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"Battle of the Bulge": Romance is in the Air on "Veronica Mars"

Oh, Veronica, how I've missed you during these long, lonely, Pussycat Doll-laden months. Tuesdays just haven't been the same without you.

I was a little nervous to see how last night's episode of Veronica Mars ("Un-American Graffiti"), the first of five stand-alone episodes, would play out. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how well the format worked, giving us a distinct case for Veronica to work on and solve within an hour (complete with a few unforeseen twists) as well as some romantic angst for her to process as well. The result was a well-balanced episode that worked on several levels and pushed the characters along a little bit. Plus, we actually had nearly every supporting character around this week, from Logan and Dick, to Mac, Piz, and Wallace. All this and a track from Badly Drawn Boy? Sweet.

Mac. An episode with some serious Mac face time is always a good thing and our beloved Mac has turned into quite the catch. When she's not hiking with new boyfriend Bronson (Mac hiking?), she's flirting with Max at Parker's party. Hmmm, are we seeing a little potential romantic rivalry for our girl here? While I do think Bronson is an interesting match for Mac (and who finally managed to solve her psycho-sexual issues), I really do see her and Max hitting it off; both were taken with the other's devious computer skills and they are both budding entrepreneurs to boot. Just who will Mac end up with? I'm fine with either, as long as she sticks around for a long time. Fingers crossed.

Veronica and Logan. These two seem to be kaput and I'm perfectly okay with that. I do think that we sort of a hit a wall with them as a couple and things needed to be shaken up a little bit; they were either a little too complacent with one another or about to tear each other's eyes out. Personally, I love their, well, love/hate relationship and a little sparring could bring back those sparks. Still, Logan's become a little too, er, declawed in his new relationship with Parker. Sure, he's happy but what's the fun in that? I never thought I'd see the day where he arranged a surprise birthday cake with his picture silkscreened on it. A little too cheesy for the Echolls, no?

Piz. Oh, Piz, you are just going to get hurt here and there nothing anybody can do about it. I cringed when Veronica jumped on him at the party in order to escape the oily lothario flirting with her but, for an ace private detective, Veronica can be somewhat clueless about the feelings of those around her (I call it "Buffy Summers Syndrome"). But how crushed was Piz when he learned that Veronica didn't have feelings for him? Still, you do have to give the guy some credit; if Piz is going all in, he's doing it in style: with an impromptu (and impassioned) kiss before turning on his heel and stalking off. That's just what may have won our girl V. over as she follows him and plants one on his lips... just as the elevator opens, revealing Logan, who seems more than a little miffed she and Piz are locking lips.

Veronica, all I can say is, be gentle with the boy. He obviously cares about you a whole lot and this seems like it's a rebound thing for you more than anything else. When you snap to and realize that you're still in love with Logan (as you're bound to sooner rather than later), the fall is going to be really hard for Piz. And I don't know that this sensitive Oregonian can handle it.

Guest star of the week: Some astute HBO fans may have recognized Carole Davis, who played Sabir, the owner of Babylon Gardens, as Carrie's insane Euro friend Amalita Amalfi from Sex and the City. Seriously.

The Case. I won't go into the specifics of the case this week (anti-terrorist sentiment sprung from anti-American fliers and all that) but I will say this: Veronica + paintball gun = hot. How awesome was V. shooting that kid (repeatedly) for failing to answer her questions. Say what you want about Veronica's failure to pick up on guys crushing on her, but the girl's got gumption. I LOVED the scene when she posed as Nassir's girlfriend in order to snag those incriminating photos of Amira right from under his nose. Who else could get away with fondling a mark's arm while asking the time in order to prove to a suspicious one-hour photo clerk that you're actually a guy's girlfriend? Just our Veronica.

I'm happy to see that Keith has stepped up as acting sheriff and isn't taking any crap from any of his men. Papa Keith was way disappointed in Veronica for making those way-too-good fake IDs for Wallace and Piz but even more disappointed in the fact that his deputies seemed to not be taking his authority very seriously. What better way to prove you're the Alpha Male on the block than by firing four guys in front of everyone else? Well played, Keith. It's good to see just why Keith originally made a great sheriff and having him in poor departed Lamb's position of power makes for some interesting Neptune dynamics. Especially with Veronica's tendencies to bend the law when she has to.

