“Green-Eyed Monster” (season 2, episode 4; originally aired 10/19/2005)
In which a hyper-paranoid client proves once and for all that jealousy is bad...
After some more directly serialized plots in the first few episodes, “Green-Eyed Monster” seemed like a return to season one-style case of the week at first. But there was just something slightly off about it. It could be early-season jitters, but it seemed more structural to me. In the first season, the cases were self-standing, and while they attached to the wider theme of parenthood generally, they also tended to be the focus of each episode. In this episode, the case of the week felt like it existed almost entirely to deal with Veronica’s feelings about Duncan, Meg, and the main plot.
The big problem is that the case, involving a woman convinced there’s something wrong with her about-to-propose boyfriend, is too transparent. Obviously this woman is crazy. Exactly how crazy is really the point, but the show made it pretty clear that she was the bad guy in the situation. The nature of her boyfriend was expectedly twisty, but it was largely irrelevant. The main point was that Veronica didn’t want to be like her—and so didn’t go through Meg’s potentially incriminating files when she got the chance.
For all the structural flaws in the center of the episode, the smaller storylines surrounding it worked much better. The Alicia Fennel subplot, which I was dubious about when introduced, may still be problematic, but it did give us more time with Keith Mars in a variety of different moods, including about as peevish as we’ve ever seen after Sheriff Lamb drops some knowledge on him. And the twist at the end—with the cop claiming to be Wallace’s father—was not one I expected, so kudos on that. Still dubious of where it’s going, but it at least it’s already surprised me.
But this episode was fairly simple, primarily setting up the next one…
“Blast From The Past” (season 2, episode 5; originally aired 10/26/2005)
In which Veronica gets upstaged, and everything goes wrong…
Veronica wasn’t straight-up beaten often in season one. Sometimes she ran afoul of a system that made change virtually impossible, even if she solved the case successfully on a personal level. And she did encounter major setbacks in the Lilly Kane case, most specifically when Clarence Wiedman (whatever happened to that guy?) beat her to Amelia Kuntz. But she still ended up on the winning side overall.
Such is not the case in “Blast From The Past,” as Veronica is well and truly outmaneuvered by Jackie (and Logan), deserted by Wallace, and foiled by her father. Not that anyone else is having a good time. Jackie’s revenge drives a wedge between Wallace and Veronica and well as herself and Wallace, and leads to her popping too many pills and going to homecoming wasted. Keith’s digging into Alicia’s past is discovered, and they have a massive, possibly break-up-demanding fight, and then Sheriff Lamb ambushes him at a debate, sinking his poll numbers in a hurry. But it’s Wallace who has the worst time of all, as his father, Nathan, convinces him that his mother has been lying to him the whole time. Between that and Veronica’s apparent betrayal, he decides to simply bail on Neptune entirely. And oh yeah, pill-happy Jackie basically forces Veronica, Duncan, and Logan to confront their little love triangle, if only for a few minutes.
This, dear readers, is easily the single most melodramatic episode of the series so far. It’s hard to say how I feel about it. If it’s an indicator of how the season will continue from here on out, I expect a fascinating level of exhaustion. If it’s a way to raise the stakes early on, it’s damn effective. There was a lot going on here, maybe too much for down the road, but it worked.
It wasn’t clear why Jackie was on the show prior to this episode. Sure, it’s good to have another female character, but Meg or Mac could easily have been added. Instead, Jackie gives Veronica a worthy rival, someone who can get dirty and stubborn just like our hero. The rivalry will be especially intense if Jackie does in fact hook up with Logan. I admire this right now – but I could easily see it getting out of control.
As if this episode wasn’t filled with enough incident, Veronica also uncovers a voice mail from a girl on the bus. There’s a noise before the crash—Keith hears it as an explosion, but it seems to me that it could also be a gunshot—implying clear sabotage. It doesn’t directly change anything yet, but oh how it could.
Veronica Mars Season Two Big Bad Power Rankings
Okay, last season, some of you wanted to hear more from me about the overarching plot. But as I mentioned, I had an issue where I basically predicted it when the villain was introduced, and had a spoiler all but confirm that. I have a partial spoiler for this season, which may lead me directly to the multiple murderer, but I am nowhere near as certain this time as I was last time.
