I’m only about a week behind on this, but the first story arc of the third season of Veronica Mars wrapped up last week, ending the story of the Hearst College rapist in a twist was a bit too much like Scream.
For those who have never heard of Veronica Mars, it’s probably my favorite show on television right now (yes, even more than Battlestar Galactica, which is a better show but not quite as fun). The show stars Kristen Bell as the eponymous hero, who in the first season of the show is a junior in college attempting to solve the murder of her best friend while dealing with her new status as a social outcast among the rich jerks of her southern California high school. Her gumshoe tendencies come from her private investigator father, Keith, played to perfection by Enrico Colantoni (Elliot the photographer from Just Shoot Me).
It’s now the third season and Veronica is a freshman at the fictional Hearst College, meaning we’ve got a at least four seasons before Veronica Mars becomes just another show about a private investigator. The writers have taken the intriguing approach of skipping one major story arc in favour of three smaller arcs over the course of the season. I suspect this was at least partially to make the show more accessible to new viewers, with three separate jumping-on points at the beginning of each arc. The show’s on break right now and returns in January, so if you’re one of those people who’s able to watch a show without going back and watching the earlier seasons on DVD (sadly, I’m not), then this would be a great time to hop on the Veronica bandwagon.
Anyway, on to the actual episode. “Spit and Eggs” wraps up the mystery of the Hearst rapist (which sounds like the most disturbing episode of Scooby Doo ever). The Hearst rapist storyline actually began last season when Veronica visited the campus and had to clear her hated ex-boyfriend’s name (that ex-boyfriend, by the way, was played by Aaron Ashmore, the identical twin brother of Shawn Ashmore, a.k.a. Iceman from the X-Men films). The rapist would drug his victims, rape them and then shave their head. Some of the more militant feminists on campus used the rapes as an excuse to persecute the fraternities, who admittedly got very little sympathy from anyone and were fortunate Veronica is such a stickler for truth and justice.
I won’t give away the resolution of the plot line except to say that it was nice to discover that the clues were there in the earlier episodes, if one looked closely enough. I hate it when the solution to a mystery is revealed in a movie or novel and there was no way you could have figured it out from the evidence the viewer or reader is given. No, the answer is there, though as I mentioned, you have to make the leap to a second conspirator a la Scream.
The rape story arc was fairly light on Keith and Logan (Jason Dohring), Veronica’s wonderfully messed-up boyfriend (well, currently ex-boyfriend) and one of my favorite television characters of all time. The writers started introducing problems in their relationship earlier in the season—in rather clumsy and obvious fashion, in my opinion—and they seem to be setting up a possible relationship with Piz (Chris Lowell), the roomate of Veronica’s best friend Wallace (Percy Daggs III—enjoy these actor names, because I’m never writing them again). Personally, I have a hard time with the idea of Veronica dating someone named “Piz,” but I’m actually glad they broke up Logan and Veronica, so Logan can get back to being a wonderfully feckless jackass with a secret heart of gold. DG had hoped the writers would make Veronica and Logan into a kind of modern-day Nick and Nora Charles, but I’m afraid that, as good as the show is, I didn’t have much faith in the writers’ (or actors’) ability to pull that off. Or anyone’s ability since Dashiell Hammett, William Powell and Myrna Loy, actually. (If you’ve never seen The Thin Man (1934), Netflix it this very instant. Contains the best balls joke 1934 had to offer.)
The next arc is rumored to feature Wallace and Mac (Napoleon Dynamite‘s Tina Majorino), which will be a nice change from their near-complete absence during the first arc. The break-up will unfortunately negate the growing friendship between Wallace and Logan, which was a pretty fun subplot. I’m guessing the third arc (assuming the show survives— the CW is being very cautious, ordering by arc) will focus on the ramifications of what happened to Keith in the first episode.
Let me conclude by proselytizing a bit: Joss Whedon loves this show and appeared on a second-season episode; Stephen King loves this show; and the second season also features Buffy alums Charisma Carpenter (whom I suspect may be back for the third story arc, in some form or another) and Alyson Hannigan as Logan’s bitchy sister. Bell is good, and Dohring and Colantoni deserve Emmy nods. Give it a shot.