3.07 "Of Vice and Men"

Aired Nov 14, 2006


The other day, in the MI.net headquarters...

grim squeaker: I think I solved the mystery. Without resolving to spoilers this time!

misskiwi: For the last time, grim, the answer isn't a three-way between Chip, Mercer, and Logan.

grim squeaker: Sigh. Oh well, a girl can dream...

Welcome to our seventh mystery speculation chat, where we tackle creepy attackers, scary RAs, scatterbrained gambling kingpins, and suspicious femme fatales, as well as the question of who might kick the bucket soon. Grab a seat and dive in!

101 Reasons Why Moe the RA did it: The Hardcover Edition

Inigo: I still think Moe is the rapist, although I am fuzzy on his motives and some of the mechanics. On motive, I think it is linked with his experience in Dr. Kinny's class when he was humiliated, probably by a female guard. Nish is a good candidate. I can't determine whether he also has a problem with the Pi Sigs and sought to throw suspicion on them, or whether the fraternity boys are simply scapegoats at the hands of the feminists' wider political agenda.

misskiwi: I'm inclined to agree with you on Moe. I was very suspicious of Landry last week, but not as much anymore, and we can talk about that later. And Moe's probably at the top of everybody else's list, at this point. Does that make him too obvious?

grim squeaker: I'm inclined to agree, as well, although I have a slightly different outlook on motivation and trigger.

Inigo: Landry seems to me to fail in my first criteria for the mechanics: the need to be invisible. Grim, what is your view on motivation and trigger?

grim squeaker: 1) I think he doesn't do it to get vengeance, I think he gets off on power. And 2) I think he was a guard, not a prisoner. Thoughts?

Inigo: He gets power being an RA. Why do you think he needs more?

grim squeaker: Yes. Lots more. It's fun to him. Ordering kids around as an RA is not enough.Wait, it doesn't really work, does it? That is, if the experiment hasn't totally kicked him over the edge. Eh. I'm not sure. I have to think some more about it. Let's go back to: it was Moe.

Find your motive, catch the culprit

misskiwi: You guys both make good arguments for motivation, and I'm with you all the way on Dr. Kinny's experiment having something to do with Moe's motivation. I don't think what we've seen of Moe as an R.A. suggests that he gets off on his power in that position. The scene where he catches Veronica in her skivvies in Piz's room certainly lends credence to the theory that he's going after girls that he sees as "slutty" and deserving of punishment somehow. *ponders*

Ooh. OOH. He shaves their heads because, much like the way the Pi Sigs want to expose and punish their members who don't score enough, he wants to expose them and have everyone know that they're sluts. Stacy went up to her room with Troy. Parker's dorm room might as well have had a revolving door. Veronica was in Piz's room wearing next to nothing. I see a pattern.

Inigo: Yes. That sort of thing seems plausible to me.

grim squeaker: I like the slut idea. I really like the slut idea, even though I'm not completely convinced he targeted Veronica because of that alone.

But does he have a plan?

Inigo: On the mechanics, there are, as I see it, three key questions: 1. How does he pass unnoticed? 2. How does he access their rooms? 3. How does he drug them? The first answer is easy. As an RA and a student, he is invisible in the dorms. We have confirmation that he has keys to the dorm rooms, at least in Benes Hall. Only one rape occurred there, according to Foyle's map, but we also know that the RAs seems to hang together (him and Teri), so getting hold of their keys, maybe covering for them when they're pushed, is no big step. The sticking point is the administration of the GHB, where it was used (we only know it was used twice — in other cases, the victims might just have been so drunk as not to realise what was going on). If the person who attacked Veronica is the rapist, then I think we have the answer. It's opportunistic and therefore no one way. We only have some details on Stacy and Parker's rapes. Stacy was at a party at which at least one other RA (Dean) was present, so it's no stretch to think Moe was there (in fact, had they secured Michael Cera, I think Moe would have been Dean). For Parker's rape, I don't think Moe was at the sorority. I think he had a bottle of water with him in the cart and gave some to Parker, someone he had already identified as being of interest to him (remember the "What the frak" note on her whiteboard) — much like he freely offers tea. In Nancy or Dawn's case, it may have been in a cup of Oolong. Moe has an alibi for Parker's rape, but it is based on time, and everything about the times has been confused, especially in the episode where Moe's alibi was given. Teri simply needed to think that it was later than it was when she left Moe (just as the prisoners thought it was later when they gave up the bomb location). He then could return to Parker's room and be there when Veronica entered.

