2.09 "My Mother, the Fiend"

Aired Nov 30, 2005

Roundtable Reviews

topanga: I really liked this episode. Even though it wasn't the nail-biting rollercoaster ride I've enjoyed all season, the excellent performances and memorable interactions between characters were constant reminders that I was experiencing the greatness that is Veronica Mars. Once again, the blasts from the past were a treat. I wasn't aware how much I'd missed Trina and Celeste until their faces appeared on the screen. Of course, I am painfully aware of the absence of a certain friend and partner-in-crime. But that's another story.

That being said, I know that last week's episode was supposed to be filler, but this week's felt more like a placeholder than that one. There was only mere mentions of the major mystery arcs, and the MotW seemed very irrelevant. I don't understand why Veronica is tormented by her desire to know that her mother was a "good person" in high school. Does it matter, Veronica? As an adult, she cheated on your dad, couldn't tell you who your father was, abandoned your family, then came back to the family only to wreak havoc in everyone's lives. Oh, yeah. And she stole your fifty thousand dollars. Veronica is the person who told Wallace that she'd learned the hard way to forget about the parent who leaves. I thought she'd done that herself.

Polter-Cow: topanga, I agree, actually. I have mixed feelings about this episode. I mean, it didn't suck, and it was good, but it felt weird to me, and I think it's actually because it felt too much like season one. Digging into the past, learning about Lianne...I mean, don't you have more pressing issues to deal with, Veronica? Though I did like that in the grand VM tradition, digging into one mystery uncovered a totally different mystery, complete with its own set of red herrings.

misskiwi: Count me in on finding this a weak episode. Usually, a VM episode feels like it unfolds as the natural consequences of a series of events. A leads to B, leads to C, leads to D. This episode felt like they knew the ending and shoehorned in everything else.

alliterator: I think I know why I found this episode weird. It's like Polter-Cow says: it seemed like a season one episode, mainly because the A- and B-plots were completely disconnected and the A-plot had nothing to do with the season arc. It was still good, though, but weird in the context of season two.

lilserf: For me, personally, this episode just...seemed better than the last few. It's a little hard to explain, but I'll try.

The last few episodes had some good moments and intellectually, on re-examination, were chock full of great stuff. But for some reason they didn't "hit" me like "My Mother, the Fiend" did.

Conversely, this episode has some stuff that's a bit of a stretch or is arguably inconsistent continuity-wise (although it can all be fanwanked away) but it just felt like it hung together more as a whole and had a bigger impact on me. I certainly didn't notice the little things that bugged other people (hell, I didn't even put together "fiend" = "friend") because I was sucked into the story.

I think part of this may be due to the fact that the writers didn't service every single season-long story arc in this episode, but concentrated on only a couple. Maybe it's because Alyson Hannigan finally nailed Trina's character and wasn't distracting me. I'm not really sure. All I know is this episode got me excited enough to post on TWoP for the first time in several weeks. It's the difference between knowing intellectually that the episode was good and just feeling in my gut that it's good.

In summary: the last few weeks were (say) 6/10 initially, rising to 9/10 upon re-examination. "My Mother, the Fiend" was a 9/10 initially, falling to a 7 or 8 after re-examination of all the inconsistencies. I loved it in the moment. I know not everyone is necessarily with me on this, though.

wilecoyote: Details. I love all the little details and nuances that each episode has, and I especially love the fact that they don't distract, but enrich and complement the story and the characters: Kendall's freaked look at the sight of the baby, Beaver's slightly sad "Well, that would be illegal, wouldn't it?" comment at Mac's suggestion of committing another white-collar crime, Keith's putting the baby in the right position while talking to Veronica... (And let's remember also Mr. Pope in the other episode, the slight sadness in his voice when he said "[you put all your money in Dick's company] and now you have nothing." Just the briefest pause, and then he moves on.)

