2.06 "Rat Saw God"

Aired Nov 09, 2005

Roundtable Reviews

topanga: Wow. I just — wow. I don't think it's normal for a television show to leave a person speechless and trembling. But this isn't TV. It's Veronica Mars. And this episode had all of the elements that drew me into the show and made me the obsessed fan that I am.

First of all, the writing was some of the best I've seen all season. The dialogue was sharp and witty, the pace was fast but not too rushed, and almost all of the season-long mystery arcs were addressed. But the complex storylines were woven together seamlessly, so I never felt an abrupt shift from one story to the next.

Polter-Cow: I don't know how this episode will hold up as...an episode. Stand-alone-wise. It seemed to exist to advance about seventeen separate storylines. Only time will tell.

topanga: But the critics have been silenced. Rob and Co. addressed most of the major mysteries of the season, though we're not much closer to finding out the truth about any of them.

I'd completely forgotten about the dead guy who washed up with "Veronica Mars" written on his hand. He must have been another obsessed fan. What's his deal? I still don't know.

misskiwi: Great, solid episode. I think I've finally figured out the reason none of the episodes this season, the fantastic heart-stopping ending of the season premiere aside, have really had a gripping, don't-stop-till-you-drop momentum: commercials. This is the first year I've ever actually watched the show as it airs and it makes you really appreciate how much better the episode is when it's uninterrupted.

But enough about the annoyance of messages from our sponsors. The episode was tight, well-scripted, and answered some questions about the ongoing mysteries while asking several new ones. I lost track of the number of times I actually yelled "HA! AWESOME!" out loud, but it was about every three-and-a-half minutes.

Polter-Cow: I kind of love Rob for the title. I was waiting the whole episode for it to make, I don't know, ANY SENSE AT ALL, and then, bam, the final frame. A rat. Who saw God. That explains why the bus stunk enough for Dick to comment on it. Which totally felt like a throwaway back then because Dick is, you know, Dick. But...for fuck's sake, I love this show. I don't know whether I've seen such conscientious, deft plotting before. It's been suggested that it comes from the fact that Rob's a novelist, and hey, maybe that's it. He's got a real sense of story structure and laying things out (Rats Saw God had similar callbacks to what seemed like throwaway comments). And the degree to which he's tying this season to the past is just insane. He laid out the first season so that it could be a self-contained story. But now he's using that philosophy for the entire goddamn show. Everything is connected; the story of Veronica Mars is one big story. And he's doing it on purpose.

I can't wait to see what else he has up his sleeve.

misskiwi: This is one of the few shows on television where the plots stand up to scrutiny to the point that every time you watch an episode, it makes more sense instead of less. I'm sure some people catch this stuff on the first run, but it's so packed that it's almost impossible to catch everything. I didn't get VMVO's whole thing about surprises in the teaser until a second viewing (the surprise she wanted to prevent, of course, was the balloons she'd rigged; the surprise she got was Abel). The reason Veronica clicked to Amelia needing a fake ID was Abel's comment in the teaser that he'd missed her twenty-first birthday. I didn't catch that Veronica overheard Douglas the rental-car guy berating Stacy the rental-car girl telling her to pretend that he's there (presumably watching over her shoulder) even though he's leaving—hence why she tried the my-co-worker-is-a-jackass sympathy tactic. The irony of Veronica's comment about coming home to her honest boyfriend who didn't tell her that her ex had moved in with him didn't hit me the first time around. I don't know whether it's Rob's background as a novelist that makes this show so tightly woven or if the writing staff is just that good, but hot damn do I love it.

topanga: This episode was so good that I didn't even miss Wallace. Wait. Hold on. There must be a glitch in the Matrix. I mean, I missed him, of course. He's Wallace. But him not being in the episode didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it. Veronica certainly missed him, and it was good to see her acknowledge that. We often take things for granted until we lose them, as Veronica is learning. I wonder if Wallace misses her? I wonder if he misses me hugging my TV set every time he appears on-screen? Just kidding. I don't do that. Not every time, anyway.

