan at the end. He and V are both living with the realization that they cleared Mercer, but he is the one who insisted on it. I am wondering what will happen with Logan after he does whatever he's going to do. He can't just stand by.

Devin McCullen said...

It was reasonably satisfying, although I don't really want Mac there just to stand around and look depressed. I really liked how Parker fit into it, it was a surprise but it made a lot of sense.

I think one of the problems with the rape storyline is that there's no motives to investigate. There are lots of different reasons. It doesn't work as well for a long-term story. But it was definitely better than last season's muddle.

I'll miss Dean O'Dell as well. It'll be interesting to see if the "perfect murder" papers tie in with that, although bullet-in-the-head isn't that original.

And what's the deal with Tim the T.A. and his girlfriend? Is he just playing a massive head game with Veronica?

I do think they can stand to lighten the tone just a little for the next few episodes, with Piz putting some moves on Veronica, and Parker going after Piz, and Logan trying to move on in his own way.

filmcricket said...

I liked it. Despite the problems with the solution that you mentioned, Alan, I liked that the culprit turned out to be two people for a change, just because Aaron and Beaver acted alone and the idea that people were in cahoots was something that hadn't occurred to Veronica. I also liked it because Veronica showed some feeling besides bitchiness, for once.

It's so stupidly and typically Logan to get himself arrested in order to confront Mercer. Veronica's got in to see people tons of times without resorting to vandalism, but no, Logan's got to be all drama queen about it. Though I must admit to laughing when Veronica said "I haven't seen him" and they cut straight to Logan bashing the cop car windshield.

Lindy said...

what's the deal with Tim the T.A. and his girlfriend? Is he just playing a massive head game with Veronica?

I think that was the writing staff playing a head game with us -- when Tim's girlfriend turned out to be a Pi Sig favorite, I thought he was the rapist for sure, that he was trying to get back at the frat. Shows what I know.

I'm still digesting as well, but my initial reaction is a thumbs up. I didn't see the Mercer-Moe solution coming (although I thought it might be the kids from this year's sociology experiment ... that's kinda close, right?) and I thought it was a good solution to the mystery. The fact that Logan and Veronica cleared Mercer of a (probably fake) rape was nice irony.

I wish they'd been clearer about the issue of Mercer's show, though. If he only tapes a few episodes a year and broadcasts live the rest of the time, I'll buy that no one noticed the pattern, but that's not something the show gave us.

On to the next mystery: I can't believe they killed Dean O'Dell!! I really liked his character, although I can see that Rob Thomas has already burned a lot of guest star money on Ed Begley Jr. and financially it probably wasn't viable to keep him around. Sigh. Cyrus, you will be missed. Maybe they can bring back Clemmons as the new dean.

R.A. Porter said...

I suspect Tim's big blowup in front of witnesses was alibi-establishing for his ass-kissing crime of killing Cyrus for his BFF.

DonBoy said...

You know, I have to say it's fair, but I didn't care. Mercer and Moe were both Just Some Guy, partly because of the short arc, and partly because..they just were. And this makes two in a row where part of the solution is "I'm arbitrarily partly-psychotic.". I'm looking forward to a good old-fashioned who-shot-Cyrus-and-why kind of thing.

Oh...and that's why it's unethical to put college students through harrowing role-playing scenarios. Lawsuit, anyone?

Devin McCullen said...

Actually, Mercer probably showed up at the studio at the beginning and end of the radio show. He did go on about how he doesn't like to waste any time with the girls. And if you do fake callers, how does anyone know the DJ's not there?

jim treacher said...

"And what's the deal with Tim the T.A. and his girlfriend? Is he just playing a massive head game with Veronica?"

Or Rob Thomas was with us. As soon as Tim said he'd had sex with somebody for every person she had, I figured it was him. But then I checked the clock and it was still too early in the show.

Anybody else disappointed by the reveal of Mercer? The actor did a nice job conveying the sociopathy, but the scene itself was just sort of, "Oh, okay, I guess Mercer's the rapist..." The Moe thing was a nice twist, though.

Kristin said...

I was disappointed with the rapist being Mercer and Moe. The ads for this show were misleading. It told us it would be a "controversial" episode. What was so controversial about what happened??? I was expecting something much darker, much more icky.

I think there was also a missed couple of opportunities to show the audience Piz's feelings for Veronica (if this is where they are headed in the near future). It would have been nice for him to be around somewhere when Veronica was almost attacked. And then to have Logan find out that he *wasn't* there for her, while some other guy was...? Well, all the more reason for him to smash the cop car window.

Is anyone else wondering if someone got shot at the hotel? We never did get to see what the dean did with that gun.

I think the eggs on the window were just a red herring. Could have been one or two Lillith House girls out there trying to create some kind of 'alibi' while another girl offed him.

vance said...

