Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Hot Under the Collar," by Jackie Barbosa (Circe Press, 2012)

The Chick: Artemisia Finch. A famous courtesan, she remains in a town that despises her in order to take care of her ailing father.
The Rub: The hot vicar proposes an affair - but is she willing to risk ruining the man's career if they're caught?
Dream Casting: Georgia King.

The Dude: Walter Langston. A settled rake-turned-vicar who discovers he's more fitted to his vocation than he originally thought.
The Rub: Would he be willing to risk that in order to find justice for the woman he loves?
Dream Casting: Guy Pearce.

The Plot:

Walter: You're hot. We should bone.

Artemisia: I can't dispute either of those statements, but don't you care that I'm a whore?

Walter: Not particularly.

Boning: *is had!*

Robert, Evil Earl's Son: I care that you're a whore! And I'm going to tell EVERYONE!

Walter: Hey, congregation, 's'alright if I marry this superhot courtesan? Especially if I quote some Scripture at you while I'm at it?

Congregation: We are uncharacteristically okay with that idea!

Robert: CURSES!

Artemisia: Hooray!

Romance Convention Checklist:
  • 1 Happy Hooker Heroine
  • 1 Reforme Rake
  • 1 Evil Ex
  • 1 Stillborn Baby
  • 1 Terrible Housekeeper
The Word: Hot Under the Collar was one of my very first eBook purchases - and then I sort of forgot about it. Mainly because I hated reading on my hand-me-down Kobo Vox, and also because you can't see your eTBR staring you in the face the same way your print TBR does. Thus my print book pile always seemed more urgent.

But now that I have my shiny, lovely Kobo Mini? I'm on the eTrain!

Walter Langston never really wanted to be a vicar. As a ne'er-do-well third son, however, he had little choice - it was the church or the army. And as the hot, young, single vicar of the small village of Grange-Over-Sands, he's a tempting target for every devout family with a marriageable daughter. The only woman who doesn't threaten him with matrimony is also the only woman who never enters the church.

Artemisia Finch knows where she's not welcome - and that includes pretty much all of Grange-Over-Sands. When she was fifteen, she was impregnated by the son of the local earl who had his friends and servants lie about her slutty ways in order to escape having to marry her. After giving birth to a stillborn child, she hied off to London to become a successful and independently wealthy courtesan. While she's returned to care for her ailing father, she keeps a healthy distance between herself and the townsfolk who still hold her in contempt.

Walter is intrigued and attracted to Artemisia and proposes a clandestine affair. Artemisia is also attracted to Walter, and more than a little lonely, so she agrees. Before too long (this is, after all, a novella) they start to develop deeper feelings for each other. But how can a vicar marry a courtesan?

Fairly easily, as it turns out. There are plenty of good aspects to this novella - I love how the roguish Walter grows to actually enjoy his position and his impact on the community, which only raises the stakes since the parish council has the ability to sack him at a moment's notice should he stray from propriety (by, say, carrying on with a courtesan). I also enjoyed how Artemisia is a sexually mature heroine. She carries no shame or regret for the choices she made to survive, and she recognizes the awful double standards that allowed the earl's son to walk away unscathed.

That being said, I felt this story pulled way too many punches. Everything just seemed too easy. Walter worries - but he's never too worried. He's fairly confident he can win the people over, and he does so without too much trouble. Considering how badly people treated Artemisia for years, I had a hard time swallowing how easily (and hypocritically) they re-accepted her into the fold.

Artemisia is a courtesan, but she's such an awesome, super-special courtesan that she's only ever taken two lovers during the entire span of her career. Her "choosiness" is portrayed as a sign of her good (read: not really slutty) character. But when you're a prostitute trying to survive, is only having two customers an actual choice or just really awesome luck? What if she'd had to take more because, I don't know, the economy sucked? Would that have made her less heroic?

As well, there's little to no external conflict. We get a stereotypical moustache-twirling turn from the earl's son, but he's defeated so off-handedly with the casual melodrama of a teen soap that I could never understand how he was considered a threat to begin with.

While I liked both characters and Ms. Barbosa's writing is stellar, the story is just too lightweight to retain my attention.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fringe 1x02: "The Same Old Story"

This episode opens in a hotel room where a man named Christopher and a prostitute have just finished a performance review of the World's Oldest Profession. Christopher steps into the bathroom and arranges his Not At All Horrifying collection of scalpels and syringes, but before he can do anything, the prostitute starts screaming and clutching her rapidly-swelling belly.

Christopher drives her to a hospital in a panic and dumps her, where she dies giving birth to a horrifically-growing baby that dies of old age within minutes.

Nobody can figure this out, so our brand-new Fringe Buddies (Olivia, Walter, Peter, and Olivia's junior agent assistant Astrid Farnsworth) are called to investigate. Olivia, who is already having a hard time coming to terms with discovering her boyfriend John was a traitor in the last episode, is further shaken when the clues point to a serial killer case she and John worked on. Years ago, a murderer dubbed the Brain Surgeon paralysed hookers and cut out pieces of their brains while they were still alive and conscious. He was never caught.

Walter remarks that the baby's aging reminds him of research he did with Dr. Claus Penrose on theoretically messing with the pituitary gland to make babies age faster in case the army ever wanted to cultivate crops of ready-made short-order soldiers. The only problem? How to stop the aging process once the subject reached the desired point.

While the Fringe Buddies are trying to figure out what a brain-stealing serial killer and a Benjamin Button Baby have in common, Christopher abducts and murders another girl. When they recover the body, Walter offers to directly steal a plot point from the Wild, Wild West movie and see if the girl's last moments were recorded on her optic nerve at the time of her death. Using a handy-dandy camera device provided by Massive Dynamic (in return for a blatant attempt to hire Olivia onto their team), they spot recognizable landmarks from the victim's brain.

Meanwhile, Olivia and Walter deduce that the Brain Surgeon might be a product of Walter and Claus Penrose's experiments - it turns out he's been stealing pituitary glands from his victims, most likely in order to slow down his own aging process. He screwed up with the last victim when he got her pregnant and passed his super-growing genes onto his offspring.

Olivia and Peter track him down to an abandoned warehouse, where Christopher is being helped by his father - Claus Penrose. Olivia pursues Christopher who, thanks to not getting his daily dose of Hooker Brain, ages before her eyes into an old man. As he lies dying, he confesses that his father Claus should have let him die years ago, but helped him kill hookers instead because he loved him too much. Aw, that's almost adorable.

Now that the Hooker-Brain-Eating case has been solved, Broyles congratulates Olivia, but warns her not to reveal too much about the Pattern (the theory that all of these Mad Science Outbreaks are a worldwide coordinated effort) to Nina of Massive Dynamic. While Nina definitely knows about the Pattern and advises Broyles and his Mad Science Council on occasion, Broyles clearly doesn't trust her or her Shady Conglomerate Employer.

Mad Science!
  • Mayfly Babies
  • Edible Pituitary Glands
  • Eyeball Cameras
  • DIY Defibrillators
Best Death Scene: Hmm, this is a tough one. All the hooker deaths are pretty squicky because the killer required them to be alive and conscious (but paralysed) when he cut into their brains through their mouths. However, I'm going to have to say that in terms of melodrama and the oh-shit!-factor, the prize goes to Loraine Daisy, the hooker from the cold open who went from post-coital bliss to violent mid-partum exploding-uterus death thanks to Christopher's Miracle-Gro baby. The nurse's monster-movie worthy scream of horror afterwards was just the cherry on top.

Mad Science Questions:
  • Walter mentions that something's off about Peter's medical history - is Peter an experiment, too?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"The Hidden Heart," by Laura Kinsale (HarperCollins, 1986)

The Chick: Lady Tess Collier. Just returned from South America, she's determined to follow her dying father's wish and marry well.
The Rub: Unfortunately, she's fallen in love with a poor ship's captain named Gryphon Frost.
Dream Casting: Michelle Dockery.

The Dude: Gryphon Arthur Meridon, Sixth Marquess of Ashland, a.k.a. "Gryphon Frost." A penniless adventurer, he's tasked with helping Lady Tess find a suitable husband.
The Rub: Gryphon wants Tess for himself, but after losing love too many times, is his heart willing to take the risk again?
Dream Casting: Chris Hemsworth.

The Plot:

Tess: Hello! I'm an aristocrat raised in the wilds of the jungle!

Gryphon: Hello! I'm a secret aristocrat who's become a penniless sea captain when my family was murdered by pirates!

Tess: Awesome! I love you!

Gryphon: Sweet! I love you too---

Random Pregnant Villainess: I'M CARRYING YOUR BEHBEH.

Tess: GTFO.

Gryphon: :(

Six Months Later

Tess: Welp, I married an Obvious Abusive Pedophile instead. Looks like I learned my lesson! Make-up sex?

Gryphon: NO.

Tess: How about make-up sex on A DESERTED ISLAND?

Gryphon: .....okay.

Tess: That was awesome! I can't wait to start our happily ev---

Gryphon: Oh look at the time, it's I Never Really Loved You O'Clock!

Tess: Are you fucking kidding me?

Stephen the Pedophile Husband: Time for an action-filled climax! *kidnaps*

Gryphon: HANDS OFF MY WOMAN! *kills Stephen*

Tess: Don't send him to jail! He's really a Secret Marquess!

Gryphon: I'm sorry, but my manly manpain can't take any more love or emotions.

Tess: Um, I had your kid. I think my uteruspain outranks your manpain.

