Monday, July 08, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x06: "Return of the Kane"

The Mystery: Who rigged the school elections?

It's Student Council Election time at Neptune High, and Jake Kane wants his son Duncan to run for President. Duncan refuses - to him, all the Student Council does is sell candy and decide on prom decorations.

However, one Neptune student is determined to do more than that. Wanda Varner, a rebellious rocker chick, wants to get rid of Neptune's Pirate Points system. Pirate Points grants students who are "productive" members of the school special privileges, and since you have to be a cheerleader, an athlete, or a member of the council to earn Pirate Points, it's yet another system strongly biased in the wealthy students' favour.

Wanda runs a fabulous campaign, earning her the universal support of the lower-class student body - Veronica Mars included. However, when the votes are tallied, Duncan Kane (whose father entered him in the race without telling him) wins by a landslide. Something doesn't smell right about the election, and Veronica's determined to find out what.

Whodunnit: Popular girl Madison Sinclair sent out false ballot instructions to classes containing students likely to vote in Wanda's favour, tricking them into voting for Duncan. However, Veronica learns that Wanda's a narc who's been ratting out her friends and classmates for years in order to keep her own record clean for college. When another election is held, Duncan Kane wins for real.

As you can tell, the mystery in this episode is pretty easily solved. Instead, interestingly enough, this episode focuses on the relationship between children and fathers. Three fathers are featured in this episode - Keith Mars, Jake Kane, and Aaron Echolls (Logan's movie star father).

Keith Mars is an endlessly loving, supportive, and awesome dad - but he's not above lying or omitting information to protect his daughter. Unbeknownst to him, this is a trait he has passed down to Veronica, but at the end of the episode they finally stop pussyfooting around and admit they've both been looking into Lilly Kane's murder again, especially now that the man convicted of killing her (Abel Koontz) is facing execution.

Jake Kane, despite the suspicions surrounding him in regards to his daughter's death, is also portrayed as a loving father. While he can be manipulative and oblivious, he sincerely worries about his son's apathy and just wants him to get involved and excited about something - so he enters his son's name in the ballot for President. However, it takes Veronica to break Duncan from his neutral stance: "You stand idly by!" she accuses - pointing out how people are cheating and struggling to win an election he doesn't even care about, and just because he doesn't actively participate, doesn't mean he's innocent of what happens. Duncan takes this to heart, and when he wins the second election, he votes to extend the opportunity to win Pirate Points to every student who participates in the arts, clubs, or extracurricular activities.

Aaron Echolls, meanwhile, is a vicious, superficial father. Logan, being a jackass, has been arranging bum-fights for the fun of it, and when he's caught at it, his father is furious - not because Logan's actions were exploitative and cruel, but because it made Aaron look bad. He arranges a photo-op and interview for Logan at a local homeless shelter to repair his image. Logan gets back at his dad by publicly announcing that his father plans to donate half a million dollars to the food bank. He pays for this later when his father comes after him with a belt - after making Logan pick out the belt first, in what is clearly a frequent ritual for this family.

Awesome Things
  • The discovery that, at one point, Veronica was on Pep Squad as a teenager. 
  • Jane Lynch as the snippy teacher whose student aide rigs the election
  • Duncan Kane growing a backbone
Less-Awesome Things
  • Logan being abused. Look, it's gross that he paid homeless people to fight in his own personal Hunger Games, so I'm not saying he's an innocent puppy of angst - but man. Getting regularly beaten by your People's Sexiest Man Alive father. That has to suck.

The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • Abel Koontz, the disgruntled former Kane Software employee who was convicted of Lilly Kane's murder, fired his public defender, meaning his execution is all but inevitable.
  • Koontz was convicted on the evidence that Lilly Kane's shoes were found in his houseboat - and yet those shoes are clearly visible in the crime scene photograph of Lilly's bedroom. 

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