1.10 "An Echolls Family Christmas"

Aired Dec 14, 2004

Roundtable Reviews

topanga: This is one of my favorite season one episodes. The interactions among the poker players, not to mention the MotW, are awesome. And Kristen Bell rocks the house, as usual. You know what would would have made this episode perfect? More — never mind. Wallace didn't have much of a role in this episode, I must admit.

misskiwi: Easily the best episode since the pilot. Aside from the great MotW and the intriguing insights into the twisted Echolls family, my favorite thing about this one is the humor. So much great snark. "Annoy, tiny blonde one! Annoy like the wind!"

maribella: I totally agree on the love for this episode. "An Echolls Family Christmas" has become the episode against which all others are measured. It combines all the great aspects of season one and is overall just fun to watch over and over and over.

wyk: I love Diane's dialogue. This episode is full of great one-liners. "Money is so wasted on the wealthy." The head-tilt and hair-flip banter. "Damn. I repeat, damn." (I use that quote for my iBook error message.) And that closing monologue is just the best.

Hey, wait a minute! Why isn't the closing monologue on the quotes page?! That's, like, one of the best VMVO ever.

Polter-Cow: I feel the dialogue is a bit weak this week. The dialogue's full of clichéd lines that aren't squeezed through the typical VM filter.

misskiwi: Really? Okay, maybe the bit about there not being a Santa Claus is a bit clichéd (sorry, wyk), but the snark between Logan and Veronica? Between Logan and Weevil? The Christmas tree banter between Veronica and Keith? None of that struck me as clichéd.

And who can forget the best game of strip poker, ever. Oh, and the matching reindeer boxers on Logan and Duncan! Hee.

To: Diane
Subject: Boxer scene
Message: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! That is all.

topanga: What's ironic about this scene is that Connor, the actor whose abs Veronica drools over, doesn't even have the best six-pack in the bunch. The best-cut abs belong to Logan, Sean, and Wallace (I know he's not in this scene — just humor me).

maribella: I noticed that, too, about Connor's abs. They are nice to look at, but I don't really share Veronica's sentiment that they are that fantastic.

misskiwi: See, I just find that hilarious in retrospective because the actor who played Connor is now on Scrubs (as "Keith Dudemeister," but that's a longer joke to explain) and had a hilarious scene with Zach Braff's character, J.D., where they both had their shirts off and J.D. looks very jealously over at Keith's chiseled torso. These two bits will forever be intertwined for me, making both of them even funnier.

There's so much to giggle at during this episode ("It must be really hard if you guys play"), which is interesting considering the some of the twisted material. It's actually a very intriguing and well-executed blend of comedy and noir, if you think about it. Which I suppose pretty much describes Veronica Mars in a nutshell — maybe that's why this episode is such a fan favorite.

maribella: I think the poker game MotW is one of the best for a lot of reasons. Primarily, the writers were able to (believably) get Logan, Duncan, and Weevil together in a social context, and add the two other interesting characters of Sean and Connor. Also, I think it was very well done in that the audience more or less knew the culprit was one of the five, but there was still a surprising and interesting twist to Sean's guilt. One of the things I like a lot about season one is the variety of things that cause Veronica to take on a case. "An Echolls Family Christmas" had her attempting to protect Duncan's prolific diary and her part in its contents plus the final bonus of winning money to buy her dad a present. Also very characteristic of season one are the flashbacks, again in a cool blue filter and adding an awesome dynamic to the story.

topanga: I liked that the players in the MotW were characters we know and love. And the new characters, Sean and Connor, were presented within the context of the poker game, so we got to know them based on their interactions with the rest of the cast. The victim, the investigation, and even the reveal of the villain felt very intimate.

misskiwi: While I did enjoy the MotW and the way it threw so many characters together to interact in interesting ways, one of the nagging problems I've always had with the episode is how Sean had enough money to buy in to a $1,000 poker game that presumably occurred on a relatively regular basis, but yet needs to shoplift and steal $5,000. The reveal was good, but I just never felt the motivation or the crime necessarily made all that much sense.

wyk: I disagree with you about the lack of motivation. Just because Sean had $1,000 that doesn't mean he's not poor. Sean could have gotten the $1,000 by shoplifting.

misskiwi: I doubt that. He's really bad at it, remember?

wyk: The $1,000 buy-in fee is actually a pretty sound investment for Sean. The poker game gives Sean the chance to quadruple his initial investment. Even Weevil was willing to hang around a bunch of sweater vest-wearing white boys for $4,000 profit. Plus, the poker game provided Sean the opportunity to get in good with the 09ers. Wannabe Sean gets to be BFF with some of Neptune's richest, coolest kids: a famous Hollywood heartthrob, the son of a Hollywood action hero, and the son of the the local software billionaire. He's one lucky S.O.B. (son of a...butler).

topanga: Why didn't anyone know he was an S.O.B.? You'd think one of his friends would have the means to find out what kind of work his father did. That's what 09er kids do. They trade notes on whose parents do what.

misskiwi: Exactly. And how did they know he lived in the biggest house in the 09er zip without knowing that it wasn't his family that owned it? I mean, I suppose he could have just told them lies about how it was his family's house and nobody would have double-checked, but it still seems a bit odd.

maribella: I bet a lot of the 09ers just didn't care enough. I mean, I know they care about who's rich and who isn't, but they probably can't be bothered to really look into it. I think that as long as Sean wears the right clothes, gets chauffeured to school each day, and shows off his (fake) Rolexes, people will believe him. Really, I bet hardly anyone has tried to fake being an 09er with any kind of success, so no one expected Sean would be lying. Really, I think the being driven to school probably clinched it; how could any poor kid afford that?