One of the things I didn't like about this episode was that everything seemed a bit too...soap-operaish and clichéd. From the whole Trina-is-adopted-but-we-forgot-to-tell-you-before plot (normally other shows reach at least season 4 before the writers run out of ideas and are forced to start retconning covered ground and end up making a mess of the backstory; is this episode the first example of that process applied to VM?) to the resolution of the Meg mystery (she's pregnant!! And the cliffhanger is that SHE WAKES UP!!!) to the final revelation of everything being a setup by Van Clemmons (which is superficially brilliant, but feels too convoluted to me to be an actual plan that someone could come up with)... Everything in this episode is...how would I say, "well done, but rehashed from already seen stuff." A good B episode, basically, but I hope that it isn't a sign that the writers' imaginations are running out...

misskiwi: Polter-Cow brought up one of my major issues in questioning why Lianne, and why now? Veronica's bitter, emotional, and near-tears speech in "Leave it to Beaver" was the end of an emotional arc for her in dealing with her absent, alcoholic, and apathetic mother, and tampering with it now seems...out of place, or something. I'd be okay if, say, Lianne returned, or if Keith had been keeping an eye out and caught her trail somewhere, but randomly going after something from Lianne's high school days in an attempt to at least partially redeem Lianne is completely backwards to everything we've seen on the show so far. I can get that Veronica does, on some level, still want a mother that she can...well, not find repulsive and vile, but I still don't buy it. It feels totally out of the blue. (And "fiend" vs. "friend"? Tsk, tsk, Veronica. I caught that in a split second. Are you sure you're as smart as all that?)

lilserf: Personally, I liked Veronica's obsession with finding out about Lianne. She's got a blind spot there, as we've seen before, and she's just hung up on figuring her mom out. It's easy for us to say, "She sucked, forget about her," but in real life I can't imagine how difficult that would be. Veronica's still searching for a reason, searching for why Lianne is the way she is. Saying you'll forget about the parent who leaves is one thing; doing it is another.

topanga: I agree, lilserf, but we didn't say it. Veronica did.

Inigo: Word, lilserf. Veronica has proved time and again that there is a gap between what she tells herself and what she really feels. She loves her mother. She can't help it; she intellectualises that she shouldn't, but she does. To some extent, it's almost as if she is looking for some objective justification for loving her mother. If Lianne was cool in high school, someone Veronica would have wanted to know, then loving her doesn't seem such a daft way to feel. Then she really can lay all the bad stuff on the door of the booze, as she told the "baby."

wilecoyote: While we're on the subject of characterizations, I think it's out of character for Keith to go and look up the information about the abandoned baby as Veronica had requested. Didn't he tell her to forget about it already? What's he doing giving her a lead immediately afterwards?

Above all, I really have a problem with Veronica's actions in this episode. In the past I've seen people criticizing her, erm, flexible ethics, but I had never felt that until now. In this episode she has no wrongs to right, no oppressed friends to help; she is motivated exclusively by curiosity first and then by a personal vendetta, which clouds her judgement and makes her miss obvious connections. (Did you, like, actually check that the abandoned baby was Celeste's? Did you even try?). And worst of all, the episode doesn't call her on it in the end, like in "Mars vs. Mars" or in the plant + bug incident.

An interesting counterpoint: in the end, it's revealed that Lianne was the sweetest, kindest person in high school...precisely in the episode where we've seen Veronica behaving in the opposite way.

Inigo: Wile, I've never seen Veronica as a seeker of random justice. In many of the cases in which she has taken an interest, she had to be persuaded or it has involved people she cares about. She follows up on things that matter to her and one of those things is, and has always been, her mother.

topanga: I laughed out loud at Veronica's lack of maternal...anything. My favorite moments were when she inadvertently slammed the baby's head on the countertop when she came home from school and the way she shoved the bottle into the baby's mouth when she started crying at play rehearsal. Then Duncan outed her for forgetting the baby in the car the last time she came over to visit. I don't believe Veronica will be a bad mother, but clearly, she won't be ready to be a mother for a long time. And that's fine. She's only eighteen, and right now, her life revolves around her: how do her friends feel about her, why was the bus crash meant for her, why wouldn't a guy want to cheat on his girlfriend with her? She thinks in the self-centered way most teenagers do, which is one reason why teenage parenthood sucks.

Polter-Cow: Speaking of which, I can't believe people were right about Meg being pregnant.

misskiwi: I know! I think I owe Inigo $20...

lilserf: I was not exactly surprised at PregMeg, but I'd say I was still intrigued. I still trust Rob & Co., and at this point you can hardly do anything on TV without it being a cliché done by an earlier show.

Polter-Cow: Rob Thomas and Co. seem to have completely reworked their idea of Meg's character over the summer. I hope there was some sort of catalyst or we see some revealing flashbacks because...WTF? The comatose girl's gotten more character development than Jackie, Gia, Hector, Thumper, and Bootsy combined.

misskiwi: I disagree that they've done anything to her character. We didn't really know that much about her to start with, except that she was one of the few nice 09ers. And getting knocked up followed by getting dumped is enough to turn anyone into a major league bee-yotch. I don't think this requires a lot of character development. I'm not saying we won't get any, but I don't think the mere fact that she's pregnant (sigh) is evidence that they're reworking her character.

