Wednesday, February 21, 2007

"You pull the trigger.": Veronica Mars

Now, honestly, I had my suspicions last week that the person who killed the basketball coach had killed him (though at least this episode gave him a plausible motive), but this episode, revealing that he had done so, untangling more of the O'Dell murder and killing off a main titles character, was one heck of a way to begin closing off what may be the last long-mystery arc in the show's history.

I've made no secret of the fact that I think Veronica Mars has been sparking a lot lately. This O'Dell murder mystery arc has been a fun one, partially because the murder mystery isn't as heavy as some of the prior mysteries on the show and because it has more of the feel of an Agatha Christie novel, instead of a slasher film (which is what the other mystery arcs have eventually turned into). Plus, the standalone mysteries have been very good -- since the writers haven't had to do as much heavy-lifting to move the O'Dell storyline forward, they've been able to craft some compellingly twisty mini-mysteries. The mystery of the coach's death (even though the ending wasn't at all shocking) was similarly well-plotted, and it gave us the chance to see some bubbly Veronica (in jail, no less) and some diligent work by Keith. Plus, the ending was nice, even if I had guessed that the murder was really a suicide (I hadn't guessed that the coach had a serious disease, even though there were apparently clues to this effect). It raised one of those ethical tangles the show is so fond of -- should the kid have taken off to let his family have the insurance money in peace or brought his dad's deceptions to light? That he opted for the former felt right for the show's worldview.

I haven't been a huge fan of the show's soap opera plots since season one, but this Veronica/Logan break-up feels a little more final, and it's nice to see that they can be friends and that he can finally move on. I'm not sure that he and Parker are the best couple ever, but it's nice to see him interacting with cast members other than Veronica or Dick. (An aside: I didn't cover last week's episode, but the scenes where Logan and the little girl hung out were incredibly amusing.) And it was good to see Mac, a character who's endured her fair share of ridiculous heartbreak, finally get some good lovin'. The show has always had a weird tinge of "sex is evil" to it, so it was nice to see someone enjoying a consequence free roll in the hay (though, who knows?, maybe Mac will end up having chlamydia or something now).

The O'Dell stuff is being set up too neatly to have us predict that Landry was the killer, so, of course, I'm going to go for the person we've seen the least of lately and guess Landry's TA (the one I can't remember the name of), just because I was sure he was some sort of criminal from the start of the season, and I'm not going to stop thinking that now. I suppose it could be O'Dell's wife, but that's also a little too obvious.

Finally, poor Sheriff Lamb. He's always been a good jackass and an incompetent sheriff -- something the show needs to be the teenage twist on a noir it purports to be. It was sad to see him go, even though the character was such a boob, just because Michael Muhney brought a lot of twinkly likability to the part. Still, I can't say that he didn't deserve to die, especially after shooting at his own reflection. And his method of death -- getting clubbed by a guy in the head with a baseball bat -- was oddly appropriate. Also nice that they didn't try to redeem him in his dying moments, choosing instead to let him go out quietly.

But now Keith's the sheriff of Neptune County. I'll ask the question everyone's asking: Does this help or hurt Veronica's sleuthing? Can she be just as unethical as she always has been, or will she have to play it straight now? Inquiring minds want to know.

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