Gryphon: But---

Tess: And I was kidnapped. And locked in a CELLAR. Cellarpain, kidnapped pain > manpain.

Gryphon: ...I'm cured!


Romance Convention Checklist:

  • 1 Secret Peer
  • 1 Band of Pirates
  • 1 Evil Gay Pedophile Villain
  • Several Tropical Storms
  • 1 Shootout in a Cellar
  • 1 Loyal Butler
  • 1 Murder Trial

The Word: Lady Tess is the only daughter of the Earl of Morrow, a noted botanist and adventurer who's spent the last ten years of his life (and Tess's) exploring South American rainforests. While he lies dying of a fever, his final wish is for Tess to return to England and marry.

However, the Earl's friend, Mr. Taylor is worried for Tess' wellbeing. It's going to be hard enough for her to re-adapt to England's stifling social customs after ten years gallivanting about the rainforest and performing amateur taxidermy (for reals), but with her enormous fortune she will also be a tempting target for scoundrels and fortune hunters. Mr. Taylor decides to hire Gryphon Frost, the man captaining the ship destined to return Tess to England, to pose as a gentleman and help Tess separate the marital sheep from the goats.

This poses a significant problem for Gryphon, as he's half in love with Tess already. Unfortunately, he's broke and Mr. Taylor's willing to pay top dollar, so he signs on to nurse a six-month-long boner and help Tess find the upper-class man of her dreams.

Gryphon, of course, is hiding a Dark Past worthy of a Gilbert and Sullivan musical - if Gilbert and Sullivan were clinically depressed. The grandson of the Marquess of Ashland, Gryphon was only a boy when his mother, father, uncle, and sisters were brutally murdered by pirates while returning to England from India. The captain of the accompanying ship, a man who married a cousin of Gryphon's family, refused to rescue them in order to obtain the marquessate for his own son.

While Gryphon mourns his old life and his family, after his one teenage attempt to return to Ashland nearly resulted in his own murder, he knows he has little to no chance of proving his identity seventeen years after the fact. Falling in love with a wealthy aristocrat like Tess only pours salt in the wound.

Especially since his feelings are reciprocated. Like him, Tess was born into the peerage but spent most of her life outside of Society's ken, and relearning the rules and strictures is a struggle. However, to please her father's ghost she continues to receive titled suitors - like Stephen Elliott, the current Marquess of Ashland who casually invites Gryphon to his Whips, Sticks, and Pedophilia Club after a single night's acquaintance.

Eventually, Tess and Gryphon admit their love for each other, but before they can seal the deal a Random Pregnant Villainess shows up and casts our two lovers adrift. The rest of the novel follows our protagonists as they make their long, slow, circuitous way back to each other.

The plot pretty much loses all structure at this point. For the next several hundred pages, Tess and Gryphon ping pong between several continents and their own impenetrable angsts, as dangers of varying degrees of melodrama (tropical storms, misunderstandings, murder trials) rise up to swat them in new directions. The novel is definitely an example of an epic romance, encompassing months and years of our protagonists developing, reuniting, breaking up again, and rushing back to save each other, and all of it in interesting and well-described situations and settings (Brazil, Tahiti, England).

Thanks to the aimless plotting, the novel's enjoyment rests solely on our characters and here's where the novel succeeds - and stumbles. Tess is a fairly interesting heroine. Yes, she's naive and a bit of a doormat when Gryphon mistreats her, but she knows how to get angry and knows how to take care of herself in dangerous situations, which is more than I can say for Olympia and even Leda. There's a particularly hilarious scene where Tess, upon discovering an intruder in her house, flees to the shore, jumps into the ocean and swims to Gryphon's ship.

Gryphon, on the other hand... Well, he starts out adorably enough. Kinsale is a master at writing bumbling lovestruck heroes and Gryphon is no exception. Unfortunately, after the initial event that separates him and Tess, he develops severe Philophobia and repeatedly sends Tess away because Love and Attachment Cause Pain, and His Heart Can't Take It Again, blah blah blah. Much like the hero of this novel's sequel, Gryphon neglects and mistreats Tess (and eventually their child, which was extremely hard to swallow) in order to drive her away. I realize these sorts of heroes often think they're acting in the best interests of the heroines, but it's their manpain and their mantears they're really concerned about and I lost patience with Gryphon after the first two times he shoots Tess down.

So what, really, did I think of The Hidden Heart? It's a solid debut, with delicious backstories, unconventional locations, and lots of drama. The foundations of Laura Kinsale's writing are all here. There's a lot of room for improvement - but thankfully, as we already know, Laura Kinsale does.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fringe 1x01: "Pilot"

Next up in my Summer TV Recap Series is Fringe. A long time ago, I watched a few episodes but fell out of it. A year ago, I bought the season one DVD thanks to the enthusiastic praise it received online regarding how it concluded its fifth and final season. And yet, I never found the time nor the inclination to watch it.

Now, thanks to the enthusiastic praises of the completely fictional Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation, as well as the fact that I can only turn on the TV and see nothing but reality and talent competitions for so long without going insane, I will be watching and recapping a completely new-to-me series. Which will be a switch from rewatching Downton Abbey and Veronica Mars.

And let me tell you, Fringe had one big, shiny pilot. It all begins on a commercial flight from Berlin when the passengers all start melting and vomiting on each other like they have Super Leprosy.

FBI agents Olivia Dunham and John Scott (a.k.a. that dude from Human Target) are making the down-low interoffice sexytimes at the Squeaky-Bed Motel when they get the call about the plane that landed at Boston's airport full of gelatine-skeletons. They arrive with their FBI pal Charlie Francis (a.k.a. that dude who gouged another dude's eyes out on Oz) and are given their orders by Phillip Broyles (a.k.a. that dude who pushed another dude down an elevator shaft in Oz).

However, while investigating a lead, things literally blow up in John and Olivia's faces and John catches Super Leprosy too - although they've found a way to slow down the process. Desperate to save him, Olivia discovers that all this stuff about melty people and see-through skin and Super-Leprosy all used to be studied by this famous scientist named Walter Bishop (a.k.a. that royal dude who tried to set his son on fire in The Lord of the Rings).

Unfortunately, he's been in a mental asylum for years after one of his assistants was killed in his lab, so Olivia tracks down Walter's son Peter Bishop (a.k.a. the guy in Dawson's Creek who didn't have a creek named after him), who's like this Nomadic Loner Super Genius Con Artist whose only flaws are a crippling gambling debt and acting skills that are not quite up to par yet with the rest of the cast.

After some blatant blackmailing, Olivia and Peter manage to bust out Walter and get him a lab at Harvard University, some super-expensive science equipment, and a cow, because it's not like the government's short on money or anything. And despite being in a nuthouse for more than a decade, Walter's surprisingly up to date on scientific progress. Sadly, he can't concoct an antidote for John without knowing what sort of chemicals he was exposed to and by whom.

Thankfully, Walter has a Mad-Science solution that involves Olivia psychically linking with the comatose John while tripping balls in a hot tub and it works because Mad Science. The perpetrator is Richard Steig, who used to work for this Shady Conglomerate called Massive Dynamic (because Overcompensating Dynamic was taken?), whose representative, Nina Sharp, is responsible for dropping Cryptic Hints in front of protagonists.

Olivia's superior, Broyles, is pretty impressed with Olivia's ability to get high in her underwear and offers her a job with his Super Classified Pinkie-Swear Secret Division. Apparently, events like the Super-Leprosy Plane have been happening all over the world, as if a legion of Mad Scientists have decided to make the world their lab, and it's all fitting into some sort of sinister Pattern.

Olivia says no until her boyfriend recovers, turns out to have been evil all along, kills his accomplice Steig, and dies in a car crash. Then she says yes because, at this point, why the fuck not? Perhaps the only way to fight a Pattern of Mad Scientists is with one of their own - the eccentric Walter Bishop.

Mad Science!
  • Super-Leprosy
  • Airborne Toxins
  • AI-Piloted Airplanes 
  • Homemade LSD
  • Hot Tub Telepathy Machines
  • Robot Arms
  • Conversations with Dead People
Best Death Scene:
  • The German pilot's jaw-dropping demise - as his jaw literally dissolves off of his face. Because it's melting. He dies screaming but I'm sure he'll get the joke once he's in Fictional Character Heaven. 
Mad Science Questions:
  • Some of the gelatine-skeletons on the downed plane were pretty disgustingly cool - yet a disconcerting number of them aren't wearing clothes. The toxin only dissolves organic matter - so who gets shirtless on a plane? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Veronica Mars Season Finale: "Leave It To Beaver"

The Mystery: Who, REALLY, killed Lilly Kane?

The season finale opens right after Keith's story about Abel's innocence is published in the local papers. Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas (Dick's younger brother), comes to Veronica and reveals that Logan - who'd told police he was partying in Mexico on the night of Lilly's murder - had actually returned to Neptune the night before after ranting about how Lilly was cheating on him. Beaver had never told anyone this because he, like most of Neptune, assumed Abel was the killer.

Beaver also tells Veronica that Logan had bought Lilly a shot glass with a cutesy slogan on it - the same shot glass that was found in Lilly's car on the night she was killed. Veronica has already been avoiding Logan after finding the royally creepy recording equipment in his poolhouse, so she's no longer inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Neither is Weevil, who overhears Veronica confirming Logan's guilt with her dad.

