2.03 "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang"

Aired Oct 12, 2005

Roundtable Reviews

Polter-Cow: My show is back. Interweaving plotlines, crazy plot twists, the whole kaboodle. I love my show again.

There were so many great moments scattered throughout the episode. A side of Lamb we'd never seen before: the one where he's very serious, and actually right. Logan and Duncan airing their grievances, making it clear that their rift isn't just about Veronica. Big Dick Casablancas frantically telling everyone to start shredding.

topanga: I agree that this episode rocked. I loved the first two, but tonight's episode took the show to another level. There were so many things happening at once, but I never got lost or confused. I had to watch the iPod-swapping scene a few times to figure out how Veronica made the switch, but that was it.

Logan shines in every scene where he appears. His snark, his subtle but powerful facial expressions, and his body (his rock-hard underbelly that can go all night. Whoo!) are nothing short of intense. Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell continue to have great chemistry, even if their characters are no longer actively involved. And I'm not a Logan fan, believe it or not.

Inigo: I am. I'll be in my bunk.

topanga: Kristen Bell was in almost every scene, and it goes without saying how great she is and how much chemistry she has with almost every actor who's paired with her. Does this mean we need a similar episode every week to make it an excellent show? If so, then Kristen Bell will once again be working twelve- or fourteen-hour days, and I think both she and the longevity of the show would suffer. She'd quit.

I liked Tessa Thompson better in this episode. Not the character Jackie, but the actress who played her. Her acting was more natural, and her voice wasn't as annoying. I especially liked her British accent, although a native Brit might disagree.

Inigo: I don't. I thought it was better than most Yanks who try *cough* early Spike *cough*.

topanga: But Jackie? She's setting up my boy Wallace for a hard fall. Yes, the Pride and Prejudice screening was their first real date, and they're not an official couple, but Wallace is totally into her. *sniff* And she knows it. *sniff-sniff* And she's being extremely cavalier about the whole thing. She didn't care that Veronica saw her going out with Random Dude Dave. She brought him to Veronica's job, for goodness sake. Maybe she wanted her to know. *Slap her, Veronica. Slap her hard!*

I love Veronica's sisterly concern about Wallace's feelings. But could there be the slightest bit of jealousy as well? It seemed to bother her a little when Wallace interrupted her pudding comment to wave at Jackie. And the VMVO, "What did you mean, Veronica?" seemed deliberately ambiguous. I don't want to see any romantic tension between Veronica and Wallace. But Rob has gone out of his way to make us ignore the fact that we have an attractive boy and a very pretty girl who get along well and spend an enormous amount of time together. There's never even been a casual, "Don't start liking me, okay?" from either one of them. That's a little unrealistic, in my book.

Inigo: I don't think it's sexual jealousy, and I have always bought their relationship as platonic. I do think it's "best friend" jealousy, which is natural, if a little hypocritical for one who has been spending a lot of time with her own boyfriend that she would otherwise have free for Wallace.

grim squeaker: I'm a little worried about Wallace here, too, topanga. He might be getting a heavy dose of (wannabe) femme fatale with our Jackie, and I fear he won't escape unhurt. And concerning Jackie, I must say I was amused with how heavily Pride and Prejudice was featured in this episode: hating the book will apparently make it even harder for a lot of people to like her, if what I've read is any indication. Also, the urge to draw parallels between the book and the show, or at the very least some of the characters, is probably overwhelming. For instance, I've seen various people claim that Logan is like Darcy. I really don't get it: yes, they are both rich, and often snarky, but apart from that, they couldn't be further apart. Darcy looks like a "bad guy" at first because Lizzy sees him that way, but of course he turns out to be all good; while Logan is seen as a "bad guy" by Veronica at first, and does a lot of things that make him a "bad guy." Even later on, when Veronica's perception of him has changed, he never is pure "good"; like all the other characters, he never gets any lighter than grey.

misskiwi: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a show in possession of good characters, must be in want of a comparison to other works of fiction. However little known the feelings or views of such a character may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding fans, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their meta analyses.

