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Way Back Recap - Veronica Mars, Episode 1.1 Pilot


Maggie Mae

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blog-Veronica-Mars-DVD-box.jpgVeronica-Mars-DVD-box

One of my favorite shows of all time is streaming on Amazon Prime, so I thought I would rewatch and recap for other people who don’t have cable TV and/or don’t keep current with their viewing. I also recently watched the Kickstarter funded Veronica Mars movie, and felt the need to indulge a little. For those who don't know, Veronica Mars is a short lived TV show about a teenage detective. It aired on the WB, but it never felt like a WB drama.

With that being said, I will TRY to avoid spoilers, though there is no guarantee. So read at your own risk, but I will promise to try, especially the big ones. 

The show begins in the parking lot of Neptune High, home of the Pirates. We see a convertible (Veronica’s) park and she narrates that Neptune is “a town without a middle class.†See, in Neptune, either you work for a millionaire or you are a millionaire. I’m not really sure I believe this. However, hyperbole about the economic situation of Neptune aside, we find out this is a town where rich people and people who work for rich people live, and their children all go to school together.

Within seconds, we find out that Veronica doesn’t have an afterschool jump like the others in her situation. See, she doesn’t just work at a store, or fast food. She’s special. She claims that she tails cheating spouses and tracks down bail jumpers. I never noticed that she exaggerates her dire circumstances. It's very teenager of her.

The show then cuts the narration and introduces us to Wallace. Wallace is duct taped to a flag pole, surrounded by a crowd. A teenage girl in the crowd asks why “they†don’t cut him down. A male voice replies that he doesn’t want to be next. Other voices tell me that it’s a biker gang that Wallace betrayed. Veronica, being the person that she is, goes up and cuts him down. I’m not sure about the biker gang. Did high schools in California, in 2004, have a teenage biker gang problem? I’m thinking no, but I didn’t live in California in 2004 so I can’t be sure. I like to think that if someone was taped to a flagpole at my school, I would cut him down, but who am I kidding? Veronica is a better person that I am.

We cut to Veronica in class. Credits are still being credits, while we see, again, how smart Veronica is. She’s asleep on her desk, when a teacher, who is tired of being ignored asks her a question about an essay by Pope. Veronica recites it perfectly, despite being rudely woken from her nap. When asked the meaning of the words, Veronica says “Life’s a bitch, until you die.†The teacher replies that Veronica is correct if inappropriate and the teacher adds something about hope. It is definitely a set up for this show. I missed part of this exchange because I’ve seen this scene a few times and I’m still amazed at how young Kristen Bell looks.

The next scene is the “random†locker search, where we see that Veronica knows the police and police dogs, and we meet Mr. Clemmons, the Vice Principal. This is one of those TV scenes that do not go as well in real life. Veronica opens her locker for the search, knowing in advance that it would be searched. Her locker is completely empty, except for a heart shaped photo of the principal. It’s great for TV. In real life, or at least my school, other students would see that and make fun of Veronica for the rest of her time in school.

Lunch time! Of course, because this is TV, and no one actually has to attend classes on TV. They just go to English Lit, sleep, answer a question, get their locker searched, and it’s lunch time. I guess English class is more school than Buffy bothered to attend. I remember gym, and once they all went to biology.  Still, Buffy DID hang out in the library, which is kind of like school. I digress. During lunch, Veronica has a little bit of a flashback where we learn how she used to be welcome at the table with the cool rich kids. Now she sits alone. Even though there are tons of kids in this school who aren't Duncan, Logan, Madison, Shelly, or random other rich kids. Oh and Dick. Let’s not forget about Dick. There are even kids who are eating behind her, not at a table, yet Veronica gets a table to herself.

She goes on about Duncan Kane for a while. He used to be her boyfriend. Don’t worry if you missed it. You’ll see this scene again. Duncan broke up with Veronica with no warning.

Veronica calls Logan the schools obligatory psychotic jackass. Yeah, but he’s a cute obligatory jackass. I am actually at the age where I don't think I can legally say that. Let me look up the actor's birthday. Never mind, he's my age. Crisis adverted.

Veronica comes back to reality and Wallace sits at the table. She is kind of a bitch, but then apologizes. She does have a heart! Weevil shows up and threatens Wallace. Despite being kind of gross and in a high school biker gang, Weevil makes me laugh. He is so clearly not a hardened criminal. The banter her is pretty incredible, but also makes it obvious than neither Francis Capra nor Kristen Bell are teenagers.