Also, I think it's possible that Sean is relatively new to the area. If he just moved to town and people saw him get dropped off by a professional driver, I can see where assumptions might be made.

wyk: Drunken Duncan is adorable. This is probably the first time since the prom flashbacks in "The Wrath of Con," which Diane also wrote, that Duncan has the chance to show some personality. The poker scenes, the fight, and reconciliation between Logan and Duncan were great.

maribella: I've never disliked Duncan in the way many have, but I agree that some of his best stuff was in this episode. I especially liked his reaction when Veronica reaches for his whiskey iced tea.

wyk: I did have problems with scenes between Veronica and Duncan, though.

Previously on Veronica Mars: "Jake Kane could be my father."

Hmmm...Veronica seems pretty comfortable around Duncan. You figured she would be a lot more skeeved about out being around her potential half brother Duncan. While the emotional non-fallout of the potential incest is kinda weird, the incest angle does give Veronica further motivation to help Duncan retrieve his laptop. "Strange and steamy relationship" — that's a understatement.

topanga: Once she decided to solve the mystery and retrieve Duncan's laptop, she chose not to think about their potential sibling relationship. Veronica's good at that — blocking out unpleasant things.

misskiwi: I agree. Girl's got more claim to denial than Cleopatra. (Ba-dum-ching!)

wyk: It's a little weird that she can be in denial about Duncan, but she has no problem nailing Jake about the Wiedman photos.

misskiwi: Yeah, but confronting Jake isn't nearly as emotionally messy as thinking about Duncan maybe being her half-brother. Plus, finding out about the surveillance photos has the potential to lead to Veronica getting her mom back. The flip side of the whole situation — Jake being her biological father — has the potential to lead to Veronica losing Keith, in a sense.

wyk: Jake can't be her dad. Did you seen the difference in height between Veronica and Jake?

misskiwi: And while we're on the subject of parents: holy crap, you guys. "Return of the Kane" was bad enough, but who would have thought that the Echolls family was even more twisted than what we saw in that episode. The cheating, the lying, the MILF ogling...no wonder Logan is such a jackass. With that family, he's lucky he's not a psychopath.

wyk: Speaking of Logan being a jackass, he makes several racist quips in this episode. He then gets offended when Connor calls him on this remarks. Is Logan a racist or just a jerk who says racist things just to get under people's skin?

topanga: A little of both, I think. Logan likes to insult anyone who has less money, prestige, or wit than he does. Most of the Mexican and black people in his life fall into this category.

misskiwi: Hell, most of the people in his life fall into at least one of those categories.

topanga: He also insults homeless white people. He's diverse in that way.

misskiwi: He's an equal opportunity jackass.

topanga: His mother refers to people on her staff as "the help." She doesn't even know their names. Logan got his people skills honestly.

I think his racist jokes at the poker table were a deliberate attempt to bother Weevil. But Weevil stays calm, so Logan keeps going with the insults, trying to get Weevil's goat. The only thing that upsets Weevil is when his money is stolen.

misskiwi: I agree, topanga. Logan likes to lash out, and he seeks out vulnerabilities, as he perceives them. He can make fun of people who are poor, homeless, Mexican, or all of the above, so he does. He makes fun of Veronica's (supposed) virginity because he thinks it will get under her skin. Same goes for his taunts about her mom and her relationship with Duncan. He's not racist; he's an opportunist.

maribella: I think it is interesting that, although most people at school call Veronica a slut, Logan also insults her by calling her a virgin. It's indictative of him more or less insulting her with no basis to his claims, and also a sign of their previous friendship. We saw in "Wrath of Con" during the "I Never" game that Veronica was a virgin at that time. Logan knew that, so he probably didn't really think she would make as radical a change as people were implying.

wyk: Speaking of their past friendships, I loved the way the writers brought up the subject of kids' former friendship at the end of the first Lynn and Keith scene. The writers could have easily left out those last four lines, and that the scene would still have worked. "Our kids don't seem to hang out together much anymore" might not add much to the Aaron stalker storyline, but it is the emotional crux of the season.

And that line foreshadows the upcoming "hang out" scenes between Veronica, Duncan, and Logan. This might be the Veronica's first visit to Logan's house and the poker game is probably the first time those three have hung out together since Duncan's breakup and Lilly's death. Even though a lot has changed between those former friends, some things remain the same. Logan acts like a jackass, but in the end, Veronica knows that he is not an evil doer. Well, at least not this time. Veronica knows Duncan well enough to know that he can't do math while drunk.

But enough with the emotional baggage, let's talk about VIOLENCE. The stabbing was an interesting twist. I didn't see that coming.

Polter-Cow: I was a little disappointed by the stabbing scene, actually. The editing and film speed effects didn't work as well as they wanted to be working.

wyk: Okay, maybe the editing was a little choppy, but the VMVO and the final pull-out reveal during that scene was so awesome. The only thing sharper than the icepick that went through Aaron's gut was that verbal dagger that sliced through all trappings, lights, and tinsels of Neptune. While the sordidness and the corruption killed Veronica's belief in Santa, the noiriness of this episode was the perfect Christmas gift that Santa Rob and his merry band of writers could have given the fans.

misskiwi: ...Depression?

wyk: Depression is still better than all that sugary, oh-Christmas-is-a-time-of-love-and-miracles bag of lies that every other show tries to shove down our throats this time of year.

misskiwi: You're just bitter because you got put on the "naughty" list.

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