Veronica Mars, season 1. Sigh. Sigh.

Veronica Mars, season 1. Holy cow. Just finished it the other night. One of the coolest things about Veronica Mars is the universe it sets up. It has a very specific vibe – tough, ironic, sometimes painfully ironic, strong, powerful, resilient, central characters.

At this point, I will go into more detail about specific plot details. So, spoilers ahead. Major spoilers. For season 1. There isn’t anything to skip ahead to, so if you haven’t already seen it (or don’t plan on seeing it), move on. Nothing to see here.

<SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS> BEGIN

For me – what worked.

  • I liked that her dad was the one who came and helped her. It reduced the characters back to their roots – the person who cares most about Veronica in the world is her father, in the end, everyone else may disappear, but her Dad will still love her and will always come after her.
  • I liked the fight between her Dad and Aaron Echolls. It was both brutal and unglamorized. There was no soundtrack. The stuff they hit each other with was mundane (like a plastic rocking horse), and they both quickly, as one might in real life, were overwhelmed and on the ground. And they both went to the hospital for it.
  • I liked that Lily’s killer wasn’t anyone obvious. But. See next section.
  • The real ending, the most important moment in the series, when Keith Mars lets Veronica decide whether or not to accept the settlement for finding Duncan by foregoing any inheritance from the Kane estate, is amazing. It’s moving and complicated and is a great reveal about both of their characters.

For me – what didn’t work.

  • Part of what didn’t work for me in the finale episodes was the systematic unpinning of every potentially exciting point in the plot: Veronica wasn’t raped, it was consensual. Her spiked drink wasn’t some elaborate plot – it was a series of unrelated idiot moves. The guy she was with was Duncan – he wasn’t her brother (which was never really plausible, story-wise). There was no major cover up with the Kanes over the killing – it was them, stupidly, protecting their son, who they perceived was responsible.
  • It was depressing. There is a depressing tinge to a lot of the episodes throughout the first season – honestly that’s part of it’s charm – the characters who are down pretty much stay down and the characters who are on top pretty much stay on top. The strength of the characters who are down, and the reasons they do things, are what makes them ennobling, and what makes them watchable. That Veronica and Keith Mars stay in town, continue to do exist in a community that almost wholeheartedly rejected them for bringing up inconvenient lapses in logic, shows how tough they are. But that that’s how it ends – that in the end, there is no hope that things will change – is hard to swallow and hard to make me want to watch another season.
A chart showing that there was a disproportionate number of revelations in the last 3 episodes of veronica mars
  • The whole thing went into warp speed in the last three episodes. The standard episode spends most the time eeking out one or two revelations, sometimes no revelations, about Lily’s death, while Veronica solves a a monster-of-the-week side quest. In the last three episodes, especially the last two, there was no breathing room for the characters. It was as if there were plot points that needed to be covered, and they were checked off, one at a time, as quickly as possible. My spouse, a savvy media watcher, predicted that they couldn’t solve Lily’s murder in the last episode, there was too much ground to cover. Compared to the rest of the season, that was a reasonable prediction. But they did – it felt different. Finales are supposed to do this, to some extent, sure – but it was too much of a sprint, with little time to digest.
  • Lily’s actual murderer, Logan’s creepy dad, was alluded to throughout the season as a completely immoral, psycho, ladies’ man. OK. He’s capable. His creepiness makes Logan more sympathetic, but it is not an exciting revelation – it’s devastating. Not only does it make Lily more dangerous and unlikeable, it makes him a pedo. The strongest character in the whole show, Keith Mars, is one of two actually useful parents. The other parents range from useless to monster. That’s a theme throughout the show – Keith Mars = sturdy, noble, self-sacrificing, mature. Every other parent (except Wallace’s mom, in the end) = unreliable, childish, sinister, plotting, irresponsible. Including Veronica’s mom, who ends up being more pathetic and damaging than we suspected.
  • Logan gets the short shrift. If Veronica actually fell in love with him, she would bring up every time something weird came up. The cool thing about their connection was that they actually seemed to get each other. Duncan is basically absent or loopy in the last half of the season, and is completely uninteresting and boring during the first half – yet she comes back around to him. Logan is infinitely more interesting, his attraction to Veronica is believable, and their relationship is crashed based on the need for the bedroom plot point. Which I admit is a clever way to round things out but is a little too mechanical for me. It may be that that is being “true” to the series and to Veronica’s true love, boring old Duncan, but it makes for disappointing viewing. And, again, it doesn’t make sense with their relationship – up until then Veronica was open with Logan – now she bolts, without warning, because we need a Stupid Witholding of Miscommunication to ruin things.

So, in the end, Veronica is hated by a few, terrible people. Her quest to help her mom, someone who hasn’t hit bottom in her alcoholism or devastation on others, was in vain, and she has to deal with that. She sabotages her relationship with Logan because of evidence that doesn’t make sense with her feelings with how smart and assertive she is. Her dad is the only one that matters. In the end, with her dad, she’s reduced to an actual teenager – scared, insecure, dependent. We realize she’s human, that he’s basically the superhero, and that the town is really messed up. Where do you go from there?

</SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS> END

By the way, spoilers, that word falls part into meaninglessness very quickly with a lot of repetition.

Feel free to fight me on these – am I missing the point?

2 thoughts on “Veronica Mars, season 1. Sigh. Sigh.

  1. From this reading, I can only assume you haven’t seen the second season, which isn’t as good as the first season, but infinitely better than the third season. It follows almost exactly the same path as the first season, with very slow, non-eventful things that deal with the overrall plot, until the last two shows that tie it all up. Having one overrall murder be tidied up at the end of the season keeps teenagers and people like, um, me more interested than say Monk, where the overrall issue of who killed Monk’s wife went on for nine seasons before finally being solved.

    The writers/producers/and or fans of the show must have all agreed that Duncan is just too dang boring, because…well, watch Season 2 and then we’ll talk. But Season 2 takes on a much more adult theme, as kids are sleeping and basically living together like it’s no big deal. I mean, I’m sure some teenagers were/are probably like that, it just isn’t believable for me.

    But I got into the dank Veronica Mars series because of you and others loving it when it came on Netflix. Kulani and I were addicted to it, after each episode proclaiming, “Just one more episode.” It’s almost heart wrenching how awful the third season turned out. It’s so bad that I don’t even recommend the series to friends anymore.

  2. Correctomundo, season 2 is next on the docket. I’m interested to see what they do with Duncan – it would be a smart move to have him less in the picture or more sinister, or more holy, but definitely less milktoast.
    Don’t get me wrong – I guess I was hard on the series because of the ending – I really liked watching it. We had the same experience on my end – “just one more episode tonight” “no, we’ll kill ourselves tomorrow morning”. The darkness was part of the appeal all along. I guess I can respect that it stuck with its convictions – start dark, stay dark. Not Dexter dark, but dark nonetheless.
    I’ve heard the same about Season 3 from other sources, which is too bad.

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