Meanwhile, Keith finally gets his justly-earned fifty grand from the Kane family - in return for Veronica signing away any rights to sue them. It sucks to be the Kanes, then, since Keith's paternity test conclusively proves that Veronica has and always shall be a natural-born Mars. Hugs for everyone!

Except for Logan - who winds up at the sheriff's department being questioned for Lilly's murder. And when he finds out Veronica's testimony put him there - ow! My heart!

A heartbroken Logan tracks Veronica down at the beach and tries to plead his case. Yes, he returned from Mexico early - but he realized he and Lilly were over for good and he wrote her a letter explaining this. He left the letter in her car along with the shot glass. While Veronica's not wholly convinced, she decides to sneak into the Kane house and see if Lilly hid the letter (or anything else useful) in her air vent.

She's caught breaking in by Duncan and his Stupid Face, but after telling him that (unlike Duncan's Own Parents) she doesn't believe he killed his own sister, he helps her look for Lilly's evidence.

Who Ultimately Dunnit: When Veronica and Duncan discover the tapes in Lilly's air vent and watch them, they see Lilly and Aaron Echolls - Logan's dad! - having sex in the pool house, and Veronica quickly susses out the dirty deets: Lilly found Aaron's cameras and stole the tapes, and Aaron killed her when she refused to give them back. Duncan was the first to find the body, and the shock sent him into an epileptic seizure. When his parents discovered them, they assumed Duncan had killed his sister by accident and used all their resources to cover it up.

Veronica calls Logan to tell him the news - but he's too busy being attacked by a vengeful Weevil and his PCHers to pick up the phone.

Veronica drives off with the tapes - unfortunately, Aaron's hiding in the backseat. World's Best Dad Keith arrives just in time to save her from being immolated in a fridge (don't ask) and literally walks through fire to save Veronica's life while Aaron does the world a favour by getting hit by a truck.

So where does that leave us? Well:
  • Jake Kane is arrested for tampering with evidence and obstructing justice. I gotta admit, though, I feel for this guy. He truly thought that everything he'd done had been to protect his only surviving child. However, thanks to him, his son was mentally scarred, an innocent man almost died in prison, and the man who actually murdered his daughter walked around scott-free for more than a year. 
  • Leanne Mars is in the wind, and good riddance. Veronica found out her mom ditched the rehab program Veronica's college fund had paid for and is still drinking Everclear disguised as Evian. Our girl V has to come to terms with the fact that her dream of returning her family back to the Way They Were is impossible. Mama Mars is given the boot - but not before she steals Keith's $50,000 cheque!
  • Alicia Fennel and Keith reunite at the end of the episode as she waits by his hospital bed. 
  • We last see a bereft and inebriated Logan facing down an angry gang of PCHers on the same bridge where his mother took a swan dive. 
Awesome Things:
  • Veronica is a 100% certified grade-A Mars descendent, thanks to Keith's paternity test. Congratulations! You didn't perform incest! 
  • Keith Mars, Greatest American Herooooooo......
Less Awesome Things:
  • "My dad took a paternity test, I'm not your sister" - and the award for the World's Worst Pick-Up Line goes to...
  • Logan's betrayed expression when he learns Veronica turned him in to the cops. Logan! My feels! 
  • Aaron Echolls' skeezy face on Lilly's sex tapes. *shudders*

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"The Universe Versus Alex Woods," by Gavin Extence (Red Hook, 2013)

The Protagonist: Alex Woods. A pretty ordinary young man, all things considered - apart from his epilepsy and the scar he has from being struck by a meteor.
His Angst: An avid scientist with a coolly logical method of analysing situations, he has to come to terms with the fact that with humanity, sometimes there is no correct answer.

Secondary Cast:

Ellie: A foul-mouthed punk teenager who helps out at Alex's mum's shop.

Dr. Weir: An astrophysicist who arrives to study the meteor that struck Alex, she and Alex develop a strong friendship and she serves as his scientific mentor.

Dr. Engleby: Alex's neurologist, and a godless Buddhist who believes in meditation. Another character who helps develop Alex's scientific curiosity.

Mr. Peterson: A tough old coot who befriends Alex and introduces him to the works of Kurt Vonnegut.

Angst Checklist:
  • Dealing with epilepsy
  • I've just discovered I'm an atheist but my mother thinks she's psychic
  • Being Different versus Fitting In
  • Unorthodox Parenting
  • The value of scientific reasoning
  • Ladies Don't Like It When You Use the C-Word
  • Assisted Suicide
  • Diet Coke versus Weed
The Word:  Our story starts at the end - when 17-year-old Alex Woods is pulled over by the cops at the border to Dover. He's caught with a buttload of weed and an urn full of cremated human remains - and that's not even what the cops are really angry at him for.

To explain how he got to this point, however, Alex takes us back to when he was ten years old and miraculously survived being struck on the head with a meteor. Over the next seven years of his life, he struggles with epilepsy, develops scientific reasoning, rejects organized religion, discovers the works of Kurt Vonnegut, and befriends a cantankerous war vet named Mr. Peterson.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a marvellously pleasant book - Extence writes with an arch sense of humour not unlike J.K. Rowling's as Alex observes the foibles of his schoolyard bullies, his clairvoyant mother, and his other friends and neighbours from his curiously detached perspective. The supporting characters are all very colourful and well-developed, particularly Mr. Peterson, with whom Alex develops a unique friendship.

That being said, while Universe is pleasant, it's not precisely memorable. The novel doesn't really have a plot beyond the vaguely interesting and somewhat-connected events that take place over seven years that gradually lead up to the Actual Event that lands Alex in so much trouble. Sure, Alex is an epileptic and he got conked on the head by a meteor, but most of his life is pretty ordinary. While his scientific pursuit of the meaning of life may very well resonate with many readers, I kind of wish the narrative had been more focused around a particular goal. Instead, Stuff Kinda Happens, Mostly By Accident, while Alex observes, analyses, and eventually deals with it. It's not terrible, but it's not terribly profound or interesting, either.

The novel does have its funny moments, mainly at Alex's expense. Alex is a supremely logical character - fascinated and motivated by scientific theory and reasoning, he's perpetually surprised when the world around him (more specifically, the people in it), refuses to adhere to the same sort of predictable, rational order. As his friendship with Mr. Peterson demonstrates, no matter how old you are or how much experience you have, the universe can still surprise you.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods is a gentle coming-of-age tale with a decidedly scientific bent, and a solid read, even if the plotting could have been stronger.

Veronica Mars 1x21: "A Trip To the Dentist"

The Mystery: Who drugged and raped Veronica on the night of Shelley Pomroy's party?

This episode really oughtta come with a trigger warning. One of the darkest episodes in the entire season, Veronica finally tackles the awful mystery of who drugged and raped her a year and a half ago.  In the last episode, Veronica found out Tad Wilson dosed his girlfriend Carmen at the same party, and that he got his GHB from Logan.

She confronts Logan about it - Logan's horrified, but Veronica's unwilling to listen to his excuses. Whether he's guilty or innocent, Veronica will find out who raped her and make him pay.

The rest of the episode sort of plays out as a bit of a season-long recap. Many of the suspects and witnesses are characters Veronica helped out/picked on in previous episodes - Luke from "You Think You Know Somebody," Casey from "Drinking the Kool-Aid," Sean from "An Echolls Family Christmas," Madison from "Silence of the Lamb" and Carrie from "Mars vs. Mars."

This episode is already a fascinating, Rashomon-esque look into how different people will see the same incident differently. However, as a person who's now lived through the scandal of Steubenville (among others), this episode takes on an even more horrifying cast to me. Veronica was drugged and helpless at a party attended by hundreds of teenagers, and only two people (Duncan and Meg) even thought of intervening in what was being done to her. And far too many characters thought Veronica brought it on herself for being such a drunk slut.

The one good thing to come out of this episode - Veronica finally lets Wallace in and tells him the truth about her life. The whole truth - her experience at Shelley's party, her time as an outcast, her Lilly Kane Case Files, everything. She's spent the whole season taking favours from Wallace, favours Wallace was more than willing to give because he cared about her, and watching Veronica start to give (and care) back was a huge step forward for her character.

In less-excellent news, Keith tracks Duncan and his Stupid Face to Cuba and returns him to the bosom of his family. Unfortunately, Celeste is The Worst Person and refuses to pay him the $50,000 reward - claiming she'd already paid the Marses by dropping the charges against Weevil back in "Hot Dogs." But Keith's been a busy little balding bee - he's also tracked down the call girl who was with Abel Koontz when Lilly was actually murdered, and now he's got proof the Kanes fabricated Abel's guilt. Take that, Celeste!

Whodunnit: Nobody - and everybody. The fascinating thing about this episode is that no single person was responsible for Veronica's awful, unremembered night. Dick put GHB in Madison's drink. An unknowing Madison spat in it and gave it to Veronica. Dick and Sean poured liquor down a helpless Veronica's throat and had people do body shots off her. Dick carried Veronica to the guest room, and his brother Beaver abandoned her there alone. Logan laced Duncan's drink with GHB, and then Duncan and Veronica had mutually-inebriated sex with each other.

And that's not even counting the dozens of classmates who saw what was happening to Veronica and did nothing.

