This post discusses episodes nineteen and twenty of the first season of Veronica Mars.
One of the things I like a great deal about Veronica Mars is how well, even in the midst of its mannered noir storytelling, it captures what it means to be a teenager, and specifically what it means to be variable as a teenager, without being light or inconsequential. And this pair of episodes, whether through Weevil’s break-in at the Kane house, Veronica’s burgeoning relationship with Logan, or the sexual harassment of Carmen gets at something frightening about being in high school. It’s possible for teenagers to be genuinely different people than who they were when they did things that were criminal, but they have the resources to take actions with truly lingering consequences.
When Weevil breaks into the Kanes’ house, he initially tells Veronica a lie that’s based in teenage changeableness, saying he wanted to retrieve a diamond ring. “I was trying to get it back,” he tells Veronica. “It was my mothers and she was saving it for me for an engagement ring. Once upon a time, I was dumb enough to think I wanted Lilly to have it.” What he’s really after is a spy pen that holds secret messages, a toy Lilly got out of a cereal box and bragged to Veronica–before Veronica knew about Weevil–that she’d use to communicate with her conquests. Whatever message too or from Weevil that was in that pen may have been written in a moment of passion and total sincerity. But he’s changed enough, and circumstances have changed enough, for him to need it back. Being the bad boy Lilly used to make her parents angry is no longer such an innocent occupation.
In the next episode, Veronica gets caught up in helping Carmen, a girl whose boyfriend is blackmailing her into staying with him with a tape of her suggestively sucking a popsicle in a hot tub that turns out to have been made under the influence of GHB. The boy is revoltingly self-regarding and self-justifying. When Carmen sticks to her guns and breaks up with him, he distributes it, believing that no one will want Carmen once they’ve seen the video, telling Veronica “She forced me to. She left me.” It’s utterly pathetic, nasty behavior that ignores the fact that both he and Carmen are headed off to college, a world where people won’t know to track down a video of Carmen in a sexually compromising situation, and where even those who do might understand that she was drugged, that the video doesn’t represent her whole personality, or even that sexual voraciousness (if Carmen had made it consentingly) is hardly the whole of her personality, or a crime. The boy, hopefully, will have to live not just with being taped to a flagpole and an unfortunate tattoo, but with the moral knowledge of what he’s done. Carmen, by contrast, may suffer the short-term consequences of the video, but in refusing to retaliate, even though Veronica cooks up the material that would allow her to do it, reveals herself to be the more grown-up person. She knows what she’ll be able to handle after high school.