Friday, July 12, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x09: "Drinking the Kool-Aid"

The Mystery: What's the deal with the Mooncalf Collective?

So - Jake Kane might be Veronica's real dad.

After getting the news, Veronica has herself a good cry, and upchucks a bit once she realizes her ex Duncan might be her half-brother, but then she's back on the case. She tracks down the man who sent her mother threatening pictures of Veronica in a gunsight - his name is Clarence Weedman, and he's head of security for Kane Software.

Is Veronica mad that Jane Kane is responsible for scaring her mother out of town? Nah - Veronica doesn't get mad. She gets even. She decides to find out for sure if Jake Kane's her father - and if she is forced to share genes with him, she'll take him for all he's worth. She buys a paternity test online and tricks Keith into providing a sample.

But while the test is being processed, the Mars family is still broke. Salvation comes in the form of the Gants - Mr. and Mrs. Gant are worried that their teenage son Casey has been bamboozled by a cult known as the Mooncalf Collective. He's moved out of the house, sold his Porsche and given the proceeds to the cultists, but since he's 18, his parents can't do anything. Instead, the Gants want Keith and Veronica to find proof of illegal activity at the Collective, and if they do it soon, there's a nice, juicy $5,000 bonus in it for them.

Veronica susses out the situation at school. True enough, Casey's been acting like a completely different person - a nicer one. Against Keith's warnings, Veronica accepts an invitation to visit the Collective. However, instead of shady secrets and brainwashed child-wives, she only finds a bunch of old-fashioned, naive, but genuinely nice people living in communal harmony - including a down-to-earth girl named Rain. 

Unfortunately, the Gants are growing impatient. Casey's grandmother had a stroke and isn't expected to last out the week - and the Gants just discovered that she made Casey the sole heir of the family fortune. Terrified that he'll sink every cent into the Collective, they've hired a professional deprogrammer and they pressure Keith to get results.

Whodunnit: The only nefarious dealings being done are by the Gants themselves - they've spent years living on Grandma Gant's fortune while calling her "grandmonster" behind her back and neglecting her in the nursing home. They've also known about Grandma Gant's will for over a year - they just never bothered to worry about their son until his proximity to the Collective threatened their trust funds.

Despite this knowledge, the Marses are torn when they do discover unwitting illegal activity on the collective - Rain is actually an underage runaway named Debbie. When his background check reveals her horrifically abusive foster home past, Keith makes a judgement call and doesn't come forward with the information.

However, while the Collective remains safe, Casey winds up kidnapped by his own parents and their deprogrammer after his grandmother's funeral - and arrives at school a few weeks later in a shiny new car, apparently re-programmed into the selfish, privileged Oh Niner he was before.

In case you haven't guessed it, money's a major theme in this episode. We have Veronica, who believes she's rightfully owed a chunk of the Kane fortune for her various sufferings. We have Keith, who pursues the Collective despite his growing misgivings because the Gants are paying him to dig up dirt. And we have Casey's parents, who are maniacally possessive of the Gant fortune despite having done nothing to earn it.

However, Veronica and Keith realize over the course of the episode that some things are more important than money. Keith, once he realizes the Collective are innocent and that runaway Rain is better off there than in the foster system, chooses his morals over the avaricious desires of his paying clients. And Veronica shreds her paternity test results without opening then - while discovering she's a Kane might entitle her to a fortune, it would devastate the amazing, loving man who did raise her.

Awesome Things:
  • Keith's excitement over buying Veronica a waterbed at a garage sale. He's just the cutest.
  • I love how even though he's furious with Veronica for going to the Collective against his orders, Keith still takes her concerns and findings seriously.
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The idea that Veronica might have pulled a Game of Thrones with a boy who just might be her half-brother. 
  • The ending. I loved the idea that a privileged Oh-Niner like Casey overcame his own dickishness and achieved personal enlightenment away from the toxic greed of his parents. He was such a sweet guy, to the point where even Veronica was crushing on him. So it's a kind of a huge bummer that he winds up brainwashed back into a jackass. 
The Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Nothing specific this episode - although how would Abel Koontz know about Veronica's true parentage anyway?

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