In the fourteenth episode of the first season of Veronica Mars, Veronica and her father butt heads over a case when they both believe opposite sides. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.
Trigger warning: While I won’t necessarily be discussing some of these themes in-depth, I thought I’d warn for suicide and rape, since they’re tied into the plot for this episode. I’d rather be on the safe side! Thanks. –Mark
Oh my god, what has this show done to me.
Mars vs. Mars
This is a strange episode, though it’s one I ultimately liked. I love the idea of pitting Veronica and Keith against each other when each person believes the accused and the accuser, respectively, especially since it creates an awkward but fulfilling dynamic between these two. It’s the willingness of Veronica to believe someone accused of statutory rape, however, that bothers me in terms of framing. It is the point of the story, though. Veronica doesn’t want to believe Carrie Bishop because she’s prejudiced against her because of past actions. That is also an interesting story, one I actually enjoy that the show explores! I’m happy that the writers are willing to portray Veronica as determined but flawed in her approach to proving Carrie wrong. The strangeness of this, though, comes in the context of it all. It’s dangerous to automatically (and fiercely) disbelieve someone who claims to have been the victim of a rape, and it’s shocking to me that Veronica, a rape victim herself, would so instantly side with Mr. Rooks. And I get that Mr. Rooks is unbearably charming. That’s the point of his character and why he was able to manipulate and use Susan Knight, and I think it’s fantastic that the writers had the courage to show us that rapists and creeps aren’t initially perceived as being horrible people. They can be friends, neighbors, family members. It’s just SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE that Veronica is the one to believe the accused, not the accuser.
But my feelings are complicated because this episode is not very simplistic, either. Throughout “Mars vs. Mars,” Carrie’s case becomes increasingly hard to prove. For every detail Carrie provides that seems to implicated Mr. Rooks, Veronica is able to find a flaw. There’s the issue of the track meet perfectly coinciding with the night in the hotel. There’s the ease of faking text messages and the weird “SK” reference. And there’s Veronica’s own personal bias against Carrie, which suggest that Carrie is more interested in creating drama than telling the truth. And I worried that this was all a lie, that Carrie really had made all this up, which is not a fun thing to think about. False allegations are a thing that happen, and they do such a disservice to real victims in the process. I wondered why the writers were choosing this specific story to tell us, you know? Obviously, I have a personal stake in these sort of stories, and I try not to project too much, but I admit that this made me more and more uncomfortable as we approached the conclusion.
It wasn’t a terrible experience, though, and I don’t want to convey an entirely negative outlook on all of this. Again, having Veronica and Keith fundamentally disagree with one another made for some wonderful entertainment and character development, too. It was bound to happen, first of all, and it was totally interesting to me to see how these two would react to this kind of predicament. Clearly, Keith responded with a prank, one that I did find funny. But I think he let Veronica pursue this case as much as she did because it was a chance for her to learn. Keith knew the facts did not look good for Mr. Rooks, and part of me is convinced he let Veronica go down this path because she’d discover the ugly truth to this man, that he portrayed himself as charming and lovable specifically to lure young and vulnerable women to him. Sometimes, ugliness comes in a pretty package, and Veronica had to learn this the hard way: by being wrong. And I should have realized that this was the case once Deputy Leo showed up, because there was another example of Veronica being wrong. Her treatment of him was messed up, and the writers hold her responsible for her actions! So “Mars vs. Mars” ends up being another example of how Veronica’s approach to certain cases can be flawed.
