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May 15, 2006 |

By Seth Freilich | TV | May 15, 2006 |

It’s probably wrong for a grown man just shy of 30 to be in love with a TV character, but I just can’t help it. I love me some Veronica Mars. And this week’s season finale of the same-named show didn’t do anything to curb this unrequited and possibly inappropriate love. For those who have not seen the finale yet and don’t want to know anything about it, you’d best stop reading this article right now.

So in the finale, as one might expect, we finally learned who blowed up the bus full of kiddies and, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t Mayor Guttenberg. As we learned last season, this show doesn’t totally “out” its villain so early in the season wrap-up. Sure, the mayor was Grade-A scum, setting up Keith with the whole dead-hooker thing and, worse yet, diddling kids because they needed a good father role-model (and giving them chlamydia in the process — he really shoulda stayed in hiding with Johnny Five). But it turns out that he was the impetus for the explosion, having diddled poor little Beaver and starting in a motion a rather nasty chain of events.

And making Cassidy “Beaver” Casablancas the ultimate bad guy is why I love this show. Going into last night’s episode, I had no idea that the Beav was going to be the villain but, in retrospect, it doesn’t feel like any sort of cheat. They had done a good job all season of playing up that there was something a little off with Beaver. Something more than the fact that he’s just a quiet/shy nerd living in the shadow of a loud and obnoxious older brother (you gotta love big brother Dick for quote gems like last night’s “I think he took Ghost World up to his room. They’re probably up there making love. Or playing Dungeons and Dragons. Or both. At the same time. They’re both, like, 12th level dorks.”). So when the cards all fall into place and Kyle Gallner (Beaver) gets to take a turn at playing menacing and evil, it feels fulfilling in the same way as Harry Hamlin’s turn of evil last season. And kudos to Gallner for his performance in this episode — when he read Veronica’s text message outing him as a killer, he did a great job at contorting his face from the dejected Beaver we’ve seen all season long to a twisted and menacing kid who, you could believe, killed more than his fair share of people.

The reason that “Mars” was able to pull off making Beaver a believable villain is because, as show creator Rob Thomas has been quoted as saying, they knew from the moment Beaver was introduced last season that he would be the ultimate bad guy this season. They were therefore able to plan things out and make sure that all the pieces fit. So many of the current serial dramas fail to adequately plan things out and have to fit square peg surprises into the round holes of what’s happened before (“Lost” and “Nip/Tuck” — I’m looking right the fuck at you). But here, we not only got a nice wrap-up of the season-long mystery, but they even tied some things from Season 1 back into the mix (the rape, giving us real closure on Happy Harry Hamlin’s storyline, etc.).

Of course, in addition to providing an answer to the season’s big mystery, this episode took us along for a fine ride and tied up most of the other loose ends. Weevil gets himself hauled off, just before his proud grandma would have gotten to see him graduate, for his involvement in Thumper’s murder. Jackie explains her lied-about past to Wallace and gives us a good deus ex machine (her previously unheard about baby!) for why they’re going to have to remain apart next season (although I wouldn’t be surprised to see her guest-arch at some point). Papa Echolls gets what’s coming to him, while watching himself on TV no less, courtesy of Duncan and Kane security black-hat Clarence Wiedman. The Logan fans got to see Veronica and Logan reunited, for now at least. And we even got a funny and poignant little dream sequence showing what life might be like if Happy Harry Hamlin had never killed poor ol’ Lily — we saw a presumably happier Veronica, but one who had apparently traded her grit and friendship with Wallace in exchange for keeping her naivete and ‘09er status. More importantly, the dream gave us one last chance to see the wonderful Amanda Seyfried as Lily, wondering why there was a memorial for her at the school (and, by the by, three of the “Mars” kids, including Seyfried, are all doing good work over on HBO’s “Big Love” — check it out).

My only real complaint with the episode was the whole “I’m going to blow up your daddy” bit. While I wouldn’t it put it past the show to actually have the balls to kill off Keith Mars, I just knew there was just no way they’d do it right here, right now. You knew, after the trauma of the night, that she would need the relief of seeing daddy alive and well. But I forgive them on this because (a) Kristen Bell gave a rock-solid roof-top performance which was enjoyable/heartbreaking to watch, (b) they didn’t try to drag it out and make you wait until Season 3 to find out if he was, in fact, dead or alive, and (c) I’ve already confessed my love for Veronica, so of course I want her to ultimately be happy and be able to hug Daddy Dearest the next morning. Warms the cockles of my heart.

And speaking of the warming of my cockles, I love the clever bit of dialogue they threw in at the end, when Clarence Wiedman called Duncan to confirm the Daddy Echolls hit:

Duncan: “CW?”
Clarence: “It’s a done deal.”

Of course, most of the show’s regular viewers know that its future is up in the air until the new CW network announces its fall lineup at next Thursday’s upfronts. So this was a very clever little in-joke to those folks, telling them not to worry (although Rob Thomas still only puts the show’s likelihood of renewal at 80 percent). And speaking of next season, the wheels are already in motion, should the CW do the right thing and bring “Veronica Mars” back to us. (If you want to know absolutely nothing about next season, then get out of here — I don’t consider any of the following information to be worthy of being called a “spoiler,” but I know some folks like to be kept entirely pure).

So what are we in store for next year? Well for one thing, expect a format change. Thomas has said they are going to move away from the season-long mystery arc, and instead break the show down into three smaller-mystery arcs (something like an eight-episode mystery, followed by two seven-episode mysteries). I’ll be sad to see the season-long format go, since “Veronica” is one of the few shows that can pull it off well, but I understand why they’re doing it and it’s probably for the best. The plan is to be able to play episodes from each arc straight through, without repeats and gaps stuck in the middle to break up the action (presumably, each arc will run at or around the three sweeps periods). This cuts down on the three-weeks-off frustration, and helps folks from getting confused as to what’s going on (I’ll admit that for a couple of weeks I wasn’t quite following the whole Fitzpatricks/PCH’ers bit, and had to go back and watch a couple of episodes again). It also makes very clean jumping-on points for new viewers, and anything that gets more people watching the show is aces up in my book. And, considering that they had no problem tying Season 2 back into Season 1, I’m sure there will still be some entertaining overflow between these smaller arcs, to reward the faithful watchers.

As for what the third season is actually going to focus on, it’s been rather obvious since the Hearst episode that one storyline would be the Hearst serial rapist. So more happy times ahead there. Another will certainly follow Kendall and Keith and what’s in the Marsellus Wallace briefcase. It’s clearly important enough to keep Daddy Dearest from missing his NYC flight with Veronica, and it presumably relates to the $8 million Kendall fell into thanks to the Beav’s real estate dealings (and maybe even the Fitzpatricks, if she’s still fucking Liam). And the third storyline? Well, you got me there. But hopefully Mac will play a big part in it, as they’re trying to make her a full-time cast member, and it may take her the whole season just to get over the debacle of a relationship she ended up in with Cassidy (they’re also working on making Michael Muhny (Sheriff Lamb) a full time caster too!).

But whatever they’re planning, I’m hooked. Utterly and completely. Here’s hoping that the CW doesn’t fuck us all over next week and, assuming they don’t, the long wait to the fall premiere is now upon us. Maybe we can try to pass the time by starting a support group. And the group can have its meetings outside of Kristen Bell’s house. Every night. That’s not creepy, is it?


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He lives in Washington, D.C., and couldn’t be happier that summer “intern season” is finally here.

"Veronica Mars" Finale / The TV Whore

May 15, 2006

TV | May 15, 2006 |

Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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