Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE TWO 'Driver Ed' (2005)

Kevin Smith in this episode?  How can that be?
"Jessie, I wouldn't even know where to start with that. I mean, how do you prove that someone didn't kill themselves?"
"If I knew, I wouldn't be waiting for Veronica Mars in a bathroom."
1) And we start this episode with Veronica experiencing some guilt--and oh, yeah, the rather...annoying debut of Tessa Thompson's Jackie Cook. I warned you about her last episode, but to reiterate--she's the most unwelcome cast member since, well, ever, and no matter how much Thomas and company try to get you to have sympathy for her later on, we never do. And what's more, the fact that Wallace falls for her so hard so quickly sort of diminishes him in our mind.

2) Notice how Diane Ruggerio's script still uses the 'done in one mini-mystery' format...only this mini-mystery ties directly into the overarc, as Veronica is hired to prove that the bus driver responsible for last episode's tragedy didn't do it to commit suicide...

3) And on top of that, the shakedown cruise of the first season has given our writing staff a little more confidence in dealing with multiple balls--for an example, witness how the build up of the storyline involving Woody Goodman and his political ambitions dovetail nicely not only with the ongoing background noise of the increasing racial and economic tensions in the city, but introduces an intriguing slant in the character arc of Keith Mars. We're on edge with Guttenberg's Woody since everything about his presence screams 'this is your villian for the season'...and yet, his interplay with Keith is very genuine and he seems real in his desire to get things done (notice how he appears in the background of Sheriff Lamb's press conference).

"Noooo, Wallace!  Stay away from Annoying New Supporting
Romantic Interest Girl!"
4) Oh, yeah...this is the episode that features Kevin Smith in a small role. He's...okay, I guess (a damn sight better than Joss Whedon when he shows up a few episodes later), but he's dripping with red herring oil....

5) Another introduction--David Starzyk's Richard Casablancas, the father of Dick and Cassidy. I'm going to be honest--he never quite makes an impression, coming off throughout his appearances as a sort of 'Jake Kane Light', but he is essential in contributing to the overarc in a way that will pay out toward the end of this season.

6) I really appreciate how the solution to the mini-mystery comes out of a shift of perception that's thoroughly logical given the circumstances--yes, Sheriff Lamb gets it wrong, but not due to incompetence but placing the suicide note in the context of the situation as he sees it, whereas Veronica sees the real circumstance and acts upon it. And while we're on the subject...

7) The ultimate solution doesn't give Jessie the kind of comfort we'd expect it to--it's a solution that opens up a whole new box of messiness, and doesn't necessarily translate into accomplishing the goal of getting the insurance company to pay out.

8) Now here's something that I do think the second season--and especially the third season--tends to do that I think detracted from the show...namely pump up the soap operatics. The whole side trip to Veronica sleeping with Duncan and then learning that...dumdumdum...Logan has rented the suite next door just drags the show down into the netlet mud, erasing the smartness of the show even for a few minutes.

And the plot thickens....
9) Reasons why I love Enrico Colantoni as an actor--the single, sustained shot of his face as he watches Sheriff Lamb dismiss Jessie is magnificent. His expression doesn't change a whit, and yet you can see everything that is going through his head, including an increasing outrage.

10) And then, after putting paid to Wallace's mini-mystery and giving us a cool lil' bit between Bell and Colantoni which includes the hint that he knows she had sex....Ruggerio grabs hold of our attention to drive home that this is all about the overarc, as we get the stinger with Veronica's name written on the bus driver's corpse.

Overall...a pretty good episode bouyed by some great guest performances, the best thing about this is how it keeps introducing threads that all play into the greater tapestry of the overarc. Yeah, we're going to see some of those threads get pretty inconsequential soon, but right now we're just salivating for more.

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