Flashback! Just a little one this time. Wallace explains why the bikers hate him. He was working at a beer store, and two of the gang members came in and stole some bottles of beer. They were obvious about it, and Wallace hit the silent alarm. The asshole criminal kids left him a dollar. Wallace thinks $1 won’t quite cover it. I kind of think this is the only episode where Wallace has a paying job. Wallace says that the police came, and Veronica is snarky. Neptune doesn't have a police station, we have a sheriff’s department. Well, great. Because people who just moved to your weird town would automatically know that, right? Also, Sheriff’s Department goes better with the Film Noir vibe I’m getting.

We meet Sheriff Lamb! He’s not a lamb. He’s more of a sheep, because sheep are assholes. Give me a goat any day. Goats are cute and useful and make milk and cute pictures. Sheep are smelly and angry and stupid. Sheriff Lamb is definitely an asshole. Wallace attempts to say he accidentally hit the alarm and the gang members paid for all the booze they stole. Sheriff Lamb takes the surveillance tape and tells Wallace to see the wizard and ask for some guts. Wizard of Oz reference number 1.

Back at lunch, Veronica calls Wallace “sport†and tells Wallace that he pissed of the local sheriff and the biker gang.

After school (presumably), Veronica goes home. She has a short flashback of a birthday party. It includes Duncan in the pool and her mom. She comes back to reality and helps a neighbor with the groceries. Veronica’s current home looks like a shady motel/apartment building with a shared pool that no one uses. Veronica isn't so tough when it comes to mom stuff, I guess.

Veronica picks up her dog and takes it to the beach. We are treated to some nice scenes of her hanging out with her giant pitbull and Wallace is there with a remote control plane (drone?). California looks nice. It's 20 degrees here, and we don't even have snow. Tell the global warming denialists to visit me. I moved here so I could ski most of the year, and within 5 years ski season has been shortened to what it was in the Midwest.

Veronica then goes to her dad’s office and narrates that Celeste Kane’s (Duncan’s mom) car is out front. She takes her place at reception and within seconds we are introduced to Shady Lawyer Friend. They don’t tell us his name, and I honestly don’t remember it, so for now he’s Shady Lawyer. Shady Lawyer wonders how work gets done with Keith always out tracking down bail jumpers. It’s obvious that Shady Lawyer knows that Veronica works cases (without a license).

Celeste leaves Keith’s office and is a total bitch. Veronica narrates that Celeste is a bitch, but she can’t blame her. Keith tried to send Celeste’s husband, Jake Kane, to jail for life. There is the music that something important just was reveled and the screen fades to black. If I were watching this on TV, a commercial would blast at me right now, probably something completely unrelated, like Viagra, or Arby’s. Maybe Jack-in-the-Box, even though there isn't one for 1,500 miles. Still, you have to get those ads in where you can, amirite?

After the “commercial†Veronica and Keith (her dad) eat dinner. She wants answers, he tries to distract her with Dad Jokes. The chemistry between Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni is amazing. Or maybe I just like both actors. Eventually Veronica wins and Keith tells her that Celeste thinks Jake is cheating, there is no sexual appetite. Regardless of your job and friendly relationship, this is a weird conversation to have with your dad about your ex-boyfriends parents, and the parents of your dead best friend. Gross.

The phone rings and there is some plot armor about Keith going to Texas to pick up a bail jumper. He tells Veronica not to go after Jake Kane. Then he tells her to take back up. SPOILER ALERT: Backup is the dog’s name. She says that she always does. He leaves. She goes out and narrates from her car how Jake made his money in software.

Flashback! You’ll see this scene again. Duncan Kane’s sister used to be Veronica’s best friend. They were at a car wash, being girly. Lily has a secret, and it’s a good one. Veronica never found out what that secret was because Lily was murdered that night.

More Flashback! Veronica was with her dad when he responded to the call at the Kane residence. Veronica saw Duncan sitting outside. She tries to find out what happened, but he can only make a stupid face and rock back and forth. Veronica narrates about the local sheriff who went after the wrong guy. That local sheriff is her dad.

In present time, Veronica follows Jake Kane to a cheap, sleazy motel. Not the kind of place that a billionaire would make a deal, unless that deal involved something very illegal and/or hooker murder.

