2.22 "Not Pictured"

Aired May 09, 2006

Roundtable Reviews

misskiwi: While I have to give them major props for the execution, I'm not buying the concept. I get where they were trying to go, but while I think last year they found a good balance between not prematurely showing their hand and just the right amount of foreshadowing, this season they were too conservative and I don't think they properly set up this resolution from a character standpoint.

wilecoyote: Was this a joke? Please, somebody tell me this is just a prank and the real finale will be next week or something, because I just can't believe it. WORST EPISODE EVER. ROB THOMAS, YOU'RE SO FIRED.

Polter-Cow: I thought last year's finale was action-packed and intense. That was nothing compared to this. Holy Christ. My heart was pounding. My breathing was heavy. I was sweating. That was one hell of a ride. Overall, I think it was a pretty fantastic episode. It was exhausting, draining, visceral as hell, and I much prefer that to the mehness I've felt after some episodes this season. As a resolution to the season-long mystery, it was flawed, though the pieces were all there. It stayed true to its noir roots with an emphasis on deep, dark secrets and the lengths to which people will go in order to keep them.

fickledame: This was so completely amazing. I've never been quite so blown away by an episode before. I keep watching it over and over and loved it from beginning to end.

BepperGirl: This episode was incredible. Aside from the rather hasty Logan/Veronica reunion, this episode was top-notch. Everything that happened was believable, and a big part of that is due to what I believe is some very consistant characterization for the characters throughout the entire first two seasons.

wyk: The rollercoaster, heart-pounding excitement that you guys liked so much is one of the thing I disliked about the episode. Instead of being a grey, everyone-is-corrupt, no-easy-answers noir, it felt more like big-explosions, big-bad, big-anvils, Joel Silver-produced action flick. There were some great parts in the episode, but overall the episode was just good, not great.

grim squeaker: Well, what can I say. I'm a little on the fence here. On the one hand, entertaining episode. On the other, I knew I had this stupid "I wonder if they make my favourite character the culprit" feeling for a good reason... Dammit. Not Cassidy. I mean, I was spoiled for this, and yet I've been avidly, constantly letting myself believe this couldn't be right, this couldn't be the solution for over a month. (Let this be a cautionary tale to everyone. Don't read casting sides, people, they'll drive you insane.) I could have figured it out from the way Rob Thomas kept telling they'd come up with this season's mystery at the end of last season, which just so coincides with Dick Casablancas getting a Dawn sudden younger brother. And yet, it still got me, it ripped my heart out, and not in a good way. Well acted, all around, that's for sure.

I have certain reservations about the proposed assumption that sexual child abuse turns victims either gay (be assured that it is the unconsciously implied connection between being homosexual and having been abused that disturbs me, here) or into psychopaths, but I guess after getting a comparatively varied picture of gay teens this season, TPTB had to get simplistic somewhere. And yes, I know that in Cassidy's case we can argue neglect and possibly emotional abuse as factors in his turn to sociopathic behaviour as well, and who knows what was going on with Lucky, but still, given that I've already read many earnest message board entries about how victims of sexual abuse "commonly" turn into sexual predators, psychopaths, or, astonishingly, porn actors (like, why are these three even remotely connected in people's heads?), I can't help thinking that a more complex picture of said victims would have gone a long way to prevent re-enforcing common stereotypes.

misskiwi: As I said above, my biggest problem is that 99% of what we've seen of Cassidy is the sweet, nice-guy-finishes-last guy who's considerate and shy. The 1% was his "Remember Sally?" moment and the Milf prank on Dick back in "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough." If we'd only seen a few more glimpses of Cassidy having retaliatory tendencies against Dick, or being a little cold-blooded, or being glad his father's gone...something. Anything. He looked so sad after his dad took off in "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang" — what if he had later commented that it wasn't so bad, having his Dad gone? Shown some kind of smug satisfaction that his, may I say, brilliant plan had worked? Or that at least now, he wasn't constantly being left out? What if he spent more time teaching Dick a lesson? Not making googly eyes at Mac? Kicking puppies? Come on, people, throw me a bone. I'm trying to still love this show, I really am.

wilecoyote: No help from me here, misskiwi. I agree 100% with everything you said. This was just like one of those bad movies where a perfectly normal character suddenly turns psycho in the last five minutes. A complete cheat.

In a way, you could argue that the writers had painted themselves in a corner, because considering all the people who correctly guessed about Beaver, if they had dropped more hints it would have been blindingly obvious to everyone. But then again, I'm not the one being paid the big bucks to think about this stuff, so no sympathy from me.

Let's recount all the inconsistencies: Beaver's relaxed behaviour in the first episode, even joking, "That's why Sharks' pitching sucks!"... right in front of his abuser. A 17-year old buying and selling land...and knowing how to make bombs (which they tried to justify with a shoehorned line about Beaver helping Hart with the special effects of his movie). His 180-degree change of behaviour from the first 21 episodes to this one. I could have bought Beaver being a nervous, messed-up kid in way over his head who blew up the bus out of desperation, without knowing what else to do...but of course, that Beaver (the consistent one) would have been obvious to everyone by episode 4.

misskiwi: You're right on all counts but one: that this was the worst episode ever. As much as I may think they could have done things differently, I have to give them major props for a fantastic rollercoaster ride of an episode that was a great payoff to the season.

BepperGirl: I agree, kiwi. This episode was far from the worst episode ever (that distinction goes to "One Angry Veronica" although I am beginning to see why it was needed) and indeed a great payoff. I have loved the majority of this season, nowhere near season 1, but still excellently done. They built upon what had been established in season 1 and took it to a whole new level.

Also, wile, I saw some of nervous, messed-up kid that Cassidy was in the finale. When he looks down at the ground below, just for an instant you see that glimmer of the guy we thought we knew. And you also must remember, we saw Cassidy in "M.A.D." first. Even then, we saw how he hated being called Beaver. He tries to speak his given name, but is shushed by his older brother who gives the dreadful nickname. That is where I see consistency building from.

wilecoyote: Sure, we saw the messed up Cassidy in the finale...for like five seconds, after ten minutes of BWA-HA-HA-HA James-Bond-villain. And yes, he has the same name now than when he was first introduced as a character...and oh wait!, he was played by the same actor!! Total continuity there, dude.

