Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON ONE, EPISODE TWENTY-THREE 'Leave It To Beaver' (2006)

By the end of this episode, Lily will find some peace...
"You wanna know something about Joan of Arc, Veronica? God didn't really talk to her. Oh, no, it's true. I saw it on TV, you know, on one of those historical forensic programs. They decided she had a brain turmor. Burned alive. What a waste. She thought her death meant something, but all it meant was she was crazy."

1) This is it--the big season one finale and what was at the time, in Rob Thomas' mind, the series finale. Once again, a lot happens and it might be hard to keep up with all the balls in the air--but knowing what I know about Season Two, I can't help but seeing the role Kyle Gallner's Cassidy has in the way the story develops indicates that Thomas knew where he wanted to go if he got that renewal, and knew what sort of a person Cassidy was...

2) Of course, other loose ends needed to be tied up, and the resolution of the one involving Veronica's paternity allows Thomas to give us a scene that speaks volumes of the Veronica/Keith relationship. The way Bell unhesitatingly signs away her right to pursue legal redress against the Kanes says more than fifteen pages of dialogue could about the strength of that familial bond.

If you just went through what Keith Mars did for his
daughter, you'd be on the floor unconscious, too...
3) I've spoken in praise of Kyle Secor's Jake Kane before, and I'll speak again--the scene where Jake finally breaks it to Duncan that in his mind he killed Lily shows a remarkable passion. It once again proves that Jake didn't start out the cardboard villain he ends up by Season Three.

4) Perhaps the cleverness of this script is how Thomas just piles up the case against Logan in such a way that it compels Veronica to locate the one piece of the puzzle she's missing...which leads to her and Duncan discovering that the murderer was not Logan, but someone one step removed from Logan.

5) There's something truly, wonderfully creepy about how, when the moment of revelation happens, Thomas has the tape paused at a moment where it looks as if Harry Hamlin's Aaron Echolls is looking right at the viewer, a smirk of contempt on his face.

6) Incidentally, this episode--to the best of my knowledge the only one that ran without the opening credits while it was on UPN--has its own theme song, 'Bad Boyfriend' by Garbage. This song plays at several key times in the show, specifically during the final act's confrontation between Veronica and Aaron (and Logan and Weevil)...and, like the Dandy Wharhols song, acts as a de facto Greek Chorus.

He may look inocuous, but Cassidy
will prove to be something
truly sinister next season....
7) I really like the whole horror movie vibe of the whole Veronica/Aaron battle. Director Michael Fields keeps to a blue-and-black color palette, and choereographs everything as if Bell unwittingly stepped into a slasher movie, complete with an old house in the middle of nowhere and a villian who seems capable of the Jason Teleport.

8) The only thing that freaks me out more than the way Aaron has trapped Veronica in a fridge and tries to burn her alive? The trap the villain gets Veronica in next season.

9) You wanna know how convincing an actor Enrico Colantoni is? Not only does this balding, short and goofy looking man convincingly engage in a vicious fight with the larger and more physically fit Harry Hamlin which manages to wreck and entire backyard, he also walks literally through fire to save his daughter and crack wise as he's being sent to the hospital without us once rolling our eyes.

10) Now given that Thomas had not expected the show to be renewed (it may still hold the record as the lowest-rated drama to be renewed for a second season, and was the only new UPN show to survive into the 2006 Season), he expertly wraps up everything quickly. And while the resolution of the Lianne Mars storyline is prime hardboiled fiction, the true wonder is the final bit of magic realism that has Veronica unwittingly witnessing Lily's passing on to the afterlife. It's an ambiguous ending, but a magnificent one.

Overall...an excellent wrap-up of Season One that would have provided the few fans who watched it that first year a satisfying conclusion...if only UPN didn't have other plans for the show.

Next time we begin the Second Season--the last one before UPN is liquidated and becomes part of the CW--and talk a bit about why there really was a second season.

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