I bet Meg's score on the purity test has dropped a few notches, though.

Polter-Cow: Also, Meg did not just magically wake up when Veronica left. I definitely got the impression she's been awake. For how long, though. For how long.

topanga: Oh, word. Are people saying that was her first time awake? No way. She's been awake and conscious and hiding from everyone for a while now.

lilserf: I'm in the not-a-real-coma camp. We haven't heard about the coma from anyone "official" so it's entirely possible the whole thing is just a cover story concocted by the Mannings to keep the pregancy quiet. Doctor-patient confidentiality would mean the hospital would have no comment about it, so the parents' word would be the only evidence. And (until tonight) they weren't letting anybody see Meg.

funky-donut: My spec? She was planning on having an abortion (one of the reasons she was so bitchy to Veronica: that was looming over her head and she was freaking out about it), but the bus crash happened and her parents found out about the pregnancy. This caused them to flip and ramp up the abuse on Grace. Now she can't have an abortion, either because she's too far along or because the cat's out of the bag and her parents would literally murder her with their bare hands if she did.

alliterator: Her mother did in the alternate ending. Only it was with a pillow. And it didn't really happen, since it was the alternate ending.

funky-donut: Could anyone tell which heart rate was supposed to be which? Because if Meg is the one that was at 180 and not the baby, then I don't think she was asleep when Veronica was in the room at all. I don't think you can sleep with your heart rate that high. Which would mean she knows Veronica knows she's preggo. But if hers was the one that was at 60, then scratch all that.

lilserf: Meg's was supposed to be 60, the baby's 180. Trust me :) I knew she was pregnant from those numbers alone (although someone on TwoP said 180 is high for that far along).

Polter-Cow: The baby was excited to be in the presence of the one, the only, Veronica Mars.

misskiwi: Or takes after its mamma and was using many, many expletives in the womb.

Polter-Cow: I guess I do have to eat some crow, however, on the subject of Meg. While it is still undeniably contrived for Meg to have been the sole survivor of the bus crash, they clearly had a juicy plotline cooked up for her. This is Veronica Mars. Nothing happens by accident.

misskiwi: As much as I disliked the revelation, I will concede that a lot of things make more sense now. Meg's animosity towards Veronica that put people on this trail in the first place — although it's interesting we never saw any bitterness directed at Duncan. That could either be because they had some sort of agreement we don't know about, or simply because Veronica was the one reaching out and interacting with her. (Duncan's comment that Veronica doesn't owe Meg anything seems rather blasé in retrospect.) Duncan visiting Meg at the hospital every day, and the Mannings' hostility towards the irresponsible nitwit that knocked up their daughter. Lizzie being sent to boarding school. Duncan's dream about Meg and "promises" he made to her.

There are two points of speculation I want to throw out here. First, does Duncan know? I think the obvious answer is yes, but that's not necessarily the case. We don't know that Duncan knew before the bus crash. It's possible that Meg found out she was pregnant after they broke up and was too angry with Duncan to want to involve him at all. And from what we've seen, Duncan never managed to see Meg in the hospital. I'm wondering if maybe Duncan found out about it from the letter to Meg he read. That kind of information would certainly elicit the shocked reaction we saw.

The second possibility I've been turning over in my head is whether the baby is actually Duncan's. It doesn't seem likely that Meg cheated on Duncan unless the writers have done a complete about-face with her character, but it's possible that Meg dated someone else on the rebound. A Chris Talley from Seattle, perhaps? I know the timeline — or at least what we can piece together of the timeline — puts the dirty diapers squarely on Duncan's doorstep, but it's still food for thought.

marks of love: Just one point that I want to bring up: Duncan looked at Meg's files when Veronica wasn't around. He brought the Child Protection emails to her already printed out. What else did he find in her computer that he isn't telling Veronica about? There could have been baby information all over. Ultimately I think Duncan's a good guy, but the kid likes his secrets.

Inigo: Okay, missK, I'm up for this discussion. Meg would be what? Six months? That would put conception at the end of May, beginning of June. That is around the time she and Duncan broke up. I think it's right not to jump to either the conclusion that the baby is Duncan's or that they have done a 180 on her character and turned her into a ho.