Sorry, I have some anger issues that I should probably take out with Rob Thomas. Preferably with a mechanical chainsaw in hand.

fickledame: I'm curious as to whom you would have made the killer, if you were writing the episode, wilecoyote? Someone that fit, wasn't too obvious but also had enough clues that it didn't come out of nowhere.

wilecoyote: I don't really know and I don't care that much, to be honest. I didn't have any particular "favorite killer", nor I was specially attached to Cassidy as a character. All I ask from the resolution is that it's consistent with what we've seen before and that it carries some kind of thematic weight.

Last season, for example, I didn't see the final reveal coming at all, and I loved it. Rob is the storyteller; he can make the killer whoever he wants, as long as he DOESN'T RAPE THE ENTIRE CONTINUITY OF THE PREVIOUS 21 EPISODES AND CHEATS LIKE A CHEATING BASTARD IN THE PROCESS.

misskiwi: How the hell did he do that? I certainly think they could have handled Beaver's supposed "dark side" better, but it's hardly completely out of the blue. It makes sense with what we know; it just doesn't fit with everything we saw.

wilecoyote: It fits with almost nothing of what we saw about Beaver. To put the example that you mentioned yourself, misskiwi (and BTW, it wasn't me but public displays of lust who first pointed out this contradiction): at the end of "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang", after Big Dick has escaped (supposedly driven away by Beaver as punishment for his behaviour), we see a shot of Beaver alone. There's no one else paying attention to him; he doesn't have to keep an act for anyone. And HE LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE HORRIFIED AND SAD AT HIS FATHER RUNNING AWAY, not like someone secretly satisfied at his evil plan suceeding. Rob Thomas, you suck.

fickledame: Perhaps he was feeling remorse? He wanted to punish his father, but it still hurt when he left. Also, if he twirled his moustache at that point, I think we would have cottoned on.

wilecoyote: But he is supposed to be a sociopath, right? Do sociopaths feel remorse?

misskiwi: I do think that was some underhanded misdirection, but I certainly don't think that it ruins the season or this episode.

Polter-Cow: I think Rob and the writers overcompensated in keeping suspicion away from Beaver. I can hardly reconcile the psychotic Beaver on the rooftop with the Beaver we've seen all season, though I disagree with wile that it's completely inconsistent because misskiwi easily came up with numerous clues as to his true nature. Although I feel like they deliberately hid the subtext (for instance, the aforementioned scene in CCBB). I'm not saying it came completely out of left field because the boy clearly had issues, and he wasn't all sweetness and light. I thought they must have reworked his character for the second season from how they played him at the end of the first season (note that "Leave It to Beaver" was kicked off by Beaver's revealing a secret he had sworn to take to the grave, and "Not Pictured" reveals that he had a Secret of his own), but that was understandable, given that he was introduced late.

misskiwi: It's possible that Beaver ratted Logan out to Veronica because Logan, much like Dick, sort of treated him like crap. Which would be consistent with his supposedly vindictive nature.

fickledame: I agree, misskiwi. It was probably a revenge thing. I personally had dismissed it being Cassidy because he was too obvious, so I'm a little surprised for people to be saying it wasn't obvious enough. I think they gave the right amount of clues for people to be suspicious but I was still in shock when it was Cassidy, but I think he fit perfectly.

misskiwi: Well, there's a difference between being obvious and being consistent with a character's portrayal. Of course, if they had played up Cassidy's Casablancas side any more, he might as well have been walking around with a curly evil mustache, stroking a goatee evilly.

Polter-Cow: Rob's recently said that they actually intended to make Beaver the villain in the second season when they introduced him (which, frankly, does make sense because they would have broken the second-season mystery by the time he first popped up), so they did deliberately play up his downtrodden, less-than-manly side. I just think they went too far in that direction, which was emphasized by the fact that they went too far in his litany of crimes. Even when I began to accept that Beaver may have caused the bus crash, I never thought he would kill Curly in cold blood. This isn't Smallville, where any teenage Kryptofreak will kill someone if they so much as call him a bad name; this is Neptune, where the teenagers order pizza for lunch.

I think Beaver was a good kid to begin with. But he was driven to do very bad things, which ultimately led to his downfall. Quite literally.

grim squeaker: Well, I do think there were tiny hints and clues throughout the season, but I really would have preferred if they hadn't blamed everything up to the Russian Revolution and global warming on him — and if they had tuned down the evil overlording a little.

wyk: I agree that the writers made Cassidy way, way, way too evil. List of crimes: causes the bus crash, sets up Curly by telling Weevil that Curly did it, implicates Veronica in Curly's death, drives Curly off a cliff, uses Veronica to expose his father, blackmails Woody into killing incorporation, plants a bomb on Woody's car, plants a bomb on Woody's plane, detonates the bomb to kill Woody and Keith, tries to kill Veronica, and shoots at Logan. And to top it all off, not only is Beaver responsible for 95% of the crimes this season, he is also responsible for raping Veronica.

grim squeaker: While I think Kyle Gallner did an impressive job trying to sell about twenty different facets of the character in the finale, including sweet kid, miserable fucked-up kid, and gloating sociopath, it ultimately didn't quite gel for me. Seen in isolation the scenes on the rooftop where Veronica confronts Cassidy before Logan shows up are convincingly played, but I can't totally reconcile that Cassidy with the Cassidy we saw up until shortly before that, nor with the bitter, resigned one who finally walks off the roof.

It's the major gripe I have with this resolution — other than not wanting the character and actor to be gone from the show — I think the characterization doesn't work quite smoothly. (Although, speaking of actor/character gone from the show, how about using him for appearances of Veronica's Clue Subconscious next year, as a sort of darker version of Lilly/the drowned teens? Think about it, TPTB.)

wilecoyote: I'd like to know, which tiny clues? Because I honestly didn't see any. In fact, the main reason why I couldn't buy it when everybody talked about him as the bad guy was that it was completely at odds with the Beaver we had seen until then (or in other words: what you said, grim).

grim squeaker: I think there were various clues that there is more to him than first meets the eye. For example, the whole way his interaction with Veronica in "Cheaty Cheaty Bang Bang" is presented: if you look closely, you'll notice he always gives her hints. He tells her about the bag switch. He is also the one who tells her that Kendall's alleged affair — the meetings with the local assessor — take place on his father's property. And when he notices she has clued in on Big Dick's scam, and wants to tell him about it, he distracts her and runs off, all the while making sure she sees Logan's picture on the laptop. And there is more. For example in "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner," Dick tells Kendall that Beaver is heartbroken when their mother leaves, but we never see it. It seems very possible that he just acted needy in order to get Mamablancas to hand over the trust funds. There is also the whole Phoenix Land Trust deal.