Veronica makes her peace with the incident, and reconciles with Logan. They traipse off to his mansion for some Angsty Make-Out Sessions, but they're caught by Aaron Echolls, who invited half the student body of Neptune High for a "Sorry I'm a Shitty Father" Unbirthday party for Logan (I'm not even kidding). Logan and Veronica are royally busted, but Logan takes it like a champ - he finally tells off Dick for being, well, himself, and warns the rest of Neptune High to think twice about messin' with his girlfriend. Everyone takes the news fairly well - except for Duncan and His Stupid Face, who has a rage-seizure and attacks his SUV with a shovel. Because Duncan.

Veronica and Logan sneak off for more private snuggles in Logan's pool house - until Veronica discovers the pool house is riddled with spy cameras and recording equipment. A horrified Veronica flees back to her house - only to discover her mother, Leanne, has returned from rehab. Surprise!

Awesome Things:
  • Mama Mars is home!
  • That momentary, brilliant expression of surprise and relief on Veronica's face when she discovers Logan's innocent. Kristen Bell is such a phenomenal actor.
  • Veronica finally confides in Wallace, and their friendship is saved! 
  • Weevil is a total chivalrous badass in this episode - including showing up on a hog to rescue Veronica at a moment's notice. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • Celeste refusing to pay Keith the $50,000 reward because she's a Horrid Cheap Bitch. 
  • Dick Casablancas. He's the only one in the dentist scenario who set out to rape a person (his girlfriend Madison), as well the one who forcefed Veronica shots in order to "prepare" her for his younger, bullied brother Beaver. While he never actually raped anyone, he seems to be the primary contributor to Veronica's suffering.
  • Duncan and his Stupid Face - with with bonus Stupid Beard. Am I supposed to find it romantic he slept with Veronica and then fled without telling her because he knew she was his sister and slept with her anyway? Really, Duncan? 
  • Aaron Echolls doesn't even know his own son's birthday
  • Logan's "You're On Candid Camera" love nest. 
Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • According to Weevil, Logan may have "laid a hand" on Lilly during their relationship. True story or biased conjecture?
  • Lilly had a habit of hiding contraband in her bedroom's air vent. 
  • Abel Koontz was actually with a call girl named Cheyenne at the time of Lilly's murder.

Veronica Mars 1x20: "M.A.D."

The Mystery: How can Veronica keep a vengeful Oh Niner from posting revenge porn of his ex-girlfriend?

Carmen Rulz and Tad Wilson seem like the perfect high school couple - until Carmen wants to call it off. Tad, not willing to be "just friends," reveals he took a phone-video of a drunk Carmen doing unspeakable things to a popsicle at a party a year and a half ago, and he'll post it if she breaks up with him.

A tearful Carmen seeks out Veronica for help. Carmen doesn't even remember that party or doing those things, but she'll be ruined if that video goes public. At first, Veronica tries stealing Tad's phone - but he's saved the video to his computer. Carmen goes back to Tad, but it's not the same - her eyes have finally been opened to what a controlling, homophobic dickwad he is, and she hates being associated with the same guy who regularly bullies Seth Rafter, an openly gay classmate.

So it looks like Veronica might have to get a little more creative.

Meanwhile, Veronica and Logan are getting hot and heavy, while still trying to keep their relationship a secret (especially from Logan's asshole friends Dick and Beaver Casablancas). However, Logan is an unexpectedly romantic boyfriend, and asks Veronica out on a date on his father's boat.

Keith Mars and Alicia Fennel's relationship is also heating up - to Veronica's dismay, especially when she finds out her father's trying to start divorce proceedings against her mother, whom he doesn't know is still in rehab. Veronica decides not to tell him - because after a year, he deserves to be happy. Over at Kane Software, Clarence Wiedman doesn't share that sentiment when he calls Alicia Fennel into his office and tells her her job will be in jeopardy if she continues to date Keith Mars - especially since her son apparently helped the Marses bug Wiedman's office. Awkward.

Whodunnit: Veronica has Carmen take Tad on a special date on the boardwalk, where she asks Tad to try and score some Ecstasy from Seth, while Veronica takes pictures. That evening, Carmen (on a bugged phone) has a sexy chat with Tad about their upcoming "experimentation."

After several hours of photoshopping, some willing participation from Seth, and a custom website design from Mac, Veronica's created a multimedia presentation about Tad's Secret Gay Relationship, complete with damning photos, goopy love songs, and a tampered phone call that sounds like Tad would rather "experiment" with Seth. Veronica offers Tad a deal - if he keeps his underage amateur pornography to himself, so will Veronica. Mutually assured destruction.

However, even Veronica underestimates Tad's sexist, controlling douchebaggery when he releases his video anyway. Carmen is humiliated - but she decides not to send out the website link. Despite her mortification, she's glad to be free of Tad, and ruining him wouldn't make her feel any better.

Thankfully, Weevil and his PCHers don't have the same upstanding moral character, and they definitely don't like the idea of a rich white boy taking advantage of a drunk Latina from their side of town - so the next day finds Tad stripped and duct-taped to the flagpole.

Veronica offers to cut him down - for some answers. Putting two and two together with the evidence on Tad's video, she figured out that both she and Carmen were roofie'd on the night of Shelley Pomroy's party a year and a half ago. She'll cut down Tad, if Tad will tell her where he got the roofies that night. Tad replies that Logan gave him the GHB. A mortified Veronica leaves him high and dry - while Logan sits on his dad's boat, wondering why Veronica hasn't shown up yet.

Dun dun dunnnnn......

Awesome Things:
  • Veronica-Logan Make-Out Sessions in her Special Bathroom
  • Veronica making the mature decision regarding Keith's decision to serve papers
  • Mac being awesome at computers, as always
  • The casual brilliance of Veronica's revenge
  • The thuggish effectiveness of Weevil's revenge
  • Aaron Echolls is ... surprisingly decent this episode. Almost makes you forget he regularly beats Logan with a belt, drove his wife to suicide, and beat his daughter's boyfriend to within an inch of his life. OH WAIT NO IT DOESN'T. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • Tad released the video anyway. Poor Carmen.
  • GHB. Boo! Logan's GHB? DOUBLE BOO! 
Lily Kane Case Files:
  • Nothing of note in this episode.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x19: "Hot Dogs"

The Mystery: Who stole Mandy's dog?

Okay, so the mystery in this episode is pretty lightweight - Veronica's shy, awkward classmate Mandy is babysitting at an Oh-Niner house when her dog Chester is stolen from the front yard. After hours of the girls fruitlessly searching and printing posters, the case seems closed, albeit tragically, when a pound employee name Hans informs Mandy her dog was killed. However, Veronica notices the Neptune billboards are suddenly plastered with missing-dog posters, and she wonders if Mandy's case was an isolated incident or part of a bigger scheme.

But um, that kind of takes a backseat to the fact that Weevil got caught breaking into Lilly's bedroom, Duncan's still missing, and Logan's sister Trish is acting weird

Let's start this in order - now that he's eighteen, Weevil's facing serious jail time for his break in, even though he didn't actually steal anything (Stripper-Cop Leo found nothing but a few condoms and a pen on him). Weevil reveals he'd given Lilly his mother's ring back when he thought they were getting serious (awww....) and he was trying to steal it back, but Veronica's not entirely convinced.

Meanwhile, Duncan and His Stupid Face are MIA, and Celeste confronts Veronica in her father's office, convinced Veronica's to blame for Duncan's disappearance and knows where he is. She insists she doesn't hate Veronica, but our girl V is just such a constant reminder of what a cheating dick her husband is. Keith overhears this part of the argument and Celeste reverts to being a Horrible Person when she calls him on being such a good detective and yet not knowing his wife was an adulterous tramp.

Still, Celeste's accusations aren't entirely baseless. Veronica did accuse Duncan of killing Lilly and she did bait him into fleeing by making sure he overheard a conversation about all the ways Keith's wealthy targets try to disappear. So she offers Celeste a deal - she'll give her tips on how to find Duncan if Celeste will drop the charges against Weevil.

In the Echolls household, Lynn Echolls' lawyer reads out her will - Aaron and Trish get nothing, obvs, while Logan gets the bulk of her $150,000 savings. Almost immediately, Trish hits Logan up for ten grand - she apparently borrowed some cash from her producer boyfriend Dylan, and is having trouble paying it back. Dylan must be leaning on her pretty hard, since she's also pressuring their father Aaron into starring in her BF's indie film.

Both Logan and Aaron refuse - but later that night, Logan spots Trish limping home with a mysteriously-obtained black eye. Logan taps Veronica to find out the deets on this Dylan jerk off, but before they can take action, Aaron comes to his own conclusions and invites the lad over for dinner. First on the menu? A hefty serving of Righteous Ass-Kicking. Logan and Veronica arrive just in time to catch him wailing on Dylan with a belt.

While Logan's escorting Veronica home, he reveals he found out about Lilly and Weevil, but instead of feeling angry, he's relieved, because now he can feel less guilty about his feelings for Veronica. Both L and V are a bit unnerved by their sudden attraction, and agree to keep it on the downlow while they explore their feelings.

Whodunnit: Veronica's classmate Hans, who works at the pound, was running a dognapping scheme - snatching dogs from wealthy neighbourhoods and returning them for the reward money. Dogs whose owners couldn't afford high rewards were sold off and their owners told their pets were dead. Mandy, in a newfound spurt of self-confidence, goes after Hans with a taser (!) to find out where Chester is.

All seems right with the world - until Veronica remembers that Lilly owned a bright pink spy-pen that she used to hide secret messages from her various boyfriends. A bright pink spy-pen that Weevil returns to her, empty, once the charges against him are dropped. Weevil was never suspected of Lilly's murder because he had an airtight alibi - but not for Lilly's real time of death.

