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Of Mice and (Disappointing) Men on "Veronica Mars"

I'm still shaking after watching the final minutes of last night's Veronica Mars.

Was I the only one waiting last night for the climactic showdown between Veronica and the serial rapist? While the last few minutes of last night's episode of Veronica Mars ("Of Vice and Men") was absolutely gripping (not to mention outright terrifying), I really wish the CW had concealed that element of the storyline altogether; it would have worked even more effectively had it been a surprise, especially coming on the heels of a rather fluffy mystery this week.

Seems our girl V. has developed quite a tarnished view of the male race as a result of last week's occurrences... namely the lil' extramarital affair that seems to have knocked Papa Keith right off his pedestal in Veronica's eyes. There's no denying that there's a connection between Keith and the unhappily married (but married nonetheless) Harmony (Laura San Giacomo), but Keith isn't exactly thinking with his head, especially after last week's (nowhere) near-fatal car accident. He's made a connection with Harmony that transcends what Keith knows is right, and while Veronica was being a little holier-than-thou towards her dad, she was correct in saying that Keith is behaving just like all the johns they catch with their pants down. After all, Mars Investigation is in the business of exposing infidelity and maybe it has jaded Veronica more than anyone realized.

But it's only fitting that Keith should himself be the subject of an infidelity case as Harmony's husband hires competition Vinnie Van Lowe (the always brilliant Ken Marino) to prove that Harmony's cheating. Vinnie knows a good deal when he sees one and offers Keith a deal: he'll keep the incriminating photos of Keith and Harmony from his client in exchange for $4000. Keith's trapped and he realizes just how over his head he is. And, sadly, he does the right thing and calls it quits with Harmony. (But couldn't he have called her or done it before she shows up at his office ready to drive to Palm Springs? And where exactly was Harmony's daughter meant to be during their illicit weekend together?)

Meanwhile, Veronica worked to clear Logan's friend Mercer (Ryan Devlin) after he was arrested by Sheriff Lamb as a suspect in the serial rape investigation, a move which further fractured Veronica and Logan's already splintering relationship. Seems that Logan was with Mercer the night of one of the rapes and knows that he can't have committed the crime, but won't step forward with an alibi as that might be even more damaging. (Glad Veronica read my mind and asked if it would be worse than spending time in Neptune's luxurious jail for a crime he didn't commit.) Veronica demands to know where Logan and Mercer were but Logan's not budging one iota, leading Veronica to go into hiding. (Read: Wallace and Piz's room.)

Speaking of Piz, I absolutely loved the scenes between Veronica and Piz this week and the whole misunderstanding of the living arrangements that weekend. Piz and Wallace were meant to be studying Paper Chase-style at a motel but Wallace kicked Piz out for being disruptive, leading him back to his dorm room, where Veronica was hiding from the world. (I get the whole shutting yourself off from the world thingie but couldn't you have at least stayed with Mac and Parker once Piz returned? Or is Mac, um, still working on her "project"?) I also LOVED the scene between Piz and Logan when he shows up looking for Veronica and is surprised to find Piz there (nice glance behind Piz to the state of the room; could it be he doesn't trust Veronica completely either?) and Piz seemed a little too pleased as punch that Logan came there to find V.

Piz, meanwhile, is able to help Veronica prove Mercer's innocence, thanks to a computerized log of the campus radio station, where both Piz and Mercer have their own shows. That nifty log proves that Mercer couldn't have committed the rapes and clears him completely. Veronica questions whether he could have been clever enough to pre-record his show, but Piz says it's a call-in show, so no way. Which clears Mercer completely. Veronica gives the info to Logan in exchange for learning where he and Mercer were that night in August. Logan's furious that his own girlfriend would blackmail him but says that they were in Tijuana and ended up accidentally burning down a motel and fleeing. Um, wow. Didn't see that one coming. Sure there wasn't also a dead hooker involved, Ecchols? Logan's mortified at his actions and so is Veronica. (So am I, frankly.)

(Aside: while I'm not even going to touch on this week's mystery, I did howl with laughter at the little Arrested Development shout-out at the jail. You know what I mean.)

Meanwhile, Mercer's off the hook but still in jail, thanks to a perceived, um, attitude problem on his part by Sheriff Lamb. Which means that it couldn't be Mercer who nearly attacks Veronica that night. Which is what I've been just itching to discuss. Veronica enjoys a sub-par meal at the campus food court and returns to the counter to complain about an errant hair in her angel hair pasta (heh), which gives someone the opportunity to drug her drink. As an obviously parched Veronica gulps down her beverage whilst listening to her voicemail (many from Logan, one from Keith saying he split with Harmony), she begins to feel the drug's effect and recognizes the feeling. (After all, she was drugged with GHB before, at Shelly Pomeroy's party.) Veronica deliriously makes her way to the underground parking lot (where are you going, Veronica?) and notices a black-clad man making his way towards her. She desperately tries to get inside the car but collapses on the ground, managing to turn on her car alarm. The rapist--wearing latex gloves no less--makes his way over to Veronica and creepily reaches over to her hand and turns off the alarm, but not before Logan (thank GOD!) hears it and rushes down into the garage.

