Mark Watches ‘Veronica Mars’: S01E20 – M.A.D.

In the twentieth episode of the first season of Veronica Mars, nothing is okay forever. That’s about the only way I know how to describe this without shrieking spoilers in this intro. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.

Trigger Warning: This whole episode is about rape, sexual assault, and really disgusting displays of misogyny, so the review and the comments are all going to address this. Please provide an extra trigger warning if  your comments might be particularly triggering! Thank y’all for being the best commenters in the world OH GOD.

This episode. Holy shit.

  • I’m actually writing this review on December 17th, so that means the review for “Mars vs Mars” went up today, and thinking of the conversations we had that day versus what this episode does really helps me figure out how I feel about this show. Well, and that episode in particular! It’s impossible to escape the stories of sexual assault and rape because they’re built in to Veronica’s character, so I’m actually surprised that this episode didn’t trigger me. (Actually, it was the bullying of Seth that got me the closest to NOPE TOWN, population my entire junior high and high school existence.) You know why? Because the writers handle Carmen’s story so fucking well.
  • Granted, this is a difficult episode to watch regardless, especially since in the end, Carmen doesn’t escape unscathed. It’s terrible, and the worst part is that while Tad will get picked on for being taped to the pole, he’ll never be subject to the shame and humiliation that Carmen was. Men are not dealt the same vitriol as women are. (Thematically, this is super relevant because one of those Sprouse twins just had nude photos leaked, and half the blogs/gossip sites I’ve seen have all had headlines and articles dealing with how well he’s taking it and LOL WHAT A NEAT STORY. Meanwhile, a woman has her nude photos leaked, and the same organizations are slut-shaming the hell out of her. I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING.)
  • Then there’s the other things.
  • Which we will get to.
  • Eventually.
  • I promise.
  • (Jesus, how in Gandalf’s beard is this going to be resolved in two episodes?????)
  • So, one of the challenges of writing about this episode is that a couple of the twists at the end involving Alicia and Logan completely re-contextualize what happens earlier in “M.A.D.” Like, I had all these thoughts about how Veronica has been able to to bring out an affection in Logan that I have literally never seen before. I never felt he was as touchy-feely or adorable with Lilly like he is here with Veronica. And that’s fascinating to me!
  • On top of that, this starts off being very much a “forbidden” romance, which, admittedly, is not my favorite plot in the world for a goofy reason that’s super personal: I have had to be in “forbidden” relationships because I’m gay. Like, the whole sneaking around thing? Yeah, I had to do that to avoid people finding out I wasn’t straight, so when straight couples are like, “Oh gosh, we can’t let people find out we are in ~true love~,” I’m like… no, I think this is worse. I mean, I’ve had to work with homophobes and hide any evidence of my gayness WHICH IS REALLY HARD SOMETIMES BECAUSE HAVE YOU WATCHED MY VIDEOS. Get me excited about anything and it’s super obvious.
  • But that’s not like… a serious criticism? I’m not sitting here going HOW DARE YOU WRITE THIS YOU ARE OFFENDING MY DELICATE SENSIBILITIES. As I said, it’s a personal thing!
  • Which is why I love that Logan started taking steps to not keep it all hidden. I expected this to last a while, but by the end of “M.A.D.,” Logan was willing to pursue something more than some illustrious affair. He wanted to seriously think about dating Veronica.
  • BUT IT’S ALL SO COMPLICATED, ISN’T IT?
  • And I think you could easily draw parallels between all three stories that are unfolding here. This is about trust. Keith trusts Alicia enough to be willing to pursue a possible divorce from his wife, but how is Alicia going to react to the revelation that her son helped Veronica spy on Clarence? (I don’t know that Clarence suspects it was actually Veronica who had Wallace plant the bug.) Carmen trusted Tad with BASIC DECENCY, but his sense of entitlement… well, just look at this fucking episode. We’re talking about someone who feels LITERALLY ENTITLED to Carmen’s body, so much so that he’s willing to humiliate her so that no one else will want her.
  • Tad’s a monster, y’all. And unfortunately, he’s a common one. Look, I don’t need to be the arbiter of all things misogyny because it’s not my place at all. All I can merely do is point out that it’s all over this creep of a character, and then urge you to listen to the people who talk about misogyny because they’re actually affected by it in much more significant ways than I ever will.
  • UGH TAD MAKE HIM GO AWAY FOREVER.
  • Anyway, back to trust. Obviously, Tad abused it, and then continued to do so over the course of this episode. So yeah, I really don’t feel bad for what Veronica does here. Actually, that’s an interesting experience in and of itself, isn’t it? Like… how do we decide what is acceptable for Veronica to do and what isn’t? Because I felt really weirded out by her invading Duncan’s medical privacy, but then I’m completely cool with her stealing Tad’s phone, then using Seth to fake a rumor that Tad is actually gay so that she can reverse blackmail him into not blackmailing Carmen. (Whew, that’s a lot to unpack, isn’t it?) But I mentioned in the video that I loved the idea of Veronica enlisting Seth to get revenge on Tad by exploiting his homophobia. I don’t know, it doesn’t bother me, and Seth seemed very much on board with crafting this lie. I suppose that hindsight also affects this because I know what a turdface Tad is, you know?