Awesome Things:
  • The Definition of Big Pimpin': being so awesomely attractive that your Heartbroken Stripper-Cop Ex-Boyfriend will help you bust a dognapping ring right after you break up with him because you made out with another guy. 
  • Verogan. LoVe. Whichever you call it, the Logan-Veronica ship is sailing full-steam ahead! Hooray!
  • No Duncan and His Stupid Face to ruin things. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • Celeste. Ugh.
  • Mixed feelings over Aaron Echolls. The weird thing is, without the context of previous episodes, Aaron is pretty fucking awesome in this episode. He sounds so sincere in his desire to retire from acting and spend more time with his family, he spends the whole episode thinking of others, and you learn more about his abusive childhood. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a huge amount of satisfaction watching him take Trish's battering boyfriend to PainTown. And yet - previous episodes make it pretty clear that Aaron is just as abusive as his father was, not to mention superficial, adulterous, and just insane enough to believe his own bullshit. His takedown of Trish's boyfriend is eery and unsettling because the scene is framed as a self-righteous act when  he really has no reason to be portrayed that way. 
  • Keith figuring out Veronica might not be his, and mailing away for a paternity test. Keith, noooo....
The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • Lilly used a cheesy pink spypen to smuggle messages from her various boyfriends. What message could have been important enough for Weevil to risk jail time to make it disappear? 
  • If Weevil killed Lilly, why would the Kanes try to cover it up? 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x18: "Weapons of Class Destruction"

The Mystery: Who's making bomb threats against Neptune High?
Veronica and Wallace are forced into an awkward position when they discover their respective single parents are dating. This awkwardness evolves into a full-fledged fight when Veronica casually remarks that their relationship can't last long since her mother's due out of rehab in a matter of weeks.

Smooth, Veronica - biting the hand that steals other students' files for you.

Meanwhile, when Veronica uncovers the school's sudden increase in "fire drills" is due to a rash of bomb threats that have been made against the school, she writes an article about it for the student paper. Veronica's story causes widespread panic, and to make up for her mess, she decides to try and find out who's making the threats.

Most people seem to suspect Norris Clayton, a reformed bully and loner. However, Veronica is more suspicious of his new friend Ben. Veronica doesn't have much time to think on it - she's found advertisements all over the school for a website called KillEmAll.Net - a website that does nothing but display a sinister countdown. But a countdown to what?

Veronica decides to tail Ben, and follows him to a store where she witnesses him buying pounds of fertilizer and a high-powered rifle. A phone call from Logan distracts her and before she knows it, Ben climbs into her car and demands she drive to the Camelot Motel. Ben's about to drag her into his room when BAM! Logan jumps out of freakin' nowhere and goes all white knight on Ben's rapey ass!

Only Ben's not a bomber or a student - he's an undercover ATF agent. The ATF has traced the bomb threats and the KillEmAll website to Norris' IP address, but they need physical evidence of an actual bomb before they can charge him, and if the KillEmAll Countdown is anything to go by, time is running out. Ben needs Veronica's help - Norris has had a crush on her for years, and she can use that to access his house and find actual evidence of bomb-making.

Veronica accepts the mission - reluctantly. When she leaves the motel room, she reunites with Logan, the former jackass who raced across town to rescue her. Impulsively, she kisses him. Before she can walk away, Logan pulls her back and into THE MOST EPIC AND UNEXPECTED MAKEOUT SESSION EVER. Seriously.

Seriously. It is glorious. Especially when they break apart with matching "What the fuck did we just do?" expressions.

Veronica goes on to try and seduce Norris the Unexpectedly Adorable Bomber, but finds nothing. However, the next day Norris is arrested by the ATF and a hundred pounds of fertilizer is found in his car.

Whodunnit: Well, Ben from 21 Jerkoff Street planted the fertilizer in Norris' car when he got tired of waiting for actual evidence - but the charges against Norris are dropped after our heroine publishes her photos of Ben buying that same fertilizer from the store the day before.

No, the actual culprit is Pete Comiskey, a quiet computer nerd who was brutally victimized by Norris back in junior high. He used Norris' unprotected WiFi to send the threats and create the website, knowing they would be traced back to Norris' house. There never was a bomb - only a very angry geek out for vengeance.

Meanwhile, Duncan's been acting cold and rude to Veronica all of a sudden. Logan told him about her Lilly Kane case files, and finally he confronts her on it. It's clear he's furious and hurt and has no idea what happened to Lilly. But he's also terrified Veronica's suspicions might be true: that he killed Lilly by accident during an epileptic episode, blacked out, and his parents covered it up. After all, he has no memory of the three days surrounding Lilly's death. When Veronica doesn't back down or recant her suspicions, Duncan flees - and later goes missing.

Awesome Things:
  • Stripper-Cop Leo saying he'd like to get a good long look at Veronica's bedroom ceiling. Damn, boy. *fans self*
  • The Adorable Suspected Bomber is seriously Adorable. And not a bomber! He just really likes ninja stars!
  • Familiar faces: both Jonathan Taylor Thomas and True Blood's Reverend Newlin make appearances!
  • THE KISS. Nobody saw it coming - at least nobody I was watching this with for the first time. I mean, the clues are all there during the re-watch, but I really enjoyed how the showrunners subtly led up to Logan and Veronica's attraction while still surprising us.
  • Ah, the halcyon days of Ye Olde 2004 - when WiFi was still a "newfangled" invention that people weren't password-protecting yet! 
  • Geena Stafford - this random tertiary character gets an itty bitty mini arc this episode. The perky, peppy substitute Journalism teacher, she gets reprimanded by Van Clemmons when Veronica's bomb threat story goes public. When Veronica finds proof of Norris' innocence, Geena decides to ignore Van Clemmons' advice and run the story - as a result, Norris is cleared of all charges but she gets fired. But she walks out with a smile on her face. 
Less Awesome Things:
  • JTT's awful grunge-mullet. 
  • Veronica and Wallace fighting. 
  • Duncan. Just - okay, I feel for his character in theory. He's just starting to realize he may have killed his own sister and that his parents sent an innocent man to the electric chair in his place. BUT, I'm sorry, the actor playing Duncan is just such a dull clod of play-doh that it's hard to take him seriously in practice. 
The Lilly Kane Case File:
  • Veronica doesn't know if Duncan's aware that he killed Lilly, so she baits him by telling Meg (in front of Duncan) about a wealthy client of her father's who tried to disappear, and all the possible ways he could have done it. That same episode, Duncan goes missing - likely using the very methods Veronica enumerated in front of Meg. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x17: "Kane and Abel's"

The Mystery: Who is sabotaging Sabrina Fuller's performance on her finals?

It's Exam Week at Neptune High, and everyone's pretty stressed out - particularly Veronica, although not about her grades. No, she's worried for Amelia Delongpre, the estranged daughter of Abel Koontz. Through some fancy-shmancy detective work last episode, she just managed to find Amelia before Clarence Wiedman did.

You see, Amelia's about to receive upwards of three million dollars' worth of Kane Software stock - she thinks it's thanks to a trust, but in reality it's a payoff from the Kane family in return for Abel Koontz taking the fall for Lilly Kane's murder. Veronica tells her the truth about her father's innocence and stashes her in a cheap motel to hide out until Amelia's mom can mail her the trust paperwork proving the Kanes are behind her mysterious windfall. Amelia is still in danger - her receipt of the money makes her as much of a liability to the Kanes as a smoking gun - and Veronica doesn't want to think about what might happen if Clarence finds her.

Of course, Veronica neglects to tell Amelia about her father's terminal illness, thinking Amelia might not be so willing to part with millions in return for only a few months of her father's life.

Unfortunately, even dirtbag motels cost money and Veronica is broke after using her college fund to pay for her mother's rehab. A solution comes in the form of Sabrina Fuller, the current senior valedictorian and daughter of the president of the school board. Someone has been harassing her - letting the air out of her tires, publicizing her face and phone number on a sex line ad, setting off car alarms outside her window in the middle of the night - and the stress is starting to tell on her grades. She promises Veronica $500 if she can figure out who's trying to drive her insane and why.

A possible motive comes to mind when Veronica, as one of Neptune High's academically-brightest students, is invited to a dinner at the Kane mansion to celebrate the inaugural year of the Lilly Kane Memorial Scholarship. The full-ride scholarship to the university of the winner's choosing will be bestowed on whomever wins class valedictorian. When a sleep-deprived Sabrina bombs on her biology final, she drops into second place behind Hamilton Cho, a struggling lower-class senior who managed a flawless GPA without fancy tutors while working 20 hours a week in his father's pizza place. He's just been accepted to Oxford - but without that scholarship, there's no way he can afford it.

Veronica, using her Super Awesome Skills, tracks the clues to Vinnie Van Lowe's door. Vinnie is Neptune's other private detective, who, unlike Keith, is cheerfully willing to break the law - provided his clients pay him enough. And someone has apparently hired him to make sure Sabrina's too distracted, terrified, exhausted, and angry to maintain her GPA.

Whodunnit: Jimmy Cho, Hamilton's dad, was the ultimate culprit. Consumed with bitterness over what he felt were Sabrina's unfair financial advantages (not to mention the fact that Sabrina's family can already afford to send her wherever she wants), he hired Vinnie Van Lowe to terrorize her during exam week - but Hamilton had nothing to do with it. While Jake Kane graciously offers to split the scholarship between both students, the outraged Fullers threaten to press charges unless Hamilton drops out of the contest. Hamilton does, because he loves his dad - and also because he knows he'll work just as hard to succeed at whichever college he winds up at.

