Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ten Statements About....VERONICA MARS SEASON TWO, EPISODE NINE 'My Mother, The Fiend' (2005)

"This is the unnecessary plot element for this episode.
Please pick one up at the end of class." 
"Why do you have to go out of your way to pick off a twenty-five-year-old scab?”
“I just want a little proof that my mom was a good person. That she wasn't one of the girls I hate so much, one of the girls that makes high school miserable for everyone else."

1) One of the main reasons I love this episode so much is that it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Duane Daniels’ Van Clemmons is, in his way, as smart and clever as Veronica.  The way he gently manipulates her to get what he wants makes you realize he’s not just a comedic supporting character but someone Veronica can look at with respect.

2) Unlike with last episode, the balance between the ongoing overarc subplot and the done-in-one story is much more effective.  The script by Phil Klemmer and Dayna Lynne North does give us significant movement on all of the threads in play, but the done in one is front and center throughout.  This results in this episode feeling like a Season One episode in it focus and momentum.

3) It also helps that this done in one mystery is personal to Veronica.  Dealing as it does with her trying to learn something about her mother and the circumstances, there’s a level of intimacy that makes it unique while--given that so much hardboiled detective fiction is about digging up the sins of the past--allowing the show to remain true to its noir sensibilities.
"I see my career's future.  In a few years I end up the pointless
recurring girlfriend in a Sly Stallone movie series!"

4) And here Alyson Hannigan’s Trina Echolls is given her send off, and her comeuppance, before the actress settles into her long run on How I Met Your Mother. Hannigan always seemed to have fun playing the flipside of her Willow character, and this episode gives Trina a proper bitter ashes send off that’s gentle due to her being the least objectionable of the satellite Echolls.

(And let’s not forget that there is a mini-Buffy reunion as Trina mocks Charisma Carpenter’s Kendall)

5)  And Eli’s transformation into Veronica’s Hawk continues.  Evoking the Season One episode The Girl Next Door, we see Francis Capra’s character proposing that he and Jason Dohring’s Logan team up--and then orchestrates a fight with him so that no one knows they’re collaborating.  And Eli’s development as a dark avenger only gets better from here on in.

6) It still amazes me that no one caught that the killer for the overarc was in plain sight throughout this season, and Rob Thomas gleefully doesn't hide it much.  Not only do we see more evidence of his being a true mastermind when he recruits two regular characters into his present scheme, we see him begin what we can interpret as him macking on one of them in the interest of making her his Miss Techmacher!
Yes, I am so sad I will watch Kristen Bell do filing...

7) Once more we get evidence of Thomas and co. striving to further create a true interconnected universe for Veronica to exist in, as real life wife of Kyle Secor Kari Coleman’s Mrs. Hauser re-emerges after her turn in Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner as someone who helps spur on Veronica’s investigation into her mother’s suspension.  And it’s fortunate she shows up here, as it gives Hauser a little more depth of character as opposed to the cartoony version we saw there.

8) It is nice that this episode gives us a new perspective on Lianne Mars.  Even though Corrine Bohrer’s time on the show has long passed, leaving us with a very bad impression of who Lianne is and was, the ultimate resolution of the case reminds us that she had a positive side to her.

9) The Meg storyline continues as Alona Tal briefly begins a tenure in the real world before returning to her status as ghostly counsel to Veronica.  Granted, all she does in this episode is lie there....but the double whammy of the very last moments of this episode continues this section of the season’s talent for gobstopping cliffhangers.

10) Is it just me, or does that entire storyline involving the baby simulators have no purpose in this episode?  Yes, it does serve as foreshadowing for a couple of episodes in the future, but we don’t know that in media res, and taken on its face value, it’s not even good comic relief.  You could cut out that aspect of the show whole, have Miss Hauser lecture the sex ed class on something else, and the episode would be unchanged.

Overall...a definite upturn from the previous episode that gives us new insight into past characters, restores the intimacy of the show, and advances all the other plot threads without being obtrusive about it.

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