Yeah, when they finally revealed it was Mercer, I was like. Oh, okay. Why?

Not that rape ever makes sense but why would he do it? I can understand Moe being his "prisoner" but the lame rant Mercer gave didn't convince me enough that he would rape women just so he didn't have to hear the small talk.

My guess is that there is still more to this that will be unravelled much later on (or at least I hope there will be further explanations).

Did love the Dean O'Dell twist at the end though, but yeah, there was a nice raport between Veronica and Cyrus. Oh well. At least Mac is back!

Todd VanDerWerff said...

Hey, as far as the next murder, who wants to bet that O'Dell will have been killed utilizing the method in Veronica's perfect murder paper? It was, after all, posted on the Web and points right at her professor. Plus, then she actually has to beat herself.

Anonymous said...

On the whole I thought this episode was great. Yeah, I cheered when Logan took a bat to the cop car. If it was anyone else? Probably wouldn't have thought so, but it stayed true to his character. I am also relieved that the will-they-or-won't-they has finally been settled. I'm a shipper all the way, but just couldn't stand another promo implying the demise of LoVe. One question though, could someone explain to me the episode title?

Anonymous said...

"One question though, could someone explain to me the episode title?"

I assumed it was from the scene where the Lilith House women threw the eggs and spit on Dean O'Dell's car after he reinstated the frat system.

sm said...

And if you do fake callers, how does anyone know the DJ's not there?

Didn't this episode establish that the radio station has a big window next to the food court? Couldn't all of those people notice?

I had the same problems with this episode that a lot of people had, but my biggest problem was how Veronica solved the crime. She didn't put clues together or anything. She just went to the next girl's room (how did she get in, by the way? That whole scene felt like I had somehow missed a scene.) and waited for the rapist to show up. Where was the deduction? Where were the clues in previous episodes that she pieced together? It wasn't exactly Grade-A detective work here.

LCB said...

Sorry, I just had to chime in about the ratings for last night's finale: 3.49 million, a season high.

Yay!

Anonymous said...

I didn't really like the way the rapist was revealed. Maybe it would have been stronger if they had shown the scene from Veronica's point of view (was she hiding somewhere?), not really able to see exactly who the rapist was until the moment she tasered him. You know what I mean?

Because the way they had it set up - after a return from a commercial break, I think - you just saw Mercer in the room, spouting off about his problems with girls and small talk. and it was sort of like "huh".

And I agree - she didn't really do much sleuthing to figure out who the rapist was (at that point, I mean; she did plenty of sleuthing otherwise). I found it ironic that she wanted to go with Logan to Kim somebody's beachside apartment (or whatever) to save her, but had she done that - she probably wouldn't have gone up onstage to ask if anyone had seen Kim. And that friend wouldn't have told her that Kim hadn't come to the party, that it was Kim's sister who was there.

And also, Veronica's phone ringing while she was hiding - I find it hard to belive that she wouldn't have put her phone on vibrate when she was waiting for the rapist to show up. (Again - I don't remember - was she in the room waiting, or was she outside?). So then later, when both Moe and Mercer are there - her phone rings and they find her.

Lastly - how come none of the guys in the hallway stopped Mercer or Moe from running? I know, it's kind of weird, the two guys insist nothing's wrong, but people other than Parker heard the whistle and you have Mercer with his leg bleeding (a cougar? Yeah, right), and Moe behaving strangely (he kept calling Mercer "Sir" and Mercer kept yelling at him). And the other residents wouldn't have tried to stop them from running? Obviously they're running from something. I almost thought that black guy who was standing right in the path would have stopped Mercer, but Mercer just ran right by him.

And interesting that it was mostly guys (was Parker the only female) who was in the dorm hall and came out during the commotion...

Alan Sepinwall said...

And also, Veronica's phone ringing while she was hiding - I find it hard to belive that she wouldn't have put her phone on vibrate when she was waiting for the rapist to show up.

It wasn't her phone, but Moe's, and she was too dazed by the effects of the GHB to do more than dial out.

Anonymous said...

"And also, Veronica's phone ringing while she was hiding - I find it hard to belive that she wouldn't have put her phone on vibrate when she was waiting for the rapist to show up. (Again - I don't remember - was she in the room waiting, or was she outside?). So then later, when both Moe and Mercer are there - her phone rings and they find her."

If I am not mistaken (someone please correct me if I am wrong on this), that was Moe's phone that Veronica used to call Keith. She said something to Keith afterwards about him being able to find her because the number she called from would have showed up in his caller ID.

"And interesting that it was mostly guys (was Parker the only female) who was in the dorm hall and came out during the commotion..."