And if you think that ending's a downer, just wait. Despite Veronica's best efforts, Clarence Wiedman catches up with Amelia Dulongpre and makes her (and all her evidence) disappear - but not in the way you think. All he had to do was reveal the facts Veronica had intentionally kept from her: that her father was literally dying to provide her with a fortune. Amelia is gone - not to mention several million dollars richer - and the Mars family is back at square one.

Nothing else of note happened this episode - nothing except Logan finding out about Veronica's Lilly Kane file. When a distracted Veronica leaves her laptop open in her dad's office, Logan drops by and discovers the files she's been keeping on everyone - Celeste, Jake, Duncan, and himself. Very fortunately for our heroine, the former psychotic jackass of Neptune High now has firsthand experience of Veronica's expertise and actually takes her seriously. He also reveals how he once walked in on Duncan strangling his father during one of his epileptic episodes.

The plot thickens when Keith remembers catching the Kanes washing out Duncan's soccer uniform on the night of Lilly's murder despite having 2 full-time housekeepers. It seems increasingly likely that Duncan might have killed Lilly - without even realizing it.

Awesome Things:
  • Logan finding out Veronica Mars' secret case files! 
  • The introduction of Vinnie Van Lowe, the Best Worst Detective there is. Ken Marino, let me love you!
  • Of course Veronica's the highest academic achiever in her class. 
  • Veronica is apparently fluent in Italian as well as Spanish! 
  • Veronica tearing up Logan's cheque after they share a Moment - and then instantly regretting it because she is broke as shit. 
  • For all his faults, Clarence knows how to flaunt a stylish cap.
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The ending is a huge downer for pretty much everyone. The lower-class honour roll student loses his only chance at the scholarship thanks to his dad's mistakes, while the rich student who can afford any college she wants get valedictorian. On the other hand, she was studying just as hard as Hamilton and didn't deserve to be harassed just because she happened to be rich. 
  • And oh yeah, Abel Koontz' daughter skiddaddled with the payoff money!
The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • We now know beyond a doubt that the Kanes got Abel Koontz to confess to murder in return for  securing his daughter's financial future. 
  • Clarence Wiedman tampered with Lilly's body temperature to confuse her true time of death.
  • When called to Lilly Kane's crime scene, Keith walked in on the Kanes washing out Duncan's soccer uniform. 

Veronica Mars 1x16: "Betty and Veronica"

The Mystery: Who kidnapped Polly, Neptune High's basketball mascot?

Veronica Mars isn't the hugest fan of organized sports, but she tolerates it because her best friend, Wallace Fennel, is rapidly becoming Neptune High's biggest basketball star. Unfortunately, the Neptune High Pirates are dealt a severe symbolic blow when their beloved mascot, Polly the Parrot, is kidnapped. To Veronica's surprise, Vice Principal Van Clemmons wants her to find out who did it, and hopefully before the rivalry between Neptune High and Pan High escalates into something disastrous.

To do so, Veronica infiltrates Neptune High's rival school. Despite having a lower-class student population, Pan High has a historically better basketball team - might they have felt threatened enough by Wallace's talent to steal a bird? The plot thickens when a video is released of the anonymous kidnapper promising to kill Polly if Wallace isn't benched for the next big game.

Throughout all this Veronica is still trying to process the revelations she received after finally locating her mother in the last episode. Despite her best intentions, Leanne Mars dissolved into a hot drunken mess after running out on the Mars family, but she's still coherent enough to tell Veronica what she knows. And what she knows is that Jake Kane is innocent because at the time of Lilly's murder, he was in a hotel room. With her. Which isn't exactly something she'd want to admit to her sheriff husband.

According to Leanne, she caught Celeste Kane leaving a threatening voicemail on Veronica's cellphone so she met up with Jake in private to get Celeste to step off, adding that if he didn't rein in his wife, she'd have a paternity test done on Veronica and take him for millions. Of course, Leanne is such a Hot Ass Mess she's not even sure who Veronica's dad is. Celeste wound up interrupting Jake and Leanne's little convo and Leanne had to split.

Of course, Leanne doesn't know that Lilly's time of death was faked (as evidenced by the parking ticket she received three hours after her official time of death), but her details also don't jive with the Kanes' official story, either. Veronica figures this might be the reason Celeste had Leanne run out of town - to prevent her from exposing the Kanes' fraudulent alibi.

Now Veronica has three problems to deal with - a missing parrot, her severely alcoholic mother, and the fact that Clarence Wiedman has been keeping tabs on her by bugging her room. Being Veronica, it's not long before she uses that bug to her own advantage (since she has her own bug in Clarence's office): by feeding fake information into the bug, she finds out from Clarence that the terminally ill Abel Koontz might have taken the fall for Lilly's murder in order to provide for his estranged daughter.

Veronica has to find that daughter before Clarence does - but not before she uses her painstakingly-saved college fund to put her mother into rehab.

Whodunnit: Wallace's teammate Jack stole the parrot. Thanks to Wallace's prodigious talents, every gambler in the area's betting on Neptune - except for Jack. With Wallace out of commission, he hoped to use his position as point guard to throw the game and make a killing. Veronica rescues Polly, Jack is booted off the team, and the Pirates trounce Pan High.

"Betty and Veronica" is probably one of the densest episodes yet - not only do we finally get some juicy deets and closure on one of the major season-long mysteries (what happened to Veronica's mother?), but we also get some excellent character examinations.

In this episode, Veronica has to swallow the fact that two of her friends (Meg and Wallace) are popular, well-liked, and now run in the same social circles as the people who shunned and mocked her for the last year. She has an especially hard time talking to Meg, who, as Duncan's new girlfriend, fills the same Social Slot that Veronica did before Lilly's murder. But Meg is kind of the anti-Veronica - despite being shunned in the episode "Like a Virgin," she forgave the people who picked on her and moved on with her life, while Veronica has remained a solitary snarky island.

Let's be real here - we all love Veronica's snark, but I like how the show takes the time to gently remind us that Veronica's mindset isn't always healthy or productive. Veronica is a social outcast - but by the time the series starts, it's at least partly by choice. It's easier to cut all ties than risk being crapped on again. While Veronica isn't exactly Making Friends and Influencing People by the end of the episode, she willingly endures social situations she's uncomfortable with to strengthen her friendships with Meg and Wallace.

Awesome Things:
  • Veronica secretly making spirit boxes full of cookies for Wallace. Awwww - it makes up for all the times she had him running favours for her!
  • Make ALL the Archie Comics References! 
  • Wallace having his own life and friends independent of and apart from Veronica. 
  • Veronica and Vice Principal Clemmons haggling over payment for Veronica's PI services. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The awkwardness between Meg and Veronica. Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean it's not painful. But they do get over it!
  • Leanne Mars is a hot-ass mess.
  • No, Veronica! Not your college fund! 
  • Clarence Wiedman actually got one up on Veronica? Aw HELL NAW. 
Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Jake Kane was arguing with Leanne Mars in a hotel room on the night of Lilly's death, and Celeste interrupted them - facts which conflict with their official alibis. 
  • Abel Koontz has an estranged daughter, who has apparently been receiving payment in return for Koontz' confession.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Forever and a Day," by Jill Shalvis (Forever, 2012)

My review for my first Jill Shalvis book, Forever and a Day, is now live at the Smart Bitches Blog. Check it out if you're interested!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x15: "Ruskie Business"

The Mystery: 1) Where is Catherine Lenova's fiancé hiding? 2) Who is Meg's secret admirer?

So Veronica's been tracing the use of Lynn Echolls' credit card, which was recently used to rent a red convertible - the same car Lynn was driving the day she disappeared. When a charge comes in for a local hotel, she and Logan head on over. Unfortunately, the woman who used the card doesn't want to be disturbed, so Logan camps out in the lobby to wait for her to emerge.

That's fine with Veronica, who's busy with her own cases - all of which are love related. First, repentant Russian bride Catherine Lenova needs help tracking down the fiance she walked out on but now seeks to reconcile with. Secondly, Veronica's classmate Meg has been receiving texts and flowers from a secret admirer, and she's desperate to learn who in time for Neptune High's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" dance.

So far, Meg suspects two guys of being her secret admirer - a popular jock and a thoughtful loner - but they both turn out to be romantic duds and Veronica can't find anything conclusive pinning either of them to the mysterious texts and gifts.

Meanwhile, Veronica learns from Duncan that Logan is still at the hotel, twelve hours later, waiting for his mother. She returns to the hotel and tries to smoke Lynn Echolls out by having her credit card cancelled - and a woman wearing Lynn's clothes finally comes up to the front desk. Unfortunately - it's not Logan's mother, but his half-sister Trish Echolls, who used Lynn's cards to return to Neptune to continue mooching off their father after her minor part in a D-list movie fizzled out. Logan keeps it together for a whopping two minutes of snarky banter before dissolving into a complete emotional breakdown as he finally confronts the fact that his mother really is dead. It is awful and awkward and Veronica does her best to comfort him, but it really is beyond her range of expertise.

Whodunnit: 1) Veronica finally tracks down Catherine's erstwhile fiancé - and almost makes a huge mistake. Keith discovers "Catherine Lenova" doesn't exist. Instead, she and her two brothers are members of the Russian mob and her "fiancé" turned state's evidence against their father before going into Witness Protection. Veronica tricks Catherine and her brothers into walking into a showhome full of cops, instead.

