Mark Watches ‘Veronica Mars’: S03E07 – Of Vice and Men

In the seventh episode of the third season of Veronica Mars, Veronica is disillusioned by the men in her life, but this leads her to question whether or not she should always be so suspicious of everyone. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Veronica Mars.

Trigger Warning: There will be talk about the attempted rape scene, though it won’t be very explicit, but I just thought I’d warn regardless.

  • “Of Vice and Men” is just downright fascinating in terms of analyzing how Veronica has come to see the world around her, and it really is necessary to consider the history of her character in the past two seasons. It’s also RELENTLESSLY UNCOMFORTABLE FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED. EVER.
  • I think the most devastating part of this is that Veronica is ultimately spot-on when it comes to Keith. His continued involvement with Harmony can only make things worse, and it gets so much worse than I could have ever anticipated. I suppose it’s also hard to just see them fight period, you know? Even if they have a little disagreement, they usually don’t end on a sour note, like Veronica and Keith do in the cold open.
  • And it’s through this that we learn that Wallace, ever the best friend, has let Veronica stay in his dorm while she’s working things out with the men in her life. Unfortunately, Wallace also drove Piz out of the study motel room (WHO RENTS A MOTEL ROOM TO STUDY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT BLESS YOU FOREVER WALLACE), so we get more Piz! He’s sufficiently awkward without even trying, and this whole unrequited crush on Veronica isn’t really going anywhere. Of course, as someone who has fostered more unrequited crushes than most humans ever, I relate to the unending pain that is liking someone who doesn’t seem all that interested in you. At the very least, though, it looks like Piz and Veronica are becoming better friends!
  • Wait, I need to go back to this. Wallace drove out to TWENTYNINE PALMS. I just went to Joshua Tree National Park for the first time in December of 2012, and we stopped in Twentynine Palms on the way out, and THAT IS SO FAR FROM FICTIONAL NEPTUNE. Like, really, really, really far! I’m impressed, Wallace. At least you won’t be distracted by anything by one AM station and a lot of desert and… dirt?
  • Sorry, I’m kind of obsessed with all the geographical detail in Veronica Mars. That sort of realism really makes me adore the way this show feels so perfectly Southern Californian.
  • MYSTERY OF THE WEEK! Meryl’s boyfriend, who lives next to Wallace and Piz, was supposed to pick her up from the airport, never showed. He’s missing! And it’s time to put the sleuth on the case!
  • Despite the change of scenery, I really thought “Of Vice and Men” felt like an episode from the first season of the show. The overarching mystery this season was still addressed, but the case Veronica worked on reflected the dramatic tension of her life and what she was dealing with. In this episode, Veronica has to contend with her own version of Occam’s Razor. Is the simplest explanation for human behavior the correct one? Or can simplicity actually hurt others?
  • For example, the simplest explanation that Veronica has for Professor Landry’s interest in her is that he’s trying to keep her quiet about catching him cheating with Dean O’Dell’s wife. And really, it seems simple enough, right? It’s not like teachers haven’t abused their power in the past, you know?
  • Then, she meets up with Logan, who is insistent that Veronica do what she can to clear Mercer of the charges against him, though he refuses to tell her how he knows that Mercer has an alibi. Again, the simplest explanation? Logan did something truly terrible that night, probably with another girl, and in clearing Mercer’s name, he’d have to admit to the truth. What could possibly be so bad that Logan wouldn’t be honest?
  • And finally, it seems that Meryl’s worry for Sully might be misplaced. As much as Meryl claims to love the man, the voicemail they listen to suggests that he’s seeing another girl on campus. Simplest explanation, right?
  • OH GOD
  • NO
  • NOPE
  • There is a part of me that thinks it’s a bit funny that Veronica, who has been a part of some of the most convoluted mysteries in the universe, is a big fan of Occam’s Razor. Seriously, when has your life ever been simple?
  • But that would be reductive because that’s not really the point of this story. Veronica relies on her past to judge her present, and what we see her use every episode is a combination of intuition, logic, and history. While she’s wrong about things in this episode, it’s not like her technique is without merit. It’s not irrational for her to suspect others. It’s gotten her this far!
  • However, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to work. Veronica is convinced that Meryl’s boyfriend, Sully, is cheating on Meryl. It feels even more certain once Veronica finds out that Meryl and Sully had a fight. Because right??? Every piece of evidence Veronica gets points in one direction: Sully is unfaithful.
  • Of course, it doesn’t help that Veronica is concurrently dealing with her own suspicions regarding Logan’s infidelity, or that she’s disappointed in her father for justifying his continued relationship with Harmony.
  • It’s a mess. A HUGE MESS.
