Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE FIFTEEN 'Ruskie Business' (2005)

She calls it 'Manilla Whore Barbie'...I call it Derrick Hottie
Growl Worthy...
"J. Geils was right--love stinks. You can dress it up in sequins and shoulder pads, but one way or another you're just going to end up alone at the Spring Dance strapped into uncomfortable underwear."

1) Okay...we're close to the end of this season's second act, which means there's still fifteen balls up in the air. Just look at the pre-title teaser--we touch upon the Veronica/Logan situation (wonderfully underplayed by both Dohring--who looks like he has no idea how to start being Veronica's friend again--and Bell), reintroduce Meg so she can throw a spanner into another relationship thread for Veronica, begin the tease for the reintroduction of the Lianne Mars thread...and then get the first taste of the A plot. And, thanks to writers Phil Klemmons and John Enbom, and the direction of Guy Norman Bee--who utilizes a number of tracking shots to give this all a fluid momentum--it's seamless.

2) Oh--and since the whole Logan and Veronica relationship is beginning to develop, it's time to drag Max Greenfield back in to banter with her as Leo...and you know, there's a certain much-missed chemistry that just falls into place immediately. It's a pity Greenfield doesn't stick around for much longer (although he'll pop up time and again throughout the series)...he's a lot of fun.

3) And speaking of people I missed...man, is Alona Tal fun as all get out. She's even more confident playing Meg, and the interplay between her and Veronica is stellar. It's a pity that, like Leo, she gets written out fairly quickly at the beginning of Season Two, because she and Bell are comedy gold.

"You need to stay away from her, Logan...she was an evil
lesbian witch on her previous show."
4) And here we get the official debut of Alyson Hannigan as Trina Echolls. Hannigan was between jobs here, having finished Buffy the year before and about to start How I Met Your Mother, and it seems that she agreed to do this solely if she could play the exact opposite of Willow Rosenberg. Thus, Trina is a shallow, venal and more or less detestable person who only adds to the American Gothic that is the Echolls family. To be absolutely fair, I couldn't see originally considered Denise Richards or ...grumblemutter.... Tara Reid doing a better job. Hannigan shows up a handful of times before New York and a fake marriage to Jason Segal whisks her away...

5) That being said...take a look at the first scene with Logan and Trina. First off, it's interesting how Bell is continually reacting to the insults and accusations flowing between the two...although her surprise at the accusations of abuse seem odd given how close Veronica and Lily were supposed to have been. And when Trina leaves, the way Dohring just allows himself to collapse totally, almost as if he is regressing into a child, crying and seeking comfort in Veronica's awkward embrace is powerful. It's a hell of a lot more effective than Veronica's breakdown several episodes back.

Keith Mars' attempt to find a date for his
daughter was somewhat lacking...
6) You'll notice how I haven't mentioned the A plot...it's because it's hardly there, only blasting into high gear at the 30 minute mark. The funny thing is how it sort of gets resolved by Keith, and even then by accident. As we'll see as we move further into this season, Rob Thomas gets more and more impatient with these A Plots as we move closer to the final act, and the revelation of Lily's murderer.

7) I can forgive the thoroughly inconsequential aspect of this story taking place leading up to an 80's dance called 'Total Eclipse of the Heart,' since it does get me the sight of Bell dressed as, in her words, 'Manilla Whore Barbie.'

8) You know, I really have to wonder how closely Thomas studied the works of John Hughes...because I swear there are a number of visual and dialogue throwbacks to his work during the sequence at the dance...and to have it shattered by the big reveal leading to the final scene, leaving us as confused as Leo is as Veronica tries to runs off in inappropriate heels....

9) I do like how Meg continues to prove that she's one of the true stand-up people in Neptune High by being the person to get Leo to the dance...although it's heartening that he came to see Veronica. Hell, our girl even gets some smoochies out of it...at least for the moment.

10) My God, the final scene...just as Logan regresses when confronted with the truth about his mother's death, so does Lianne Mars regress when confronted with Veronica, only she regresses into a recalcitrant child, trying to push her daughter away out of fear. And when we see why she's afraid, we almost sympathize with Veronica's stunned silence.

Overall...forget about the whole 'Russian gal looks for a boyfriend-who-isn't-her-boyfriend-that Keith-susses-out A Plot. Just bask in the way all these ducks fall into a row getting us ready for the bang-a-minute third act of this story.

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