Seriously, though, I don't get it either. Neither Logan nor Duncan fit the profile of Darcy (inherently good guy who comes off as snobby and rude) or Wickham (weasel with a charming exterior). And Veronica Mars as Elizabeth Bennet? Aside from both possessing a sharp tongue, not really. If anything, Veronica's abilities as an impartial investigator would make her the anti-Lizzy.

Polter-Cow: You realize, misskiwi, that Buffy and Veronica are similar because they are both BLONDE.

Inigo: Ah, now with Veronica I'm not so convinced that there aren't parallels. Veronica, like Lizzy Bennet, has always had her prejudices and has not always been the impartial investigator. We've seen time and again that she will jump to conclusions based on her assessment of character — Logan in much of S1 being a prime example. He was her first choice for the credit card fraud, the first choice for the smear on Wanda Varner. It wasn't based on evidence; it was based on Veronica's belief that these are the sort of things Logan would do. For Lizzy, the equivalent is Wickham. She was predisposed to believe his story because of her antipathy for Darcy's character.

misskiwi: That's very true, but I would suggest that Veronica is mostly prejudiced towards people who, well, have pretty much earned it. To me, that's different. In suspecting Logan prematurely, she's making a (biased) judgment based on her previous knowledge of his character that, really, is not all that off. As Logan told Duncan, he's done plenty of other things. And she was prejudiced in favor of Mr. Rook in "Mars vs. Mars" because he had an impact on her school life. When she takes a case where she's not connected to the suspects, though, I do think she's an impartial investigator. Examples off the top of my head: the cult in "Drinking the Kool-Aid" and the first two episodes of this season.

grim squeaker: Of course, you could also say that Veronica's Darcy is in this case Jackie: she made a wrong first impression, and her connection with Wallace drives the already prejudiced Veronica to mistrust her character even more.

Inigo: True. Thinking about how Jackie is perceived by fans now, and what the writers did with Logan last year, I wouldn't be surprised if we were all a little in love with Jackie by end of season.

Polter-Cow: No! That will not happen! I have a feeling her real name isn't Jackie, but who names their daughter Trampy McBitch?

alliterator: This was actually the best MotW they did this season and possibly last season, as well. First of all, the best episodes are always the one where there is no MotW ("A Trip to the Dentist") or the MotW has lasting consequences ("An Echolls Family Christmas," "Clash of the Tritons"). This fell into the latter category, but it also intertwined with the overall arc about Logan, Veronica, and all the Casablancases. This time, Beaver comes to Veronica not with information but wanting information himself. Proof that his stepmom is cheating on his dad, because he wants to protect his dad. He's the ignored one in the family, and he probably thinks if he can help his dad, he won't be anymore. Except it doesn't quite work out that way, and Big Dick (in one of the most AWESOME scenes in the show) takes off in a helicopter.

grim squeaker: What I especially liked about the case is that it was so very well set up, and that it ended up it a totally different place than I expected. We saw Logan's and Kendall's affair over the last two episodes, we saw the whole creepy shooting range interaction between Logan and Big Dick Casablancas, we have Beaver's conviction that his dad will "kill that guy," even the title of the episode might have an allusion to gunshots with its "Bang Bang" — but then something completely different happens, because Veronica finds out more than she expected, and in the end Big Dick has other problems than dealing with his cheating wife and her lover.

And I agree, alliterator, him fleeing was an awesome scene, and also extremely funny.

Polter-Cow: The MotW wasn't about some random student we just met; it was about Beaver and Kendall, characters we know. That's always a plus in my book. And I liked how it ended up tying into Big Dick's presentation at the very beginning. One thing I love about this show is that you don't realize what's a setup and what's not until you hit the payoff. It all feels throwaway at first.

misskiwi: I'm in favor of anything that gets Beaver more screentime and that uses well-established characters in an interesting way, rather than throwing a new character at us. I think it was intriguing in the way it played out since we already thought we knew the outcome. But not only did Veronica find out something we didn't expect, she unexpectedly uncovered what we did expect just when we'd sort of stopped expecting it, because Rob is my BFF.