I think we got enough hints that Cassidy is pretty clever and devious throughout the season, we just didn't see enough of a psychopathic side to him. The only thing I'd come up with in that respect is "Remember Sally?" and that one, quite honestly, seemed a little too blunt to be a clue, at least that's what I thought at that point. And his breakup with Mac in "Plan B" could be seen as a reaction to the abuse stuff, I didn't see any sociopathic hints here. On the contrary. But I definitely know that others saw it differently, so...I guess it all depends on your perception. For me, the crazy wasn't all that visible.

misskiwi: That's a good analysis. I still think they played up Cassidy being a nice, sweet guy (particularly his interactions with Mac prior to their breakup) a little too much, but I suppose you could look at that as him trying to lead a normal life and put all this trauma behind him.

grim squeaker: I also think that Cassidy was mostly obvious on a meta level. It's the "always go for the quiet ones" thing. If I had seen this purely from a mystery point of view, he would have been one of my first suspects, because he is young, vulnerable, and meek, and doesn't seem to have the resources, nor the character, nor the motive to pull this off. But this is also where I myself got distracted, because I've seen this character type turn out the culprit so often, I was convinced he had to be a red herring. That's what you get for being an overanalyzing mystery buff who is prone to delude herself.

misskiwi: I'm torn. On the one hand, revisiting and rewriting Veronica's rape is somewhat brilliant and I have to say, kudos for the payoff of the chlamydia setup. On the other hand, this takes away a lot of the gritty, nobody's-at-fault-except-fucking-everyone resolution of "A Trip to the Dentist."

topanga: Yes, it does take away from the nice shade of gray that Rob Thomas established (via the excellent writing of Dianne Ruggiero).

wilecoyote: I don't even want to talk about this one. Like, Rob, didn't you have enough with ruining season two, you also had to go back and destroy the best episode of season one?

alliterator: I thought it was totally unnecessary. I get having Beaver be the bus crasher, but Veronica's rapist as well? It's like they didn't think he was evil enough. I think that "A Trip to the Dentist" was perfectly fine without this little addition to it and I don't know why they did it. They might have given Veronica chlamydia so that the lawyer could exploit it for Aaron Echolls' case and then they needed a reason for her to have it, but I don't think they thought that through enough. It would have been much more effective if Beaver wasn't an evil mastermind, but rather some messed up kid that didn't want anybody to know he was molested.

misskiwi: I agree — although I do think the chlamydia was set up with precisely this revelation in mind and the impact on Veronica's testimony was just a bonus. One neat coda to "A Trip to the Dentist" is the continuing theme that everybody lies and perceives events differently. That being said, I'm not sure this totally adds up. Cassidy told Veronica that he was only in there for a short time after Dick and Sean left, then ran outside and puked on Carrie Bishop's shoes. It would have been stupid to make that up since Carrie could have denied it — although she didn't, of course, because Veronica never got around to asking. But does that mean he threw up, then went back inside and raped Veronica, or that he did so after the deed was done, which...doesn't make that much sense, since he doesn't seem to have any remorse. (Remorse being a fairly prominent part of Cassidy's character, I had thought. Grrr.)

On the plus side, you've got to love the delicious irony of Dick/Sean's comment that Beaver should "suit up: you don't know where she's been."

texasjen: I admit, Beaver being the rapist shocked the hell out of me, but...I was okay with it. It made me start thinking back on "A Trip to the Dentist' and I realized that we never got corroboration of Beaver's side of things. Like misskiwi said, Veronica went to Carrie to find out who she saw in bed with Veronica, not to verify Beaver's account. I'm probably reaching on the throwing-up/no remorse angle, but it seems to me that the thought of sex in any form disgusts him. I know the whole thing about hindsight being 20/20 and everything, but honestly, I've always felt vaguely creeped out about Beaver. Yes, he came across as a whipped puppy — but one that would turn on you and attack in an instant.

BepperGirl: I agree with you, jen. It shocked but after the shock, it's like whoa. Didn't think the writers would go there, damn that's a really good twist. I do think I probably underestimated the character though. My main spec for the resolution of the mystery may have gotten a bit too much attention because I didn't want it to be Cassidy. I kept on denying certain aspects of his character (the "Remember Sally?" from the carnival episode immediately springs to mind at the moment) because I didn't want it to be him, which I suppose makes me no better than Little Dick and everyone else who called him Beaver. Your name is your own. A friend of mine recently looked up the etymologies of the different characters. Cassidy means clever. By denying him his name, people refused to look under the surface and didn't look to see the truth. So I probably didn't see Cassidy as a puppy who would attack at any given moment.

Polter-Cow: I really don't like messing with Beaver (or is that Cassidy, BepperGirl?) in "A Trip to the Dentist" because I doubt the writers had any idea about his possible molestation. I don't like going back and rewriting text we've already seen when that text would not be that way had the writers had the information they're rewriting with back then. You can never see the text the same way again.

misskiwi: But you said earlier that they would have broken the season two mystery by the time "A Trip to the Dentist" was going on, and I'm inclined to agree. So I think it's very likely they knew about his molestation since it was absolutely key to his motive — whether they knew that they were going to come back to the rape is another question. Leaving the door open by not contradicting Beaver's account may have been either intentional, or just something they realized down the road.

