Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE SIX 'Rat Saw God' (2005)

No one expected the return of Abel Koontz...but maybe
they expected how dark his story becomes.
"Wow. Where did you learn that interrogation technique?"
“"Harvard. Pretty convincing hysterical routine you got. Where'd you learn that?"
“Watching cheerleading tryouts results."

1) It seems like every season after the first, where everything was new and bright and Rob Thomas was setting up the ground rules for the VM Universe, there is always one or more episodes devoted to tying up loose ends from the previous season.  This is that episode from this season, as writer John Enbom and Phil Klemmer address the fate of Christian Clemenson’s Abel Koontz and his daughter.  As such, it’s a very, very dark episode.

2) You wanna know why I hated Clemenson’s recurring character in Boston Legal?  Just watch his performance here as the dying Koontz.  Clemenson only has two scenes, but those scenes run the gambit from compassion to despair to happiness as he is seeking out the fate of his daughter.

3) This is the first episode without Percy Daggs’ participation, as Wallace is off in Chicago following his own subplot.  And even beyond Veronica’s pointing it out, it’s very obvious that Daggs’ presence is missed.  Without Wallace (or for that matter, his mom) to provide a little light in the dark, dim world of Veronica, the world becomes oppresively noir.
Go away, BUFFY creator!  Stop stinking up my show!

4) This is, of course, the Joss Whedon cameo episode and, as much as the Kevin Smith cameo sucked ass, it paled to Whedon’s broad caricature of The Mean Boss to America’s Top Model’s Kim Stoltz.  The less said about him, the better.

5) Oddly enough, the most intriguing aspect of this episode is the presence of Christopher B. Duncan’s Clarence Weidman, and the strange respect that Thomas seems to be growing between him and Veronica.  Do they like each other?  No.  But as their respective investigations into Amelia Delongpre’s fate dovetail, they see something in each other that makes them reliable allies.

6) The surprising return of Harry Hamlin’s Aaron Echols results in two rather strong scenes.  What strikes me, and continues to strike me, about Hamlin’s performance is his absolute conviction that he is A Good Man Who Has Done Nothing Wrong.  Even as he tries to convince Logan that Duncan was the true killer, Hamlin doesn’t seem to understand how monstrous he’s become.  And speaking of those two scenes....
This is the last tender moment these two will have this episode.

7) Those of us, like me, who prefer our Enrico Colantoni hardcore will love his role in this episode.  Don’t be fooled by his more or less lighthearted moments at the top of the hour; once we get deep into the episode, Colantoni’s Keith Mars is all business, culminating in a downright bad ass scene where you expect Keith to be after one thing, only for us to realize what he’s really after and why Aaron should be very worried.  I’ve always said Colantoni is a major player in why I love this show, and this episode is further proof as to why.

8) I’ll call it--even for a show like this, the ending of this done-in-one, where we learn Amelia’s fate and how Veronica chooses to handle telling Abel as he’s literally dying is one of the grimmest ever.  It’s made especially grim by how, by the nature of the mystery, so much of the interaction happens off-screen.  Only when Veronica is face-to-hand with Amelia’s ultimate fate does anything happen immediately.

9) I never was quite comfortable with Ryan Hansen’s promotion to series regular, and this episode makes the argument for me.  The scenes of Dick Casablancas uilizing his father’s outlawdom to get into (a very green, acting-wise) Krysten Ritter’s Gia, or giving Logan the tacit approval to bang his stepmom just feels....weird.

(and if you think his behavior is strange now, wait until we get to next season....)

10) Look, I know that this single episode gets so dark that everyone felt that some serious comic relief was needed--but those scenes with Tracy Walter’s Motel Manager are not only unfunny but They.  Keep.  Coming.  Back.  To. Him.  I would accept an entire mystery built around Joss Whedon’s rent-a-car manager before I watch one more second of that toothless stereotype of a motel guy.

Overall...a truly grim little episode that actually gives some relief to the overarc by having the done-in-one story darker and nastier than it is.  Recommended, but be prepared; saying relief is sparse is being kind.

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