One thing that bothers me is the question of opportunity vs. planning. Did he plan carefully or take his chances when he saw them? Stacy's rape is confusing, because she disappeared with Troy. And how did he know to set his clock forward for Teri if Parker was opportunistic?

misskiwi: Hm. That's definitely a problem. Well, if Stacy was drugged during the party before she left with Troy, maybe it was her behavior during the party that set him off?

I have to say, Inigo, I really like your idea that Moe might have drugged a drunk Parker in the Safe Ride Home cart with a bottle of water or something. That makes the connection to the frat parties a complete red herring, in a way, and it intrigues me. It takes away the problem of Moe being very visible at a frat party, which is what made me think there might be accomplices involved — something that didn't feel right with Moe.

grim squeaker: I tend to agree that he uses opportunities when he gets them, but I think he is singling out girls he wants to rape. Girls he thinks are sluts. The roofies work so fast, it would make sense if he simply used his opportunities. He might have known Stacy before. He probably knew Parker before. He's probably been stalking Veronica, to see if he could get an opportunity to catch her.

Inigo: Yes, that's a good point and nicely resolves that planning/opportunistic conflict. It might also explain the gaps between the attacks. He stakes out his victim, plans that, then looks for the opportunity. Lovely. I'm convinced.

misskiwi: Me too. It fits very nicely with Parker, whose behavior he would have had an opportunity to see, and with Veronica, whom he might have stalked until he saw his chance when she stupidly left her drink unattended in the food court.

Who attacked Veronica?

grim squeaker: For me, there remains the question if Moe just attacked Veronica because he saw her as a slut, or because he was also afraid that she as an investigator would be able to find him out and tried to intimidate her or if he was additionally angry that she got out Mercer so fast, which would go with the theory that he tried to set up Mercer because he suspects he could bust his alibi for some reason.

Inigo: Misskiwi, I have railed on V's stupidity elsewhere, but I'll give her this one. She was in an open and public cafeteria. I honestly don't think it occurred to her that she was in danger. I really don't know if Veronica was attacked by the rapist. I don't think we have enough. But if it was Moe, and if his M.O. is to stalk first, then I don't think it was him for his usual reasons.

What I mean is, if his M.O. is to stalk those he sees as promiscuous, he has only just learned that of V — or not, because she isn't, but you know what I mean. If he attacked her, I think it was because she's shown her skills twice now and he's worried she'll get close to him as the rapist. I don't know if Veronica was attacked by the rapist or by someone else. In either event, I don't think the motive was the same as with the other attacks. The purpose this time was to scare her or vengeance.

grim squeaker: Small correction: I don't mean stalking in the way you describe it here, I meant it rather like, he keeps an eye on this girl until he sees an opportunity to catch her. But I agree that this time it seems all a little rushed. He attacked her in a parking lot, and he used a straight razor not an electric one, so I'd rather say he tried to intimidate her.

misskiwi: I think either motivation for the attack is plausible, or a combination of the two. And the biggest reason I think it was stupid of her to leave her drink alone, Inigo, is because I had seen the previews and knew what was coming. Oh, and for the record, I'm convinced that it was the rapist that attacked Veronica.

grim squeaker: I agree, it was the rapist, and his motives were "she is a slut, but she is also getting too close to me."

Inigo: It probably was, but I just can't find the evidence to hook it on.

misskiwi: See, I'm the opposite: why would it be just some random dude who happens to wear latex gloves, uses roofies, and has a thing for shaving hair? Occam's razor, people.

grim squeaker: Yeah, and besides, I really think the feminists and their revenge are a red herring, so...