Polter-Cow: I'm glad we didn't get any Wallace this episode, because that is exactly the right thing to do. We need to miss Wallace too. It makes him all the more gone.

topanga: Who asked you, Polter-Cow? I loved seeing so many characters from last season involved with the MotW. Abel Koontz and Clarence Wiedman? They were awesome.

alliterator: Abel Koontz was one of the loose ends with season one and, frankly, I didn't think we would ever see him again. I thought we might get some exposition or perhaps an NVMVO explaining how he was free/dying or something, but never in a million years would I expect him to return in such a dramatic manner. So: good job, Rob! And you brought back Amelia! Which, okay, "Kanes and Abel's" wasn't the best episode, but she was an important motivation for Abel taking the fall for Duncan, so another good job! And Clarence! Wow, three in one! I thought he might return, but never as a would-be partner for Veronica. That was, dare I say, awesome and I wouldn't mind him returning in future episodes.

wyk: Not only did they bring Abel and Amelia back, they actually brought them back in a way to show how Veronica has changed since last year. Last year when Amelia asked Veronica about Abel, she lied and didn't tell Amelia that Abel is dying. This episode when Abel asked Veronica about Amelia, she lied and didn't tell him that Amelia is dead. The first time she lied because she wanted Amelia to help her. This time she lied because she wanted to help Abel. Character growth — another reason to love this show.

topanga: I don't think Amelia's death was random. It's going to tie into the corruption of Neptune or the bus crash or something.

misskiwi: I'm not ready to buy Amelia's death being connected to any of this season's mysteries. I certainly wouldn't put it past these guys, but at this point I don't think we have any reason to think this. Amelia's blackmail couldn't have been related to information she had on the bus crash or Felix's murder since she was out of the country getting gooned with Tara Reid. I can't think of anything else she, or her mysterious boyfriend for that matter, might know that would play a role in any of the ongoing mysteries.

topanga: But the boyfriend issue was never resolved. He will be back, I'm sure.

misskiwi: I agree, this has all the signs of unfinished business. Wouldn't it be interesting if the boyfriend turned up dead before Wiedman got to him? I think there are enough loose ends to warrant an expectation that we haven't heard the last of Amelia DeLongpre: Veronica and Wiedman's involvement in finding her body, for instance, could come back to bite Veronica in the ass later—particularly if Lamb gets a whiff of it. Or Keith. (Run, Veronica, run!)

Polter-Cow: I hope we see Amelia DeLongpre again, because she's hot. I think Rob has it out for me. Putting Meg in a coma, putting Amelia in an icebox. WHERE IS MY PRETTY?

funky-donut: Also, I absolutely adore Veronica and Wiedman working together, as unethical as it is, and as nervous as it makes me. He is like 4 feet taller than her!

wyk: I love the fact that Veronica's enemies from last season became her allies this episode. Wiedman helps Veronica and Veronica helps Koontz.

misskiwi: I agree, funky-donut, I really liked seeing Veronica and Wiedman working together — although Wiedman is anything but a good influence on Veronica's already leaning-towards-the-Dark-Side sensibilities, they were fun to watch. I loved her "What are you the head of again?" greeting and how the interrogation of Mike was a charade. Wiedman scared the living shit out of me when he busted into her hotel room, so it was a nice unexpected twist when he immediately 'fessed up and started co-operating with Veronica to get to the bottom of things.

Polter-Cow: Wiedman scared the crap out of me when he busted into the motel room as well, especially given the similarities to "Kanes and Abel's." There was a similar dynamic there between Veronica and Wiedman, each one taking turns being one step ahead of the other. It was great that he respected Veronica's talents enough to realize that working together, they could get to the bottom of the mystery much faster. I'll bet Jake Kane would be mortified to learn that his Head of Security was getting help from a high school girl, though.

wyk: And hey, if that Kane scholarship doesn't work out, she can always start working for Kane Security. Celeste would have such a fit.

Inigo: I agree with everyone that this was a terrific episode and that Logan and Lamb and Logan and Cliff and Logan and Aaron and Logan and Weevil...and Logan were drool-worthy, but I want to talk about Veronica's growing dark side. Veronica told Logan that she believed him when he said he didn't kill Felix. In theory, she knows him to be innocent. Of course, she may have doubted him and only said it to compensate for turning him over to Lamb, but say it she did. And yet when he is arrested, for a second time, she does nothing. There's no attempt to find out what new evidence has arisen to justify the sheriff's renewed confidence in getting a conviction. There's no compassion, no sympathy, no answer to his mute cry for help as he was taken away.