Inigo: I don't understand the distaste for new characters. In season one, we had new characters every episode except the last, and it didn't interfere with our enjoyment of the show at all, or in the development of the arc. In fact, it strengthened that development in "A Trip to the Dentist" when many were brought back. I think what happens, and perhaps it is true of all sophomore seasons, is that people get so invested in specific characters that they just want to see more of them and resent new characters, as if their introduction steals from the people they want to see. If we felt this way last year, Beaver would never have turned up in episode twenty.

misskiwi: I wouldn't say I have a distaste for new characters. I think it might just be that we haven't had any new characters this season that have really clicked. Think of Mac, Beaver, or even Madison from season one: they were very easy to like, or hate, right off the bat. Nobody's done that for me yet. I mean, a lot of us hate Jackie, but it's not in the good character-you-love-to-hate way. I do agree that with the world of Neptune being so well established, seeing characters we know has an element of audience investment, but I really think that at this point it's a quality issue. Granted, we're only three episodes in, so I'm going to reserve judgment — if I had looked at Chardo, Caitlin Ford, and Justin Smith last year, I can't say I'd be raving about the minor characters.

wyk: With the exception of Jackie, there are several characters that I immediately wanted to see return. Kendall, "Big Dick," Duane Anders, and Champ Terrence to name a few. Unlike some of the more ardent members of the fandom, I haven't totally written Jackie off yet. I agree that her introduction wasn't very well done. Jackie didn't have that special "yeah, she's a bitch but we want her back" factor that Lilly and Carrie had. Maybe once the writers and Tessa find their groove, the audience might learn to like the character.

Unfortunately for Tessa/Jackie, and any new actors and characters that the writing staff might introduce along the way, the writers did such a damn impressive job during the first season of writing so many recurring characters that the audience loved, that we have a built-in prejudice against these newbies. Given a choice between 1) more screentime to introduce newbies or 2) more screentime to see our returning favorites, I would choose option 2. Yeah, Jackie might eventually be okay, but I would rather see Meg, Mac, Carrie, or even Shelley.

grim squeaker: What also seems to be set up here is some kind of parallel between Veronica in Season 1 and Cassidy: both have a parent they thought was merely the victim of circumstances and basically good, but who turned out to be a victim (of blackmail/a cheating spouse) and positively rotten. The difference might be that Veronica in the end accepted what Lianne was; I don't know if Beaver is there yet with his father.

Inigo: Another parallel, of course, could be Logan and Cassidy. Much of Logan's behaviour could be seen as a cry for attention from a father who ignored him enough to not know he was allergic to shellfish or when his birthday was.

grim squeaker: Great observation. Add to this that Logan basically said that Aaron and Big Dick have the same philosophy on separating work and family in "Driver's Ed"; while this is mostly him reacting to a potential father figure, what he is reacting to could be a mutual behavior pattern of the two men.

Inigo: It actually suggests that the specific parallel is being consciously drawn. Logan's behaviour over the summer has so far been seen as him going over to the dark side with Cassidy as a reluctant accomplice. The intention may be to show Logan falling further and further into the dark side, with Cassidy a contrasting character who remains in the light. However, Cassidy has the facility, as he has already shown, to reap destruction albeit innocently—to Veronica and Logan's relationship, to his father — with his behaviour. Perhaps Logan will reap salvation.

While it is Veronica who blows the whistle, it is Cassidy who sets the train in motion for his father's change in fortunes. How innocent is Cassidy? He knew the Sandpiper was in the REIT brochure, and yet he recognised the real Sandpiper as his father's property. Did Cassidy know what he was doing when he unleashed a private detective on his father and if so, why did he do it? Logan deliberately announced an unplanned donation in his father's name. Cassidy brings down his father's house of cards. Has Cassidy been learning how to get his father's attention from Logan?