2) Duncan is Meg's secret admirer. The discovery shocks Veronica, then saddens her, then freaks her out because he still might be her half-brother.

Veronica and Meg had initially decided to go stag - Meg wasn't feelin' it for either of the dudes she had pegged as her down-low Valentine. But all that changed when Duncan revealed it was him all along. Veroncia flees the dance soon after this discovery, awash in Inappropriate Feels, when she runs into Leo, who came over at Meg's request to escort Veronica to the dance.

Veronica cannot resist the siren call of the rare Stripper-Cop-In-A-Band, and they have a sweet time at the dance until Logan shows up on the Emotional Crisis Express. The pants-optional Emotional Crisis Express. Veronica and Leo call Logan's Horrible Sister Trish to pick him up, and while they're waiting, Veronica gets a creepy Silent but Heavy Breather Prank Call on her cell phone - a call she realizes came from her mother, in a bar outside California.

Veronica ditches Stripper-Cop Leo and Pantsless Logan and flies out to find her mother - discovering her in the Scuzziest Bar in America. The only problem? Clarence Wiedman's found her, too.

Awesome Things:
  • Alyson Hannigan in the motherfuckin' HOUSE. She's awesome in and of herself, but I have to say - the casting is also spot on in terms of how Trish and Logan really seem related. They have similar delivery and dry-as-a-desert humour. 
  • Another familiar face: it's Tim Taylor's oldest son from Home Improvement as one of Meg's love interests!
  • The Logan and Veronica Magical Empathy Hour
  • Officer Leo being awesomely chivalrous and hot.
  • Meg - she's just an awesome friend. As annoying as the use of her character gets in season 2, the show never turns her into a Lavinia - a.k.a. this empty, Mary Sue character whose entire purpose is to impede the central romance. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The "Total Eclipse of the Heart" Dance - because nothing says "You're Old" like watching teenagers make fun of the eighties while texting on flip-up phones because the show's already ten years old. 
  • Veronica learns first hand about Logan's abuse - cigarette burns and broken noses. Ouch.
  • Logan's breakdown when he finally realizes his mother really is dead. MY FEELS. MY TROUBLED LOGAN FEELS. 
  • Veronica still having conflicted emotions over her possible half brother. Girl, get your mind right!  You're dating a hot stripper-cop-drummer!
Lilly Kane Case Files
  • Could Clarence Wiedman framing Abel Koontz have anything to do with why he's following Leanne Mars?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x14: "Mars Vs. Mars"

The Mystery: 1) What really happened to Logan's mother? 2) Why is Carrie Bishop slandering history teacher Chuck Rooks? 

The episode begins as Logan asks Veronica to help figure out what happened to his mother, whom he's convinced faked her own death to escape her awful marriage. Veronica reluctantly agrees to help - first she puts a watch on all of Lynn Echolls' credit cards, then she tracks down some of the people who claim to have witnessed her death. Unfortunately, the people she meets are either lying opportunists or celebrity-obsessed weirdos.

Meanwhile, Veronica finds herself at odds with her father when Carrie Bishop, the trashy school gossip, accuses Veronica's favourite teacher Chuck Rooks of sleeping with his students - with her, to be specific. Mr. Rooks is a brilliant, unconventional educator, and if the accusation sticks he'll never be able to teach again. Unfortunately, Carrie's parents have hired Keith to find proof that he's guilty.

Despite Keith's efforts towards the opposite, Veronica continues to fight for Mr. Rooks' innocence - and sure enough, with enough digging she discovers that despite Carrie's surprisingly detailed accounts of their supposed relationship, the dates and times don't add up with her schedule. Inexplicably, Carrie refuses to recant her accusation, even when the rest of the school turns against her. When the case is called before the school board, Mr. Rooks is found not guilty, thanks to Veronica's evidence.

On the side, Veronica also finds time to visit Duncan's GP Dr. Levine in order to rifle through Duncan's medical file. As it turns out, Duncan has type 4 epilepsy - a disorder characterized by violent outbursts followed by black outs. In what can't be a coincidence, Veronica also finds Abel Koontz's medical file. Not only did Abel Koontz and the Kanes share a doctor, but Abel Koontz is dying.

Whodunnit: Weevil discovers a middle school student filmmaker caught footage of the bridge at around the time Lynn Echolls disappeared from her vehicle. Logan, Veronica and Weevil watch the tape - and spot what looks like a body tumbling off the bridge and into the water. Logan is devastated - until Veronica, miraculously, receives notification that someone used one of Lynn's credit cards.

As for Mr. Rooks, Veronica goes to his house after the trial to drop off his cell phone - and, with growing horror, recognizes several things about his house (his bedroom in particular) that match the details in Carrie's testimony. Veronica swallows several pounds of crow to uncover the actual truth: Mr. Rooks never slept with Carrie - but he did sleep with and impregnate her best friend Susan Knight, who was subsequently disowned by her parents. Because Susan was too ashamed to come forward, Carrie copied Susan's diary and tried to bring Mr. Rooks to justice herself. Veronica convinces Susan to come clean and Mr. Rooks "resigns" in disgrace.

This was a pretty interesting episode for a number of reasons - not least of which is the fact that Veronica is awful in this episode. I mean vicious. But her awfulness is really effective at highlighting the aspects of slutshaming and sexual double-standards that inevitably arise around accusations of sexual assault. When Mr. Rooks is accused, Veronica immediately, instinctively takes his side against Carrie. This initial reaction is understandable - she already likes Mr. Rooks and distrusts Carrie.

But while working this case, she doesn't let the evidence speak for itself - she finds evidence that already fits her preconceived notions. When Keith questions her on her certainty that Carrie's accusations are false, she blurts out "She's a liar, and manipulative and ... I just know!" This line of dialogue reveals so much. Veronica has already tried and convicted Carrie in her mind on the basis of Carrie's prior behaviour rather than on the objective evidence in front of her. Thankfully, she does come to her senses.

Awesome Things:
  • Keith planting a dye-bomb in his safe when Veronica tries to steal his evidence against Mr. Rooks. Father of the Year!
  • Familiar faces: Adam Scott (who "resigned in disgrace" far more romantically in Parks and Recreation) and Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl
  • Weevil helping to solve the case of Logan's mom. I just want Logan and Weevil to be friends so badly. I "friend"ship them. Is that so wrong? 
Less-Awesome Things: 
  • "They said you were fast." Veronica Mars to Carrie Bishop, and probably the most hideous thing she's ever said. She all but calls Carrie a slut, even though she believes her relationship with Mr. Rooks never happened. A serious low point for Veronica's character.
  • Logan's reaction to the tape of his mother jumping. Logan's manpain is my manpain. 
The Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Duncan Kane suffers from a type of epilepsy that apparently gives him hysterical, violent outbursts followed by black outs - could this be connected to his inability to remember the three days surrounding Lilly's murder?
  • Abel Koontz is terminally ill - and since he shares a GP with the Kanes, they likely know about it. Clearly, Abel is taking the fall for someone - but who? 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x13: "Lord of the Bling"

The Mystery: What happened to Yolanda Hamilton?

When gangsta rap impresario Bone Hamilton's daughter goes missing, he goes to Keith Mars for help.   Thanks to his thug-life past, he and the police aren't on good terms and hopes he'll find a sympathetic ally in Keith.

Unbeknownst to Bone and Keith, Veronica has a much more personal stake in the case - a long time ago, she and Bones' daughter Yolanda used to be friends with Lilly Kane. That is, until last year when Veronica caught Logan kissing Yolanda at a party. Despite Yolanda's protestations that she never invited Logan's attentions, Lilly cut her off completely and Veronica, out of BFF loyalty, followed suit. Now that Veronica's felt the sting of outcast status herself, she hopes to mend fences by making sure Yolanda's okay.

Unfortunately, Bone Hamilton is Not A Very Nice Man, and his list of enemies runs a mile long - from his brilliant scientist son Bryce, whom Bones considers a disappointment because he's too "soft;" to the rapper Dime Bag who signed with Bone after Bone dangled him out of a window to help him decide; to his former lawyer Sam Bloom, who was left paralyzed from a drive-by shooting two days after his testimony sent Bone to prison for tax evasion.

After Keith's and Veronica's hunches turn up no substantial leads, Bone finally receives a ransom note and decides to try and inflict his own personal brand of justice on the kidnappers.

Meanwhile, Logan and Aaron Echolls are dealing with the fallout of Lynn Echolls' apparent suicide. Aaron takes his wife's death surprisingly hard, and ultimately decides to retire from acting after his agent tries to pressure him about business during his wife's funeral. Logan, on the other hand, seems almost blasé - making sarcastic jokes and asides to the guests. When Duncan finally calls him on it, Logan admits he doesn't feel grief because his mother's not dead.

Apparently, she left behind a treasured cigarette lighter from her father engraved with the words "Free At Last," despite the fact that she's never gone a day without it. Logan believes his mother faked her own death to escape their sham of a lifestyle and left the lighter as a clue. To prove this, he approaches Veronica at the end of the episode to enlist her help in finding his mother.

Whodunnit: Yolanda wasn't kidnapped - she eloped with Ben Bloom, the son of her father's nemesis Sam Bloom. They grew up together and fell in love and refuse to have anything to do with their fathers' feud. It was Bryce who arranged things after their elopement to make it look like a kidnapping, and he was also behind the ransom demand - all of it done to prove to his father that he's not nearly as "soft" as he seems.

