Saturday, May 14, 2005

Veronica Mars recaps

If you've been watching Veronica Mars this past TV season, don't miss this excellent wrap-up and exegesis on the series as a whole in Salon:
It's fitting that the first season of "Veronica Mars" ends with more questions than answers. The answer to "Who killed Lilly Kane?" has turned out to be relatively clear-cut. But the whodunit structure of "Veronica Mars" is something of a red herring, because what really entangles us, and keeps us on the hook, are the bigger questions -- they're the key to the show's momentum, its sly sense of fun, and its emotional resonance. Veronica is played by Bell with such eminently reasonable self-assurance that we're almost fooled into thinking we don't need to worry about her -- with her small frame, no-nonsense blond locks and dark, glittering eyes, she seems both sophisticated and mischievously elfin. Veronica can, and does, take care of everything: She tries hard to help out with the family finances, and she gives up her own hard-earned college savings to help her mother straighten out so she can come home. Each successive episode only confirms Veronica's perceived invincibility -- which is why it's so devastating when we see her confused or afraid, or when she's overcome with missing her mother.

And the indispensable has more:

During the course of the season, I twice thought that I’d sussed out the killer’s identity for certain. I was wrong both times.

Why was I so confused? Because on this show, no one’s quite who they seem. The thuggish biker’s got a sense of honor to balance his enthusiastically criminal nature. The snarky, sneering rich kid conceals genuine decency and compassion. That kind, inspiring teacher? He’s getting a little too close to his attractive young students. It would have been easy for Thomas and his team to make the victim herself a flawless little angel, but flashbacks revealed Lily as spoiled, callous and more than a little promiscuous. It’s difficult to feel sorry for anyone like that, no matter what their fate — difficult, but not impossible.

Mars wouldn’t let any character among its talented cast get away with being entirely “good” or “bad” — even Veronica herself. She was tough, smart and resourceful in pursuing Lily’s killer — but despite her reluctance, she was willing to use and manipulate the few friends she had, stretching their trust to the breaking point to further her investigation. Thomas allowed to see what, up until the season’s haunting final moments, Veronica couldn’t: Her search for Lily’s murderer was really an attempt to fix her own screwed-up life. And in that respect, it was doomed from the start.

I remain grateful and amazed that we'll be getting a second season of Veronica Mars; I was prepared to clear out shelf space on the DVD rack for it alongside Freaks and Geeks and Firefly. Now if the TV gods would just give us more Arrested Development and Eyes...

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