Friday, May 13, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE THREE 'Meet John Smith' (2004)

One of the moments that truly define this as A Show That Will
Be Whatever It Wants To Be, Damnit

1) Even though there is a mystery to solve here, the real focus of this episode is Duncan Kane, Veronica's ex and his flirtation with not taking his anti-depressants. Teddy Dunn is usually an average actor--but here he rises to the occasion, peeling away layers of Duncan until we see the boy Veronica used to see. It's a great performance.

2) Another introduction here--namely, Paula Marshall's Rebecca James. Rebecca is the first of a number of attempts to give Keith Mars something of a romantic interest, and Marshall is her usual girl-next-door hot self. Sadly, she's only around for a few she does seem to have a nice chemistry with Enrico Colantoni. Oh...and her presence here should act as proof that she is not an automatic series-killer.

3) Another reason I'm absolutely in love with Kristen Bell, and why it galls me so much that she's stuck in Rom-Com Hell? Her body language. Take a look at this episode, and how she conveys so much with a smile, a tilt of the head, a sudden pull back. She's so in command of how to commicate non-verbally that it makes the moment where director Harry Winer uses some optical tricks to convey a moment of Veronica emo-ness feel forced.

"Wait, this episode I'm playing WHAT, exactly?"
4) I wonder what Melissa Leo feels when she looks back at this episode given how the fact she was cast as Julia Smith reflects on her.

5) You know...every time Veronica shows up in what I like to call her 'work clothes,' it makes me even more convinced that she would be the perfect inheritor of Anne Francis' mantle whenever a reboot of Honey West is proposed.

6) Once more, Rob Thomas shows how much he understands the film noir meme with which he is working. The mystery here is one that is uncovered as the results of another investigation...and manages to shed new light on our heroine and her emotional state.

7) And here, at the 32:39 minute mark, Jed Seidel's script pulls Veronica Mars away from being just another teen mystery series and situates itself firmly in the crossroads between suspense, horror and fantasy. Amanda Seyfried, from this moment on, steps out of the flashbacks to become something that's one part ghost, one part muse...and could very well be just some weird consensual hallucination. But she lives the part, and makes sure we're never quite comfortable when we visit Neptune from now on.

When Bell puts on this outfit....the gloves are coming off...
8) And speaking of Seyfried--the fact that she spends her life on the show with her skull cracked in, blood running down the side of her head once more drives home the point that this is not Safe Television.

9) The choice that Duncan eventually makes is devastating....not because of the why, but because by making this decision, he may be shutting off memories that may be painful, but also make him a more vital person.

10) The biggest sour note of this episode lies in its final sequence. Yes, it's important as it plants the seeds for one of the big plot hooks that will lead us into the second half of this season, but it rings false--especially given how the simple exchange between Veronica and her 'client' concerning what they've learned and their feelings about their missing parents more than makes the point that needs to be made. important episode in the season's development that fleshes out our characters more and finally positions this series as an eclectic mix of the suspense and fantasy unique onto itself.

"Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything, creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle, and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it's the mansion you remember, or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild."

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