Friday, July 19, 2013

Veronica Mars 1x17: "Kane and Abel's"

The Mystery: Who is sabotaging Sabrina Fuller's performance on her finals?

It's Exam Week at Neptune High, and everyone's pretty stressed out - particularly Veronica, although not about her grades. No, she's worried for Amelia Delongpre, the estranged daughter of Abel Koontz. Through some fancy-shmancy detective work last episode, she just managed to find Amelia before Clarence Wiedman did.

You see, Amelia's about to receive upwards of three million dollars' worth of Kane Software stock - she thinks it's thanks to a trust, but in reality it's a payoff from the Kane family in return for Abel Koontz taking the fall for Lilly Kane's murder. Veronica tells her the truth about her father's innocence and stashes her in a cheap motel to hide out until Amelia's mom can mail her the trust paperwork proving the Kanes are behind her mysterious windfall. Amelia is still in danger - her receipt of the money makes her as much of a liability to the Kanes as a smoking gun - and Veronica doesn't want to think about what might happen if Clarence finds her.

Of course, Veronica neglects to tell Amelia about her father's terminal illness, thinking Amelia might not be so willing to part with millions in return for only a few months of her father's life.

Unfortunately, even dirtbag motels cost money and Veronica is broke after using her college fund to pay for her mother's rehab. A solution comes in the form of Sabrina Fuller, the current senior valedictorian and daughter of the president of the school board. Someone has been harassing her - letting the air out of her tires, publicizing her face and phone number on a sex line ad, setting off car alarms outside her window in the middle of the night - and the stress is starting to tell on her grades. She promises Veronica $500 if she can figure out who's trying to drive her insane and why.

A possible motive comes to mind when Veronica, as one of Neptune High's academically-brightest students, is invited to a dinner at the Kane mansion to celebrate the inaugural year of the Lilly Kane Memorial Scholarship. The full-ride scholarship to the university of the winner's choosing will be bestowed on whomever wins class valedictorian. When a sleep-deprived Sabrina bombs on her biology final, she drops into second place behind Hamilton Cho, a struggling lower-class senior who managed a flawless GPA without fancy tutors while working 20 hours a week in his father's pizza place. He's just been accepted to Oxford - but without that scholarship, there's no way he can afford it.

Veronica, using her Super Awesome Skills, tracks the clues to Vinnie Van Lowe's door. Vinnie is Neptune's other private detective, who, unlike Keith, is cheerfully willing to break the law - provided his clients pay him enough. And someone has apparently hired him to make sure Sabrina's too distracted, terrified, exhausted, and angry to maintain her GPA.

Whodunnit: Jimmy Cho, Hamilton's dad, was the ultimate culprit. Consumed with bitterness over what he felt were Sabrina's unfair financial advantages (not to mention the fact that Sabrina's family can already afford to send her wherever she wants), he hired Vinnie Van Lowe to terrorize her during exam week - but Hamilton had nothing to do with it. While Jake Kane graciously offers to split the scholarship between both students, the outraged Fullers threaten to press charges unless Hamilton drops out of the contest. Hamilton does, because he loves his dad - and also because he knows he'll work just as hard to succeed at whichever college he winds up at.

And if you think that ending's a downer, just wait. Despite Veronica's best efforts, Clarence Wiedman catches up with Amelia Dulongpre and makes her (and all her evidence) disappear - but not in the way you think. All he had to do was reveal the facts Veronica had intentionally kept from her: that her father was literally dying to provide her with a fortune. Amelia is gone - not to mention several million dollars richer - and the Mars family is back at square one.

Nothing else of note happened this episode - nothing except Logan finding out about Veronica's Lilly Kane file. When a distracted Veronica leaves her laptop open in her dad's office, Logan drops by and discovers the files she's been keeping on everyone - Celeste, Jake, Duncan, and himself. Very fortunately for our heroine, the former psychotic jackass of Neptune High now has firsthand experience of Veronica's expertise and actually takes her seriously. He also reveals how he once walked in on Duncan strangling his father during one of his epileptic episodes.

The plot thickens when Keith remembers catching the Kanes washing out Duncan's soccer uniform on the night of Lilly's murder despite having 2 full-time housekeepers. It seems increasingly likely that Duncan might have killed Lilly - without even realizing it.

Awesome Things:
  • Logan finding out Veronica Mars' secret case files! 
  • The introduction of Vinnie Van Lowe, the Best Worst Detective there is. Ken Marino, let me love you!
  • Of course Veronica's the highest academic achiever in her class. 
  • Veronica is apparently fluent in Italian as well as Spanish! 
  • Veronica tearing up Logan's cheque after they share a Moment - and then instantly regretting it because she is broke as shit. 
  • For all his faults, Clarence knows how to flaunt a stylish cap.
Less-Awesome Things:
  • The ending is a huge downer for pretty much everyone. The lower-class honour roll student loses his only chance at the scholarship thanks to his dad's mistakes, while the rich student who can afford any college she wants get valedictorian. On the other hand, she was studying just as hard as Hamilton and didn't deserve to be harassed just because she happened to be rich. 
  • And oh yeah, Abel Koontz' daughter skiddaddled with the payoff money!
The Lilly Kane Case Files
  • We now know beyond a doubt that the Kanes got Abel Koontz to confess to murder in return for  securing his daughter's financial future. 
  • Clarence Wiedman tampered with Lilly's body temperature to confuse her true time of death.
  • When called to Lilly Kane's crime scene, Keith walked in on the Kanes washing out Duncan's soccer uniform. 

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