In the sixteenth episode of the second season of Veronica Mars, Wallace and Veronica visit Hearst College, where Veronica runs into someone who she used to know – and who brings a case along with him. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.
Trigger Warning: It may go without saying, but I prefer warning regardless. We have to discuss rape to discuss this episode. The full title will be used from here on out, but I chose to censor it above just in case a non-fan saw it while browsing and didn’t get to the trigger warning. Thanks for understanding!
- If you recall my review for “Mars vs. Mars,” I admitted to feeling weird about the show choosing to pit Keith and Veronica against one another when the case involved statutory rape. It’s here, in “The Rapes of Graff,” that the writers explore something that is uncomfortable but makes so much sense for Veronica as a character. And I’m really pleased that what we’ve seen so far (given that the story wasn’t resolved) was much more sympathetic towards victims of rape!
- But let’s talk about the other plots here before we get to the bulk of this episode. Like season one, season two of Veronica Mars is gently pushing this serialized plot ahead episode-by-episode, and each new reveal brings us closer to some massive conspiracy. I am seriously just as invested in learning who blew up that bus and who killed Felix as I was the Lilly Kane murder, especially since it’s looking more and more like both events are somehow connected. And that’s a feat in and of itself because HAVE YOU SEEN SEASON ONE? IT’S FUCKING AMAZING.
- I feel like I am marginally prepared for one thing happening here, though: I think Aaron Echolls is doing his damnedest behind bars to sully as much evidence as possible. Given what we saw in “The Quick and the Wed,” it’s clear that he’s willing to plant fake evidence (through Kendall) implicating Duncan in some way. So once Cliff mentioned that there were Echolls case files and the key to the hard copies, I figured that this must have been part of it! However, my theory does have a flaw, which is that they were Logan’s case files. What would Aaron do with those?
- So was this whole hit something the Fitzpatricks did? Maybe Dr. Griffith?
- I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
- Also, Sheriff Lamb is gross. So is Cliff for that comment about voting for Lamb and the whole 18-year-old comment. I dunno, I’m just skeeved out by guys who pursue just-turned-18 women. It’s extremely creepy.
- Actually, now that I think of it, Cliff’s briefcase was stolen before Logan decided to ignore Dr. Griffith and pursue a relationship with Hannah, so yeah. That doesn’t work either.
- Damn it, I tried to figure this out, and I failed.
- SUCH IS MY LIFE.
- Ugh, HANNAH. I’m glad the show made it clear that she deserved the truth about why Logan was in her life, and she was given the chance to forgive. Of course, SHE’S LITERALLY SHIPPED ACROSS THE COUNTRY BECAUSE HER FATHER IS TERRIFYING. Oh wow, I don’t like Dr. Griffith at all. What the hell is Logan going to do??? Is he going to pursue Hannah regardless???
- AND THEN THERE’S THE LITTLE CLUE ABOUT THE STADIUM DEMOLITION AND THE LINK TO MAYOR GOODMAN AND I KNEW I SHOULD BE SUSPICIOUS OF HIM.
- OH MY GOD, IT’S DANNY BOYD.
- THIS SHOW’S USE OF SURPRISE CAMEOS/CALLBACKS IS SO UNFAIR.
- Which is a perfect segue to TROY VANDEGRAFF??? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? HE’S BEEN GONE FOR THIRTY-TWO GODDAMN EPISODES AND THEN YOU JUST DROP HIM BACK INTO THIS UNIVERSE
- WITH MICHAEL CERA
- AND ALIA SHAWKAT
- WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS EPISODE.
- Little known fact: Alia Shawkat was born in my unofficial hometown, Riverside! So there are a few good things that come from that cesspool. (Only a few.) (Like the Voodoo Glow Skulls.)
- But aside from such distracting and exciting appearances, I was ultimately pleased with how this episode addressed an admittedly difficult thing for me to sit through. I was relieved! Because right from the start, the writers don’t make Troy’s re-appearance on the show this glorious thing. No, Veronica hasn’t quite forgotten what a terrible person he is, and this directly factors into her behavior for the remainder of this episode. Even if he says he’s a good person, and even if he does a nice thing in defending Veronica from that Grade A Misogynist Creep, that doesn’t mean he is actually good. One act does make up a long period of shittiness, you know?
- And it’s that nuance that’s so refreshing about “The Rapes of Graff.” As egregious and shocking as a lot of the behavior seems in this episode, IT’S BARELY FICTION. The rampant misogyny? The violent defensive behavior when a guy is rejected? The point system??? Just let all the folks affected by misogyny verify this shit for y’all if you’re doubting it, because IT’S NOT FICTION. It’s real, it has happened, and it’s unfortunately still happening, so don’t take my word for it at all.
- So yeah, it’s really empowering to watch Veronica so easily dismantle these sexist arguments and get even in really satisfying ways. And unlike her behavior in “Mars vs. Mars,” Veronica is quick to admit that the evidence against Troy is extremely telling; she warns Troy that if she discovers that if any of what Stacy said is remotely true, she’ll turn on him in an instant; and when she’s faced with the overwhelming evidence of the gross sexual assault and violation of consent that’s perpetrated by the frat, she risks it to get evidence so that she can get even and get some justice for Stacy and Dawn.
- Some justice. This plot is left strangely unresolved. For the future? Yes?
- Ultimately, what works about this for me is that the rape that happens here is treated with sensitivity and sincerity on the part of the writers. (Well, except for maybe the title. Can we not make rape-related puns, no matter how clever they are?) At no point does Veronica actively disbelieve either Stacy or Dawn throughout her investigation. When she’s telling them about her belief that Troy was innocent, she doesn’t couch her language in euphemisms or cliches that might shame Stacy and Dawn for suspecting him. She validates their pain, she validates their angry, and she lets them know that she was once in their shoes. This whole thing is such a huge portrait of empathy, and I love it.
- (If you’ll excuse the brevity of my commentary on this plot, it’s late, and writing about it is a bit exhausting for me, so I’m taking a rain check on further thoughts on rape for the moment.)
- So!!!! Wallace got into Hearst AND MAYBE VERONICA WILL TOO SO THEY CAN STAY TOGETHER FOREVER.
- THAT WOULD BE GREAT.
The video commission for “The Rapes of Graff” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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