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? 

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