Polter-Cow: But ho ho, misskiwi! Rob also said that they did not write the episode with the intention to retcon Beaver's rape in there. They only realized a month later that there was some wiggle room in Beaver's flashback.

misskiwi: Well, that settles that. It's kind of what I figured. The late appearance of the chlamydia, to me, suggested that it was a late development. Personally, I would have liked to have seen the diagnosis early in the season while Duncan was still around. Veronica would then have had her suspicions raised that Duncan had slept with Meg or someone else. It would have been an interesting conflict in their relationship, and the payoff when it came back to haunt us at the end of the season would have been that much sweeter. Plus, cramming it in immediately before it came up in Aaron's trial wouldn't have felt so...crammed.

Polter-Cow: And the thing is, like alliterator said, this was completely unnecessary. Beaver crashed the bus! The mystery is solved! What reason is there to throw this into the pot? Take the chlamydia out of the equation and nothing is affected. I have this feeling the writers were trying to make it up to the people who weren't happy with the ATTTD resolution of a not-rape. You want Veronica to have been raped? Well, here you go! And if you're particularly malicious, you can consider her to have been raped twice. (Me, I think Veronica and Duncan were both victims of circumstance.) I don't see the reason for this. It makes people think he raped Mac ("He took everything from me."). The only saving grace is that it keeps the chlamydia plot from revealing that Meg slept with Lucky.

wyk: I hated the fact the writers went back and made Beaver the rapist. The most powerful aspect of ATttD was the fact that no one person was at fault. The kids at the party were cruel and vindictive, but they weren't necessary EVIL. Making Beaver the rapist turns that grey, bury-hands-in-face, you-scarred-me-for-life-but-you-don't-even-realize-it frustration into a black-and-white, scream-it-on-the-rooftop, Beaver-is-EVIL melodrama.

grim squeaker: Yes, I really could have lived without the rape reveal as well, even though it leads people to amusing exclamations like: "I could have forgiven that he blew up about ten people, ran Curly over with a car, caused Meg's comababy storyline, and tried to frame Terrence and probably Lucky, but since he also raped Veronica he is definitely EVIL!" I mean, seriously, skewered perspective much? Cassidy was already teetering pretty close to the Evil Overlord stereotype in the rooftop scene, and this simply pushed him over. Besides, if TPTB need to go back to a Season One plot in order to give the Season Two culprit emotional relevance for Veronica, something is seriously off about the execution of the whole bus crash mystery.

That said, with the whole "Cassidy is a sociopath" reveal it of course made sense that he had lied to Veronica in the first place, but it just seems so damn unnecessary and a pretty cheap ploy to make Cassidy unsympathetic to the viewers. (Which shouldn't really be necessary, re: he killed ten people (not to mention whoever was on the plane besides Woody), hello?)

misskiwi: But, see, making a villain who killed a bus full of his classmates sympathetic would be so awesome! What a magnificent shade of grey that would have been. I wish we'd seen more of his vulnerability and less of his villainous posturing.

grim squeaker: I think so, too, misskiwi, I would have loved it if they had left him a little more grey. I probably expressed myself a little woolly here.

Polter-Cow: But you know the amazing thing, grim and misskiwi? For all their trouble, Beaver remained sympathetic at the end. On paper, "My name...is Cassidy," is an easy, well-trodden line, but Kyle Gallner's delivery displayed the vulnerability that endeared the character to so many of us. Logan can't even give the poor kid a reason not to jump. Despite the Evil Overlord act, you get the feeling that's all it was, an act. That underneath was this broken little boy who was stepped on so much that when he got the opportunity to lash out, he did.

grim squeaker: I agree, dearest Cow. These last moments, and Jason Dohring's awesome reactions to everything Logan heard and saw on that roof elevated the scene immensely for me. You could feel for all three of the characters, which is the grey area I would have liked for all of the solution.

misskiwi: I would have liked to have seen a little more desperation and hesitation while he was trying to convince Veronica to roll herself off the roof. She's always been nice to him, so maybe he would have been more reluctant to kill her and could have been a bit more on the edge trying to get her to commit suicide.

Polter-Cow: I'm with you, misskiwi. I wish Kyle had played Cassidy a little more vulnerable during the Evil Overlord scenes.

grim squeaker: Seriously, I also wish his dialogue in that scene had been a little better. "And you were marvellous!"? "I don't want your DNA on my shirt"? Yikes.

misskiwi: So, did Cassidy rape Mac, or was she just traumatized that this supposedly nice guy had run off with her clothes and all the bedsheets while she was in the shower?

texasjen: At first I thought that yes, that's what had happened. But I went back and re-watched, and the timeline doesn't really fit that he did, after sending Veronica the text, wait around to rape Mac before getting to the roof. I think that Mac was just torn apart because she's finally had sex (or attempted to, anyway) with this supposedly sweet boy, and then she gets out of the shower to find that he's not only taken off on her but has also taken all of her stuff with him. It must've reintroduced all her insecurity re: sex, and made her think she did something wrong, and she was to blame for Beaver's...lack of enthusiasm.

fickledame: I honestly don't think he raped Mac. She was upset because he left. I think possibly he planned to return to Mac's room after murdering Veronica, and he didn't want Mac to be able to follow them — possibly to stop her from getting hurt. She said he took everything, meaning all the sheets etc, and I didn't even know there was questioning of this til I came online.

grim squeaker: It also wouldn't really make sense. He has just found out that Veronica busted him, he has to react fairly quickly, but somehow he first needs to rape Mac? Why should that even be on his agenda, when he has to keep Veronica quiet by all means? Never mind that to get fully dressed, gather Mac's clothes and the bedsheets, and write a message to Veronica in roughly three minutes, he basically already needed to be The Flash. No, he just wanted to keep her from getting out of the room, so that she couldn't alert anyone on the party, and yes, he probably even did it so he didn't have to hurt her. Which would be sadly ironic, since he definitely hurt her, only not physically. I never had the feeling he really got that Mac thought his issues with having sex were about her, so I'm shying away from painting this as him wanting to "punish" her for not being able to, well, consummate. Besides, I'm getting a little tired from interpreting every little fucked up thing he does as a devious and nefarious plan. Even Evil Masterminds have moments in which they don't luthor.

Before I forget it, thanks to TPTB for making me like Mac again in this episode. Her early scenes show her as nice and fun, without the forced cuteness of her last few appearances, and her scenes in the hotel room just broke my heart. I guess there is nothing better for making characters likable than severely traumatizing them...

