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Campus Cleanup: Veronica Unmasks the Serial Rapist on "Veronica Mars"

Wow.

Personally, I'm just blown away. From that killer opening scene (no pun intended) to the heart-breaking last few minutes of last night's episode ("Spit & Eggs") of Veronica Mars, I tossed and turned all night, unable to get it out of my head.

I must have watched the promo for last night's episode about 100 times while counting down the hours to the latest installment of Veronica and I never imagined that Rob Thomas, who wrote and directed last night's ep, would use that scene of Veronica fleeing an unseen assailant... as the opening scene itself before flashing back two days earlier. It certainly set the mood for the entire episode and had me on the edge of my seat.

How many of you out there were right about the identity of the Hearst College rapist? I was suspicious of creepy RA Moe at first, what with his handing out of cups of tea to women in distress and the fact that he had a massive set of keys to everybody's room, but those thoughts were quickly dropped when Moe seemed to become a fairly non-essential member of the revolving cast and blended into the background. I'll admit that I thought that TA Tim Foyle was the culprit, but it appears that he just has a fixation on the Pi Sig frat boys lining up to, um, accommodate his girlfriend Bonnie's appetites. While Mercer seemed like he had an air-tight alibi between the radio show and his little fiery display at that motel in Tijuana with Logan over the summer. But in a Carver-like twist, there were not one but two villains at work here: Moe worked as the set-up man; after Mercer dosed the unsuspecting victims, Moe drove the girls to their dorms on the Take Back the Night (under Fern's watchful eye, no less) and let Mercer into their rooms using his master set of keys. Evil.

Meanwhile, Veronica got to the bottom of the whole mystery but in order to do so she needed some help from her friends, whom she lured to the Pi Sig party with the promise of gifts (fake IDs for everyone!). It's interesting to me that Veronica can always turn to Wallace or Mac or, hell, Piz for help, but she can never do the same with boyfriend Logan. And poor Logan; the guy's clearly head-over-heels in love with our V., but can't stand to wait for her to break his heart. Their break-up has been a long time coming and I couldn't believe it when Logan so casually ended things between them. Still, when Veronica needed him most, he was there for her and ran off with Wallace to attempt to prevent the rapist from striking... if only they had had some good intel about the victim. And I LOVED the fact that at the end of the episode Logan calmly walked out into the street with a baseball bat and started smashing up the police cars... before ending up in the very same holding cell as Moe and Mercer. Classic. You could almost hear the sound of the muscles in his fist tensing up. Those boys are toast.

Kudos to Veronica for getting to the victim's unicorn-festooned room before Mercer (and for attempting to clear the building with a bomb threat, if only police had listened) and for posing as the would-be victim. Unfortunately, V's taser failed to hit its mark and Mercer savagely attacked Veronica, beating the hell out of her and throwing her around the room. But Veronica's been here before, not only as the victim of some deranged psycho killer but also as a rape survivor and it was essential that she face down the Beast himself. Plus, how can you not love a show that has its heroine stab a rapist with a unicorn statue?

Mercer is seriously one messed up dude; his whole motivation for raping these girls was that he didn't want to waste his precious time listening to them go on and on about how much they "didn't like the taste of beer" or unicorns in order to have sex with them. As for the whole shaving-their-heads thing, I'm not sure what the motivation was behind that, except to leave his mark on his victims as "damaged." And the whole Mercer-and-Moe as a team thing? Just plain icky. Obviously, they "bonded" in a master/slave relationship during the prison experiment class assignment (as seen in "My Big Fat Greek Rush Week") as Horshack and Rafe did. Yeah, I'd talk to Dan Castellaneta (a.k.a. Dr. Kinny) about removing that, er, charmingly draconian assignment from the syllabus.

Veronica manages to escape and tears off, looking for Wallace or Piz, or anyone to help... but ends up right in front of brown shoe-wearing Moe, who calmly takes her inside his room and "calls" the police, right after making Veronica a cup of tea. That damn tea again. As soon as I saw Veronica holding that drugged cup, I knew it was all over. And to complicate things, Moe locks her inside the room with no means of escape. But our fave sleuth is more clever than that and she pushes herself inside the closet and grabs a hammer from the shelf... upending a large pile of stolen hair. Ew. Obviously these boys were keeping some trophies of their victims. (Shudder.) And Veronica tries calling Papa Keith from Moe's cell phone as well, in the hopes that he'll be able to trace the call.

But in the end, with all of Veronica's tricks and gadgets and cunning stratagems, it all comes down to a rape whistle. I was happy to see Parker caught up in the whole episode and that she was the one to give Veronica the GHB-testing coasters and rape whistle at the beginning of the episode. Veronica doubts anyone would come running after hearing such a whistle, but Parker does when Veronica sounds it and it's Parker who ends up saving Veronica. Rob Thomas, you devilish genius, thank you for making things come full-circle for the two of them: Veronica unknowingly "let" Parker be raped right under her nose, but it's Parker who comes to her rescue in the end and who doesn't let a bloody Mercer just walk back into Moe's room, instead screaming rape as loud as she can. It's a fitting end to the rapist storyline and both Parker and Veronica, rape victims themselves, get to finally be heard. In the end, college is a scary place and as important as it is to watch out for yourself, it's a reminder that it's even more important to watch out for those around you as well.