  • And Vinnie reveals just what kind of mess Keith got himself in. Yeah, the Fitzpatricks hired him, remember? So it’s in the Fitzpatricks’ best interest to do whatever they can to get back the money they claim Kendall stole. WHICH MEANS HAVING VINNIE PHOTOGRAPHING KEITH KISSING HARMONY
  • OH
  • Note that this scene is followed by the confounding scene in the Hearst cafeteria where Veronica is dealt a double whammy: Professor Landry reveals that he couldn’t care less about Veronica knowing of his sexual proclivities, and Meryl becomes fast friends with Scarlet, the woman Sully was supposed to be seeing instead.
  • But sweet mother of god, Logan. I admit that I’m lost. Did Logan see Mercer when he ran out of the burning hotel? If that’s what was implied here, that means that Mercer definitely has an alibi. But I was expecting Logan to reveal that his secret wasn’t actually malicious, that Veronica had no basis for mistrusting him. But BURNING DOWN A MOTEL? Possibly injuring or killing other people? Logan, what the fuck? Who cares if 90% of other men would have done as you did? Y’ALL BURNT DOWN SOMEONE’S BUSINESS. THEIR LIVELIHOOD.
  • I mean, this is also just as much about Logan’s fear of disappointing Veronica, isn’t it? He avoided telling her what he’d done specifically to avoid the look on her face that she eventually gave him. Which… I’m torn on this. I think it’s satisfying to watch Veronica consider whether or not her blanket mistrust of everyone is to her advantage or not, and I’m very happy that the show is willing to go to such an uncomfortable place in the third season. And I think that right up to the point where Logan admits what he and Mercer did in Tijuana, it was a lot easier to sympathize with him. It sucks to be constantly mistrusted, to never be believed, and to feel like your entire life is an episode of Law & Order. BUT DUDE. DUDE. You might have helped someone escape from a murder charge? At the very least, you’re covering for a guy WHO SET A MOTEL ON FIRE!
  • Actually, there’s a bigger question at hand: Logan, why are you friends with Mercer? That dude sucks!
  • Anyway, let’s talk about about MORE DISASTERS. Like Veronica’s heartbreaking conversation with Keith about infidelity. Given that it happens not long after Veronica’s fight with Logan, it’s particularly hard to watch because we know that Veronica has never felt so lost. Who is she supposed to turn to when Keith and Logan both disappoint her? (The answer is Wallace, who is suspiciously absent from this episode. Or Mac! Mac would be a good choice.)
  • I think that this is why I was so utterly shocked by the turn of events in Meryl’s case. I was distracted by emotional pain, and then, suddenly, Veronica and Meryl are outside of the River Styx and WHAT THE FUCK DID THIS PLOTLINE JUST BECOME??? NO NOPE RUN AWAY. NO MORE FITZPATRICKS, PLEASE. RUN AWAY.
  • Oh god, at least Vinnie had the sense to save these two from the Fitzpatricks. He doesn’t have the sense not to work for them because nothing good can come from that. Well… money. Money comes from that. A lot of it, apparently.
  • The resolution of this all, though, causes Veronica to reflect on her recent rash of jumping to conclusions. I love what Meryl has to say here, though. She doesn’t criticize Veronica for assuming the worst; assuming the worst brought Meryl and Sully together, and it was through her detective work that the case was solved. But then Meryl says that if she herself hadn’t been in love, she wouldn’t have believed her own story either. WOW, HOLY SHIT, THAT’S SO QUIETLY BRUTAL.
  • Not that I think Veronica hasn’t been in love. She clearly has. It’s just that I think she hasn’t experienced that sort of unconditional love for another romantic partner. There were always caveats and exceptions and conditions because that’s who she is. It’s how she’s always gotten through this world.
  • And then we enter a world of pure horror. Y’all, the attempted rape sequence is seriously one of the most nail-biting sequences in the entire run of this show. Jesus, it’s filmed like a horror movie, and I kind of adore that the show treated this as such. This is a monstrous thing to do to another human being, and I think Veronica got too close to the truth in pursuing the Hearst rapist. This seems retaliatory. I mean, drugging her in broad daylight in the college’s food court? That’s bold as fuck, y’all.
  • Christ, it was just so scary to watch!
  • We don’t get to see who the rapist was, though we now know they wear latex gloves when they’re committing the rapes, which explains the distinct lack of evidence in the prior cases. AND THEY STARTED TO SHAVE VERONICA’S HAIR. oh god OH GOD.
  • In the end, Veronica develops a new appreciation for Logan, who demonstrated his love and care for Veronica when he saved her. It’s a fascinating turn because it’s all about action over words. Logan earned Veronica’s faith even after she fought with him and gave him every reason not to care about her. Now, I still think she’s mostly justified in pursuing the truth from Logan, but I understood what the writers were trying to say here. Veronica has always had a problem implicitly trusting anyone. She’s spent the past few days questioning herself and the people in her life, but at the end of all of this, her father and Logan are there for her when she most needs them. That’s a meaningful display, and she recognizes that. I suppose I like that this episode ends with Veronica smiling and feeling loved, because LORD. She needed that.

The video commission for “Of Vice and Men” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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