BepperGirl: I too doubt Mac was raped, at least physically. Her words to Cassidy before she went in the shower make me think this. She says "It's okay, we've got all night, okay?" Cassidy still looks very much scared. If he couldn't have performed then, is it reasonable to think he could perform later? I think not. Emotionally, on the other hand, that poor girl is going to be scarred for quite some time.

grim squeaker: Well, I guess finding out your boyfriend is a mass murderer does that to you.

misskiwi: I do feel obliged to point out one great subtlety that I noticed from the get-go: when the limo pulls over after the bus went over the cliff, Gia and Duncan run to the edge while Cassidy and Dick just stood around.

wyk: Considering the fact that Beavidy thought Veronica was on that bus, you'd think he would be a little surprised when she arrives at the scene.

alliterator: I just realized that Kendall's entire involvement with the Fitzpatricks was followed through. So we have her and the Fitzpatricks for next season. Actually, I can live with that, because the Fitzpatricks sort of felt out of place in this season. Like the writers were trying to cram too much stuff into the season and it sort of showed. But yay! more Charisma Carpenter!

misskiwi: Something else that I wondered about: wile mentioned the incongruity of Cassidy making jokes while Woody was speechifying. What the hell were Marcos and Peter doing on that field trip? What did Cassidy say to convince them to go? They would have no reason to want to be around Woody. Did Cassidy hear about the trip and then, seeing his opportunity, talk them into going (and if so, how?), or were they already going (something I have trouble believing) and Cassidy took advantage of that?

grim squeaker: I thought Peter's and Marcos's purpose on the field trip was pretty clear. Peter had bragged about the "outing of all outings" in his messages on the Pirate S.H.I.P. board. I think he and Marcos had planned to confront Woody and that's why they were talking to Cassidy in the language lab. They wanted him to go with them — strength in numbers and all, and possibly because it would be even better to have an 09er on their side. I'm guessing they either already knew about the field trip at that point and wanted to use the opportunity, or the field trip was announced later and seen by them as the best point to talk to Woody. I think that Marcos then jumped ship due to his summer in Camp Homophobia, but of course Cassidy didn't know that. He just knew that they would threaten Woody, so he decided to take them out on the field trip. It would tie in with the tickets Peter threw away, too: maybe Woody gave them to him as some sort of blackmail, and Peter was frustrated about it so that he threw them away. Or at least, that's how I tried to explain everything to myself, I just noticed the show never did. Damn!

wyk: What I can't figure out is why would Beavidy keep a recording of that conversation. Considering the fact that he was willing to kill a busload of kids to keep his secret, you'd figure he would have erased that recording the minute he realized that the whole conservation was being recorded in order to get rid of any evidence that Woody molested him.

grim squeaker: Well...I never said it was the most brilliantly constructed plot point ever...

wilecoyote: And while we're talking about plot holes, here's another one: Woody runs away in his private plane before the justice can reach him...but instead of going to a country without extradition treaties with the U.S., he goes to...Reno. How stupid can you get?

grim squeaker: Maybe he needed to shoot a man just to watch him die? Or for other issues? But seriously, Woody is not the brightest guy. He probably thought he could just hide, until everything would pass, or something. I was in hysterics when he threw the deer head after Keith; that must have been one of the funniest weapons ever used on the show. But I'm seriously adding Steve Guttenberg in boxers and wifebeater to things I never need to see on TV again — right after post-coital Harry Hamlin.

misskiwi: I suspect it's easier to fly your private plane between states without a flight plan than it is to jump between countries or continents, which would explain why he didn't (or couldn't) go very far.

grim squeaker: One thing that really worked for me, even if it was brushed only briefly, was the sad and poignant end of Weevil's storyline. He almost made it out on top, successfully avenging Felix's death AND keeping his promise to his grandma to graduate, only to be arrested by Lamb before he can get his diploma. Karma is, indeed, a bitch. What I loved about this was the complex way in which the concepts of vengeance and justice were developed from last year: At that point, Veronica's quest for justice, which was really a quest for revenge, was seen in a positive light, even though we already got a few hints that it wasn't a good way to go, through Carmen's and Meg's stance against turning an injustice that was done to them into a punishment of the perpetrator. This year, it's Weevil's very similar drive to find justice for Felix that proves to be his downfall, because he is unwilling to ponder the consequences — in sharp contrast to Veronica, who first cannot bring herself to sic Harry on Liam Fitzpatrick in "Nevermind the Buttocks" and then ultimately cannot shoot Cassidy, something that would have been personalized revenge as opposed to acquiring justice. Granted, she needed Logan as a "conscience" for the latter, so she still needs some help to be different from Weevil.

Polter-Cow: I agree, grim. Weevil's storyline was pretty awesome this year, and Francis Capra brought it. He thought it was all behind him, and he could graduate. Did he even break the law? He didn't actually put Thumper in the stadium. Although, yeah, Lamb doesn't know that and won't hear any different. It's made all the more poignant by the fact that Weevil is going down for engineering the death of the wrong person.

Hey, if they can tell us a year later that Beaver raped Veronica, surely they can tell us a year later that Cervando killed Felix.

wilecoyote: naah. Next season's big revelation (as public displays of lust said jokingly) will be that Beaver, in fact, also killed Lilly Kane. When you're hellbent on ruining your own creation, why not go all the way?

topanga: Normally I'm not one to celebrate someone's death. But after Aaron's acquittal, and especially after he taunted Veronica in the elevator about killing Lilly, I certainly wouldn't have felt at peace until he was dead.

misskiwi: I think Aaron biting it was about the only thing I got right in our MI.net speculation contest. No, wait, I also called Lamb being too much of a vindictive bastard to let Weevil walk across the stage. I love that it was Wiedman acting on Duncan's orders. Wiedman, you magnificent, cold-hearted bastard! Way to make a five-second appearance count, my man!

