Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Veronica Mars: The two faces of Veronica

Spoilers for "Veronica Mars" just as soon as I stock up on little shampoo bottles...

When we last left our heroine, she was in danger of going from prickly to, well, something without the "ly" (or the feminine equivalent). And there were plenty of times last night where I still wanted Veronica to cool it with the cold, judgemental act. Seriously, I was on the verge of buying her one of Tom Smykowski's Jump To Conclusions mats, especially after we saw what she did to poor, semi-innocent Ratner. (That's assuming that Ratner wasn't in on the scam with Tim the TA, but that scene with Tim and Veronica suggested the Rat was just an unwitting dupe.) There comes a point where all of this j'accuse!ing doesn't just make Veronica less appealing, but less bright. She's a flawed character, always has been, but even at her lowest moments, she and we could rely on the belief that she was a smart cookie.

But this episode did a much better job of balancing Veronica's baser instincts -- also including the worst of her green-eyed monster in that scene with the hotel desk clerk, who would have been totally justified in blowing off Veronica, pal of Logan or no -- with showing her friendlier, more generous side. A lot of that comes from the most interaction she's had with Wallace since the season premiere, as their friendship has always shown Veronica at her best. But we also got to see her reaching out to Parker, treating Piz with something resembling humanity, torn about what to do for Dean O'Dell and about getting that girl expelled from Hearst, being vaguely cordial with Lamb (and vice versa), etc. Again, I don't ask for Veronica to be perfect, and as long as Rob and Co. can balance Evil Veronica with Normal Veronica (to paraphrase Wallace), I can deal better with the Evil moments.

Keith's car crash brought back uncomfortable memories of My Worst Day Ever So Far, By Julio (and he had much more of a fun, sexy time of it after the accident than I did, lucky SOB), but I liked the symmetry Keith and Harmony bonding over noir movies followed by Keith getting embroiled in a very noir situation with a married lady who seems a hop, skip and a martini away from asking Keith to take care of her husband, permanent-like.

We're two-thirds of the way through the rape story, and after a sluggish beginning to the arc, I've been really pleased with the last few episodes, particularly the cliffhangers on the last two. So who are our suspects to date?
  • The Pi Sigs, who certainly wouldn't be above this -- and wouldn't it be ironic (dontcha think) if the feminists' faux-rape with Claire helped keep the Pi Sig rapist or rapists free and clear long enough to attack a few more women?
  • Mercer, who had the suspicious cologne, the clippers and the GHB -- but who also has an alleged alibi from Logan. And remember the last time Veronica suspected Logan and his buddies of using GHB for some raping, things didn't turn out quite as she assumed.
  • Tim the TA, though I think they're going more in an "unlikely allies" direction for him and Veronica.
  • Professor Landry, though philandering and adultery don't automatically lead to serial rape. Still, Tim seemed troubled by more than just the catting around.
  • Dean O'Dell, who I put here only because it's always fair to suspect the most famous guest star. 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.
  • Nish and/or one of the feminists. There'd be some really messed-up psychology involved, and I think the faked rape was designed to make them into red herrings, but you never know.
  • The college humor magazine guys. Not likely, since we only saw them in the one episode, but if they pop up again in the next one or two, I'm going to raise an eyebrow.

So what did everybody else think? Have I left out an obvious suspect? Should we start a contest to see who can come up with the most contrived in-story excuse why Mac or Weevil or whomever can't appear in the latest episode?


K J Gillenwater said...

I'm leaning towards the professor as the rapist. This episode they brought up the fact that no DNA evidence was found at any of the crime scenes. I could see how a professor of criminology might be using his knowledge to commit the 'perfect' rape. Not sure where the head shaving bit comes in. I mean, that seems like some kind of bizarre ritual that must relate to something in the bad guy's past. But what exactly?

I'm disturbed by Keith getting involved with this married woman, but considering how his love life has been in the past, do I blame the guy for wanting some action? Even if it is from this married woman who most likely WILL ask Keith to do something unethical and quite possibly illegal in the near future.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Couple of other thoughts I forgot to mention:

-Liked the nod to "High Fidelity," not just with the episode's title, but with Piz buying classic albums cheap from a bitter divorcee, one of the best scenes in the book (and one that's on the DVD's collection of deleted scenes);

-They better not have kicked Horshack out of school, and off-camera at that;

-So I'm still confused: did Wallace actually cheat on the test, or did he write "Hey, I bought an old copy of the test because I don't know what I'm doing" in the blue book? And is that basketball coach the most understanding man in Division I athletics?

R.A. Porter said...

For a second, I felt remarkable clever. When Parker got queasy over Mercer's cologne, I remembered that his "Club Flush" show was playing on the radio during her rape. So he'd have had a ready alibi, but perhaps he pre-taped the show on the nights he went prowling...

Then V found the clippers almost immediately; Lamb had found the GHB. Clearly a setup.

R.A. Porter said...

Is Hearst really D-I? I'd just assumed they were D-II or D-III where it wouldn't be unheard of for a coach to be understanding about academics.

I think Wallace was accused of cheating by using the old test. Which, really, is the professor's fault for being too lazy to write a new one. And was most definitely not considered cheating at any school I ever attended.

Anonymous said...

So a TA set up a student for a public accusation of plagiarism just so she would discover her professor was sleeping with the dean's wife and realize he's not a nice guy? Even if Landry ends up being the rapist, that's nuts. Veronica should either transfer or sue. Not to mention, how did the TA know that Ratner or anybody else would find the "plagiarized" paper so quickly? I thought the whole mystery this week was stinky. But how about that "Just Do Me" moment with Keith and Harmony?

I have no idea who the rapist is, but if past seasons are any indication, Rob Thomas will have me kicking myself. Would it really be the professor, though? He'd be a lot more noticable coming out of the dorms at night than a student. "Hey, isn't that Professor Landry? What's he doing here?"

Hey, what was the Lebowski reference this week? I haven't seen the movie enough times to get them all.

And where's Mac??

Anonymous said...

I'm going to start a fund so Rob can afford to have Mac, Wallace and Weevil around more often. How does Mac ever get any schoolwork done if she's always gone? Feh!

R.A. Porter said...

dez, if you start that fund, I'll start a similar fund to get a B-story starring Lamb, Cliff, and Vinnie into some episode. The more Stooge-like, the better.

Anonymous said...

Excellent episode last night! On the potential rapist front: I became very suspicious when Logan mentioned the two students from the sociology experiment (Boy Meets World guy and Neil from Freaks and Geeks). It could just be a throwaway line, but I wonder if they'll be back and might figure into the rape storyline in some way. It's already been established that they have a very twisted relationship ... could they be working together to commit the rapes?

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or does the TA's hair look like a wig? And sans wig, glasses and scruff, doesn't he look like the guy behind the rape victim in the ATM photo?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It is a wig, and underneath it, he looks exactly like Lucky the scary Neptune High janitor from season two -- because he's played by he same actor. Hey, if it was good enough for Deadwood and Jack McCall...