The problem with trying to speculate on Meg is that there are so many herrings in the pot, red or otherwise. You've got the Mannings, who seem to have had some sort of epiphany over the summer. You have the creepy Stuart Fuller and his casual offer of sex and drugs. You have the fact that Meg might have been the target of the bus sabotage. You have Duncan raising his eyebrows at the implication that he was the "boyfriend" who was always with Meg when she went babysitting (but then again, he knew all Meg's clients). You have Duncan's dreams where he has promised to save her which, in the light of the pregnancy, serves equally well to Duncan owning up to his responsibility or taking the responsibility upon himself. In other words, the writers have left themselves a huge amount of room to manoeuvre.

misskiwi: Ooh, I forgot about creepy Mr. Fuller. Interesting. Veerrrry interesting.

Inigo: Rob has described Duncan as pure, and we got every sign in this episode that he did not betray Veronica with Kendall. That supports Duncan either not knowing Meg was pregnant (at least until he read the letter) or not being the father, in my mind. Now, as to who could be, there are all sorts of plausible possibilities without ruining Meg's character. She could have been raped. She could have been drinking her sorrows away over Duncan. She could have been enticed onto Stuart Fuller's boat. She could have gone back to Cole. She may have decided, at eighteen, that the reason she lost Duncan was because she hadn't slept with him and changed her mind about waiting. All of these things could have happened to her. We don't know.

I don't think it's Chris Talley solely because the writing looks female to me, together with the "This means you" message on the back.

grim squeaker: If it is revealed that Meg really had another boyfriend I will shout foul/character assassination, especially since that must have been while she was with Duncan or the timeline of the pregnancy totally wouldn't work. But I think Mrs. Fuller's comment about Meg having her boyfriend over on babysitting days and Duncan's subsequent ambivalent reaction certainly make this a possibility.

misskiwi: If Duncan is not the father of Meg's baby, it brings us back to the interesting question of why Meg was so uncharacteristically vicious to Veronica at the beginning of the school year. I'm definitely intrigued by what might have happened to Meg to provoke this if it was more than just Veronica "stealing" her man after she got knocked up.

grim squeaker: What I found intriguing about the letter by Chris Talley was the little note on the backside: "Private and confidential — this means you!", because I'd like to know who the addressee is. Certainly not Duncan, because that wouldn't really make sense, but it would perfectly fit Meg's parents, wouldn't it? So I'd say it's more likely that Chris Talley is a relative or a family friend who knows the Mannings' snooping ways and not a potential baby daddy.

Inigo: Or the letter was sent elsewhere. The address on the letter, 23 Emperor Court, is the same address as was used for the Fullers in season one. We know Meg was the Fullers' regular babysitter and we know that the Fullers were out every Friday night at the least. If Meg wanted to receive correspondence without her parents knowing, be it a relative or anyone else, she may well have arranged for the person to write to her at their address. She would know that she would be there every Friday to collect. She may have spun some tale to the Fullers, but the writer, knowing it is going to another household, is being cautious. Given the way her parents seem to behave these days, it was probably the safest route. It's plausible. Or Rick screwed up and used the same address twice.

grim squeaker: Whoever the letter writer is, he or she really loves old-fashioned methods of communication. Wouldn't a person closer to Meg's age simply write her an email?

misskiwi: My other problem was the whole Trina thing. It seemed to come out of nowhere. And I guess most of the MotWs can be said to do that, but this felt different. Forced, somehow. I had to pause the episode about two-thirds of the way through, and I spent the time not trying to puzzle through the various clues and red herrings like I would usually have to do, but going "Aw, crap, who are they going to suddenly make Celeste Kane's long-lost daughter?"

funky-donut: It was a mistake having the foster mother refer to Lynn as Trina's adoptive mother, right? Lynn was Trina's stepmother, which means that Trina had to have been adopted either by Haaron and a mystery woman or Haaron alone. Maybe Aaron adopted Trina alone and then Lynn adopted Trina after she married him, but it seems like then Trina wouldn't have referred to her as her stepmother, because she wouldn't have had an original mother.

grim squeaker: Yes, I think that was a small error on the foster home lady's side. Or the writers thought it would be too confusing to say "her stepmom died and her father went to jail." Or they forgot. Who knows.

misskiwi: If it wasn't an error on the part of the writers, it's definitely something they threw in out of the blue, because Trina referred to Lynn as "[Logan's] mom, my stepmom" and was constantly playing up her role as daddy's little girl. That makes no sense if Aaron and Lynn adopted. It's possible that Aaron and a previous wife adopted Trina, but it seems very odd for us never to have heard of this before now. Logan especially would have likely thrown it in Trina's face at every opportunity. And yet...not so much.

