Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x07: "The Girl Next Door"

The Mystery: What really happened to Sarah Williams, Veronica Mars' neighbour?

This episode opens on a crime scene already in progress - flashing lights, emergency personnel, and a body being rolled out on a stretcher. In the background, Veronica anxiously waits, feeling horrible and blaming herself for what happened.

So what did happen? The story takes us backwards. Sarah Williams lives above the Marses in their apartment complex - she's young, fragile, very pregnant, and she and her artist boyfriend Andre are always arguing. Sarah asks Veronica to accompany her to a doctor's appointment the next day. Later that day, Veronica overhears Sarah screaming at Andre for telling her estranged mother and stepfather about the baby, and in the middle of the night, Veronica hears a scream and a thump from the apartment upstairs.

When Veronica shows up at Sarah's place the next morning, Sarah is gone, the apartment's a wreck, and her snarky boyfriend appears strangely unconcerned that his pregnant girlfriend's gone missing. Despite her father's insistence that she stay out of it, Veronica's convinced something happened to Sarah, something very bad - especially when Veronica finds out Sarah's baby's not Andre's.

While at school, Veronica winds up finding answers to questions she didn't even know she had - while helping out the alumni association for journalism class, she finds her mother's yearbook and discovers her mother and Jake Kane were Neptune High's It Couple and Prom King and Queen. Could this have anything to do with why Jake was visiting her mom's hotel room back in the pilot episode? Or why his son, Duncan, mysteriously broke up with Veronica the year before?

Meanwhile, in a delightfully unrelated subplot, Weevil and Logan get detention together after bickering during English class. These two dudes, despite their vastly different backgrounds, discover some common ground: they both despise their pretentious asshat English teacher. As revenge, they combine their talents to pull off a brilliant prank that involves their teacher's car and a flagpole - unfortunately, Weevil gets caught and expelled. When Logan finds out Weevil got the boot but refused to name his accomplice, Logan goes to the vice principal and confesses in order to take his punishment like a man. Like a rich white man - by which I mean, he uses bribery and his father's fame to get Weevil reinstated and their punishment marked down. Hooray for using your privilege for good!

Of course, Logan and Weevil share more than just a hatred for literature - as evidenced by the "Lilly" tattoo on Weevil's back.

Whodunnit: But back to the actual mystery - Veronica, after finding Sarah's diary (which had been stolen by her skeezy boss), discovers Sarah ran away from home after being raped and lived in her car for a while before falling in love and moving in with Andre. Using clues from the diary, she tracks down where Sarah's been cooling off and convinces her to come back and see her boyfriend and her parents - who've just arrived from Ohio. Unfortunately, the reunion's not a pleasant one. Tired of running, Sarah finally outs her stepfather as her rapist. Stepdaddy dearest attacks her until he is shot in the shoulder by Keith.

While I really enjoyed the paranoid Hitchcockian nature of this episode, I never really understood why Veronica blamed herself for what happened with Sarah's family. Perhaps Veronica believed she should have allowed Sarah to hide out until her parents left instead of forcing a confrontation with them - but many aspects of this episode indicated how Sarah's evasion of the truth was emotionally unhealthy and damaging to her relationship with Andre. I couldn't help but think Sarah was better off for revealing the truth - now she'll be able to heal her relationship with her mother and restore her romance with Andre.

Awesome Things:
  • Well, look at these familiar faces: Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as Sarah and Chuck's very own General Beckman as a nosy Alumni Association gossip!
  • Weevil and Logan are The Cutest together - could we just spin them off into a sitcom where they share a poolhouse in Beverly Hills? Because I would seriously watch the hell out of that. 
  • Also - props for Logan growing a conscience and getting Weevil unexpelled.
  • Weevil and his PCHers being all adorable and trashing a high-end boutique in order to help Veronica scare answers out of its slimeball owner. 

Less-Awesome Things:
  • Veronica's Mom + Duncan Kane's Dad = No Storyline That Anyone Wants Ever
  • "A man's gotta be pretty committed to a woman to agree to raise another man's child" - YOU SHUT YOUR DIRTY WHORE MOUTH, KEITH MARS. SHUT IT. 

The Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Weevil and Lilly had something going on behind Logan's back - and it was serious enough to merit a hugely obvious back tattoo! 

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