This post discusses the third and fourth episodes of the second season of Veronica Mars.
The news that Aaron Echolls appears to be trying to get Veronica bumped off from prison is a pulpy little reveal from this pair of episodes from Veronica Mars’ second season, but I’m more interested in a nasty little set of lessons that winds its way through the cases and personal lives of the characters about suspicion, regret, and trying not to do other people harm. The basic theme? That good people try to prevent harm from coming to others, but that the circumstances set up by bad people makes it very hard for them to see their good intentions all the way through to the end.
Though Veronica’s technically retired from detecting, she’s willing to take a case for an 09er when it turns out that Cassidy, nicknamed Beaver, who refused to step to Dick’s bait and rape a drunk Veronica at the fateful party, needs her help. It doesn’t hurt that in addition to being a decent kid, he has a thousand dollars and a parental concern for his father, who has married a Laker Girl who’s currently schtupping Logan Echolls, that resonates with Veronica. But his desire to prevent his dad from a bad marriage by uncovering the adultery he suspects triggers another chain of consequences: Veronica finds out that the elder Casablancas is fraudulently juicing the value of his company. When Cassidy warns his father about his step-mother’s adultery, instead of protecting his dad, Cassidy leads his dad to panic, shredding documents and leaving his investors holding the bag. And Veronica, trying to do the right thing twice over, warns their Future Business Leaders of America advisor (Michael Kostroff of The Wire fame) that his investments in Casablancas’ company are valueless. But the man can’t bring himself to offload the shares before their net worth tanks and do harm to someone else. “I don’t think I can live with that,” he tells Veronica, his dreams of an early retirement done in by fraud and his own decency. It’s an awfully sad little scene, and it’s far from the last one in these episodes.
Later, Veronica tries to do Wallace a solid by overcoming her distaste for Jackie and inviting the other girl to watch Pride and Prejudice (admittedly, Jackie’s description of the novel as “600 pages of pasty white chicks catfighting over some stick-up-his-butt dude’s prospects,” is both deadly accurate and an enormous missing of the point) with her and Logan. But her kindness just becomes an opportunity for Jackie to use Veronica to show off how much she’s supposedly changed. “I’m sorry about that. I forgot to leave the New York attitude in New York,” Jackie tells Veronica in front of Wallace, and tells the same story again to a guy she’s clearly seeing in addition to Wallace. Some people are difficult to nudge into behaving right. And it’s depressing to see exactly the kind of status boost — as well as smooches — Wallace gets out of dating a prospective 09er, such that he shakes off Veronica’s kindly-meant-but-balloon-popping advice, even against his own long-term emotional best interests.
And something far worse is happening with Wallace’s mother, who tells Keith that she’s being stalked, and asks him for a gun for protection, a request that has the effect of spurring Keith to track down the stalker himself and give a tip to Sheriff Lamb, only to find out that the man in question is a highly decorated cop, and that Wallace’s mother’s trail stops suspiciously short of a childhood and a birthdate. It remains to be seen what’s actually going on with her, but no matter what’s happened, her less-than-complete honesty has done Keith harm in multiple ways: she’s deceived him, induced him to misuse his professional stature, and frightened him, all, perhaps, with the effect of increasing Keith’s commitment to her. Maybe she has better reasons going for her than Mr. Casablancas or Jackie, but her story’s an illustration of how easy it is to use the skills and authority of people you have in your life against their interests and principals. It wouldn’t be the first time that Keith’s learned not to trust someone, but it seems unfair for chance to put him in a position to have that lesson reinforced yet again. The Mars family’s gotten a thorough education in self-protection already. But what marks them as truly decent people is the fact that they’re still willing to risk themselves for other people, anyway.