Logan finds Veronica passed out on the ground next to her car, the rapist nowhere to be seen (where did he go so quickly?). He cradles Veronica in his arms and sees a chunk of her hair on the ground and quickly feels around her head, discovering a patch of hair has been SHAVED off at the base. (So scary.) While I don't think that Veronica was going to be raped, I do think that the rapist was sending a message to her, a strong one at that, saying to drop her investigation. This guy is good. He was able to lay in wait for Veronica in the cafeteria and then drug her drink and knew exactly where her car was in the garage and wait to spring his trap. Would he have abducted or raped Veronica? I'm not entirely sure. I think it was more of a power trip, a sign to our favorite sleuth that, whoever this guy is, he can get to her whenever he wants, wherever he wants. He is in control of their situation and sets the rules.

So who is the mystery rapist then? I've been turning it over in my head and there are a few obvious suspects that keep popping up. Mercer's obviously in the clear, as he has a water-tight alibi for the nights of the rapes and was still in jail when Veronica was attacked. (I'm making the assumption that the rapist is working alone and not in concert with some Carver-esque accomplice.) Phil Klemmer, the writer of this week's episode, makes a point of letting the audience know that the rather pretentious RA has the keys to all of his charges' rooms. It means that he can let himself in and out of their rooms, gaining access to rape any of the girls (i.e., Parker) or planting evidence to frame someone else. But it just doesn't feel right to me and the keys could be one ginormous red herring.

Me, I'm leaning more towards TA Tim Foyle (James Jordan), who has an obvious grudge against Veronica, is the teaching assistant for the criminology department (showing a keen understanding of the criminal mind) and a class in which the assignment is the plan the perfect murder. Has Tim managed to construct the perfect crime? He was on campus at the time of the rapes and has a bit of an obsession with the case, having built a board in his office dedicated to the victims and the clues... or is it more of a trophy board? He proved his was clever by setting up a wild goose chase for Veronica to unmask Professor Landry's affair with Dean O'Dell's wife last week, just for Veronica's benefit. But is he clever enough to commit these crimes and manage to get away with it?

What do you think? Is it Tim? Or someone else altogether? Can we solve the mystery of the Hearst College serial rapist before Veronica does?

Next week on Veronica Mars ("Lord of the Pi's"), Veronica investigates the disappearance of Selma Rose Hearst (guest star Patricia Hearst), the wealthy granddaughter of Hearst College's founder, who conveniently vanishes the very night before she is to cast a swing vote to determine the fate of the Greek system. Meanwhile, more problems ahead for Veronica and Logan and Veronica is terrified after her near-attack by the Hearst College rapist.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC); Bones (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); Medium (NBC; 9-11 pm); One Tree Hill (CW); Day Break (ABC; 9-11 pm); Bones (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS)

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 Breaks Down"), one of the remaining models "chastizes" the others during a particularly grueling acting challenge (heh) while another lands a role on a TV show (please let it not be Veronica Mars again) and Tyra lets the girls know where they're flying overseas.

8 pm: Jamie Oliver's Great Italian Escape on the Travel Channel.

Two back-to-back episodes of the Travel Channel's new series featuring Jamie Oliver, an old camper, and the Italian countryside. On "Monastery," Jamie cooks a roadside meal with members of the Benedictine community and lives the life of an Italian monk for a week. On "Le Marche," Jamie hunts wild boar in the mountains of Le Marche, cooks lamb for the locals, and enters a pasta making competition. Mangia!

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

It's the second season of Bravo's culinary competition Top Chef. On tonight's episode, chefs have to create a dish using a mystery ingredient, someone serves something that looks like Pepto-Bismol, and the teams encounter difficulties working against the clock.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I got very suspicious of that RA when he offerred MAryl tea. I don't know why, but it was creepy for some reason. All of a sudden I thought he'd drugged the tea and she was going to get raped. Glad that didn't happen, but they are definitely putting "suspect" all over his forehead.

I, too, was annoyed at the CW promo machine. I had actually forgotten about the drugging until about halfway through and then I was distracted by "When's the drugging coming?" That ending would have been amazing if we didn't know. It was still pretty damn good.
Anonymous said…
oh, and - I totally missed the AD reference...what was it?
Vance said…
yeah. WHAT AD reference? I totally missed it too. Damn!
Jace Lacob said…
Oh, come on, Arrested Development fans! I'm referring, of course, to Sheriff Lamb's very tongue-in-cheek admonition to Meryl & her BF of "No TOUCHING!" at the jail. Hell, even Lamb was laughing.
Todd said…
I caught the reference.

Now give me your honest opinion: Is this getting the back nine or not? I've heard good arguments on both sides.
Like Ally, I had forgotten about the drugging until halfway throught the episode (they did a good job distracting me!) but then got worried that the episode would end with Veronica passed out in the parking lot. I was relieved to see Logan come to her rescue. I thought his reaction to the situation was very well-acted.

I was happy to see a lot of Piz in this episode. He's a great addition to the cast. But I'm beginning to feel that there's really no place for Wallace in Veronica's new world.

Not sure who the rapist is but you make a good case against the TA. This guy is definitely smart. But the RA is very creepy too! And speaking of creepy, that scene with the Fitzpatrick's was terrifying. I'm glad that storyline hasn't disappeared.
The CineManiac said…
I'd just like the chance to see who the rapist is, but unfortunately, the CW here in the Los Angeles area is preempting the frackin' show with a basketball game, so who knows when it will finally air.
Jace Lacob said…
Travis,

Yep, Veronica is being preempted here in LA for yet another inane basketball game. The CW is supposedly airing "Lord of the Pi's" on Saturday night at 9 pm. So... those of us in the LA area basically have to wait four extra days to catch an episode that everyone else watched on Tuesday.

Yet another smart move, KTLA!

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