Then there is Abel Koontz. Yes, he took the fall for Lilly's death for money and yes, he was vicious when he told her that Jake Kane was her father, something that may well have been true. And yes, Veronica is one for getting even. But there was something almost distasteful in her coldly telling a distraught and dying man that she was helping him because he begged.

Lastly, the lovely Clarence. misskiwi, you have touched on this in talking about her partnership with Wiedman. It's fascinating that Wiedman has so quickly been accepted by so many as heroic. He is still in the pay of Kane Software. He has already proven himself to be capable of devious activities. Even if Veronica's speculations are off, we know he phoned in the phoney tip that fingered Koontz, that he took pictures of a 16-year-old girl for no good reason and that he planted a bug in the bedroom of that same girl a year later. Veronica has no reason to trust him or to work with him. Why does she accept his refusal to call the cops on the discovery of Amelia's body, so he can get a handle on things, so readily? Then, we have her not just condoning physical intimidation, but actively taking a part in it. Finally, there is the final act. As far as she knows, or apparently cares, Wiedman is going to do something very nasty to Carlos Mercado, a person she has identified as being with Amelia. There's no evidence that he murdered Amelia, unless proximity is all it takes these days. (And in which case, isn't the sleazy motel manager equally suspect?) Veronica appeared to have no difficulty in playing her part in what could well be an execution.

misskiwi: Key difference with Logan, Inigo: at the time of his first arrest, Veronica was dating Logan. Not so much the second time around. And remember, from what we know she didn't actually do anything about his first arrest except show moral support.

wyk: I can understand why Veronica didn't rush to Logan's defense. As he was being arrested, Logan acted like an arrogant jackass. He kept egging Deputy Sacks on with one snarky comment after another. He was daring Sacks to cuff him in front of the whole crowd. This is just another example of Logan being "a poor little rich boy with a death wish." Veronica's not going to waste her time trying to save someone who wants to self-destruct.

And to be fair, none of the 09ers came to Logan's defense either. Duncan just blinked and Dick was just Dick.

alliterator: Inigo, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. Veronica's dark side is starting to worry me—as soon as Clarence Wiedman said, "Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," Veronica knew that he was going to kill Carlos. Yet she does nothing. She may justify it in her mind, but she helped a man (even if he was a murderer) be executed without trial or jury.

wyk: With Abel, I don't think Veronica was that cold-blooded. She got out the phone book to call the hospital before Abel started begging.

I wonder if her willingness to help Abel is an indication of the way she feels about her own mother. Both parents are good-for-nothing drunks who neglected their kids because they were obsessed with being screwed by Jake Kane. What would Veronica do if her mother one day shows up on her door step plastered and asking for a second chance?

topanga: On a lighter note, it was wonderful to see Cliff. He's funny, clever, and he's not afraid to laugh at himself. "Actually, [my suits] are two for $500." He and Veronica have excellent chemistry. So do he and Logan.

misskiwi: Cliff was great. I loved that he got assigned to Logan, and watching his phone duel with Veronica and his snarking with Logan was a treat. I also enjoyed the two cameos by Joss and ANTM's Kim — the show continues its post-Paris Hilton streak of excellent stunt casting. They were unobtrusive but memorable enough, which is my idea of a successful guest star.

wyk: Abel, Wiedman, and Cliff were the big moments of continuity, but I also love the small moments of subtext.

Cliff: "This is what I'm good at. Marquee murder cases...nah."

Shoutout to the fact that Cliff's last murder case client got death row. I love the fact that just by adding that one simple word "marquee" Klembom manage to give that line a whole other level of meaning. This is continuity at its very best.

