This post discusses the fifth and six episodes of the second season of Veronica Mars.
If Neptune, California’s mothers are a rather ineffectual lot, stuck covering up what they think are their sons’ wrongdoings, helpless in the face of their husband’s affairs or the power of their own addictions, or content to simply laze around the pool in a bikini, the town’s fathers are a different matter. They’re titans of industry, even when that means running a pyramid scheme, movie stars capable of reaching out to affect their children’s lives from jail, or dogged detectives who give their daughters opportunities that aren’t available to other high school students. While the emotional centerpiece of this pair of episodes is the blowout between Veronica and Wallace, it’s two hours of television that is substantially about fathers, and the reach and limits of their grasp in their growing children’s lives.
“Take it from me, stick with the one who cares,” Veronica tells Wallace, trying to protect her friend from the Chicago cop who’s showed up claiming to be Wallace’s biological father, even as he’s rejecting her advice about getting attached to Jackie. But Wallace is less interested in his own emotional safety than in the truth, now that it’s been called into question.
“That man. Why don’t you just call him who he really is?” he angrily asks his mother. “So who did we put in the ground back in Cleveland?” Part of what makes his dilemma so difficult is that both of his parents are, to a certain extent, correct in their assessment of the situation. Alicia has a right to have been afraid of Nathan Woods, and how his undercover work affected their relationship. “Stashing heroin and guns under my bed was all in the line of duty?” she asks her son, asking him to understand why she might have been fearful. But Nathan has some right to be angry at not having had an opportunity to have a relationship with his son, even if not as one of his primary parents. “I did try, for years, Wallace,” Nathan begs him. “I drove me crazy to think my son would grow up a stranger.” Wallace gambles on Nathan’s sincerity, against Veronica’s advice. It remains to be seen whether that roll of the dice will pay off.
Nathan isn’t the only father who is trying to do the right thing for a child who’s slipped beyond his grasp. But Abel Koontz’s alienation of his daughter is even more of his own making.
“I missed her 21st birthday, and I won’t live to see her 22nd,” Abel tells Veronica, desperate, when he shows up sick and drunk at her door to ask for her help. Veronica is initially reluctant, but she can’t resist taking the case. And it emerges, sadly, that the middle-class financial security Abel hoped to buy for his daughter ended up purchasing an unhealthy appetite for her instead. She was murdered after trying to extort more money from the Kane family, by a boyfriend who only valued her for her money. It seems that getting access to 09er money can be fatal, even if you weren’t born to it.
And one 09er is finding that even being sent to prison can’t separate him from his toxic father. “Jail’s where they put accused murderers,” Logan tells Aaron when they end up in the same cell together. Prison apparently hasn’t done much to sap the poison from Aaron, who tells Keith that “I got my psychology degree, and now I’m reading the Russian masters,” and wants to know if Veronica’s father has showed up to thank him for making the Mars’ a celebrity.
Logan’s trying to separate himself from his father, relying on Cliff McCormack, rather than a fancy lawyer, to get him out of prison. “Having me represent you doesn’t make you look innocent,” Cliff warns him. “It makes you look like an arrogant jackass.” But he’s a good lawyer, even though his suits come at “two for five hundred,” getting Logan bail because “Judge Bloom and I schvitz at the same gym.” And it turns out that seeking out alternate representation isn’t nearly enough to prevent Logan from acting with just as much cruelty as his father’s proved capable of: he buys Weevil’s grandmother’s house and evicts her, ostensibly because he needs a place to stay, but mostly because he wants to cause someone else pain as a way of distracting him from his own agony.