“Clash of the Tritons” (Season One, Episode 12; originally aired January 11th, 2005)
I'm very happy to see that Veronica Mars is maintaining the comedy/drama mix that it managed to get just right in “An Echolls Family Christmas”. “Clash of the Tritons” isn't quite as great a piece of character work as the Christmas episode, but it's as or more fun, with several classic lines (“Veronica Mars is smarter...than me...”) and a ridiculously entertaining karaoke performance.
The case itself, involving a secret society and alcohol poisoning, is a bit of a trifle and the final result ascribes far too much forethought to the culprit to entirely make sense. But there are more interesting things going on. This might be the first time Veronica is threatened – her role in the case starts as a reaction to being framed, as opposed to her instigating or being hired. Having Veronica on her heels instead of her toes gives us the chance to see Kristen Bell using her sarcasm as a defense mechanism instead of just for fun, and it also gives a slight level of tension missing from some other episodes where one-off guest stars are the potential victims.
The second thing of note is that the guidance counselor (and former would-be Mrs. Mars), Rebecca James has conveniently received a grant to study grief in teens, which means interviewing Lilly's former friends, lovers, and family. Veronica, clever girl, gets there first and bugs the room while putting on a performance (or not?) about how she wants to get over Lilly's death by doing something good, which we understand means solving the murder.
But it's the later visitors who tell more, both to us and to a listening Veronica. Weevil's passionate affair with Lilly is revealed. Logan describes how he blames Veronica to getting him and Lilly to break up so he wasn't there for her. And Duncan tells the counselor how he has major gaps in his memory – including one lasting several days when Lilly died.
I watched “Clash of the Tritons” a day or two after finally seeing The Social Network, and can't help finding parallels between the two, especially with their rich people clubs that exist to reify the social order. Perhaps Mac and her chaos-instigating purity test is a better comparison to the “Mark Zuckerberg” of the film, but Veronica is also an interesting comparison. Both she and Zuckerberg confront the social order of the clubs, attempting to negate their power and privilege. But their solutions don't end up changing anything – Zuckerberg creates new royalty, and Veronica ends up letting the Tritons off the hook because, well, they didn't commit the specific crime she was trying to solve (never mind Duncan jerking her around with the “GREAAATTTT TRRRIIIIIITTTOOONNNN” bit or the Tritons kidnapping her).
But this may be the point. Power is consolidated and institutionalized, and many attempts to attack it could be personally immoral. By fighting against that personal immorality, power remains entrenched. Maybe they'll get their repressed homosexuality made fun of, but not much else changes.
“Lord of the Bling” (Season One, Episode 13; originally aired February 8th, 2005)
Logan is a fascinating character in concept. To be in the opening credits demands a connection to the main character, but his interactions with Veronica are fairly rare, and usually through the lens of another character, most commonly Duncan. In an intellectual sense, if I were running through the characters who exist in the credits, I can assign their relationships to the show and to Veronica herself fairly easily, with the exception of Sydney Poitier, who's been on-screen less than a few recurring, non-credits characters.
So when I look at Logan, I think he exists on the show for one or both of two reasons: first, that he's directly connected to the murder mystery plot. Second, that he's a character who was invented primarily for the pilot/initial few episodes and since then the writers have had to develop reasons to keep him around.
If the former is true, well, we'll find out. I'm much more interested in the latter right now. See, I envision Logan in this fashion: he was set up as a foil for Veronica Mars, especially in regards to her relationship with Duncan. He also has at least the most obvious, surface-level connection to Lilly Kane's death, and possibly a deeper one. But at some point, the writers realized that Jason Dohring was incredibly effective actor, in more ways than simply as a character foil. So Logan is being given more screen time and more intense characterization. The bulk of the time in this episode was given to Veronica, her dad, and a “ripped from the headlines” would-be Suge Knight. But the bulk of the emotion is given to Logan, his father, and his mother's funeral.
And Logan is fucking awesome. His bitter, sarcastic going through the motions at the funeral reception may be my favorite scene of the series: painful, brilliant, and wickedly funny. And it's meaningful, too, leading to his discussion with Duncan and then his request from Veronica in the end, which I can't help but feel will drive the story from this point for a while.
The case-of-the-week may have a “ripped-from-the-headlines” feel, and that's usually considered a bad thing, but it actually works fairly well. Veronica Mars avoids cheap jokes at the expense of those crazy rappers, simply using it as a background for discussing parenthood in a different fashion, specifically as regards black masculinity, both for Bone Hamilton and his son Bryce. And it's damn fun to boot – another winning episode in what's rapidly becoming an impressive streak.
- The other big event in “Clash of the Tritons” is that the fallout from Aaron Echolls' affairs ends with the apparent suicide of Lynn Echolls. Man, Logan is really having a great year, huh?
- “I have that exact same platitude-a-day calendar!”
- “If you must seduce the head cheerleader, then so be it.”
- Kristen Bell is doing great things with her hair in these episodes.
- “Hi Dad. Their case is fuzzy and circumstantial.” “I think those were her first words.”
- “Hi everyone! Say repressed homosexuality!”
- “Gosh, mom. Gee, dad. Will I be going to live with grandma?”
- “Oh, you, stop it!”
- Hey, you know who hasn't been mentioned since he left, by name or otherwise? Troy. Crazy kid.
- “Like, on a horse?”
- “Next time, remember: Lift drunk, combative bail-jumpers with your legs, not your back. And use your heating pad. And eat fiber.”
- “I am absolutely serious about my cred with the urban demo.” Wallace is great hanging out with Veronica, but yeah, his personality on his own is severely lacking.
- “There's no people like show peoples!”
- “She was hot!” “If you like 'em scrawny.”
- “I need to talk to Ben about something involving...crabs.”
- “Look, you can be mad, dad. But you can't call me soft.”
- Yolanda is revealed to be the girl that Logan was kissing which triggered his breakup with Lilly. Right now, this seems like it's probably a nice callback to the previous episode, but it could be more.
- “I want you to find my mother.” Ho-lee shitsnacks.