Flashback! Veronica has long hair again. I know that she’s had the long hair in all the flashbacks, but I just now remembered to mention it. Turns out that 6 weeks after the murder, someone at the Sheriff’s department leaked the crime scene footage of Lily Kane. It’s gruesome. It’s tastefully filtered with a shadowy “noir†film filter for this show. Long-hair Veronica runs into Logan. It’s a touching scene. He’s pissed off that Veronica’s dad is doing this to the family. He’s about to cry. He really loved Lily. This is a perfect representation of two very troubled people. I wonder if Neptune High bothered to hire counselors or even just pull Lily’s closest friends out of class to let them talk about it. Or did they try to pretend that nothing happened. I went to a school similar to Neptune, so I’m going to assume that the teachers pretended nothing happened. The flashback shows me that Sheriff Lamb arrested a former Kane Software employee for the murder.

In the present, Veronica’s car is surrounded by the biker gang. The dog, Backup, attacks the first biker who gets near her. Felix or Weevil yells at her to call of the dog. Veronica tazes Felix. There is banter, and Eli/Weevil says that he’ll be back for her, “and her little dog too.†Wizard of Oz reference 2.

Flashback! Veronica would like to know how she lost her virginity. She narrates that she went to a party at Shelly Pomroy’s. In the background we see rich kids doing rich kid things, and Duncan has some girl chewing on his neck. Veronica is wearing a symbolic white dress. She doesn't know who handed her the drink. (I know, but I won’t spoil it for anyone who might be reading this 10 year old recap) We see her fall asleep on a lawn chair next to the hot tub, and wake up in a bed with her (white) underwear off. A single tear falls down her face. This was horrifying the first time I saw it. Now I’m just jaded to all forms of television/movies/media messing with my emotions so I’m going to giggle at the black choker necklace she’s wearing instead. Veronica narrates that she never told her dad.

In the present, Veronica tries to photo Jake and Jake’s mistress. The woman stays in the hotel room, and we get another fade to black. This is, again, where we would be subject to ad agencies trying to get us to buy their client’s product. They attempt to manipulate this by make their product more recognizable & friendly than the competition. This is accomplished by using recognizable celebrities, or little bits of humor, or dogs, or cats, or whatever. So buy Progressive State Farm Nationwide or something.

At school the next day Logan is a jackass and harasses Veronica. Even Duncan is tell him to leave her alone. Logan doesn't give up though and finally brings up Veronica’s mother. Which leads us to another Flashback!

When Veronica’s mom left, she left Veronica a note and a unicorn music box. So far, Veronica is the last person I can see enjoying a unicorn music box. Flashback Veronica throws the music box in the trash.

Present Day: Veronica sits next to Wallace at their lunch table. Some banter ensues about who’s table it is. Wallace acts like a decent human being when he points out that he’d rather sit with Veronica (bad reputation and all) than with the people who left him taped naked to a flag pole and laughed and took pictures. Veronica decides to help Wallace with the bike club problem.

Veronica narrates that her hobby is photography. She does some PI stuff. Keith comes home from Texas and acts like a dorky dad. When Veronica fills him in on Jake Kane, and shows him the pictures of the license plates, he completely changes and tells her to forget about it. Keith is going to call Celeste and recuse himself from the case.

Nighttime. Veronica goes to “Seventh Veil†to see the “interesting way of keeping their liquor license. I know this is something the lawyer mentioned but it was jarring because that was so long ago. She takes photos.

The next day, Principal Clemmons searches Logan’s locker. He finds a bong. Logan is taken away. While being led away, Logan spots Veronica and makes it clear that he knows Veronica is behind it.

Veronica drives Wallace to the sheriff’s department after school Wallace pushes a button on a remote and the bong sets off a smoke bomb. Smoke comes pouring out of evidence and Inga, the receptionist at the Sheriff’s Department, calls the Fire Department.  Veronica goes to the Fire Station and a friend her father’s gives her a envelope. She narrates that plenty of people still love her dad.

At Mars Investigations, Veronica makes a phone call, pretending to be Inga. She learns that the plates she photographed at the hotel when she was following Jake Kane belong to a car registered to Leanne Mars. Fade to Black. I still feel like something should shout at me to go shopping for BLACK FRIDAY or that WALMART HAS LOW PRICES BUY NOW PLEASE. Oh well.