Next week on Veronica Mars ("Debasement Tapes"), Piz turns to Veronica for help when some recordings that belong to his idol (guest star Paul Rudd) vanish while Keith faces some unlikely competition when a new candidate enters the election race for Neptune sheriff. A new Veronica episode plus Paul Rudd? It's good to have appointment television back on Tuesdays again.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); Thank God You're Here (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); According to Jim/Notes from the Underbelly (ABC); Bones (FOX)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Crossing Jordan (ABC); One Tree Hill (CW); Lost (ABC); American Idol (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Medium (NBC); Lost (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

On tonight's episode ("The Girls Who Blames the Taxi Driver"), the five remaining contestants are sent to impress some top Australian designers and a double swimsuit photo suit challenge forces the girls to strike two very different poses.

9 pm: Lost.

If you missed last week's Sun-centric episode ("D.O.C."), here's your chance to catch it again. Sun reluctantly allows Juliet to examine her after learning that all of the Other's pregnant women have died before giving birth on the island, while Desmond enters an uneasy alliance in order to save Naomi's life.

10 pm: Lost.

Lost is more than back on track for me. On tonight's episode ("The Brig"), Locke, who's apparently finally snapped out of his moral fugue state, kidnaps Ben from his tent and urges an incredulous Sawyer to kill him as he cannot, while Naomi offers some shocking information to the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815.


Unknown said…
It was an entertaining episode, but without a story arc, it's become same-ol'-same-ol'. A mystery, some romantic drama, a little banter. Meh. Even the mini-arcs were better than nothing and distinguished VM from the competition.

Maybe it's time to go out on top, Veronica, and pass on season 4. We loved ya!
The CineManiac said…
skst I have to disagree with you. Let them experiment with this for five episodes and come back next season. Rob Thomas is smart if the stand alones don't work he'll fix it.
Plus personally I still thought the stand alone episode worked and I can't wait until next week.
Anonymous said…
I was actually impressed by this stand alone episode. Of course it can't compare to the "Who Killed Lily?" or "Beaver Goes Mental" storylines of seasons past but, for a one off, it still managed to entertain, engage, and stay to true to character. And I'll take that over no Veronica any day.
Anonymous said…
I wasn't let down by last night's Veronica Mars at all. In fact, I kinda liked that I didn't have to go crazy trying to remember all the plot points from the last 7 episodes or so. I've missed watching VM and I've missed reading your reviews!
Bill said…
I thought the "Guest Star of the Week" was the Chief from Rescue Me (Jack McGee).
rockauteur said…
Rob Thomas and the network have already come out and said that they were not a fan of the current iteration of the show (the stand alone episodes). So if it comes back next season, look for the return of the series back up to form.

I did like the episode though I thought the whole ID thing was a little slow and pointless, though I suppose it was meant as a way to have Keith assert his authority in the post-Lamm area, as well as provide a way for that storyline to resurface. There are repercussions to VM's actions...

Loved the paintball part. And I know the kid who got shot.

Is it just me or do VM and Piz have ABSOLUTELY no chemistry? Neither do Parker and Logan. I guess that is obvious. I did love the return of Max though. He and Mac are meant for each other.
Anonymous said…
I agree with skst. This episode was weak. The mystery wasn't compelling at all and was wrapped up with how much time left in the episode? Plus the plot was a little 2003-ish to me - vandalize the local Arab business...

I also don't like Keith as the sheriff. I cannot see how Veronica's many forays into shady legal territory can be reconciled with Papa Keith in the long run.

Lastly, this episode in total felt like filler up to the Piz kiss. it's like they trough together two very flimsy storylines - the vandalism and the fake IDs - in order to fill 3/4 of an episode only to switch gears and throw Parker's party in at the end. It reeked of being manufactured.

PS: where was Mac flame? She was gushing about him in the beginning and then he was nowhere to be seen at the party, only for Max to move in on Mac.
Anonymous said…
This episode was a total let down for me. It did not feel like any of the previous VMs. I know I'm being negative, but I'm also being honest. I sure hope they do go back to the format of seasons 1 and 2. RT and company can still totally turn the show around because I did see glimmers of the old VM (Mac, Clemmons).

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