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"Veronica Mars" Puzzles Out Wha' Happened at the Casino

I was really looking forward to getting home last night after a very, very long day of work (not filled, sadly, with any Halloween mirth) and watch a new episode of my favorite teen sleuth drama Veronica Mars and catch up with the gang in Neptune.

While last night's episode ("President Evil") was nowhere near as stellar as could be, it was nice to see to see some friendly (or in Sheriff Lamb's case, not so friendly) faces popping up on the Hearst College campus or its general environs.

I'd nearly forgotten that Wallace was even still on the show as he seems now to pop up so infrequently... and when he does, he still rarely shares any screen time with Mademoiselle Mars. So it was nice to see him last night, even if his subplot -- about struggling with his mechanical engineering class and succumbing to the temptations of cheesy horror movies, loose girls, and purchased "study guides -- felt oddly disjointed and seemed extremely tacked on. (Hell, it could have been in a different episode altogether as the only way it and the other plots dovetailed was in that nifty musical montage.) Who was the random dude who showed up in Wallace's room demanding he blow off work? And why is it that no one's roommates (ahem, Mac and Piz) ever seem to be around anymore? (At least this time there weren't any lame excuses about dead great-aunts in Bakersfield.) Last, did anyone else know that Wallace always wanted to be a mechanical engineer?

Glad that producers are using Weevil for more than just set dressing now that he's a fixture of Hearst College, which keeps him close to Veronica but just outside their circle. I was concerned when V. left Neptune High that there wouldn't be any possible way for Weevil to travel in the same concentric circles as our Veronica, but having him be an ex-con maintenance man works just fine. And it leaves the door open for, well, Weevil to literally open some doors for the sleuth down the line. After all, she can't possibly have master keys to all the Hearst College buildings yet, can she?

How great was it to see the much-missed (and oft-maligned) Sheriff Lamb interact with our teen heroes again? Priceless line, delivered to Logan when Lamb arrests Weevil: "Hey, good-looking, we're coming back to get you soon!" Rob Thomas, please for the love of god, give this guy more screen time! I miss his oily brand of lazy villainy and Neptune needs its (semi-) crooked sheriff. I'd rather have a storyline focusing on Lamb (and picking up the pieces of that dangling storyline from last season that hinted that Lamb might have been abused as a child), than another Wallace considers cheating and gets caught arc. Seriously.

The same goes for Papa Keith's weaselly associate Cliff, who is the best sleazy TV lawyers around. I love his Harry Shearer-esque voice, slippery delivery (the Olive Garden commercial audition was hilarious), and unabashed cheesiness. He's the epitome of TV lawyer stereotypes, yet Cliff takes such a high view of himself (and his bus ads and jingles), that you can't help but love the guy. He's also the ideal sidekick to Keith, especially when Veronica's not around and the scenes between him and Keith crackle with some real kinship.

Plus, Backup! I've been missing that pooch and I'm glad that he finally showed up again as Veronica's erstwhile sidekick/bodyguard/adorable furry friend.

While it was great seeing everyone, the plot last night left a lot to be desired, unfortunately, and was a convoluted mess of multiple storylines. Keith arranges to locate the missing ex-husband of Dean O'Dell's beautiful wife in order to get him to donate bone marrow to his dying son and then the Dean and his wife kidnap him when he refuses but end up paying him off. It was messy without any tidy wrap-up and seemed all over the place. Keith and O'Dell drive to Mexico and THEN find out from Cliff that O'Dell knew his wife and kid were in a San Diego hospital? And how exactly did O'Dell's wife afford such a nice car on a college dean's salary?

Meanwhile, Veronica investigates both the serial rapist (more on that in a sec) and the robbery of the campus' underground casino. The whole robbery storyline was odd because it was just so obvious that (A) the campus security did it and (B) that Weevil didn't. Usually the mysteries on the series are a hell of a lot smarter than the one in "President Evil," and I felt that Veronica herself wasn't her usual brilliantly deductive sleuth. Would Weevil really choke her and rip Lily's necklace off her throat? I don't buy that and neither would have Veronica. (If had really been Weevil, I think he would have left V. alone altogether, even if she was in "costume.") Plus, it made it seem for a few seconds that Logan was actually a suspect in the armed robbery, if only because of his disappearance at the time of the theft (which, more likely, was meant to sloppily set up next week's Logan storyline). As it was Veronica who got Weevil a job first at Mars Investigations and then at Hearst, I would have thought that her trust in Weevil went a lot more deep than it apparently does. It was so obviously a set-up that I thought Veronica would have realized this far sooner than she did, even if she was emotionally involved due to her missing necklace. (Loved the scene when she ripped it off the bratty gum-chewing little girl's neck and then drove off without saying a word.)