Veronica asks her father again why they dropped that case. Keith lies and says it was a corporate espionage case and it’s too dangerous.

The next day, Veronica stops in the Sheriff’s office and says hello to Inga. Inga remembers the last time she saw Veronica and looks sad. Veronica looks pissed. And we get a flashback. Veronica, still in the white dress, walks the steps to the sheriff’s department. She greets Inga, and says, nearly in tears, that she would like to report a crime. In Sheriff Lamb’s office (which was probably so weird for Veronica, as that used to be her dad’s office), Sheriff Lamb is a dick. He asks her which sons of prominent  families he should arrest. Points out rudely that there is no evidence. He gives us the third “go ask the wizard†quote and tells Veronica to ask for a backbone.

We cut to a courtroom, where Sheriff Lamb is testifying. The two gang members are seated at the defendants table with the lawyer from earlier. Veronica takes a seat. Sheriff Lamb testifies that he had found 20 bottles on the defendants and that it’s a clear cut case. He mentions that they also have the videotape of the two teenagers stealing the bottles. They play the tape.

The tape is not of the defendants. It’s taken at the Seventh Veil, or whatever that “strip club†was that “had an interesting way of keeping it’s liquor license†A sheriff’s department officer leads a “stripper†to his city-owned car, and we see that she drops her earring or something into his lap, because her entire face goes down to rest on his pants. He seems to be fiddling with something too. The judge is not pleased. The shady lawyer asks for a dismissal.

At the beach, Veronica meets Wallace. She gives him the tape. He calls her a marshmallow and she plays with his remote control airplane/drone thing. It’s not a euphemism. I know I’m supposed to be pleased that maybe Wallace will help her heal and have friends again. But then Wallace points out that there is trouble still.

Logan and some random (presumably) rich friends of his are on Veronica’s car. Logan has a crowbar. (Where do you get a crowbar? Is it something that you can just buy in a store? I thought it was more of a “found on a farm in Iowa†type of instrument) Logan is pissed, and for some stupid reason says, literally, that “his daddy took his t-bird away,†and “he won’t be having fun fun fun.†WTF was wrong with teenagers in 2004? Did they actually talk this way? Logan starts swinging the crowbar and takes out Veronica’s headlights.

Weevil and his gang pull up. Felix starts going through the random rich kid SUV, and makes fun of O-Town. Oh, so tough this biker gang. Don’t mess with them, they will hunt you down and make fun of your music.

Wallace, the voice of modern reason and not being from Neptune, clearly realizes this is weird. He mentions that he feels like he’s in a scene from the Outsiders, and Veronica tells him to “stay cool, soda pop.†It’s a nice moment. I’m glad that the writers are aware that this is a TV show.

There’s lots of arguing and Weevil takes the crowbar and hits the hood of the SUV a few times. The owner of the SUV tries to stop it, saying it’s his mom’s. Weevil don’t care.

Weevil then tells Logan to apologize to Veronica, but Logan won’t. Weevil hits him a few times, until Veronica tells him to stop, she doesn't want Logan’s apology. Logan gets into the SUV with his friends and they leave.

Weevil says some dirty stuff to Veronica, she shuts him down, and he half apologizes. Veronica doesn't care, she wants him to apologize to Wallace. They discuss the video and Wallace won’t give it to Weevil. Everyone walks away. Because a biker gang that wants this tape and has harassed Wallace for weeks will just give up and let him keep it?

At night, Veronica waits for her dad to leave Mars Investigations. She sneaks in and opens his safe to find the Lily Kane murder investigation file, a copy of that photo with her mom’s license and Jake Kane, and some other stuff. She is at her computer when Keith walks in, saying he saw the lights on. They agree to go home and watch the South Park movie. On the way, Veronica stops at the hotel where her mom stayed and knocks on the door. There is no answer. Keith picks the (previously trashed) music box off of Veronica's desk.

I had forgotten how much had happened in this first episode. We are introduced to all the main characters, the overarching mysteries for the season, along with an individual plotline. Overall it was a strong episode and really makes me want to watch more. However, I know the next episode is one of my least favorite episodes of any show, other than “The Simple Life.†And that’s because Paris Hilton is a guest star. I was thinking I would probably do one episode a week. So I will see you all next week, with a new way-back recap!

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