Polter-Cow: This season is very different from the first season, except I think it's different in a completely awesome way. Because the Alicia thing didn't get resolved in this episode. There are multiple plotlines spanning multiple episodes ending in multiple cliffhangers. No, wait, just the one cliffhanger per episode. The point is, it's reminding me of the first season of Alias. I don't even understand how Rob is getting away with it, really, because he's no longer balancing stand-alone and arc. It's all arc now, which, personally, I love, and I'm loving even more that he's tying it into the arc of the first season.

See, remember what I said about setups and payoffs? I have a sneaking suspicion that Boatloads of Fun Corp., as some have posited, may turn out to be more important than it seemed at first, especially with all this talk of investing and fraud. Plus, notice that Curly took a picture with a famous baseball star (who was not Terrence Cook). I have a feeling Woody Goodman may end being involved in all this business by the end. We've also met the county assessor, a position I knew nothing about. Rob is going to great pains to show us the corruption of the inner workings of the Neptune civil government, and this will most certainly come into play during the county supervisor election, and when Keith actually joins that government (because, really, would we go through all this if Keith doesn't get to be sheriff?). I see all these pieces being laid out, but I don't even know what game we're playing. I get the feeling things we never expected to be tied together are going to end up being tied together, which is what was shown in the microcosm of this episode. You investigate one thing, and you discover something else. And it's never what you expect.

alliterator: I'm just watching this show because Kristen Bell's hot.

Inigo: I think it is quite possible that Keith does not succeed in becoming the new sheriff. Not only do you have Veronica's name coming up in the investigation of a murder, you have her public support of Logan over the summer, alienating the have-nots, and her bringing down the Casablancas house of cards, which could alienate the haves. Keith's nature is such that he is unlikely to pick a side, which may make him honourable, but equally could mean he has no place in a fractured society determined to stay, or manipulated to stay, fractured.

alliterator: I have have only one thing to say: Aaron Echolls! We thought he was gone for good, but we should have known better. No appearances other than a photograph, but his presence is here. In fact, his presence pretty much suffuses this episode. Like Lilly was the driving force behind Veronica last season, Aaron is the driving force behind some other characters this season —like Duncan, who isn't friends with Logan anymore because of it, or Curly, who just happened to be a stuntman for an Aaron Echolls movie where a truck drove straight off a bridge. There are no coincidences in Neptune.

Inigo: Nice point. I wonder if this will hold out for the whole season, the spectre of Aaron Echolls? It would be clever to have him as the looming big bad and then make it nothing to do with him in the end, or have him being as manipulated as everyone else.

misskiwi: Polter-Cow, I don't see that much of a difference between season one and season two in terms of arcing subplots. We've got just about as many mysteries going now as we did in season one. I think the reason it feels different is that, in season one, we were coming in a year after the fact already know what happened and spent the season uncovering the who, why, and how. This time, we're watching things unfold without being able to see the big picture.

grim squeaker: I hardly dare to say it, but so far I like this season even more than last season. The mystery seems very intriguing and I have high hopes that this time everyone will be involved in some way, be that through the class war aspect, or a personal connection. As for the cast additions, I love the Casablancas family (well, I love Cassidy, and think the rest are hysterically funny), and I still think that Jackie might get interesting; I also appreciate that she gives Wallace an opportunity to have a greater variety of scenes. I like the rest of the cast much like I used to last year, with all their developments and changes.

topanga: The multiple story arcs make this season much more complicated than season 1. This gives it the potential to be very confusing, but so far, the writers are all over it. I'm the person who constantly asks, "Wait, what happened?" during movies, and I haven't had to do that once so far.

Yes, Polter-Cow and misskiwi, this season does feel different. But I can't say that I like it less than last season. Season 1 was like our first-born child. It's where we met and fell in love with all of the characters. This season, my love for Veronica, Wallace, Duncan, and Keith has grown. I even like and care about Logan, words I never thought I'd utter. Weevil is almost a non-factor, and I'm still undecided about the other casting changes. But I can say that I love where we're going. It's unfair to compare three episodes of a show to an entire season, so we should chill with the "season 1 is better" talk.