On the serial rapist front, Veronica questions Claire, the latest victim, and shows her the ATM photo she obtained from the night of her rape, which clearly shows her drunk but with all of her hair. Behind her, there's an Asian guy who is not the Asian guy in the frat from last week. But who is he? Claire glances at the pic and says that she doesn't recognize the guy and has never seen him, nor can she read the logo on his shirt. Veronica scans the photo sharpens the image and voila! It's a logo for a certain summer camp; our intrepid sleuth poses as a Southern gal out to arrange a reunion of past campers and within a few days she's emailed a list of attendees from the past five years. And wouldn't you know it, there's only one Asian guy on the entire list. But when Veronica shows up to question him, his roommate tells her that the guy in the photo is Claire's boyfriend. Wha huh?

I'm hoping next week's Sweeps episode picks up the pieces of this storyline and is, well, a lot more fulfilling than last night's installment. But given how much joy Veronica Mars brings me over the course of a season, I'm willing to overlook a bad ep or two here and there. Just don't let it happen again, Rob Thomas... or I'll have to set Backup on you.

Next week on Veronica Mars ("Hi, Infidelity"): Veronica and Logan's relationship begins to crack (was he really in class when the casino was robbed?) under the pressure of one too many floozies; Veronica is suspected of plagiarizing her criminology paper (seems like everyone in Neptune is cheating somehow); and Dean O'Dell clears Wallace for cheating on his engineering exam but comes to a verdict that could alter his entire future.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Jericho (CBS); 30 Rock/Twenty Good Years (NBC); America's Next Top Model (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC); Bones (FOX); Desire (MyNet)

9 pm: Criminal Minds (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC); One Tree Hill (CW); Lost (ABC); The Rich List (FOX); Fashion House (MyNet)

10 pm: CSI: New York (CBS); Dateline (NBC); The Nine (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: 30 Rock.

On tonight's episode ("Jack the Writer"), Liz struggles to keep Jack out of the writers' room, while Kenneth learns that Tracy Jordan isn't exactly, well, sane.

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 Girls Who Made It This Far"), it's a recap episode featuring never-before-seen footage like Monique having a meltdown... in the kitchen (!) and Jaeda's impression of Tyra.

9 pm: Lost.

Thank God it's Wednesday! On tonight's episode ("The Cost of Living"), the island grows restless, a delirious Eko experiences some unique visions, Locke takes Nikki and some castaways to the Pearl where they see a terrifying one-eyed man (Colonel Tigh?) on the monitor (remember the glass eye?), and Jack continues to pit Juliet and Ben against one another. Can you believe there are only two episodes to go?

10 pm: Top Chef on Bravo.

It's the second season of Bravo's culinary competition Top Chef. On tonight's episode, tensions boil over as Betty faces off with the loathed Marcel and Michael wants a slap-down with Tom. Plus, I scream, you scream, the contestants work with ice cream.

Comments

I agree that the "mystery" this episode felt very weak as did Veronica's investigation. There's no way she would suspect Weevil under those circumstances. If she really had so little faith in him she would never (as you said) have tried to get him a job working for Daddy Mars. A little disappointing, to say the least. Sometimes the eps right before sweeps can be a little...lacking. Hopefully, it will be back on track next week.
Anonymous said…
I'm disappointed in Veronica's sleuthing this season, period. It seems that she's always just jumping to conclusions without doing any actual investigating. I know that one of her character's flaws is that she mistakenly suspects people of wrongdoing, but it seems this year that is ALL she's doing. I would like her to actually start to investigate before condemning.
rockauteur said…
Yeah I agree with Jace about this episode - very disappointing. Wallace's story line was unnecessary and who was his friend? Is Wallace still even on the basketball team? Jace was good to point out the missing Piz and even Logan seemed like he was just a prop in the episode. Very sloppy indeed to set everything up for next week. If i were veronica, I would have suspected Logan in the casino robbery more than Weevil... After all the times she has accused Weevil of robbery, can't she finally believe him? Everyone's characters seemed off this episode and Wallace's tacked on storyline was not even solved. And I don't even care.

Ratings were down last night too. Hopefully Sweeps will pick the ratings - and the creative - up again.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, not one of their best by any stretch.

They are obviously having trouble incorporating Wallace into stories, as Tuesday's ep showed.

How many times are we going to play the "Veronica accuses Weevil" beat before she says to herself, "He almost never turns out to be guilty!" (carnival ep excluded). It gets really old, and I don't blame Weevil for being pissed. V - give him a break!

Very interesting, though, that Asian dude is Claire's bf.

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