This post discusses the eleventh and twelfth episodes of the first season of Veronica Mars.
Halfway through this first season of Veronica Mars, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily care very much about the cases themselves that Veronica is investigating week-to-week, but that I care a great deal about getting a better sense of Neptune, California. When the cases serve the setting and the characters, I tend to find myself much more engaged by the procedural elements of the show, which happened to varied extents in these two episodes.
The first — featuring a welcome appearance by New Girl’s Max Greenfield — does that in two different ways. The bar murders that Keith and Veronica investigate open up an area of Neptune’s economy that we haven’t heard that much about before. In addition to being an enclave for wealthy Californians in the tech and entertainment industries, it’s apparently also a tourist haven. “Oh, but it was so important for the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce to put that scare behind us,” Keith complains of the rush by other city officials to pin the earlier stranglings on a suspect whose method was similar, but not identical to, the killer who reemerges. “This is all about tourist revenues? God bless America,” Veronica snarks when the mayor and Sheriff Lamb pull her father back into the case, using him for his knowledge, but without any promising of redeeming him.
The case also provides an opportunity for Weevil to deliver a hilarious, angry monologue at the police station that serves as a distraction, but that’s also a penetrating look into unequal policing in Neptune.“I need to talk to someone about the noise level in my neighborhood, which is truly out of control,” he rants at Greenfield’s cop while Veronica sneaks into the files. “You’ve got motorcycle gangs, gunshots, heavy metal music. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even sleep at night. I bet if my zipcode ended in 0909, I’d have a patrol car swinging by my house ever 10 minutes. ‘Good evening, Mr. Weevil. Is there anything we can do for you.’ That kind of service. But no, it’s the barrio. So you figure they’ll sort it out themselves. And don’t even get me started on what it’s doing to the property values in my neighborhood. I have a good mind to run for the City Council. And if I win, I can guarantee you heads will roll.”
It’s a subject that comes up in the next episode when Weevil invokes racial disparities, but this time, as a distraction for himself. Rather than talk about his feelings for Lilly Kane, or the suggestion that he might have been harassing her — she asked to be removed from his gym class after he sent her extremely intense love letters — Weevil challenges his guidance counselor. “The same day Lilly Kane died, a little girl went missing in my neighborhood. They found her body three months later. Where were the cameras?” he demands to know. “Where was the grief counseling?” He’s not wrong. And there’s no question that race and class played a role in Lilly’s triangulating of Logan and Weevil — Lilly’s affection for Weevil may have been genuine, but he was also a choice of alternate boyfriend who was the deliberate inverse of Logan. But Weevil’s shifting the subject from the politics of his intimate life to Neptune’s bureaucratic and media priorities is a means of emotional self-defense.
Veronica isn’t lucky enough to be able to dodge the things that frighten her. “The last time I crashed and 09er party, I got ridiculed, roofied, and woke up without my panties,” she says, venturing to Madison’s party in MacKenzie’s service. “You can imagine how glad I am to be back.” I imagine at some point, Weevil will face a similar reckoning.