Inigo: I agree it is the most probable explanation. And I can buy the rapist thinking that Veronica was dangerous. The other reason I don't think it was a "usual" attack was his doing it in the garage and cutting her hair there.

misskiwi: That's true enough. I would also add, grim, that given the close-up we got of the attacker's hand, I have trouble buying that the attacker was female. It's not out of the question, but that was a decent-sized paw. And it wasn't Nish, because the wrist was clearly white.

grim squeaker: Yeah, the feminists weren't my idea, anyway, but I don't see anyone apart from them or the rapist, if we are not going the Tim was really pissed about the thing in his office route. So, I think it wasn't the usual pattern because the rapist was either furious at Veronica or he needed to act very fast for some reason.

A brief Foyle and Landry Interlude

misskiwi: Moving away from Moe for a moment: the other person who, as the rapist, would have had a motivation to attack and intimidate Veronica would be Tim, after the scene in his office last week. I don't think his interest in what she saw on his board was faked, but you never know.

Inigo: I agree, misskiwi, I don't think his interest was faked. I think he genuinely respects her skills and thought she saw something he hadn't seen.

grim squeaker: Yes, I agree. I see Tim as someone who likes to challenge Veronica, someone who is a little jealous that she has taken his place with Landry and at the same time somewhat intrigued by her. And wig jokes aside, I so far see nothing that really connects him to the rapes, storywise.

Inigo: I can't either at this point.

misskiwi: Yeah, and despite the fact that I'm still suspicious of Landry, I just don't see him having the opportunity; Inigo's right, he would stick out like a sore thumb at a frat party.

Mercer's arrest: Failed setup or unlucky circumstances?

Inigo: Ignoring for the moment the fact that when Veronica checked the radio logs and found Mercer was broadcasting from 9pm-11pm and not midnight as we would expect i.e. assuming this to be a props cock-up, we'll say Mercer was in his last fifteen minutes when Parker was raped. The radio station overlooks the Food Court, which seems to be a central hub, with people passing through all the time. Mercer may well unknowingly have the information that would expose Moe's alibi for Parker's rape if he saw Teri Wells as she headed back for her dorm, maybe stopping to eat, because if he did, then Teri was wrong about the time she left Moe. If Mercer said something to alert Moe to this fact, then there are grounds for thinking that Moe may have tried to point suspicion at Mercer. O'Dell's student aide who places bets for him may be Moe, or in any event, Moe is fully aware of Mercer and his operation with it being in Benes Hall. This gives him access in theory to plant the GHB. However, I don't think this is the case. I think Mercer was lying about the GHB. I think it was his, for recreational use. The cashbox seemed pretty secure and if someone had managed to plant it in there, Mercer would have found it. If he's not lying, Mercer already has a long list of potential enemies, as he himself described, added to which is anyone who may have suffered because of the fire in Mexico and anyone he has mocked, as we've seen him do. The main reason why I don't think it's Moe, however, is that nothing else was done to lead anyone to the GHB in the cashbox — Parker's statement to Veronica was independent and couldn't have been "arranged" — and if Mercer can blow his alibi, Moe has no reason to want Mercer anywhere near the Sheriff's department in relation to the rape investigation.

misskiwi: I don't buy Moe setting Mercer up, despite the fact that if he happens to be the guy running bets to Mercer for the Dean he may have had opportunity to plant the GHB. I agree with Inigo: Mercer wasn't a suspect in the rapes until Parker smelled his cologne. The GHB had to have been planted prior to the robbery, at which point there was no way to know that the cops would get their hands on it. And there was the risk that Mercer would find it, invalidating the setup that there was no reason for in the first place. And if Mercer can somehow invalidate Moe's alibi because he was on the radio and saw Teri or whatever, it makes even less sense to set him up since, clearly, he has an alibi from being on the radio.

grim squeaker: Okay. Here is the thing: I don't think Moe tried to set up Mercer as the rapist, I think he wanted to set him up as a drug dealer. If Mercer saw Teri, and Moe knows that for some reason, he must be afraid that Mercer could bust his alibi. So if he really is the dean's student aide, he had opportunity to place the GHB when giving the betting money to him, because that's when the cashbox would be open. The dean was watching boxing in the same episode the casino was robbed, so it seems plausible that he was setting a bet before the robbery. Moe could have been planning to set either the dean or the police on Mercer — "I know a student who deals drugs" — but then the casino was robbed before he could do anything. That Mercer was arrested for the rapes is actually purely accidental.