Can I just say how very happy I was to finally see the return of the much-missed Mac? I know how very much she did not want to go to that Pi Sig party but, having used up all of her excuses (going to the gym, great-aunt in Bakersfield died, class project), Mac had no alternatives but participate in the plot this episode. (Though I am curious what happened to that scene from the promo that had her see something off-screen in one of the rooms.) I was rolling on the floor from the "Ask me about my STD" t-shirt she wore to the party. I can only hope that Tina Majorino has finished shooting Season Two of HBO's Big Love so she can pop up more often on the Hearst College campus. We need more Mac!

And I already miss poor Dean Cyrus O'Dell, whose time on this series was sadly too short. (Just when I was liking the guy too!) How often do you get a curmudgeonly boxing-obsessed character who admits to not never hearing the term "gaydar" before and drives a minivan? After being overjoyed at learning from Keith that his wife Mindy wasn't cheating on him during a trip to Sacremendi (work out that reference, TV addicts), Veronica is forced to tell Papa Keith that his client's wife isn't exactly off the hook and that she knows for a fact that Mindy is having an affair with Professor Landry. Enter Keith, who has to break it to O'Dell that Mindy IS cheating after all; the two end up boozing it up in O'Dell's office but O'Dell never does get to enjoy that 60 year old whiskey he was saving for a special occasion. Instead he takes his gun and books it over to the Neptune Grand, where he surprises a post-coital Mindy and Landry (stoned a la Annie Hall) with an impromptu appearance in their bedroom.

While we're not privy to what happened next, O'Dell stumbles back to his darkened office, which is (like the minivan) being pelted with eggs by anti-frat protesters (good work, O'Dell, reinstating the Greek system like that). And sure enough, there's a visitor for O'Dell now -- one that he seems to recognize, no less -- and utters a mystery-favorite line ("What are you doing here?"). Weevil shows up in the morning to install his HD and discovers a very dead O'Dell slumped over at his desk. Apparent cause of death: a bullet wound to the head.

Hmmm. Methinks that the sheriff will declare it to be a suicide, since O'Dell was not only distraught over learning about Mindy's infidelity but was obviously under a lot of pressure at work. Plus, they'll find that he was drunk as a skunk (thanks for being an enabler, Keith!) and I'm sure that the gun that killed O'Dell was registered to him and will be found right on the floor by his hand. Gee, can anyone say "perfect murder"? I only wish that the door to his office had been locked... from the inside. I love "locked room" mysteries more than anything.

So who killed O'Dell? Was it Mindy? Landry? Fern or another angry anti-Greek protester? A debtor to whom O'Dell owed some money, thanks to his gambling habit? Or TA Tim Foyle, livid at his girlfriend's frat-loving proclivities who lashes out at the dean who reinstated the Greeks? Um, probably not that last one. But I can't wait to find out whodunit.

O'Dell had it right earlier in last night's episode when he drank from a mug that read, "Life Ain't Fair." No, it certainly ain't, Cyrus. Especially as it's looking like we'll have to wait until January for a new installment of the goings-on in Neptune. It's going to be quite a long winter.

Next on Veronica Mars: it's a repeat of the third season premiere ("Welcome Wagon") where Veronica, Wallace, Logan, and Mac head to Hearst College and Veronica must solve the mystery of the disappearance behind new friend Piz's belongings. Ah, memories.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); Christmas in Rockefeller Center (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Show Me the Money (ABC); Bones (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC); One Tree Hill (CW); Day Break (ABC); Bones (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Medium (NBC); 20/20 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: America's Next Top Model.

Okay, I'll admit it: I've gotten hooked on this cycle of ANTM. On tonight's episode ("The Girl Who Grates"), Tyra directs the girls in a photo shoot by having them float in a pool of ice-cold water and Melrose has a nervous breakdown when her flamenco dancing is criticized during a challenge. Ah, drama.

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

It's the second season of Bravo's culinary competition Top Chef. On tonight's repeat episode, relive the drama of seeing Josie and Mia prepare an entire course of a tasting menu... without actually cooking anything! Gee, I wonder who's going to be sent home.

Comments

Vance said…
Still not buying Mercer and Moe's reasons for the rape but I'll assume there's actually more to the story that will unravel in future eps. Still, thank goodness Mac is back and Piz was hilarious last night. The WHOLE gang needs to be together more often.
Anonymous said…
January? Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!

I have nothing to add. Your recap said it all.
Loved seeing the Scooby Doo gang back in action (with Piz filling in as a much more likeable Scrappy Doo).

I also thought it was great that Parker was the one to save Veronica - a clever and satisfying twist.

I already miss the quirky Dean O'Dell but look forward to Veronica solving the mystery of his death!
Anonymous said…
I thought Parker hearing the rape whistle was silly. She could have a hearing contest with Backup… and WIN! Also, I thought the motivation was bizarre to say the least. Not in a "that boy is crazy" sort of way. More in a "yeah, right" sort of way. I thought the rapes were going to be tied into retribution for gambling debts. At least that would have made some sense. Wouldn't Logan have known how twisted his traveling buddy was? I am glad that we didn't wait an entire season to find out the who's and why's of the Heart Rapist.

I thought Logan had the best scene in the episode, smashing up the cop car in order to get tossed in the same cell as Mercer. Brilliant.

Oh, and my question for the next mystery is this: if Dean O'Dell fired Landry for having an affair with his wife, what happens to TA Tim Foyle? Losing your girlfriend and your job all in the same night could drive anyone to "the perfect murder".
Jon88 said…
Was O'Dell drunk? He sure got off the couch quickly enough after Keith left.
Anonymous said…
Arrested development

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