Polter-Cow: I hope Rob knows what he's doing and doesn't end up with an unwieldy retcon on his hands because all of the filling in backstory here was so obviously stuff he hadn't thought of in season one. The Jake/Lianne/Celeste pregnancy scandal totally would have come up otherwise. And the rumor/suspension thing should have come up in her initial "Do you remember how my mom was prom queen?" investigations. And now what, was Lianne really popular and nice or was she a total rumor-spreading bee-yotch?

marks of love: It's funny about Trina, because early on in the episode, in her first scene, I was sighing and wondering how this show expected me to think that this vapid idiot had (even half of) the same genes as my beloved Logan. He of the sickle wit, right? So good on the show for solving this problem for me.

lilserf: I personally didn't notice any issues with Trina's family story. The foster mother had her for a while in 1980...she knows she went to the Echollses. She doesn't have any reason to know the tawdry details of who Aaron divorced or remarried or whatever. Nobody talks so exactly as to say, "Her adoptive father went to jail and his second wife, not her adoptive mother, committed suicide." She just talked about the family Trina ended up with, wherein the father went to jail and the mother bit it. Likewise, Trina wouldn't bother talking that specifically to Logan in season 1. Nobody says, "She was your mom, the second wife of my adoptive father". It's "She was your mom, my stepmom." No reason to discuss the details. I maintain that if Trina grew up with Aaron and Mrs. Echolls #1 she's gonna call them "Mom" and "Dad" and call Lynn "stepmom" regardless of the technical relationships there. She was adopted as a tiny baby, folks.

funky-donut: That's the fanwank I like, lilserf. That plus the foster mom just misspoke when she said her adoptive mom had committed suicide.

Now, all that being said, I was really impressed with her reaction to Mary. I was worried she was going to be mean to her or freak out that her bio-mom was a deaf lunch lady. Instead, she gave her a loving hug and then went and tore Asshole Moorehead a new...asshole.

grim squeaker: I found Trina's reaction great as well. First shocked and a little put off, but then she just accepted it. She probably is a really sweet girl under all those layers of shallowness.

I have to confess that this was also the first time I ever really liked Alyson Hannigan in this role. It was fun watching her.

funky-donut: Agreed. I found her almost painful to watch last season, as much as I wanted to like her. She was a blast last night. And there's totally a How I Met Your Mother joke waiting to be made here.

wilecoyote: Somebody finally got Alyson the memo that she isn't playing Willow anymore, but a completely different character. Yay!! When Veronica was telling Trina about the truth, there's a moment when we can see Trina's face, all confused, and I thought: "This poor girl...okay, not exactly a saint, but not a terrible person either, and she doesn't even know what's going to happen to her, how Veronica is going to wreck her life." And then, of course, she had to find the idea of being the daughter of millonaires the best thing ever.

When Veronica was taping Trina, I had a sudden Hamlet connection, and I imagined that Veronica was going to put Celeste somehow in front of that tape to see her reactions. How awesome would that have been?

misskiwi: Unbelievably awesome. Interestingly, I had to pause the episode about two-thirds of the way through, and I had settled on Kendall as the likely candidate. We know she's 25 (or at least claims to be), we know nothing about her parents, and you get the added irony of Duncan almost sleeping with another half-sister. And Kendall suddenly solves her money problems. I think I would have liked that better, because it fits so many things at once, and that's usually the way it works in Neptune.

funky-donut: misskiwi, those are exactly the reasons why I decided it was Kendall halfway through the episode. The irony of Celeste having [another] daughter like that...Duncan and his possible half-sisters...I was totally convinced. I also thought it explained a lot about why her character got written in this season, since up until Cassidy's recent decision to have her spearhead his company (aside: he's got an ulterior motive, I'm willing to bet) her purpose seemed kind of...vague to me.

alliterator: She's in this season because she's hot. Do we need another reason?

Okay, maybe we do. BUT SHE'S STILL HOT.

marks of love: I got that we were supposed to think of Kendall when the age was stated, but I couldn't bring myself to buy it. Charisma Carpenter was twenty-eight when Cordelia Chase was eighteen, for heaven's sake. I love me some Charisma, and it's a compliment to her that she's still playing twenty-five, but I find it really freaking absurd. With a twenty-five-year-old playing our new eighteen-year-old I guess everybody's age has to be wonky...and I regularly accept Francis Capra as a Mexican, which is also absurd...but no! I refuse to be a pawn to this crazy game of actor-character separation! I exercise my suspension-of-disbelief muscles regularly for this show, but here I draw the line. And, unfortunately, my vulnerability to the show's twists suffers. Oh, well. Charisma's still hot.