In the end, there is a form of justice served, and it made me feel a whole lot better about the episode as a whole. My gut instinct – that Mr. Rooks was a creep – is validated first by the unnerving details in his house that Carrie had shared with Veronica, but then, it was confirmed by the existence of Susan Knight. There’s not a whole lot of depth portrayed here, but I still liked that the writers showed us how the fear of rejection and ostracizing is what fuels people’s reluctance to report rape to the authorities. After Mr. Rooks abandoned Susan, her own parents disowned her, too, and without any support system whatsoever, she felt like she couldn’t bring charges against the man who did this to her. And that’s key here: until Carrie took matters into her own hands, no one supported Susan. That’s why it’s so dangerous to completely disbelieve these sort of charges, to assume that the accuser is a liar, and to create a system and an environment where this sort of fear can foster and grow. Yes, people should obviously be considered innocent until proven guilty, and yes, there should be proof provided in a criminal case. I’m not arguing against that. I’m saying that when our culture and society is so desperate to believe that rape victims are lying, we are letting them fall through the cracks. We are telling them that their stories don’t matter, and that there’s no hope for justice ever.
So fuck Mr. Rooks. And casual reminder that Keith says that if he were in trouble, he’d want his daughter on his side YOU STOP IT WITH THOSE FEELINGS RIGHT NOW.
Okay, so I’m a little weirded out by Veronica violating Duncan’s privacy? I get it’s part of the mystery, but she so casually seeks out his medical records without any sort of reluctance that I feel like I’m supposed to think this is perfectly all right. Yeah, no? So, with that said, I’m also lost. It turns out that Duncan deals with Type IV epilepsy? And I don’t know whether Carrie’s rumors about Duncan’s mental illness are true, but it would explain his strange blackout around the time of his sister’s murder, and I’m guessing that her murder is what triggered the episode. I suppose I can’t see how this is going to pan out, but my hope is that the show deals with his epilepsy well.
BUT ABEL KOONTZ. WHAT THE FUCK. WHY IS HE SOMEONE’S PATSY? It doesn’t make sense!!! Is someone paying him to do this? I AM SO LOST.
I’d like to request that this show STOP SHATTERING MY HEART. Yeah, that would be lovely! Picking up where “Lord of the Bling” ended, this episode also tracks Veronica’s progress in confirming Logan’s suspicion that his mother is still alive. I think it’s a sign of how emotionally fucked up Logan is that he doesn’t even bother to insult Veronica during that first meeting. I know that out of context, that’s probably the strangest thing I’ve typed in a while, but for real! Even in “An Echolls Family Christmas,” Logan was poking fun at Veronica while asking for help, and here, he’s far more straightforward than before.
Unfortunately, that means Logan is incredibly close to an outburst in practically every scene he is in, and his emotional volatility proves to be difficult to navigate. He immediately botches Veronica and Cliff’s attempt to learn more information from the woman who claims to have seen Lynn jump. (He also goes straight for the most classist set of insults he can find. I’m gonna need you to stop that, Logan. THANKS.) He’s antsy and pushy, though it’s entirely understandable why. He believes his mother faked her death, but he needs confirmation of it. He needs to know that she’s okay.
I admit to completely misunderstanding the scene with Sondra. Yeah, SO I MAY HAVE INTERPRETED IT 100% WRONG ON VIDEO. Oh boy, I can’t take that back! It happens. I DO IT ALL FOR YOU. But it’s the first of two scenes that are remarkably bleak. This first one extinguishes a great deal of the hope that Logan had because Sondra seemed so genuine. She wasn’t paid for her story and she clearly recognized Lynn. However, she turns out to be an obsessive (and delusional) fan who either imagined she saw her or inserted herself into the narrative of her suicide to make it about her. Both options are pretty unfortunate, whatever way you look at it.
But no. No. No no no no no. I am about three billion percent not okay with that footage. I happened to see the body fall in the background before the DVD was slowed down and it was the fucking worst thing yet. I mean, we are talking about an instant feeling of being upset and devastated and then HOW THE FUCK IS IT POSSIBLE THAT ONE OF LYNN’S CREDIT CARDS WAS USED. Wow, this episode went from being one of the most downright brutal things I’d ever seen to HOPE ALL THE TIME in the span of thirty seconds. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE. Why must you toy with my emotions???
The video commission for “Mars vs. Mars” can be downloaded here for $0.99. In case you missed the announcement, here’s an explanation for why I must start charging for video downloads.
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