Polter-Cow: Duncan ordered the hit! "Duncan, you rule!" I shouted at the TV. "You're totally awesome!" He loves his dead sister so much. And Clarence fucking Wiedman rocks the fucking hizzouse.

topanga: Clarence is the man. And fine, to top it off.

grim squeaker: Clarence was once again cool as a cucumber. And ding, dong, the witch bitch is dead! At least, Aaron is gone now. I approve. As for Michael Corleone Duncan, this should satisfy the haters, as he can hardly come back now, while it also gives a welcome new layer to the character. On top of that, Baby Lilly is awesome and cute.

alliterator: Dude, Clarence is AWESOME. That was definitely one of the best scenes in this episode. And did you hear the meta? "CW?" "It's a done deal." It's quite lucky that Rob Thomas already had his shifty assassin character have the initials CW — Clarence "The Man" Wiedman.

misskiwi: Hee!

texasjen: Loved the "CW" reference. And I take back all of my disgust regarding Aaron's acquittal. Like topanga, I'm not one to necessarily champion another person's death, but Aaron? I'd gladly take murder over even a conviction and life sentence.

BepperGirl: Huzzah! Haaron's dead! Yay! But wait, Duncan ordered the hit? To me, it takes something away about the character. I've always thought Duncan wasn't the sweetest guy in the world but certainly not as bad as some people in fandom make him out to be. A few of my friends always hated Duncan. Until this episode. It's like suddenly you help murder the most evil guy who ever evil'ed and you're seen as a savior of sorts. Seems a bit wishy-washy to me.

wyk: From a character perspective, I didn't like Duncan ordering the hit either. Despite the fact that Beaver raped her and "murdered" her dad, Veronica could not bring herself to shoot him becasue she is not a killer. She has done many questionable things, but taking someone's life is a line she can not cross. Duncan on the other hand has no problem with crossing that line. Rob has said that Duncan is an Ethan Frome-type of character who feels tremedous sense of responsibility and guilt. I have a hard time reconciling the fact that the writers see Duncan as the type of character who would never cheat on Veronica with Kendall because he's not built that way, but he is perfectly willing and able to order the excution of his best friend's dad.

wilecoyote: Well, allow me to repeat again: WORST EPISODE EVER. Yes, this part too.

To be honest, by the time Aaron was killed I was already so numb from how much everything else sucked that it didn't even register, at least at the moment. But thinking about it? Felt like a cheap, quick-and-dirty way to tie up a loose end: after all the pain and bitterness of the previous episode... this is all the payoff that we get? Not to mention, completely unbelievable to boot: a major celebrity like Aaron Echolls being shot...and you think there isn't going to be a scandal and an investigation? Are they planning to add "Aaron Echolls' murder investigation" as a recurring subplot in S3? And while we're going at that, do you think that Clarence Wiedman is stupid enough to do it that way, instead of just arranging it so that it looks like an accident? Rob Thomas, you suck (again).

misskiwi: Why go to the trouble of arranging an accident when you're kickass enough to get away with a cold-blooded execution? I don't think Aaron's death would have had the same impact if it were an accident — even an arranged one. The only thing that would have been better is if Wiedman had bashed Aaron's head in with his Oscar.

misskiwi: So, I'm a bit confused about the Jackie going to Paris fakeout. Did Terrence know that she wasn't going to Paris? He couldn't have, because why would they discuss it otherwise? But he must have known about her baby ("I learned about the birds and the bees the hard way, remember?"). Did he know that her mom wasn't a rich model? It would seem odd for him not to know, although given their established lack of contact, it's not out of the question. And why, if Jackie only decided to return to New York after Terrence gave her the cold shoulder, was she making up a story about going to Paris in the first place?

Polter-Cow: I don't think Terrence knew she wasn't going to Paris, but I think he definitely knew about her mom and her child. In the first couple episodes, there are hints that they left New York to get Jackie away from some sort of trouble. But I think Jackie didn't want to be found, and it was clear her dad was a little too busy to care about her whereabouts anyway, so telling him she was off to Paris would keep him from trying to track her down.

misskiwi: But if he knew that her Mom was poor, how did he think she was able to afford going to the Sorbonne? And why did she tell him she was going to France in the first place if, as she told Wallace, she only decided to come back to New York after he ditched her?

grim squeaker: Never mind that, if Jackie was so poor before she arrived in California, where did she get her expensive wardrobe from?

Polter-Cow: I don't know. Jackie's gone. I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth here.

grim squeaker: Speaking of gifts and horses, what on earth is in that briefcase Kendall brought to Mars Investigations? Her underwear? Lianne's head? Cassidy's world domination plans? Papers proving that Veronica and Keith are related to the Fitzpatricks?

Polter-Cow: Marcellus Wallace's soul. The end.

misskiwi: Cash. So much cash.

grim squeaker: I get the distinctive feeling that this mystery is less compelling than "Who's at the door?"

Polter-Cow: Well, I'm just not going to bother speculating because I'll just be setting myself up for disappointment. Now, I'm trusting Rob when he says he does know what's in the briefcase, and the fact that they've already begun writing the third season does seem to support that, given the nature of the cliffhanger. But I don't see any reason to blindly throw out theories when we may all be barking up a completely wrong tree.

grim squeaker: Not that that ever happened to us before or anything.

wilecoyote: Ha, ha, ha... Sorry, Polter-Cow, I just read the words "trust" and "Rob Thomas" together, and I couldn't help it. Yeah, once upon a time I trusted him too. Like, four days ago, before I had seen this episode. Feels like a lifetime now...

grim squeaker: Well, someone obviously has been severely traumatised...

wilecoyote: Let's put this way, grim: I'm still half-expecting that it will all turn out to be a Charlie Kaufman-style meta prank, like the last ten minutes of "Adaptation". (In case you didn't hear it before: fuck you, Rob. With bells on).

Polter-Cow: I don't think Rob can hear you over the sounds of the bleating goats he's sacrificing to Satan.

grim squeaker: And with that we return to our regular program. Kind of.

wilecoyote: About the "OMG Logan saves Veronica and then they live happily ever after" resolution: first of all, a general comment. It's always amused me to see how people complain that there aren't enough strong female characters on TV and then, when one appears, it's mostly the (female) shippers the ones who rip her to shreds because she doesn't fall for every whim and desire of the bad-boy male character they are infatuated with. We've seen it with Buffy ("OMG Buffy is such a bitch to Spike!! And he didn't really want to rape her!!!"), we've seen it with Alias (though I hear that in that case it was more about the real-life relationship of Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan)... and we've also seen it the last season with Logan and Veronica.