Even still, I probably could have done a little bit more to discuss what the show wanted viewers to think. I can, I think, separate what I might think based on gossip from what my expectations might be watching it. So with that somewhat convoluted explanation in mind, here are the rankings!
- Aaron Echolls: The show is clearly trying to make it seem as though Aaron was behind the bus plot. And, well, why not? He’s clearly an evil bad guy. Would they do it twice in a row? I doubt it. But he’s the most viable candidate based on the evidence we have now.
- Woody: Okay, this one’s complicated, because it relies on knowing the setting without knowing knowing the setting. Maybe I’m just making it too complicated for myself, but hey, Veronica should recognize that if one ’80s movie star can do the crime, watch out for the next one! Woody ditzy daughter and political ambitions would make this work… in a really disgusting way, but I think the show can and has pulled that off.
- Weevil’s gang: This would make sense as it would tie Chardo’s murder into the main plot more directly. Weevil’s talk with Veronica before the bus went off the cliff, though, would seem to rule him out, and none of the other members have a personality. On the other hand…
- someone new: While I immediately considered Aaron to be the killer when he showed up in season one, the fact was, he didn’t show up until the seventh episode or so. It’s possible we haven’t met the killer. I don’t think Veronica Mars would pull that trick twice, but then, one season of evidence is all I have to work with.
- Logan: Speaking of pulling the same trick twice… Logan’s being built up as a clear possibility. It doesn’t seem likely given the overall narrative structure and his character’s awesomeness, but those are external. Internally to the show’s logic, yes.
- Duncan: Speaking of doing it twice-over. “Green-Eyed Monster” presented a Duncan apparently obsessed with Meg for some reason. That’s it so far, but it would be funny if the guy who was the clear favorite for the crime in season one turned out to be the Big Bad of season two. And then there’s…
- Dick: …the fact that Dick, Duncan, Cassidy, and Gia ended up taking a limo and not the bus. Gia was a happy accident, Veronica a question mark, and Dick’s not a huge fan of Ronnie Mars. Not sure he has the brains to pull off a plot.
- Terrence Cook: No clear motivation, but his introduction in the pilot meant he was around at the crucial juncture, and his gambling debt is TV shorthand for “would do anything!”
- Beaver: Cassidy’s been there, hanging around the edges, looking halfway between a good guy and a bad guy. Good characterization if he is in that grey area… good characterization if he’s that skeezy.
- Sheriff Lamb: Lamb’s a longshot, of course, but he doesn’t like Veronica and Logan’s discussion of the Life’s Short party indicated that he was there when Weevil got the call. Also he’s clearly a jerk. Although he has seemed to want to keep the bus investigation closed pretty vehemently.
I’ll probably do this again in 10 episodes or so.
- “Are you hitting that?”
- “She’s not my old lady. She’s my special lady friend!” Why yes, a Big Lebowski reference that’s relevant and funny here will get you into Stray observations, Keith Mars!
- How fun was it seeing Veronica tackle the crazy lady? It was awesome fun.
- “It’s not a present, Sheriff! It’s kinda your job! For now, anyway.”
- Happy to see Lizzie Manning again, I hope we get a bit more of her in the future, as she’s been fun but underused.
- “If I know I’m being brought in, I should put on my good underwear.” “You should do that anyway.”
- “I have to say, this is a little comforting. I haven’t been called to sneak out at 3 a.m. in a while. Nice to know I still got the jumps.”
- “Got nothin’ but good sides, baby!”
- “How many kneecaps did you break to make that happen.” “Only like four. The people have spoken, my friend!”
- “Eighth-grade badminton class? You never forget someone you’ve been in the foxhole with.”
- “I trust that the voters will put ’The Exterminator’ back in office.” I am voting for Lamb based on that speech. Yes indeed. I think he’s a bit underrated as a character on this show; he’s consistently entertaining.
- While the episode eventually worked, the opening of the case of the week with Jackie having her credit card declined, uh, kind of doesn’t really work with the rest of the plot? Maybe you could read it as her and the psychic testing to see if the card would finally be declined, but otherwise it looks more like the audience is being treated as Veronica Mars. Which is interesting.
- Thanksgiving for Americans next week means we’re taking a week break.