In the sixth episode of the first season of Veronica Mars, a competitive school election rouses Veronica’s suspicion as she continues to investigates Lilly’s murder. Then there is Logan and HOLY NOPE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.
This was a slower episode than the five before it, but it’s so rich with character development (and a couple devastating twists) that I appreciated it nonetheless. OH GOD, SO MUCH TO DISCUSS.
Trigger Warning: We must discuss abuse to talk about this episode.
Like Buffy, I’m loving the way that Veronica Mars allows the writers to craft these stories around the high school experience. Instead of the struggles a lot of teenagers face being represented in demons and monsters, though, this show addresses specific events and issues in a much more straightforward way. The student elections roll around, and it’s time for class warfare! And classroom warfare! And both. The metaphor is a bit clumsy at times, but it still hits the spot. The 09ers are, generally speaking, students who are all firmly upper class. We’ve seen that every time there is a shot of the Kane residence, or every time we see the Echolls property. THAT PLACE IS RIDICULOUS. And so, it becomes a point of contention in the election that only certain clubs or activities are rewarded with the school’s Pirate Points, a system that provides certain privileges, like lunch delivery.
So we get the great battle between Wanda Varner and Duncan Kane, which isn’t really a battle at all because Duncan has absolutely no interest in running for class president, and because those opposed to the Pirate Points are in the majority. Oh, but this wouldn’t be that simple, would it? There’s DRAMA! There is INTRIGUE! There is JANE LYNCH. Oh my god, how many people from Party Down are going to appear on this lovely show? I need to go re-watch that show immediately, I swear.
Anyway, I was mostly fascinated with how this election played out for Veronica and Duncan, who are both forced to examine conflicting and difficult issues because of it. For Duncan, this is yet another instance where his cynicism and apathy get the better of him. Perhaps he’s still struggling with his depression! Regardless, his father, once again, urges him to do something, to get involved in anything, to show interest in the world around him. I think “Return of the Kane” does a fantastic job of showing us that Duncan’s father really does care about his son, and that scene outside the taqueria does wonders to make him a lot more sympathetic than he’d seemed before. You know, it is very common for people in high school to be completely unsure of what it is they care about, so I like that this aspect of Duncan’s characterization is front-and-center.
But in Veronica’s case, her dedication to Wanda is tested numerous times, but most especially when Wanda doesn’t turn out to be who she says she is. It’s extremely disappointing because for the bulk of “Return of the Kane,” Veronica busts her ass to prove that there was fraud in the initial election. Hell, Wanda wouldn’t have had anything without Veronica. Madison would have gotten away with rigging the vote in Duncan’s favor, and the Pirate Points would probably have stayed in place. I mean, it wasn’t surprising that the people in power freaked out over the potential loss of the privileges they had. This is, like, oppression dynamics 101! I was certain, then, that Wanda would win. She had most of the student body on her side, she was likable and quotable, and she was right. The points program favored the elites by definition!
I initially misunderstood the “narc” insult, since I assumed that they were trying to pick on her for going through Veronica to get Madison in trouble. But oh my god, I was so wrong. SO WRONG. She was literally a narc, using her popularity to rat out students in exchange for having a drug possession expunged on her record. She was willing to betray Veronica to get ahead. WAY TO REPAY VERONICA FOR ALL HER HELP.
It’s through this that Veronica realizes that maybe Duncan wasn’t as bad as she perceived him to be. He was nice to others when they were together, and it’s just through the haze of awful of the last year that things got so bad. And with Troy completely out of the picture now, I’m curious if she’s interested in rekindling a relationship with him, or if it’s all just wishful thinking. I’m not sure just yet.
I’m confused by this storyline for one simple reason: The way it begins and the way it ends are just so disparate in nature. Now, it’s no surprise that I haven’t liked Logan at all. He is just so relentlessly awful, and this episode is no exception. He tries to pay a homeless man $100 to fight for his and his friend’s entertainment, and when he’s turned down, he does it anyway with different men. This is actually not fiction, unfortunately, because Ryan McPherson and some of his horrible friends actually made a series of films based on the same concept. (Weird factoid: I once stood in line at an AFI show in Las Vegas in January 2003 with either Ryan or Zachary, one of the guys who helped make the movie, and it was really fucking awkward.) So yeah, I had no sympathy for Logan. What he did was disgusting, and I’m supposed to feel bad that his father is furious for him?
And then things progressively get more and more and more uncomfortable. The camera angles are awkward. It’s increasingly obvious that Aaron Echolls is less upset because his son did a viciously awful thing. He’s mad that his son embarrassed him. And then the entire bit at the homeless shelter is condescending, manipulative, and a complete fiction. Logan stands there, quietly disgusted with what’s happening, and so he gets a bit of revenge: He tells the news crew there that his father is donating half a million dollars to the shelter. And you know, that’s great! I thought it was fantastic and a great way to show his dad that his little imagined image as a philanthropist was bullshit unless he actually did something. Exceptâ€¦ Logan, you’re still an asshole. The reason you’re there isn’t bullshit! It’s the reason your father is there! And I got this strange vibe from him that he was just pissed to be there period, as if what he did earlier in the episode wasn’t this horrific thing.
Of course, this is hopelessly complicated by the reveal that Aaron is extremely abusive with his son. My god, I don’t even know what to say. And look, I appreciate difficult, challenging characters. I watched Dollhouse, for god’s sake! So I don’t need Logan to be a stereotype, and I don’t need him to be a good person to sympathize with him because his father is an abusive monster. But by the end of “Return of the Kane,” I’m not really meant to remember how this all started. I don’t think Logan is sorry for what he did, and it’s weird to me that this isn’t addressed at all.
I will admit that good god, this explains so much of Logan’s characterization up to this point. It’s massively uncomfortable, but it makes sense.
Oh my god, it’s getting so real. But mostly, I love how brilliantly the writers explore the dynamic between Keith and Veronica. By nature, Veronica is going to be curious aboutâ€¦ well, anything at all. But the clues aren’t adding up in Lilly Kane’s murder, and her snooping in “Return of the Kane” unearths an impossible fact: Lilly’s shoes, the very ones used to ensure Abel Koontz’s conviction, were actually in Lilly’s room after her murder. How the hell did Abel get ahold of them??? However, as mind-blowing as this, I was far more interested in the growing chasm between Keith and Veronica. I loved how Veronica defined it: they were essentially playing Spy Vs. Spy with one another, and it was getting exhausting. Truthfully, these two had to be on the same page about this, or they’d just continue to irritate and frustrate one another.
I guess I just love the idea of these two getting along. It reminds me of why I loved Friday Night Lights so much. Tami and Eric Taylor were in love and committed to their marriage. They had problems, sure! And they fought! But they were still willing to make things work. That’s how I feel about Keith and Veronica. They know they only have each other left, and they’re determined to make it work.
MORE MARS FAMILY FEELINGS PLEASE. Oh, who am I kidding? That’s clearly the basis of this show.
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