Now, considering the above, let's take a look at this season finale: the "strong female protagonist" is helpless in the hands of the evil psycho killer, and has no recourse except calling for her trainwreck of an ex-boyfriend to help. Except that he isn't a trainwreck anymore!! Suddenly, he's the knight in shining armor that comes to save Veronica because theirs is a twuv wuv or something, and then he talks her into giving up the gun (the guy talking a near-hysterical woman back into reason: stereotype *CHECK*!!)... and then they make out. And *then* he makes her breakfast, because he has a heart of gold and is "good boyfriend material" and is really sweet and caring and the bumfights thing was so long ago. I mean... Logan rescues Veronica from certain death and then makes her breakfast? Which fanfic writer broke into Rob's computer?

And after this complete evisceration of Veronica as a character, female role model or whatever, what do you think will be the reaction of the shippers? "Let LoVe reign!!" Gag. I'm honestly amazed that there might be people who called last year's resolution sexist and yet are okay with this one.

This resolution was cheap, was clichéd, was pandering in the worst way possible, and the fact that Rob went for it puts my confidence in him for the future in zero.

BepperGirl: Okay. I hated the resolution as much as you, wile. But I don't see how they destroyed Veronica's character. She's always needed help from someone. While I hate that it was Logan, I am glad someone was able to help.

wyk: wile, dude, you need to chill. Just because you don't like the ships on other shows, that's no reason to make some gross generalization about what the writers are doing on this show.

misskiwi: Whoa, whoa, whoa. They eviscerated Veronica as a character because she had to be rescued from a psychopath with a gun and a taser? Whatever. First of all, Veronica was the one who finally got the upper hand and turned the gun on Cassidy, so I hardly think you can pull any "damsel in distress" crap. I've never found this show to be one for playing to male or female stereotypes in its main characters, and I don't think this is the case now. Anyone could have come up to the roof and helped Veronica overpower Cassidy. Logan was an obvious choice since she'd started to tell him about Beaver, which would probably make him suspicious of trouble, and, really, who else at an 09er party is she going to trust? Wallace is across the continent and Cassidy had just implied that he'd killed Mac. Who else did she know that could get there in time? Dick? Yeah...no. Secondly, it's not like Logan and Veronica immediately started tongue wrestling on the rooftop with some kind of "My hero!" swooning. He was consoling her after she discovered her father was dead, like she had done for him back in "Ruskie Business." That scene on the couch looks familiar, too: remind anyone of its mirror image "Normal is the Watchword"? I like the parallel, and I hardly think that getting back with Logan makes Veronica weak as a character.

BepperGirl: I was definitely reminded of the mirror image, one I probably only caught due to watching my tape of "Normal is the Watchword" immediately prior to watching my tape of the finale. But I hated that parallel. They both look extremely awkward. In the premiere, Logan was so big in Veronica's lap. In the finale, it just looked like Veronica's head was leaning off the end of the couch. Not a pleasant picture at all.

misskiwi: And I don't believe for a second that it's pandering to the shippers, since it was obviously only a matter of time before Veronica and Logan ended up together again. It was just a matter of how and when.

wilecoyote: But why is it "only a matter of time before Veronica and Logan ended up together again"? Because the shippers vociferously asked for it, that's why.

misskiwi: Because the writers put them together in the first place because of their fantastic chemistry — not because they listen to the incoherent squealing of forumgoers — and they've been dropping scenes in all season suggesting that it was far from over between them. If Rob & co. are whipped by the shippers, how do you explain the fact that Logan and Veronica have only been together for six out of forty-four episodes?

wilecoyote: The numbers are irrelevant. Your average bland, Hugh-Grant-starring romantic comedy has the protagonists split apart for 99 of its 100 minutes, but what really counts? The last minute, which is when they get together and live happily ever after. And now VM has gone down the same route. All LoVe, all the time!!! OMG PONIES!!1!1!!

wyk: Rob has said it is his intention to eventually put Veronica and Logan together because of the chemistry between Kristen and Jason. The writers decided to put Veronica and Logan together long before the shippers had this couple in their sight. This is where fandom sucks. When Veronica and Logan aren't together, a certain portion of the die-hard shippers curse out the writers for ignoring their demands by not putting them together at the precise moment they want. Then when the writers do put them together, a certain portion of the anti-shippers curse out the writers of pandering to shippers. Give me a break. Did you ever consider the fact that the writers have the right to tell the stories they want at the speed that they want?

wilecoyote: When the writers come up with an episode (and a finale, no less) that sucks so completely like this one, they have forfeited all their rights and the credit they had with me.

misskiwi: Seriously, wile, did Rob Thomas, like, run over your dog or something? Since when has this gritty, noir show had anything "happily ever after"?

fickledame: I totally agree with misskiwi, wholeheartedly. Veronica's strength has always been her intelligence, and the way you speak, wilecoyote, you seem to say she should have been able to defend herself. How?

wilecoyote: Uh, by putting her in a situation where she doesn't have to depend on her sweet and loving boyfriend to save her? Of course, Veronica's weak point is her lack of physical strength, so any episode that plays that angle is going to raise the stakes, but you know what? It's been done. It was done in last year's finale. Hell, it was done this season in "Ahoy, Mateys!" How about coming up with something more original?

