It’s hard to think about episodes S01E16 through S01E21 when my brain is full of the finale but I’ll do my best. I even took a day off to process. These last seven episodes of season 1 are some of the best that Veronica Mars has to offer.
S01E16 “Betty and Veronica”
Pan High is used to show that Neptune is a bizarro world where the cute blonde girl is an outcast. In another school, where everything isn’t so divided by income level, she would have found other friends. This is a great episode for showing the truly wonderful friendship between Veronica and Wallace. To this day, snickerdoodles mean friendship to me. And deliciousness. Mmm, snickerdoodles.
Besides snickerdoodles, there are several adorable friendship moments in this episode. The main reason that Veronica throws herself into finding Polly is that Wallace talks about how he’s bonded with her during his time as an office aide. When Pan High students talk about how good of a player Wallace is, she adorably crinkles her nose and says, “He is? Really?” with such obvious pride. Adorable.
This is a good use of using the show’s flashback device to switch between the light stolen mascot mystery and the situation with Lianne Mars and Clarence Wiedman. It also shows that while Lianne had a reason to leave town, she probably would have handled it all better if she hadn’t been drinking so much. She seems to be constantly on the edge.
In an unexpected twist, this episode may have also been a tribute to Archie comics. Betty and Veronica are the two main girls in the series (and Betty is the blonde while Veronica is a brunette) and Riverdale, the school that Veronica claims that she attended prior to Pan High, is the school in the comic series.
S01E17 “Kanes and Able’s”
So, last week I was all “Ha ha, writers, so clever that you used Kane and Able as names.” I forgot that there was actually an episode called “Kanes and Able’s”.
The Amelia DeLongpre stuff is great for actually making some progress on the Lilly Kane mystery. Veronica has the best of intentions but she’s dealing in a morally and ethically gray space. She wants to get an innocent man out of prison so that Lilly’s case can be re-opened but she uses Amelia to do it. Keeping the fact that Amelia’s estranged father is about to die from her isn’t one of the better things that Veronica has ever done.
In other morally gray areas, we have Sabrina Fuller and her mother versus Hamilton Cho and his father. Harassing a 17 or 18 year-old, including directing men looking for phone sex to her home phone number, is a bad thing. That being said, Mrs. Fuller twists the system for the benefit of her daughter and the detriment of her fellow students all of the time. Even when a solution is reached where both students can get half of their entire college education paid for, Mrs. Fuller puts her foot down and demands that only her daughter can benefit despite the fact that Hamilton was innocent in the situation and even though the Fuller family can undoubtedly afford Sabrina’s entire undergraduate education, nevermind half. Mr. Cho’s actions, most likely turned even more inappropriate by the sleazy Vinnie Van Lowe, were misguided but Mrs. Fuller is vindictive.
Vinnie Van Lowe is undoubtedly one of the best parts of this episode. I still have “Private Eyes” in my head. This role led to Ken Marino eventually being cast in Party Down, a great but short-lived comedy that also starred other Veronica Mars cast members and guest stars Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), Jane Lynch (the student council adviser from “Return of the Kane”), and Adam Scott (Mr. Rooks from “Mars vs. Mars”). Kristen Bell also made a guest appearance.
S01E18 “Weapons of Class Destruction”
Oh, I’m sorry, was this episode about something else? There was also the revelation that Keith and Mrs. Fennel have begun to date. That was pretty adorable.
Oh, yeah, that whole bomb plot. It was good. It’s a little weird that Jonathan Taylor Thomas is playing a grown-up ATF agent while Zachery Ty Bryan, his older brother from Home Improvement, was playing a high school student in the previous episode. If only they had been able to get Taran Noah Smith to play a middle-aged man in “Hot Dogs”.
Despite being excited for all of the Veronica and Logan stuff to come, I did leave this episode with one thought. Poor Deputy Leo.
S01E19 “Hot Dogs”
Another episode focusing on the differences between the haves and the have nots but with a bit of a twist. In this case, people from the lower-income portion of Neptune justify temporarily stealing dogs from the rich in order to get money. If this was all that they had done, then it may have been at least a little bit understandable but turning around and selling Chester when they realized that Mandy couldn’t pay up was pretty despicable. They’re a shelter! They obviously could have turned around and told Mandy “Hey, guess what? Someone turned your dog in.” but they got greedy.
This episode also does a little to move Weevil and Duncan up the suspect list for Lilly’s murder. Weevil broke into Lilly’s room for something that may very well be evidence and innocent people rarely run.
Logan pulled a very Zach Morris move when he pointed towards the bell just before it rang. Jason Dohring’s body language can be ridiculously entertaining sometimes, and not just when he and Kristen Bell are making out in a girls restroom.
This episode repeats a theme from “Like a Virgin”. Much like Meg, Carmen doesn’t see the point in taking out revenge. Getting even for something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. She’ll have a few months or years of people making fun of her for an embarrassing video but if she were to send the email to all of the other plebes in Tad’s class at Annapolis then she would actually blow up his life and that’s not worth it to her. This may be why Veronica doesn’t immediately go after Logan when she finds out that he was one of the people with GHB at Shelley Pomroy’s party but takes some time to herself to form a plan.
S01E21 “A Trip to the Dentist”
This episode is a take on the Rashomon effect, where a story is told by different witnesses and it’s never clear if any of them are telling the true story. It’s named after the 1950 film Rashomon directed by Akira Kurosawa in which four different people tell the story of a rape and murder and none of the stories are the same.
We revisit a lot of characters from previous episodes as Veronica pieces together what happened to her on the night of Shelley Pomroy’s party. It doesn’t feel like we really ever got the true story but Veronica finds a conclusion that she can live with. She and Duncan were both under the influence of GHB and they acted on the feelings that they had for one another. Even after finding out that Logan was the one that gave Duncan a drink dosed with GHB, she can live with it. Finding cameras in a room where she and Logan may have been about to have sex in was one bit too far, though, and she bolts.
We also learn that Keith has been working the Lilly Kane case far more than he’s let Veronica believe. The “entertainment lawyer” that he’s been tracking all year turns out to be a prostitute who was with Abel Koontz at the time of Lilly’s murder. There is definitive proof that Abel was not the murderer and Lilly’s case is broken wide open.
S01E22 “Leave It to Beaver”
My notes for this episode are longer than the notes for any of the previous 21 but they’re mostly me exclaiming how much I love every part of this episode. Erica Gimpel and Enrico Colantoni completely sell a break up that neither of them wants. Keith and Veronica get one great moment of happiness before everything goes to hell. Veronica balances developing feelings for Logan with her need to find the truth.
Everything in this episode developed from something earlier in the season. Duncan knew that Aaron beat Logan. Did Lilly? Did she know that her boyfriend’s father beat him and still slept with him in some thrill-seeking move of revenge? Even the fact that Veronica took her walkie talkies out of her locker and put them in her car in the previous episode played into this. We also got the most poignant use of the phrase “Who’s your daddy?” ever in a callback to the pilot.
If the show had ended here, it still would have been good. Lilly’s murder is solved, Veronica’s rape is resolved in a way that satisfies her, Keith and Alicia will probably be back together since Veronica approves and Lianne took the money and ran. We end on a cliffhanger but it still would have been a satisfying conclusion. We end on a shot of Veronica being happy. What more could we ask for?
I’m still convinced that season 1 of Veronica Mars may be the most perfect season of TV ever. Season 1 of Heroes may give it a run for its money but it took a much bigger fall from season 1 to season 2 than Veronica Mars did. I kind of want to watch it again but I’m also perfectly happy to move on to season 2. See you in six days!