Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE NINE 'Drinking The Kool-Aid' (2004)

"Who's up for 'Camptown Races? My Sweet Lord?....
"Enough already with this mellow incense and peppermint vibe. Let's break out the mushrooms and dance naked, strap on the goat skull headgear, sacrifice a few infants. Come on, people, you're cultists. Start acting like it."

1) We begin immediately where the previous episode left off, with the unconvincing panic attack and a set-up for what is going to drive the next few episode's overarc elements--the question of Veronica's paternity. Right now it plays out of left field, although there are moments (like her reaction to realizing what Duncan might be to her) that are at turns funny and appalling...and they're nothing compared to the moment towards the end of this season. That moment--and we'll be talking about it when we get there--is what makes all the dithering in these episodes worthwhile.

2) And this episode we get another introduction--Christopher B. Duncan is uncredited as Claude Weidman...but trust me when I tell you that this character, and the actor playing him, is very, very interesting. He ends up fulfilling a strange role in the series, a kind of grey-area wildcard foe with a grudging respect for our heroine...and some of the things we see him do are cold.

Yeah, that crying jag convinced no one, Kristin...luckily for
you, what follows does.
3) Look, even if this show wasn't a clever and modern fusion of Nancy Drew and Mike Hammer, I'd still watch it for the interaction between Bell and Colantoni. Does the scene where Keith finally grants five year old Veronica's wish and gets her a water bed have anything to do with the main plot? Hell, no. But is it a vital, alive and funny scene that's entertaining? Damn straight.

4) You'll notice I haven't said much about the A plot yet...and it's because even now, after repeated viewings, I am very ambivalent about it. I think there's a point Rob Thomas and scripter Russell Smith are making about not everything society would deem a 'cult' being sinister and evil...but in making that point I wonder if they go too far in the other direction.

5) Another problem with the A plot--given what we've seen of Veronica's romantic life so far, I find it hard to accept she would go from contempt to borderline crushing on Jonathen Bennet's Casey so quickly. There's a little chemistry between the two, but the abruptness of the transition doesn't quite work for me...

" ambivilence here...
I's a total creep.'
6) And it also doesn't help that Ray Proscia's Deprogamming Guy is such a thorough and total creep (he's billed as 'Ice Cold Guy' in the credits...and let's be honest, Proscia's specialty is ice-cold creeps). It unbalances the debate to an extreme, when a less threatening, more nuanced character would keep us open to both sides of the issue the episode is raising.

7) That being said, I'm glad that the script is self-aware enough to allow the voice of reason to spring from Wallace's mouth, proving to us why Veronica needs him as her Watson. And I love the fact that some of Veronica's funniest lines to date come from this A Plot.

8) Ascribing base motivations to the parents towards the end of the episode, making their desire to save their son from this cult all about money, furthers the one-sidedness of this episode. And it's doubly frustrating because the two characters seem a little stuck-up, but genuinely concerned in their scenes.

9) You know, the deus ex machina development that finally brings the A Plot to a climax makes everything that Veronica goes through unnecessary..yet another reason for my conflicted feelings about this episode.

10) And yet...all this is allllmost worth it for the scene between Veronica and her father in his office--it bookends with the comedy of the first scene, and bring forward the fact that at its core, this next stretch of the series is about nature versus nuture, and what has shaped Veronica into the person she is..

Overall...this suffers from the same problems "The Girl Next Door" did, although not to the extent. Yes, some of the humor and small touches makes up for the heavy handed nature of the A Plot...but there's just some things that prevent me from getting behind it one hundred percent.

No comments:

Post a Comment