Cliff: "...and get a real lawyer. Or three." Which three lawyers? Perhaps Dershowitz, Cochran, and Shapiro?

topanga: Speaking of legal woes: Aaron Echolls told Keith he had nothing to do with the bus crash, and when he saw Logan in jail, he also sort-of denied killing Lilly. He said, "Logan, I made an unforgivable mistake. But I am not a murderer." Can we believe anything he says? Was his attempt to burn Veronica alive a mistake too? I think he is a murderer and that he did kill Lilly.

misskiwi: Aaron is full of it. His comment to Veronica about "a cautionary tale" was all but an admission of guilt, and if he really was innocent he would have been shouting it to the hills and pointing the finger at Duncan long before now. And Rob would never jerk us around like that after Lilly's murder was supposedly solved.

wyk: Some of the fans questioned whether Aaron actually killed Lilly since he never actually said he did it in "Leave it to Beaver." What if that lack of a confession was Rob's way of building the mystery for season 2? What if Aaron was telling the truth about Duncan killing Lilly? Rob mentioned his backup plan of making Duncan the killer.

alliterator: While I doubt that Aaron didn't kill Lilly, I knew he would vehemently deny killing her. But his scene with Keith was just so great. Their interactions last season were superb, and now that they're mortal enemies (sort of), it's even better. Especially Keith's threat that he can get to Aaron any time he wants, showing just where Veronica gets her dark side.

funky-donut: I love the way Aaron tries to say that Keith is gonna have to do all the talking during their visit, and then proceeds to babble away while Keith just looks at him impassively. Great characterization for both of them.

misskiwi: Several character moments really stood out for me. A lot of the characters in Neptune work very hard to maintain a façade in the face of tragedy or upheaval, and I saw raw emotion in three different characters that was remarkable not only in its rarity but, naturally on this show and with this cast, in the performance.

First, Weevil wears his emotions on his shoulder more than Logan does, but he still tends to be somewhat reserved. You could see Logan had hit his buttons when he confronted him about the eviction of his family, though: you could hear the desperation and fury in his voice when the confrontation came to a head.

alliterator: A nice and interesting way to see the elevating war between the 09ers and PCHers. Last season, there was an uneasy truce until Weevil thought Logan killed Lilly and now because they think he killed Felix. They burn Logan's house and in retaliation, he buys Leticia Navarro's home and kicks Weevil out. I'm not thinking this will end well. In fact, I can't see this ending in anything other than Logan's death or some Romeo and Juliet solution where both sides make peace because of some horrible act. Or am I getting too Jets-and-Sharks-ish?

misskiwi: Second, Logan snarks at everything that moves and responds to anything and everything with a joke or sarcastic comment, but turning around in his jail cell to see his father hit him in the gut, and it showed. When Aaron told his son he didn't expect any sympathy from him, you could almost hear Logan's voice break and see the tears he was holding back as he tried to casually reply, "That's good." Great stuff from Jason in that scene, as always.

topanga: Logan gets hotter and hotter every time I see him. I'm beginning to understand why there's so much Logan love in the world. I especially dig the sarcastic wit he uses to hide his fear, anger, shame, or sadness.

misskiwi: And finally, our heroine. Nobody can beat Veronica at sublimation. Best friend murdered? Go after her killer with a vengeance. Date raped? Pretend it never happened, but threaten everyone in school if you have a chance to find out what happened. Someone hurt you? Hurt them worse. I don't think Veronica has really dealt with the impact of the bus crash yet, and ever since the wheels started turning over the possible connections between the crash, Curly, and Aaron, she's worked even harder to keep from dealing with it. It's completely in character, which I love, and I love it even more when we get a glimpse of the fragile vulnerability underneath. Keith managed to pull it out of her this time, and all it took for Kristen Bell to convey this complexity was the way she got very quiet and said "I don't know. I don't know." You could just feel both of them turning over the emotions, experiencing those few seconds of actually thinking about the implications, and trying to keep from losing it. Loved it.

topanga: Word, misskiwi. Another Emmy-worthy performance by Kristen Bell. My favorite part of that scene is the way Veronica's voice cracked ever-so-slightly as she explained to her father that the bus crash could have been intended for her. It reminded me of times in life when you're trying hard not to cry, but emotion almost overtakes you.