  • Guess who is a cutie? Keith Mars. So is Alicia Fennel. So when you put them together you get Super Cuties. This is a verifiable fact of science, just for the record. I made a poster board display and everything. One day, I’ll have to show y’all.
  • MAC. MAC. Oh gosh, you know what this episode did to me? It gave me a glimpse of what it would be like if Mac worked for Veronica and Keith and you know what? I liked what I saw. I also love this idea that she’s down to do pretty much anything? Seriously, forty-five minutes to create a morally ambiguous site libeling another student? She’s a modern wonder.
  • But truthfully, this is a very modern show, even if the noir-esque tale of blackmail isn’t new at all. This is another episode that takes a trope straight from the Noir Handbook, but applies it to our world, and it’s done beautifully.
  • Hell, even Weevil represents a very specific noir trope himself, though the writers constantly toy with our perceptions of the boy from the wrong side of town. He’s helpful here not just because he’s meant to be. No, he’s often a step ahead of Veronica when it comes to information, and in this case, he’s still hiding something regarding his relationship with Lilly. Damn it, what happened?
  • So, let’s talk about Aaron Echolls and my unfortunate statements here because what have I done. First of all, no, I don’t trust Aaron. I don’t! So it’s hard watching him in “M.A.D.” because he also does things that, for the first time, seem genuine. He has no reason to help Veronica get out of that house. He didn’t need to give her a ride home. He didn’t need to give her his approval of her dating his son. None of this truly benefits him, and then he’s sitting there, and he seems to care about Logan and STOP IT. STOP COMPLICATING MY FEELINGS ABOUT AARON ECHOLLS.
  • Because what if? What if it’s possible that someone who did something horrible to his wife and his son is able to actually change? What if all of this isn’t an act, and he’s actually trying to be a better father??? I mean, he tells her that he likes what he sees in Logan when Logan is with Veronica and that’s how I feel, too, and what the fuck just happened?
  • Here’s a real fun experiment: Apply everything I just said to Logan given what we learn from Tad.
  • c r y i n g
  • Also, fuck Tad. I can’t say that enough!!!! The guy brings out all the traditional bullshit about how he didn’t want to hurt Carmen but she made him. How does a person say that kind of nonsense without combusting immediately? Like, it really speaks to the sort of value that Tad placed on Carmen, and that’s not even touching the fact that TAD DRUGGED HIS GIRLFRIEND. It all centers around Tad’s entitlement; he believes that he is entitled to Carmen as long as he wants, and as soon as she threatens that, he flips the fuck out and TRIES TO TAKE HER BODY FROM HER AND CAN HE BE EJECTED TO THE MOON.
  • Can we talk about super protective Veronica being crushed when she learns that her father put that notice in the paper regarding Lianne? CAN WE TALK ABOUT IT OF COURSE WE CAN. It’s a delicate issue for Veronica because her ultimate goal is to have her mother back in her life, but where does Lianne fit if Keith divorces her and remarries? And it’s not lost on me that both Keith and Veronica are pursuing matters of their own accord without keeping the other apprised. Keith’s got that DNA test coming, and Veronica knows exactly where her mother is.
  • And yet? Veronica supports her father. She tells him that she wants him to be happy, surprises be damned. CUTE DANCING BE DAMNED.
  • (no oh god there are too many surprises here)
  • Like Tad actually leaking that video. I honestly didn’t think he’d do it after what Veronica and Carmen did, but CHRIST. WHAT A HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HUMAN BEING. I feel so much pride for Carmen, though, who decides (BLESS HER HEART) not to get revenge. She knows it won’t make her feel better and it won’t delete her video. And the writers don’t shame her for this choice! That’s so awesome.
  • Wait what. why are those lamps important
  • you
  • you are kidding me
  • NO. NO.
  • THE SAME FUCKING NIGHT
  • HOW??? HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? TWO WOMEN ASSAULTED/RAPED ON THE SAME NIGHT AT THE SAME PARTY????
  • NO, THIS ISN’T A THING THAT’S HAPPENING.
  • oh my god CLARENCE WIEDMAN, GET AWAY FROM ALICIA
  • PLEASE GET ON THE ROCKET THAT TAD IS ON AND YOU CAN BOTH GO LIVE ON THE MOON WITH EACH OTHER
  • I AM SO UPSET. MAKE IT GO AWAY. I LOVE KEITH AND ALICIA AS A COUPLE.
  • BLESS WEEVIL FOR TAPING TAD TO THAT POLE. BLESS HIM.
  • NO
  • NO
  • NO SHUT UP
  • IT HURTS
  • LOGAN ECHOLLS.
  • I just… I don’t even know what to do with this show anymore. It’s ruined me. Wow, I just spent all this time trying my hardest to understand Logan and then BAM. He’s probably responsible for supplying Veronica’s rapist with GHB.
  • IT HURTS.
  • I just realized this is going up on Christmas. Merry Christmas, Mark, everything you loved has turned to rust.

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About xpanasonicyouthx

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor
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