Awesome Things:
  • Finally, an opportunity to solve a crime using rubber duckies!
  • Anthony Anderson - I am in awe of this actor. He started out as this shlubby lame comedian but he's managed to transition into such convincingly menacing parts (for an even more hardcore example, see his season-long stint on The Shield)
  • Keith Mars on painkillers
  • Duncan's priceless "time to call the men in white coats" expression when Logan explains his theory that his mother faked her own death. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • Aaron Echolls' mind games. The creepiest thing about this episode is that Aaron looks like he really believes all the ways he's rewritten family history to make himself look like a victim, instead of an abusive asshole. 
  • Logan's crumbling facade - Jason Dohring is one of the most effective yet understated actors on the show. This whole episode he puts on this bland mask of sarcasm, but you just know that he's a ticking timebomb waiting for the merest breath of wind to explode in someone's face. 
Lilly Kane Case Files
  • We don't learn anything new in regards to Lilly's murder, but we do get some hints that Lilly wasn't always the nicest of people - she was just as capable of being arbitrary and cruel as any other Oh Niner. Veronica was just lucky enough to never wind up on the wrong end of her wrath. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x12: "Clash of the Tritons"

The Mystery: 1) Who framed Veronica for a sudden rash of fake IDs? 2) Who's leaking pictures of Aaron Echolls' cheatin' ways to the press?

Veronica's used to having her locker subjected to a "random" search, so when she walks up to her locker to find Vice Principal Clemmons and Sheriff Lamb standing beside it, she's unfazed. Apparently, Rick and Ted, two Neptune High students with fake IDs, went on a crazy pub crawl that left Ted in an alcohol-induced coma. Rick, the non-comatose student, told the Sheriff's department that Veronica Mars made their fake IDs and has been distributing bogus driver's licenses all over school.

Unfortunately, when Sheriff Lamb opens her locker and a stack of blank ID cards falls out, Veronica knows she's been set up.

Furious at being publicly arrested in front of the whole school and given a three-day suspension, Veronica confronts Rick and demands the truth. Rick reveals that he was ordered to blame Veronica by the head of the Tritons - Neptune High's very own secret society. Rick and Ted's pub crawl was just one of the many hazing rituals they were asked to undergo to gain entry into the society that only picks the best and the brightest, a society that has the power to destroy any student who stands against it.

Veronica has no idea why the Tritons have it in for her, but she's determined to find out why - especially once Ted's family names her in a multimillion dollar lawsuit. The plot thickens when she discovers Duncan Kane is also being rushed by the Tritons.

Meanwhile, Aaron Echolls, still recovering from being stabbed in the Christmas episode, asks Keith to find out who's been leaking pictures of him with his adulterous affairs to the press. Those affairs are all old news but they're taking a steep emotional toll on his wife and son.

Since she's been suspended for three days, Veronica has a lot of extra time on her hands. When she finds out student counsellor Rebecca James is reconnecting with the students most affected by Lilly Kane's murder, Veronica bugs her office and learns all sorts of dirt. Weevil, for instance, was in love with Lilly and wrote her some vaguely stalkery letters when his feelings weren't reciprocated.

And Logan reveals the real source of his hostility towards Veronica - when Veronica caught him kissing another girl last year and ratted him out to Lilly, Lilly broke up with him just days before her murder. Logan admits he blames Veronica for Lilly's death because if he and Lilly had still been together, he might have been able to protect her. However, he doesn't blame Veronica more than he blames himself.

And lastly, Duncan reveals he's still taking the medication for his "condition" but admits that he has no memory at all of the three days surrounding Lilly's death.

Whodunnit: 1) Rick was actually the one behind the fake ID ring - no Tritons were actually involved in Veronica's frame-up. Despite having a father and two older brothers in the Tritons, Rick was never asked to join. That same Triton father was arrested for embezzling by Veronica's dad last year, ruining his family's standing. So when Rick's shenanigans with Ted got him caught, he decided to kill two Grudge Birds with one Revenge Stone by blaming Veronica, and then siccing her on the Tritons.

He underestimated Veronica Mars, however - not only does she manage to unmask the members of the Tritons, but she uses them and an unsuspecting Sheriff Lamb to clear her name.

2) Lynn Echolls, Aaron's scorned wife, was the one who leaked Aaron's flings to the press because she was tired of his cheating and abuse. When Aaron finds out, he promises to ruin her - if she divorces him, she'll be left with nothing. Lynn flees in tears, gulping how she "can't take it anymore" - and the episode ends with the sheriff's department discovering her empty convertible left idling on a devastatingly high bridge.

Awesome Things:
  • Veronica gets a musical number!
  • More Logan angst, yessss, we loves Logan character development...
  • Okay, so Veronica getting framed and arrested in front of the student body is crappy, but it was interesting to see her encounter the wrong end of the Vengeance Stick for once. Will this affect her "get tough and get even" stance in any significant way?

Less-Awesome Things:
  • Sheriff Lamb handcuffing Veronica just because he can. What a dick.
  • The Tritons may not have framed Veronica but they did stuff her into the trunk of her car - and did Duncan help?
  • Logan's mum. :( 
The Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Weevil had a thing for Lilly, and did not take rejection well.
  • Lilly broke up with Logan days before her murder.
  • Duncan can't remember the three days surrounding Lilly's death, and is apparently taking medication for an undisclosed medical condition. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x11: "The Silence of the Lamb"

The Mystery: 1) What's up with Mac's parents? 2) Who is the E-String Strangler?

Veronica is still short on cash, so when a random classmate offers to pay her to dig up dirt on his parents, she obliges. Word gets around, and soon Veronica is running a brisk business on parent-shaming. Not long after, her friend Mac (who cashed in big time with her Purity Test business in "Like a Virgin") asks Veronica to look into her own family - she's always felt like her parents don't really "get" her. They're blond, perky, and clumsy, while she's an introverted, intellectual brunet. Veronica puts out feelers and, sure enough, discovers a doozy of a secret in Mac's past.

Meanwhile, Keith is hired by the sheriff's department on a contract basis when Neptune's very own serial killer, the E-String Strangler, strikes again. This charming fellow kidnaps his drunk party-girl victims, suffocates them over the course of 48 hours, and ties a guitar string around their necks as his signature. Keith worked on this case back when he was a sheriff, so he's the closest thing Neptune has to an expert. Unfortunately, this means teaming up with the pigheaded Sheriff Lamb.

Keith's pain, however, is Veronica's gain - it's the perfect opportunity to return to the sheriff's office to see if she can sneak a peak at the official Lilly Kane case file. It certainly doesn't hurt that the rookie officer on duty - Officer Leo D'Amato - is young, hot, and totally digs her. Using her cuteness, a pizza, and some assistance from Weevil, she distracts Leo enough to steal the Lilly Kane Tip Line tapes from the evidence room.

Whodunnit: 1) Veronica discovers that Mac was switched at birth with the Queen Bee of the Oh Niners - Madison Sinclair.

Everything to do with this mystery was just one giant punch to the heart. Mac is devastated. While she kind of figured she was adopted, she never imagined she could have had - that she should have had - the life of a wealthy Oh Niner. And it's not just the money - when she and Veronica crash Madison's party, she can't help but notice the Sinclair's enormous library, the pictures of all the far-off places they've travelled to, and the adorable little sister who's exactly like her. It doesn't help that all of this wealth is completely wasted on Madison Sinclair, a vapid, selfish twit who "wouldn't know Monet unless Revlon named a nail polish after him."

And what really stings is that this mystery doesn't really have closure. It's not like Mac can simply demand the families switch them back after seventeen years - nor is she cruel enough to tell Madison the truth (although she comes close). She's forced to accept that she's stuck with her non-bio family - and even though they aren't terrible parents, it still kind of sucks. There's a supremely painful moment where she and her biological mother Share an Obvious Moment, but it's clear that nothing can come of it without hurting a lot of other people.

2) Keith discovers the E-String Strangler is Gabe, the owner of a music store who hides his victims in his soundproofed studio.

It's all celebrations and lollipops after that - except for poor Officer Leo. He got a week's suspension because A Certain Cute, Blond Someone left the evidence room unlocked on his shift. Veronica feels awful - especially since she was starting to fall for him. But Lilly's murder takes precedence - Veronica finds the recording of the anonymous caller who turned in Abel Koontz, and with Mac's help, decodes the voice until she recognizes the sultry tones of one Clarence Wiedman - the Head of Security for Kane Software.

Awesome Things:

  • Some familiar faces - look! It's Max Greenfield before he became Unbearably Annoying in New Girl! And there's Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul as a pervy peeping Tom.
  • Veronica exacting some photographic vengeance on Clarence Wiedman. 
  • Officer Leo is a former cop-themed stripper who's now a real cop who also plays drums in a band. Veronica, if you don't lock that one down, I will. 

Less-Awesome Things

  • Mac and her mum :(
  • While Mac's Mystery is full of delicious painful feels - it also not-so-subtly suggests that Madison Sinclair's trashy horribleness comes from being the biological daughter of trashy lower-class people. Which, just, no. No. Don't do that. 
  • Sheriff Lamb is a slutshaming pig who hasn't seen Spinal Tap. But we already knew that.
The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • Clarence Wiedman, a Kane Software employee, is the man who called in the anonymous tip implicating Abel Koontz as Lilly's murderer.