Polter-Cow: Meg is pretty.

funky-donut: So is Cassidy.

marks of love: Back off, biznitch.

Inigo: Logan is prettier than either of them. Put together.

funky-donut: Even beaten and bloodied?

Inigo: Even when he is bloody.

funky-donut: I mean, yeah, I found that fight kind of...hot, but they were both pretty effed up after it.

topanga: Wallace isn't too shabby, either. Even when he's hurt and betrayed. Or duct-taped to a flagpole. Hmm, especially when he's duct-taped to a flagpole. Those abs...

grim squeaker: It's fascinating how beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

misskiwi: You people are all sadly shallow.

Inigo: To have depths, you have to start shallow.

alliterator: Yeah, but you're like the kiddie pool.

Inigo: I thought that was Kendall.

grim squeaker: *has yet another Angel flashback*

wyk: What the [bleep] is matter with you people?! 1) We're trying to have a serious discussion about the show here. 2) How can you mention the pretty without talking about Veronica!!

Polter-Cow: Veronica is pretty.

lilserf: I'm sorry, Veronica is ultra-hot. My apologies. I just take that as a given.

Although I must say I preferred Season 1 short-hair ass-kicking Veronica. I'm a sucker for bad girls, apparently.

funky-donut: Dude, I totally drool all over Veronica. She is like, a given, though. She's ALWAYS hot.

I do have to agree with Mr. Serf, though — I miss her old hair. Although, Mac seems to have inherited it recently, which I am quite happy with. Pleased as punch, in fact.

Polter-Cow: See, I like Mac's long blue hair better. But I've got a thing for dyed hair.

funky-donut: Maybe it's the TV I watch on, but I could barely ever see the blue. I had no idea what you guys were talking about with the blue-haired bit in her (old) bio. I had never noticed it.

I just love the little horns and buns and things. And since V. doesn't do them anymore, (sniff!) I'm glad Mac is.

My, we really are shallow, aren't we?

topanga: And speaking of Wallace...I'm not saying this because I'm his biggest stalker fan, but these last few episodes haven't been as good as they could have because Wallace wasn't there. Yes, I think it's appropriate that he spent some time away from Neptune in order to "clear his head and think," or however he phrased it. But now it's almost as if he never existed. Veronica has been emotional and/or confused about Duncan and Logan and Abel Koontz and now Meg, and she has no one to turn to. She can't go to her reliable dad with boyfriend problems or her fears about the Fighting Fitzpatricks. Granted, her life has rarely been an open book with Wallace, but he's always been her proverbial rock. She's never had to question his motivations or his loyalty or his honesty. She might develop a similar type of friendship with Mac eventually, but she already has that now with Mr. Fennel.

misskiwi: Don't get me wrong: I like Wallace, and I miss him and his relationship with Veronica, but I think your point about Veronica's reluctance to open up to him is right on target. I can only think of one instance of her confiding in him, and that was under dire circumstances. His presence might be a comfort, but I don't think it's likely it would help her deal with everything she's going through.

funky-donut: I miss him too, topanga. Please, nobody chime in with a lecture about episode contracts and stuff because I get it, but I really miss his character, his flavor, his spin in each episode. I hope he comes back in style.

alliterator: Me three. I feel like Wallace's presence is needed to balance out Veronica's life. He's essentially her link to a normal life, but he's also her only real friend.

grim squeaker: God, I miss him too. Contracts be damned.

lilserf: I suck, I'm talking about contracts. I much prefer this Wallace-finds-his-dad storyline to write him out for the requisite number of episodes. It's painful, sure, but in a way that works with the characters and points out how Veronica needs Wallace. If, on the other hand, Wallace was just mysteriously not around in 3 or 4 episodes over the course of the season, it would just seem weird. To me, at least. Look at it this way: when he's back, he's back for 12 in a row, baby.

Polter-Cow: The dead rat! Finally! Except...it took Veronica this long to find it? And also, she has the nerve to be taken aback that Keith investigated something and DIDN'T TELL HER ABOUT IT?! OMG VERONICA YOU ARE A POT SIRED BY A KETTLE. ALSO MAYBE YOU ARE NOT THE RAT. FEEL MORE GUILT AT INCIDENTAL TIMES IF THE BUS CRASH WAS REALLY ALL ABOUT YOU. AND THEN TELL ME WHAT THE RAT MEANS SO I CAN STOP TALKING IN ALL CAPS.

misskiwi: Don't make me pop you with my tranquilizer gun again, Polter-Cow.