Inigo: This is the problem I have with that scenario: Moe is running a terrible risk with potentially involving Mercer with the sheriff if Mercer has information on him. It's not implausible, and I agree it could work, but for someone who's smart enough to get away with four rapes with nobody getting near him, except Veronica, it seems too dangerous. Also, wasnt' the dean's watching of the boxing match in 306 and the robbery in 305?

misskiwi: Yes, it was. And yeah, the idea that it's a setup just...doesn't feel right. I think Mercer was grasping at straws on that one, trying to get a skeptical Veronica to help him out. I would also like to take this opportunity to point out that I predicted Mercer's alibi would involve "something illegal, Mexico, hookers, or a combination of the above." I'm at least two for three, and that's without knowing exactly what kind of girls were in Mercer's room with him. It made sense that it would be something illegal, since why else would Mercer prefer to sitting in jail rather than revealing where he was?

grim squeaker: I don't think it matters in which episode the dean watched the boxing, it matters that he would have placed the bet before watching the match. And I don't see handing Mercer over to the sheriff as such a big risk because Lamb wouldn't likely ask him about the rapes if he was arresting him for drug dealing, would he?

misskiwi: He might if what he was dealing was, I don't know, a rape drug?

grim squeaker: Eh, probably. That said, I don't see how this conversation leads us any further since I still think it's possible and you still think I'm nuts, so let's leave it at that. And yes, you were totally right about the motive, misskiwi. It totally cracked me up, too, because in the spec thread on TWoP we had ended up with group therapy and this wasn't quite it. Oh well, there certainly was a group of people involved.

Keith and Harmony: Unlucky circumstances or failed setup?

Inigo: *Hi-fives misskiwi* Okay, gels. What say you on my insistence on the continuation of the Keith/Harmony story (and it's not just because I want to continue with The Maltese Dog)? I have from the start thought that Harmony was using Keith, with a view to implicating him in the murder of her husband, freeing her to enjoy his money and keep custody of her daughter. Keith being charged with murder would certainly engage both Veronica and the audience. I now think that she also has a lover on the side, and it is this relationship that led Mr. Chase to hire Vinnie. Otherwise, I don't think there was time (Day 1, Harmony calls Keith. Day 2, they attend the Noir Festival. Day 3, Keith calls Harmony. Day 4, they meet at the Grand.) or reason in their dealings prior to the Noir Festival for the husband to get suspicious about an affair with Keith. Vinnie was in place, the night they hooked up at the Grand, thus already hired.

misskiwi: You're wrong, and it's a shame.

grim squeaker: Yes, I agree. I think Harmony has gone the way of all previous Keith women. Sorry.

Inigo: So you think Vinnie was hired when? Based on what?

misskiwi: What did Harmony hire Keith based on? Her gut, that's what. Who says Harmony's husband wasn't getting the same vibe from Harmony that she was getting from him (coldness, distance, etc.)? Only difference is, his vibe was right and hers wasn't.

grim squeaker: Yep, I agree, I think it was Harmony's husband who hired him.

Inigo: I agree Mr. Chase hired him. The question is why and when. Yes, he could have sensed he lost her. But she didn't commit any adultery until the night at the Grand, when Vinnie was there to capture it. And prior to that, two nights before they had their first "date." So was the husband just really lucky that after eight months of no sex, he hired Vinnie just before she was actually adulterous?

misskiwi: I admit it's a tight timeline, but really, there's nothing that says Vinnie wasn't hired a long time ago — or even when Harmony hired Keith since she would have been acting odd then, perhaps — and only just got the proof he needed.