("What kind of situation then, smart boy?" Well, as I said above, I'm not the one being paid to think about this, but just as an example: the final airport chase in "Bullit" is an action scene, intense and excitement-packed... but of the kind that doesn't depend on brute force (it's a cat-and-mouse game between cop and criminal). Or the ending in "Terminator", where Sarah kills the machine by herself, using the objects available around her. The point is, IT CAN BE DONE: you can write an action sequence that doesn't require Veronica to be saved by Her True Love OMG).

misskiwi: But Cassidy's not exactly a linebacker. It didn't require brute force to overpower him; it just required outnumbering him. It didn't have to be Logan, so I don't think Veronica needing rescuing is sexist at all. Keith has been in situations where he needed rescuing (having police backup in "Ruskie Business" and by having one hell of a smart daughter in "Nevermind the Buttocks") — do you think that makes him a weak woman, or something? And, seriously: she's a 5'2" eighteen-year-old girl. Given what she gets herself into, she's occasionally going to be over her head and need rescuing. I hardly think that makes her weak as a character; just not invincible.

fickledame: And of course she was near-hysterical, she had just watched her father die and she just found out she had been raped. And I seem to recall Logan breaking down in her arms in "Ruskie Business," so they are hardly insulting all women by having her cry.

wilecoyote: First of all, if brute force wasn't necessary to overpower Beaver, then it's even worse; that means that the writers came up with a "Logan saves Veronica and then they make out" scenario when it wasn't even needed (pandering to the audience? Who?). Second, the Keith/Veronica relationship is in a completely different category than any other in the show: Keith is the one person that Veronica would recognize as her "better", the one person she loves and trusts unconditionally (which is why I had no problems with the S1 finale, BTW). Comparing Keith to your garden variety boyfriend... please, they aren't even in the same league. Just to put an example: imagine if last season's resolution had been Leo heroically rescuing Veronica and conquering her heart and making out afterwards. Well, that's how this sorry excuse of a finale feels like. It's *that* bad.

fickledame: On to the ship, while I've been waiting for them to get together all season, I kind of hoped it wouldn't be in the last episode. I honestly don't think they will have broken up again by the time (if) season three starts, but we do miss all the fun stuff like last season. However, I was so happy to see them kiss and have a moment of happiness at the end of the episode, I no longer cared and just loved it.

wilecoyote: Excuse me for a moment; I need to go out and strangle some puppies to cook them for lunch.

grim squeaker: He's...really just saying that. Nothing to worry about, you guys. I'm pretty sure he's a vegetarian. Besides, shouldn't your prey be roadrunners, wile? *hides puppies*

misskiwi: Who would've thunk that Lamb's ego would eventually save Keith's life?

topanga: Word. Who would've thunk Kristen Bell could make Veronica even angstier? "He killed my father!" I was in tears. And the look on Veronica's face when she ran into her kitchen and saw Logan, not Keith? Priceless.

wilecoyote: Who'd have thunk that the writers could be such cheap...hacks? But more on this later.

misskiwi: The Keith fakeout was a bit of a wank, but it was still mind-blowing and heart-breaking. If this doesn't get the girl an Emmy...eh, who are we kidding. Screw 'em — we know she kicks ass.

alliterator: On the one hand, it's always awesome to see Veronica and Keith in that type of scene. On the other hand...I don't know if VM can correctly handle fakeouts that well. Duncan's went fine, but Keith's? We know he's not going to die, so all we're wondering is how he survived.

misskiwi: Yeah, I was pretty sure they couldn't, wouldn't kill Keith off.

grim squeaker: Me too. I love Keith, so I probably should have been worried, but this worked about as well for me as the "Did Beaver kill Mac?" fakeout. Okay, correction, the Keith one worked a little better, since here I was at least able to get that we were meant to think Keith was dead, while I didn't understand that we were meant to think the same about Mac until the third viewing or so.

wilecoyote: Actually, I was completely sure that Keith was dead, and you know why? Because I never, even for a moment, thought that the writers would be so cheap, so moronic, so unimaginative, so fricking...lame to save him with some "Oh, it turns out I wasn't really in the plane" deus ex machina. It's the kind of thing that you would expect from bad Hollywood movies trying desperately to shoehorn a happy ending that goes against the logic of the entire plot, not from Rob Thomas. Well, not until now.

wyk: I don't understand how Keith's not being on the plane goes against the logic of the entire plot. It was a ploy for the writers to tear Veronica's heart out, but the writers made the plot point consistent with the characters that we have seen so far. Lamb is a jerk, so of course he wouldn't want Keith on the plane with Woody.

texasjen: My brain knew Keith wasn't dead, but my little heart was just about shredded when the plane exploded — although that might've been due to Kristen Bell's heart-wrenching performance. Geez. When she said, "Daddy?" in that broken, little-girl voice and sank to the ground, I lost it.

Polter-Cow: I think texasjen nails it: intellectually, we all knew that they couldn't have killed off Keith like that. We were...99% sure of it. That 1% from the heart, though, the part that had been feeling completely reamed by this episode, had become fearful of everything, and until it heard Keith's voice again, it could not be certain. And Kristen Bell reuses her delivery of "I love you so much!" from the S1 finale for a sweet callback.

misskiwi: And her delivery of "You/He raped me!" But it's still just as awesome as it was when she said it to Duncan. Plus, you've got to love the horrified look on Logan's face.

Polter-Cow: Oh, totally. It's like, "He killed my dad!!" Okay, well, my mom's dead and my dad killed my girlfriend. "He killed all those kids!" Okay, I didn't really care about any of them. "He raped me!" OMG BEAVER MUST DIE OMG!

fickledame: Hee, that kind of sums up that scene, Polter-Cow.

grim squeaker: That's funny, because I didn't see "Beaver must die" as much as "You did WHAT?!" Remember who this is for Logan. This is Dick's younger brother. He probably knows him since he was in kindergarten. I know that most people want to see homicidal rage here, but I don't think Logan's reaction was only about Veronica at that moment.

fickledame: Yes, I'm sure there was a massive element of shock, as well.

Polter-Cow: Homicidal rage is the best rage.

wilecoyote: And it's exactly what I'm feeling about the writers right now. Congratulations, guys. You broke the world record in ruining a previously-awesome show in the shortest time possible. Way to go.

wyk: [Dear WB/UPN/CW/RT lawyers, law enforcement officials, and MI.net visitors, wile is a nice boy. He really is. Please don't judge him solely based on his complete emotional/mental breakdown caused by this episode.]

grim squeaker: *smacks wile*

I guess this kind of sums up all the myriad reactions to this finale. Some were over the moon, some have difficulties with the resolution, some with the execution of the resolution, and some plainly want to quit the show. I'm not sure it's really what TPTB expected, but they certainly created something with one hell of an emotional impact, positive or negative.

Aww. I'm oddly affected now, so I'll stop here. Goodbye, Kyle Gallner. Have a great career, and get thee another regular acting spot fast. On this show, you will be sorely missed. As for the rest of the bunch — see you on the CW in fall. And everyone else, have a great summer!

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season Overview