Inigo: I agree with you whole-heartedly, topanga. What gets my goat more than anything else is that people criticise because things don't go how they want or how they think they should or, god forbid, the way popular fanfiction would have it. To say that the episode was ruined because it is unbelievable that Logan wouldn't have torn down Aaron's posters is, in my humble opinion, nonsensical. Logan broke Veronica's headlights in response to a planted bong. He publically committed his father to a half-million donation. He is self-destructive. But what have we seen from him that tells us that the only possible response he would have to Aaron's arrest would be to trash the only home he knows. Give me a break!

alliterator: Alicia, Alicia, Alicia. Oh, where to start. No, really, where do I start? 'Cause that was weird. You think everything's all hunky-dory and then Alicia's all nervous about Keith becoming Sheriff and then everything's fine and then WHO THE HELL IS THAT GUY AND WHO IS SHERRY/CHER? Okay, calm down, I'm sure everything will be explained the next episode. Maybe. I hope.

It's back, baby!

misskiwi: I'm going to reserve judgment on Alicia's plotline for now, but my initial knee-jerk reaction is one of WTF? On the one hand, we don't really know very much about Alicia, so giving her some sort of shady past is acceptable. On the other, we know Wallace extremely well, and this is the first time we've seen anything even remotely off about Alicia. It feels like this has been pulled out of nowhere, randomly. And as you say, Polter-Cow, I love it when something that seems throwaway ends up being pivotal to the storyline...but we haven't seen anything of the kind with Alicia, so I'm a little wary. It also felt a tad forced; as soon as Alicia was reluctant for Keith to run for Sheriff and take her to Chicago, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. However, Rob and his goons have earned the benefit of the doubt from me and then some, so I'm entirely willing to wait and see how it pans out. And am I the only one with a sneaking suspicion that Wallace's father is not, in fact, dead? Hmmm.

Inigo: We had foreshadowing. Why did Alicia, in "Like a Virgin," tell Wallace that this was their chance for a fresh start? I thought back then there was a story. I think I even put it in the "What's the Season 2 Mystery?" on our mystery pages. So I don't think we can complain that this has come out of the blue.

misskiwi: Dammit, you're right. And now I'm seriously impressed.

topanga: I don't know if Wallace's dad is in jail or if he's a CIA agent or simply undead, but whatever cover-up may be going on, it's all Alicia. Wallace wholeheartedly believes his father is dead. There must have been a funeral and everything. Poor Keith. Can't he have a trustworthy woman in his life? I see why he clings to Veronica.

Inigo: Ironic then that she is not that trustworthy! She has a history of keeping things from him that he would want to know and, as a parent, probably should know.

grim squeaker: Like all of you, I really don't know what to make of the whole "Sherry?" incident, but as for now I'm happy that Alicia gets some screentime. I just hope her secret does not involve something completely unforgivable; I love the chemistry Enrico Colantoni and Erica Gimpel have, and I think that Keith and Alicia make a very cute couple, so I'd like there to be a happy ending for them.

wyk: How come no one has talked about the fancy-schmancy camera work in the episode? The shot of the reflection in Veronica's camera, the live shot of Kendall at the hotel that transforms into the photo that Veronica stuffs in the envelope during lunch, the overhead shot of Veronica at her desk, the slow-motion Veronica while everyone else is in speed-up-motion opening shot...I think the camera crew and the director spent their summer attending some super-duper filming workshops.

misskiwi: Seriously, that shot with Kendall reflected in the camera lens? I think I drooled all over my keyboard.

grim squeaker: Most of the Kendall scenes were shot rather well. I especially loved her conversation with Veronica in the fitness club.

Polter-Cow: The fitness club scenes were made even better by Rob's literal use of Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On." While it obviously fit the scene lyrically, it also had a very appropriate beat that corresponded to Kendall's walk. And later on, the Dandy Warhols' "Smoke It" was used to great effect as well (especially if you call it "Shred It" in your head).

The less said about the three thousand minutes spent on Courtney Taylor-Taylor singing karaoke, the better.

topanga: Then let's not talk about it.

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