wyk: Last season, Veronica, instead of dwelling on her pain, focused her energy on finding the killer. This season, instead of dealing with her guilt about the accident, she focuses on finding the answers. And the great thing about her confession to Keith is that it felt real. A lot of times you get the feeling that the writers throw in a line to explain something after the fact [*cough county supervisor historically has been called the mayor cough*], but in this case her explanation for her actions is consistent with what we have seen. Until now she didn't verbalize the reason for her behavior, but now, looking back at the past few episodes, you can see how her self-imposed emotional detachment has affected her actions.

misskiwi: Keith and Veronica seem to have taken one step forward and two steps back to return to their early- to mid-season-one dynamic. Keith, renegade former sheriff, investigating a case that Lamb and his cronies consider closed. Veronica, running off and doing her own private eye shenanigans and working overtime to keep Keith from finding out about her extracurricular activities. It seems they never really learned that lesson about two heads being better than one. They're good enough on their own, but are all but unstoppable when they team up. I wonder how long it will take them to begin really working together to solve the mystery of the bus crash.

Polter-Cow: Good observation, misskiwi. I think it might take a little longer for Keith to bring Veronica in on his own investigation, given the last time his daughter solved a Big Mystery, she was nearly burned alive. What I'm liking this season is that he is much, much more aware that he's unaware. He's both adamant against Veronica's following in his footsteps and helpless to stop it.

topanga: Speaking of being burned alive: I'm no LoVe shipper, but the scene where Veronica snuggled on Logan's chest thinking he was Duncan? Smoking. And the fact that he let her lie there for a few moments before revealing his identity? Logan is so not over Veronica. And I think she still has some feelings for him, too. Lying that close to him, and enjoying it, wouldn't have bothered her so much if she didn't.

alliterator: Hee. Yeah, I was going, "Why does he have a magazine over his face? He's probably Logan. Although his arms are too big, so maybe it's Duncan." And then it was Logan! So I was right the first time. But I also like how she was disgusted with doing that.

topanga: I like Duncan, but what's his deal? He really is a robot. He just...doesn't react to anything. When he saw Logan being hauled away by Deputy Sacks, he raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. There was nothing to show that he even cared. When he saw his girlfriend standing near his best friend/her ex-boyfriend all flustered and embarrassed, he was all, "Hey." I know still waters run deep, but show me a ripple every once in a while, won't you, Duncan?

misskiwi: So, the ending. There's a rat (who saw God) under the bus seat. This created the smell that Dick was being a dick about. Is there anything else I'm missing? Because I don't see the significance of any it. Someone on TWoP, I think, postulated the theory that there was a dead body on the bus, but if the rat was duct-taped to the seat, that doesn't explain anything.

alliterator: Huh. Well, that's...interesting. A dead rat. Explains the title. And what Dick smelled. Little else, though. Hey, maybe a bomb was smuggled in via rat! Okay, that doesn't make sense. Um, rat poison? Rat/bus poison? Okay, now I'm reaching.

topanga: My take on the rat is that it shows that the bus was sabotaged because of a rat — a tattle-tale, a stool pigeon. Veronica? Cervando? Bryan the Card Guy? Who knows?

Inigo: The other thing that interests me is how Rob and his team entice us to jump to conclusions. I think it is going to bite us in the ass. To whit, the PCHers are responsible for the destruction of Logan's house, it is Amelia DeLongpre's body in the ice machine, Carlos Mercado killed Amelia and, intriguingly, that Aaron killed Lilly. It is quite possible, perhaps even probable, that most or all of these things are true, but it is foolish to rely on it. On the last one, I'll say now that I wouldn't cry "foul" if it turns out that Aaron didn't kill Lilly. One of the strengths of this show is that it is not afraid to challenge expectations and it is not afraid to reflect realities — one of which is the fact that thinking you've found the answer to something doesn't mean that you have. The writers' only restraint to making Aaron innocent is our expectation that the case was solved at the end of the first season, because it is a TV show and that is how things are done, that is what is dramatically satisfactory. But haven't we learned by now that this isn't just any old TV show?.

topanga: That's what draws me to Veronica Mars — it has more than smart writing and good acting. It's a smart show, with complex storylines and random, important events that come together so nicely week after week. This show kinda rocks.

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