Saturday, July 06, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x04: "The Wrath of Con"

I already knew from the pilot episode that Veronica Mars was a great show - but it was "The Wrath of Con" that convinced me it was the best show. I remain in awe of how well this one episode balances a complex mystery, important flashbacks, the pressures of the homecoming dance, and the development of so many characters all at once.

The Mystery: who bilked Wallace's crush out of six thousand dollars?

Remember all those favours Veronica asked Wallace for in the last couple of episodes? Wallace comes to collect when Georgia, the fellow office aide he has a crush on, gets conned out of six thousand dollars by a version of the Nigerian Prince scam. Veronica cracks the case, but it takes four disguises (one for Wallace), two uses of the World's Best Dad, a bobby pin, a bugging device, half an hour with a screw driver and a mini-fridge full of Red Bull.

It's easily one of the trickiest and time-consuming cases Veronica's had yet - and that's not even half the episode. The other half involves the upcoming Homecoming dance. Troy asks Veronica to be his date, and Veronica accepts - but she can't help remembering her last Homecoming Dance. This was back when Lilly was still alive, Duncan was still her boyfriend, and she, Duncan, Lilly, and even Logan were all friends. It was easily one of the best nights of her life - and she worries that any other experience will only pale in comparison.

This year for Homecoming, the Kane family has planned a service before the event in order to dedicate the Lilly Kane Memorial Fountain to Neptune High. Logan's editing the memorial video, but the only footage he's got to work with are cutesy family videos from choir recitals, ballet classes, and pony rides. In a rare moment of agreement, both Veronica and Logan realize this is Celeste Kane's attempt to retcon her wild, disobedient daughter into the picture-perfect daughter she wished she had - so Veronica gives Logan the videos taken during their Homecoming night.

And the memorial service winds up being one long delicious scene of feels. The video starts off with a young Lilly at horseback riding lessons and playing with dolls, but then it shows Lilly as who she really was - a lively, reckless party girl popping champagne, mooning other drivers from her limo and living life to the fullest. The people who really knew and appreciated Lilly clearly enjoy this video more - including her father Jake Kane, who grins in amazement before breaking down in tears. Even Veronica and Logan share a moment of happy remembrance of Lilly. Most surprising of all: Weevil's seen wiping away tears as he watches from the back.

Veronica does end up having a nice Homecoming with Wallace, Georgia, and Troy, and remembers that there are other ways to keep the memory of Lilly Kane alive - Lilly was always encouraging her to break out of her shell, try new experiences, and take more risks, and Veronica keeps this in mind when she stops the limo to try skinny-dipping for the first time.

Whodunnit: The dudes who scammed Georgia and dozens of other gullible teens are a pair of college students known on campus as the Silicon Mafia. Brilliant computer programmers, their dorm is full of high tech security and the last guy who pissed them off got put on academic probation when his GPA "mysteriously" dropped from a 3.8 to a 1.4. They've been using the proceeds of their scams to fund their brilliant new video game - until Veronica steals their hard drives, destroys their backups, and reports them to the FBI.

Awesome Things
  • Angsty Logan. Logan's been such a jackass that it's hard to believe he and Veronica used to share the same circle of friends - but we get a glimpse of this as they both mourn the loss of Lilly. 
  • "So you don't mind then that I cancelled your reservation at the Four Seasons?" A word to the wise, Troy - don't try to pull one over on your girlfriend's dad when he tracks criminals for a living. 
  • Lilly Kane - we know she was Veronica's best friend, but it's this episode where we see just what an amazing, awesome person she was, and how big a hole she left with her death. 
  • Jake Kane's reaction to Lilly's memorial video - I know we're supposed to suspect this guy because Keith Mars lost his job over it, but his struggle between joy and sadness was fascinating to watch. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • Celeste Kane. She's THE WORST. The epitome of the double standard, she worships her son and heir and castigates her daughter even when they're both caught drinking past curfew. 

The Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Why was Weevil crying at Lilly Kane's memorial service?

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