Polter-Cow: Okay, I'm calm. Reading some responses on TWoP, I have to seriously question this. What was the rat doing in there? Keith removed it from the crime scene. How will he prove anything now? And no, really, why hasn't Veronica found it until now?

lilserf: Yeah, I certainly didn't notice at the time but in retrospect it seems crazy for Keith to steal and freeze the rat. And for Veronica to not find it. The only fanwank I can manage is that Lamb certainly seems unwilling to do anything about the bus, so perhaps Keith didn't care.

Or he's got that Mars family trait of just assuming that once he figures out what happened, there'll be so much obvious evidence that no one will mind that he took the rat.

Inigo: Perhaps Keith only just got the rat back, after having some forensics buddies take a look at it.

misskiwi: Dude, I could totally have something in my freezer and not find it for a month. In fact, I have done that, and for way longer than a month. I mean, not a dead rat, certainly, but it's totally possible that Keith shoved it way in there and Veronica didn't go digging around in the freezer. I buy it. I agree with Polter-Cow that the larger issue is why the hell did Keith (a) remove the rat and (b) freeze it?

lilserf: I actually found some ground beef in my freezer this week that said "Sell by September 2003." No joke.

misskiwi: Oh! I just realized that the rat was in the freezer at Mars Investigations, so obviously Veronica wouldn't be going into the freezer there as much as she would their home fridge.

wyk: And remember that Keith found that rat by breaking into the police warehouse. If he thought Lamb could handle the investigation, he wouldn't have gone snooping himself. Since Keith has lost faith in the the police, he is not going to hand over this piece of evidence to them. Where is Keith going to store the dead rat? He can't store it in the fridge at home because Veronica would find it. The next logical place to hide the rat is the freezer in the office.

misskiwi: Also? The rat taped under the seat as a message to Veronica that she is one? Makes no sense. Veronica never saw it, and whoever put it there had no reason to be sure it would ever be found. Even if the bus was brought up, who says the rat would still be there, or intact, or found? Of course, duct tape survives anything, so there's that, but still, it doesn't make sense.

marks of love: Seriously, misskiwi! I had no problem with Veronica not knowing everything in the fridge at her place of work, but how the hell is that a message to her? I respect V's ability to make insane leaps of intuition, because that's what makes her the badass action figure detective we all know and love, but that's not so much intuitive and more kinda...insane. Also, self-centered.

wilecoyote: In the infamous Logan/Weevil confrontation scene, I don't like the fact that they skipped Logan evicting Weevil's family. That, to my mind, is the most assholic thing either of them have done, and the definitive proof that, as much as the show was trying to paint them as equals, they are really not. (Once again, an American show comes this close to dealing with class issues, just to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat...)

marks of love: Wile, I disagree with your statement that the eviction definitively paints Logan as the bigger asshole. Which...is odd, because I do think Logan is a jerkier jerk than Weevil, but Weevil has a gang and shit. Also, dude, Russian Roulette. They are equals, ever rising and falling to meet the other's level. I'm really not trying to espouse a slashy viewpoint here, but bear with me. The Logan/Weevil relationship has been a constant delight to me since the very beginning, and they didn't exactly start with tea parties and buttering each other's muffins. Of course the stakes get higher after somebody dies and a house burns down. I love that my boys are smart enough to know that they need each other and should be working together, and I love that they struggle against that. On this show, what two characters understand each other as well as Logan and Weevil do? Reminiscing as I often do about my favourite episode, I have to submit that there's no one.

Also, I am shallow and I like Logan when he's violent.

misskiwi: In Weevil and Logan's defense, we don't actually know he evicted sweet old Mrs. Navarro. I think it's likely, but I've got no proof. We haven't heard a peep of it since. And besides, I think burning Logan's house down might qualify as an eye for an eye, there.

alliterator: Did you see Weevil's face? Man, the 09ers really gave him a beating. But I like how Veronica said "What goes around comes around." I guess she does remember when Wallace was duct-taped to the flagpole.

