Season 1, Episode 16
Date of airing: March 29, 2005 (UPN)
Nielsen ratings information: 2.33 million viewers, 1.6/2 in Households, 0.8/2 with Adults 18-49
If you learn anything from this episode, let it be the lesson that secret affairs ruin marriages. Not just one, but most likely two. While Veronica was investigating the disappearance of two school mascots, the writers decided to sprinkle in some flashback scenes of her meeting with her mother in Barstow, and all of a sudden the show has been enlightened by a much more elaborate back story now, which could make things a little more interesting for the remainder of the season. While Veronica hasn’t stepped closer to who might have killed Lilly Kane, her talk with her mother definitely led her to a few potential alibis, in addition to the potential fact that Keith might not be her biological father after all, and that Jake, as soon as he has given a paternity test, might have to pay a couple of millions to his newest heir, who happened to be the result of an affair, which could have been a one-time thing on that fateful night of Lilly’s murder, or an ongoing thing, going back years before that. Who knows, maybe that affair never ended and had always been going since their high school days, and if there is a slightest amount of truth to that theory, then the lives of the Kanes and Marses is a lot more complicated than we could ever imagine. Leanne always lied to Keith, and Jake always lied to Celeste, but at one point Celeste learned about the affair (maybe on the night of her daughter’s murder?), and Leanne decided to give it all up, run away, and become an alcoholic. Damn, shit is getting real now.
This was quite a solid episode. The writers continued their method of letting Veronica solve her high school cases in-between scenes, and once more her private investigations are thematically and stylistically different from the rest Veronica is going through, whether it’s her own life with her own love interests, or the Lilly Kane investigation and where that has brought her up to this point. The school mascot investigation of her’s was fun to watch, and I fully enjoyed seeing Veronica experience her days as Betty from Riverdale (I haven’t watched a single episode of RIVERDALE yet, but even I knew that Veronica’s Betty back story could pretty much have been the series premise of the CW show), while also sort of enjoying the fact that her best friend Wallace happens to be a really bad (and fun) dude, but compare all of that with the other half of the episode, and you couldn’t be blamed when thinking that both stories come from different episodes. This is a bit of a problem the show has, but it’s just a minor one, even if Veronica’s Neptune High character connections still haven’t made it to the other parts of her life, the writers continuing to keep them fully separate (which makes me wonder why the writers decided to do that).
The rivalry with Pen High expanded the Neptune, California universe a little bit, and now that VERONICA MARS has been able to reuse some of the already established guest characters (mostly Meg, who just appeared in her third episode, and Mac, whom I’m still waiting for her third appearance), there is a slight chance that the writers did in fact plan to branch out a bit and expand the show’s neighborhood, going “international” by leaving Neptune ground and go somewhere where it’s dangerous, and a criminal is waiting to be apprehended by either Veronica or Keith. Unfortunately though, not all of the Pen High story was that interesting. I can understand the feeling and sense of rivalry, when it’s all about sports, but when the characters turned out to be more interested in the kidnappings of each other’s mascots, I could only start warming up for the initial eyesroll. It’s a good thing the mascot premise was kept on the down-low, even though I really did not need the revelation that the goat was housed in Wallace’s van. There was the first eyesroll, and it was followed by the threatening video by number thirteen, who apparently found it more important to make a cash load of money than maybe making a good standing on the basketball court and maybe impress some potential scouts that might be sitting in the audience.
Meanwhile, Veronica shows Clarence Wiedman who’s boss, and I really enjoyed seeing Veronica play with the party on the other end of the bug in her room. And you know things are getting more serious after both parties have started bugging each other, even if the writers missed explaining why Wiedman was interested in finding out where Leanne Mars was. Maybe Wiedman was tasked to find her by Jake Kane, who could still be in love with his high school girlfriend, but maybe something more sinister is behind it, especially when one of Veronica’s voiceover narrations teased that Leanne might have been threatened by Wiedman as well, and Jake’s alibi on the night of the Lilly Kane murder might have something to do with all of this. Those are certainly open questions in need of some answers, but I can say I am happy that most of the back story was shed a light on. Now that we know the extent of Jake and Leanne’s affair, and that Keith is more a victim of those lies than Celeste has ever been, you can rhyme yourself some things together, and you can start rooting for who is supposed to be Veronica’s biological father. Was that still an open question in the writers room by this point of the show?
Best part of the episode: Veronica really loves Wallace, but not like romantic love. The reveal that she was putting the snickerdoodles in his locker made the whole thing between the two super cute. It’s refreshing to see a friendship in a teenage drama that doesn’t have to turn into a romantic relationship at all. Veronica and Wallace are just super friends.
Worst part of the episode: All the important stuff that happened in this episode almost makes you forget that Veronica and Leo had a date. At the table next to Duncan and Meg with his parents. Or that Leanne went to a rehab facility with Veronica’s mother. All behind Keith’s back. So many important character moves and they had to take the back seat in this particular episode for Jake Kane-related reasons. It’s a bit frustrating in hindsight.
Weirdest part of the episode: Veronica invited Keith to her bedroom, and only asked him a question regarding Abel Koontz. And this after he could have been asking so many more interesting questions. It’s like the writers held back majorly here. Was this not the right time for Keith to find out what Veronica has been investigating lately?
Player of the episode: The goat in Wallace’s van deserves some real food after the production of this episode. Being “locked” in this crammy van for that one scene might have been torture for that little animal, and I hope it was being rewarded with a lot of Air Jordans to eat.