Friday, July 19, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x16: "Betty and Veronica"

The Mystery: Who kidnapped Polly, Neptune High's basketball mascot?

Veronica Mars isn't the hugest fan of organized sports, but she tolerates it because her best friend, Wallace Fennel, is rapidly becoming Neptune High's biggest basketball star. Unfortunately, the Neptune High Pirates are dealt a severe symbolic blow when their beloved mascot, Polly the Parrot, is kidnapped. To Veronica's surprise, Vice Principal Van Clemmons wants her to find out who did it, and hopefully before the rivalry between Neptune High and Pan High escalates into something disastrous.

To do so, Veronica infiltrates Neptune High's rival school. Despite having a lower-class student population, Pan High has a historically better basketball team - might they have felt threatened enough by Wallace's talent to steal a bird? The plot thickens when a video is released of the anonymous kidnapper promising to kill Polly if Wallace isn't benched for the next big game.

Throughout all this Veronica is still trying to process the revelations she received after finally locating her mother in the last episode. Despite her best intentions, Leanne Mars dissolved into a hot drunken mess after running out on the Mars family, but she's still coherent enough to tell Veronica what she knows. And what she knows is that Jake Kane is innocent because at the time of Lilly's murder, he was in a hotel room. With her. Which isn't exactly something she'd want to admit to her sheriff husband.

According to Leanne, she caught Celeste Kane leaving a threatening voicemail on Veronica's cellphone so she met up with Jake in private to get Celeste to step off, adding that if he didn't rein in his wife, she'd have a paternity test done on Veronica and take him for millions. Of course, Leanne is such a Hot Ass Mess she's not even sure who Veronica's dad is. Celeste wound up interrupting Jake and Leanne's little convo and Leanne had to split.

Of course, Leanne doesn't know that Lilly's time of death was faked (as evidenced by the parking ticket she received three hours after her official time of death), but her details also don't jive with the Kanes' official story, either. Veronica figures this might be the reason Celeste had Leanne run out of town - to prevent her from exposing the Kanes' fraudulent alibi.

Now Veronica has three problems to deal with - a missing parrot, her severely alcoholic mother, and the fact that Clarence Wiedman has been keeping tabs on her by bugging her room. Being Veronica, it's not long before she uses that bug to her own advantage (since she has her own bug in Clarence's office): by feeding fake information into the bug, she finds out from Clarence that the terminally ill Abel Koontz might have taken the fall for Lilly's murder in order to provide for his estranged daughter.

Veronica has to find that daughter before Clarence does - but not before she uses her painstakingly-saved college fund to put her mother into rehab.

Whodunnit: Wallace's teammate Jack stole the parrot. Thanks to Wallace's prodigious talents, every gambler in the area's betting on Neptune - except for Jack. With Wallace out of commission, he hoped to use his position as point guard to throw the game and make a killing. Veronica rescues Polly, Jack is booted off the team, and the Pirates trounce Pan High.

"Betty and Veronica" is probably one of the densest episodes yet - not only do we finally get some juicy deets and closure on one of the major season-long mysteries (what happened to Veronica's mother?), but we also get some excellent character examinations.

In this episode, Veronica has to swallow the fact that two of her friends (Meg and Wallace) are popular, well-liked, and now run in the same social circles as the people who shunned and mocked her for the last year. She has an especially hard time talking to Meg, who, as Duncan's new girlfriend, fills the same Social Slot that Veronica did before Lilly's murder. But Meg is kind of the anti-Veronica - despite being shunned in the episode "Like a Virgin," she forgave the people who picked on her and moved on with her life, while Veronica has remained a solitary snarky island.

Let's be real here - we all love Veronica's snark, but I like how the show takes the time to gently remind us that Veronica's mindset isn't always healthy or productive. Veronica is a social outcast - but by the time the series starts, it's at least partly by choice. It's easier to cut all ties than risk being crapped on again. While Veronica isn't exactly Making Friends and Influencing People by the end of the episode, she willingly endures social situations she's uncomfortable with to strengthen her friendships with Meg and Wallace.

Awesome Things:
  • Veronica secretly making spirit boxes full of cookies for Wallace. Awwww - it makes up for all the times she had him running favours for her!
  • Make ALL the Archie Comics References! 
  • Wallace having his own life and friends independent of and apart from Veronica. 
  • Veronica and Vice Principal Clemmons haggling over payment for Veronica's PI services. 
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The awkwardness between Meg and Veronica. Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean it's not painful. But they do get over it!
  • Leanne Mars is a hot-ass mess.
  • No, Veronica! Not your college fund! 
  • Clarence Wiedman actually got one up on Veronica? Aw HELL NAW. 
Lilly Kane Case Files:
  • Jake Kane was arguing with Leanne Mars in a hotel room on the night of Lilly's death, and Celeste interrupted them - facts which conflict with their official alibis. 
  • Abel Koontz has an estranged daughter, who has apparently been receiving payment in return for Koontz' confession.

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