Polter-Cow: I loved the Logan and Weevil. Logan's punch to the camera was just like Aaron's punch to the camera in "Leave It to Beaver." And the knockdown-dragout to "Walk Idiot Walk"? Great. Hector of the hyena laugh having murderous tendencies? Whatever. Right now, I'm sticking to the ridiculous theory that I espoused back in the days of "Driver Ed": Cervando killed Felix. I have no idea why, but it's such a Rob thing to do because he's already dead. There's no justice to be had. Just like the rape resolution.

wilecoyote: One last thing: I mentioned the other day that Hector would probably be the one stabbing Weevil in the back. Notice how, in this episode, he's still the one talking tough and fueling the feud...

misskiwi: I agree, wile, Hector always seems to be trying to push the PCHers' buttons and, if not Felix's killer, is certainly one of the ones working behind Weevil's back. Maybe if we knew more than two PCHers, there'd be more than two suspects. Or three, if you count Cervando.

Polter-Cow: Four! Don't forget Bootsy. With a name like Bootsy, there's bound to be trouble.

Speaking of trouble: VAN CLEMMONS IS A TOTAL BADASS. Oh my God, I did not think he could be so awesome. First, with the "Gimme all your keys, bitch." And then with the "You think I'm going to give you information about what you were snooping around in? Bitch, please. Okay, here's some information about what you were snooping around in." Finally, with the "What? I didn't do anything. I surely didn't have this Principal placard all made up and ready." I don't even want to think about how nonsensical it all seems, though. That he's been keeping this giant secret about his superior all this time, waiting for the right time to strike. All a little too convenient, you might say.

wilecoyote: I found the scene where Veronica pretended to be the actual detective hysterical. Imagine if Keith had caught her in that precise moment...

And Evan Rachel Wood as Veronica? Best casting choice ever.

topanga: I loved Beaver in this episode. He wasn't the same sweet, pathetic kid I've felt sorry for all season. He was tough with Kendall when he needed to be, but he still maintained an air of innocence. His flirting with Mac was anything but innocent, however, and the two of them seemed very into each other, which made it even better. Note to make-up artists: easy on the foundation, blush, and eyeliner. Watching Cassidy in some of those scenes made me feel like I was watching a Mardis Gras parade.

grim squeaker: I know that a lot of people keep noticing this, but honestly, it never distracted me much. What I think the makeup department is overdoing a little is the lipstick for everybody. Duncan's or Logan's lipgloss shouldn't exactly rival Veronica's.

marks of love: I must be too easily distracted by the pretty, because I never notice the makeup that bugs Topanga and grim. Well, I might be subconsciously aware of Cassidy wearing eyeliner, but to me it just translates into "Cassidy pretty. Cassidy sad. Cassidy woobie. He's mine, biznitch!" I appear to be a bit broken on that score.

Oh, but seriously, I am falling hard for Cassidy and his portrayal by Kyle Gallner. He's such an interesting character — letting people overlook him as shy and timid, while taking the initiative and being downright devious as it suits him. And yet, for all his masterful confidence, he's such a little boy, clinging desperately to the family that neglected him, when deep down he must know that they're all horrible people. I wasn't so thrilled at seeing Kyle and Ryan in the credits to "Normal is the Watchword," but Cassidy, at least, has proven to be another great VM invention.

Also, Cassidy + Mac = troo luv foreva! They are SO cute, not to mention scheming.

Polter-Cow: Mac and Beaver were FLIRTING UP THE ASS. So cute. Also, I have no idea how sixteen-year-old Cassidy Casablancas thinks he can run a frickin' real estate company.

lilserf: I tend to think Cassidy's just trying to make something of himself with his CEO-ship. Going to all this trouble just to set Kendall up for a fall seems pointless to me. Rather, I think he's found something he's good at (as evidenced by his investment prowess in the class) and he wants to prove to absent Big Dick that he's got what it takes. I think Kendall's involvement is, plot-wise, for the eventual purposes of screwing Beaver over when she messes something up, thus making us all very sad.

funky-donut: If what you spec about Kendall screwing Cassidy is true, I will cry, cry, cry. Because BeavCassidy is mine too young for her. Oh, wait, you said screwing OVER. Heh. Never mind.

marks of love: Back off, biznitch. He's mine.

grim squeaker: Oh, great, funky-donut, now I have to bleach the memories of Cordelia and Connor out of my brain yet. Again. But aside from any nefarious purposes either of these two might have — and I personally am betting on Kendall, lest Cassidy is looking cleverer than he is is cleverer than he appears — the scene between Kendall and Beav pretty much rocked. They are really playing off each other well, I've already noticed that in previous encounters. I also like that there is now another reason for Kendall to stick around than preying on sexually hyperactive eighteen-year olds.

In conclusion, I love Beaver!

alliterator: Dirty!

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