veronica mars: versatile toppings
2.14 / Original air date 15 March, 2006
Written: Phil Klemmer
Directed: Sarah Anderson
NO-SPOILER DISCLAIMER: While this review does contain spoilers for this episode, you will not find anything about who killed Lilly Kane, or who blew up the bus, or who was the college rapist. That just wouldn't be right. Those not in the know yet on the big issues are safe here.
I am ecstatic that the Veronica Mars writers decided to use some lesbians in an episode so I have a legitimate excuse to rave about this show. So here I am, doing my part to trumpet the Veronica Mars joy. Trust me, you WANT to be on this bandwagon, even if only belatedly now the series has long since ended.
Veronica (Kristin Bell) is a smart girl with drive, ambition and an incredible capacity for logic. She also happens to work part-time in her dad's detective agency. That came in handy during season one when among many other things she helped solve the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane.
The show is about outcasts and alienation. It's about power and how people abuse it, from high schoolers up to politicians and millionaires. A smaller level it's about families, the ones we're born with and the ones we create. Take The Outsiders, cross it Raymond Chandler, chuck in some Beverly Hills 90210, add a streak of Heathers and you pretty much have Veronica Mars. Don't be mistaken though, this is not a kids show.
Veronica deals with many versions of the have and have nots in the city of Neptune where she lives. In this episode, the outcasts are the school's gay population. During what seems like a random mugging, a guy from Neptune High has his wallet stolen. The wallet contains a list of real and screen names for the Neptune High gay and lesbian posting board, and now he thinks someone is using the list to blackmail the gay students of Neptune High to the tune of $5000 each. To stay in the closet, they need to pay.
Veronica is hired by the students to find out who's blackmailing them. With the help of her computer-savvy pal Mac (Tina Majorino), Veronica figures out that the mugging really had nothing to do with the blackmailings at all, it was just a weird coincidence. The culprit is one of the girls on the posting board who, besides trying to make some extra money for college, was basically trying to force her girlfriend to out herself so that they didn't need to hide any more.
Veronica tends to solve a small mystery like this every episode, plus deal with the ongoing dramas of her on again, off again love life with bad boy Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) and picking up all the clues she can to solve the season-wide mystery arc. In season two this mystery is a bus crash which killed nine Neptune High students and from which Veronica herself barely escaped.
So lesbians get to be the outsider-of-the-week. Veronica can't resist helping the students who've been hard done by. That in this case the culprit turns out to have motives that are not all that horrible is the real surprise. In the world Veronica lives in she battles every day of her life with people who want to take her down, and sometimes she's forced to use less-than-honest methods of her own just to stay ahead.
But despite some dubious choices, she does have limits. You can't get the bad guy by becoming the bad guy. That's what's so great about this character. She'll do almost anything to solve a case or bring someone to justice, but there are lines she won't cross. They usually have nothing to do with what is or isn't legal, but she has an unswerving morality of her own that's intriguing to watch as it develops.
Veronica Mars is not a show where you can jump in and out, but every small mystery has its purpose. This story is about how difficult it is to keep secrets in a place like Neptune. It's also about secrets that are worth keeping, and ones that just get you in trouble for no good reason. At the end of the episode the two outed lesbians have to deal with the consequences. No more hiding, that's the message.
This is a sensational show. Unfortunately the rest of the world refused to wake up to Veronica Mars before the Fox executives wielded the axe. We got three seasons though, which is a lot more than the Firefly fans got. Now I'm off to read some Veronica/Mac fanfiction.