The floors are separated by gender -- remember when Dick was caught on the girls floor earlier in the season? Parker heard the whistle and went upstairs to Moe's floor, which would be a male floor, though I don't think her going upstairs wasn't shown in the episode.

Anonymous said...

Sorry -- that last bit should read "though I don't think her going upstairs WAS shown in the episode."

OT: Alan -- I have been a reader of yours since the days of your "NYPD Blue" recaps and love reading your reviews.

Anonymous said...

Alan: What do you mean about a "third strike" for Logan? He hasn't been convicted of anything, has he? His murder charge was dismissed before trial, and he was never charged for arson of the community pool.

And I loved the scene of him bashing the police car just so he could get to Mercer and Moe. Typical Logan to take matters into his own hands. That will be a misdemeanor vandalism charge and Cliff will help him get off with a fine and maybe a brief probation.

dan said...

Wouldn't Tim be a suspect in the Dean's murder. It seems that he wanted Veronica to know about the affair. (realistically for his own gain, and not really to forewarn Veronica)

Now, the Perfect Murder Papers. Seems he was setting up the Professor, established an alibi at the party then took out the Dean for reasons unknown to us right now.

DCJ said...

"my biggest problem was how Veronica solved the crime. She didn't put clues together or anything. She just went to the next girl's room"

She put it together because the audio on Mercer's show went srewey and she realized it was taped even though he was supposedly broadcasting live. She knew it would be Mercer when she went to the room.

Lindy said...

Not that rape ever makes sense but why would he do it? I can understand Moe being his "prisoner" but the lame rant Mercer gave didn't convince me enough that he would rape women just so he didn't have to hear the small talk.

I don't think we were supposed to buy Mercer's "explanation" -- it's not really about sex without conversation, it's about having someone at his mercy. His self-absorbed monologue and his relationship with Moe established that he enjoys having the power to hurt others, which is pretty typical of rapists. Maybe it's something he got a taste for during the sociology experiment.

Anyway, the more I think about the finale the more I think the solution worked. There were hints pointing to both Mercer and Moe but problems with both of them as solo suspects, problems that were solved by revealing that they acted as a team, so it wasn't arbitrary or totally obvious. The Season 2 finale was problematic because they completely reinvented a character we'd known for two years (and whom the other characters had known far longer); in this case, two semi-suspicious guys we didn't know all that well turned out to be hiding something dark. It was consistent with what we knew about them, but still a bit surprising -- more like the Aaron Echolls reveal, which still sets the standard in my opinion!

Anonymous said...

i didn't think i could love JASON DOHRING more.... but i just cant help it. he was amazing this episode. talk about character growth. he was so mature about breaking up with veronica and how he feels. he didnt blow up on her or anything... and in the end he gets himself thrown in jail just to settle things with mercer. he's the best bf anyone could ever ask for...

anyway... the episode was so great. i love the whole mercer moe -rapers.. (thanks to dick, i keep saying raper instead of rapist). totally didnt see that coming. i mean they were both in my list at one point. moe was even on my suspect list before i watched it. but mercer wasnt. kudos to RT and Co. amazing job

my show is BACK!!! well it has been,but now it's official.

loved wallace, mac and piz all trying to help veronica.


A+++

Manuel said...

by the way, in an interview with Kristin at E-online Rob Thomas just announced that the're thinking about echewing the "big mystery"- arcs in favour of stand-alone episodes this season.

Anonymous said...

Wow...

What a great episode....

Sure there were some minor holes, but RT played fair and got us.

And the ratings!!!!

But Veronica, get a wrist strap for Mr. Sparky, please...

Alan Sepinwall said...

Manuel, I just read the interview, and I think it's a smart move. Both the season two arcs dragged on too long, yet I didn't feel invested enough in the rapes after only nine episodes. It was going to be impossible to top the rape and murder stories from season one, so I think self-contained is the way to go unless Rob or someone has a total brainstorm that's too good not to extend over multiple episodes.

Toby said...

I don't save the episodes so I can't go back and check, but wasn't Horschack expelled for cheating and that it was his jailer from the experiment who had been helping him? I think it was a nice twist to the usual way that scenario plays out, and might have even deflected suspicion from the Mercer/Moe relationship.

R.A. Porter said...

Kristin, if you're still following the thread, the eonline interview answers the question about whether the dean pulled the trigger at the Neptune Grand:

And are we to believe the dean is the only who is dead?
I will answer that, because I didn’t mean to mislead anyone. He is the only one who is dead. He did not kill his wife and her lover.

Anonymous said...

Didn't this episode establish that the radio station has a big window next to the food court? Couldn't all of those people notice?

Yeah it does have a huge window. However Mercer´s show has a pretty late time slot. Plus: When Veronica and Parker visited Piz in ´Hi Infidelity" you could see that no one was at the cafeteria anymore except for the cleaner.