Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x08: "Like a Virgin"

The Mystery: Who posted Meg's false Purity Test? And who started selling them in the first place?

This episode is all about the power of a bad reputation. The shenanigans last year left Veronica with one doozy of a bad name - and no one at school will let her forget it, as she discovers after gym class when her classmates steal her clothes.

Thankfully, Meg Manning takes pity on her and lets her borrow her cheerleading outfit. Against all odds, Meg is popular, blond, wealthy - but also one of the nicest people at Neptune High. She insists on befriending and defending Veronica, despite the advice of her bitchy friends Pam and Kimmy.

Meanwhile, the student body is in a tizzy about an online Purity Test that's been going around - the lower the score, the more of a skank you are. Everyone's taking the test and discussing the results, until a mysterious website appears offering copies of anyone's results for ten bucks a pop.

The next day, Neptune High explodes with drama as everyone's sins and indiscretions are revealed - especially Meg's. She apparently received the lowest score (37%), second only to Veronica herself (14%). Meg's virginal boyfriend dumps her in a jealous rage, her friends abandon her, and suddenly she's the school slut. The only problem? Meg never took that test. Neither did Veronica.

In her quest for the truth, she befriends Cindy "Mac" MacKenzie, a local computer whiz who deduces that whomever posted the false test results for Meg and Veronica would have had to know their Neptune High passwords - since Veronica's password is as uncrackable as she is, she suspects Neptune High's disconcertingly hot French IT guy, Renny.

What I love about this episode how is how it tells us about Veronica's past without explicitly stating it. I mean, we're familiar with how the present Veronica reacts to rumours - she gets tough, she gets even, and she refuses to let it get to her. However, it probably took time for Veronica to evolve to that point of guardedness. Her empathy for Meg's situation indicates that at one point, Girl Good Veronica felt every stab of pain and betrayal that Meg did.

Meanwhile, at Wallace's house, Wallace's mother Alicia Fennel advises her son against pursuing a friendship with Veronica. A new employee at Kane Software, she's heard plenty of gossip about the Mars family and doesn't want that kind of negative influence in Wallace's life. The Fennel family have enough problems to deal with - not least of which is their sleazy tenant Jeremy Masterson. He hasn't paid his rent in two months but his mental instability leaves Alicia unwilling to confront him.

When Jeremy starts trespassing into the Fennel's main house, Wallace turns to the Mars family, but although Keith offers his Super Awesome Detective Services, he is coolly rebuffed by Alicia. However, after Jeremy leaves the gas on in the Fennel house and the police refuse to do anything, Keith Mars takes matters into his own hands in glorious fashion.

Along with tracking the computer hijnks, Veronica's also trying to get in touch with Abel Koontz, the man currently on death row for Lilly's murder. She invents a fake identity and cover story to get in to see him - but Abel Koontz sees right through her, and instead of clearing his name, he drops the mother of all bombshells: Keith Mars isn't Veronica's real dad - Jake Kane is.

Whodunnit: Meg's "friend" Kimmy got Meg's and Veronica's passwords from her secret (and illegal) boyfriend Renny. Kimmy, envious of Meg's success and accomplishments, submitted a fake slutty test under Meg's name in order to steal more of the popularity pie for herself. Thankfully, Veronica manages to snag Kimmy's confession on tape and post it during a public school bulletin, clearing Meg's name.

Although Kimmy posted the fake results, it was actually clever Mac who circulated the Purity Test and created the website in the first place - and she uses the overwhelming profits of her endeavour to buy a snazzy new car.

Awesome Things
  • It's the first episode for fantastic recurring character Mac, another member of Veronica's personal Scooby gang. 
  • How Keith Mars terrorizes Jeremy into leaving by out-crazying him
  • Veronica's revenge against Dick Casablancas
  • Meg making the choice to remain a sunny, optimistic person - I really enjoyed how the show highlighted the similarities and differences between her and Veronica. While Meg agrees with Veronica's advice that she needs a tougher skin, she decides to keep her positive outlook on life and do away with any grudges. 

Less-Awesome Things
  • The bombshell at the end. Gross. Gross. Daddy issues ahoy!
  • Slut-shaming - this episode doesn't promote it, not at all, but it does show in pretty harsh detail how easily the double-standard pervades the teenage community. The worst example is when Meg's faithless virgin ex tries to use her test results to bolster his own sexual reputation.  

The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • Abel Koontz is intentionally taking the fall for someone - but who? And what could possibly be worth lethal injection?

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