The other possibility is that Vinnie was lying. Maybe he was following Keith for the Fitzpatricks and just happened to catch him with Harmony. It's within even Vinnie's skills to figure out who she was and that she was married, information he can then use against Keith.

grim squeaker: I'd go with plot contrivance. *shrugs*

Inigo: Okay, that Vinnie might have already been following Keith and just took the opportunity is something that hadn't occurred to me. I like it better than the idea that Marvin just happened to time it exactly right to hire Vinnie to catch her at it right at the moment she actually commits adultery. If he hired him too early, Vinnie would have found nothing. It smacks of something else that his timing was so impeccable. So, I still favour what I said before but I'll concede that there is another alternative explanation that is also plausible.

The Perfect Murder (Victim): Hank Landry vs. Mercer Hayes

Inigo: Okay, I 'd like to talk about the the possible next mystery — I think the victim might be Mercer, not Landry.

misskiwi: Well, for Landry, there would be a wider pool of suspects given that his entire class is writing papers on how to kill someone and not get caught. Mercer's suspects would be a smaller yet sleazier pool.

Inigo: Actually, I don't think so. I think there's a much bigger pool for Mercer.

misskiwi: And I think Veronica would be more invested in solving Landry's murder.

Inigo: One, Mercer's been arrested for the rapes. There could be a vigilante killing. Two, he runs a gambling joint and takes bets for Chip and O'Dell. There's them and anyone who owes him money.

grim squeaker: The same could happen for Landry, though. And on the long run, Mercer is a better supporting character than Landry, because he connects to both Logan and Veronica.

misskiwi: Landry would have a bigger starting pool — the entire class. I agree, that would get whittled down fast, while the list of suspects for offing Mercer would grow steadily as she investigated. Oh, and all the women Landry has slept with. And all their husbands/boyfriends.

Inigo: Three, Mercer was responsible for a fire in Mexico. We are strangely not told if there were fatalities or injuries.

grim squeaker: Why strangely? They run off, they don't know if anyone was hurt or not.

misskiwi: The reason we aren't told is presumably because Logan doesn't know and was too chicken to check.

Inigo: If there were victims, they may be looking for payback. Four, the "Plan the Perfect Murder" paper could describe a murder like Mercer's. Veronica will be in the frame for it.

grim squeaker: But that would make much more sense for Landry. And wouldn't Landry be much more personal for Veronica? Also more devastating, as he is mentoring her? I mean, all that Mercer is to her so far is a potential contact who owes her a favour.

misskiwi: See, I'm inclined to agree with grim. But I still think Harmony's husband ending up dead would be a better mystery.

Inigo: That's to come.

grim squeaker: That's over, guys. It's done with.

misskiwi: Yeah, I get the same feeling. Unfortunately.

grim squeaker: She just wanted some nookie. She was unhappy in her marriage, she thought she found a new love in Keith. It's tragic, not more.

Inigo: I think it will come back.

misskiwi: I hope you're right, but I'm afraid you're not.

Inigo: Maybe Harmony slept with Landry, and all those connections can tie in there.

misskiwi: No way, this was her first extramarital affair.

grim squeaker: And I hope you're wrong, because I thought that way it would have been far too predictable. How should Harmony have known Landry?
I think you're grasping because you want the storyline to return...;)

misskiwi: Hee.

grim squeaker: It makes more sense on a meta level and a story level to make the victim Landry.

Inigo: Yes, Landry's not a bad candidate. But we've basically got jealous husband/spurned lover, and that's it.

grim squeaker: Like misskiwi said before: we've got both O'Dells. We've got Tim. We've got previous lovers. We have family of previous lovers. We could have ex-students, current students, colleagues... And I'd still say that Mercer is the more useful contact on campus, without being a professional advantage for her. And Tim sort of took over the mentor role last week, only that his take on it is much more complex and interesting.

Inigo: I actually think Landry will go in the course of the season. I just don't know that it will be by death.

grim squeaker: And, speaking on a structural level, mentors get murdered. Shady contacts occasionally get in trouble, so that you have a reason to call in favours from them. Besides, Mercer isn't really a threat to Logan and Veronica's relationship — on the contrary, he seems to support it. (Unlike, say, Dick).

Inigo: Ah, but I think it might be Mercer's death that actually breaks them up. Logan's got to be the one to end it, and at the moment, he's hanging in there. Maybe you're right. This is pure speculation on my part. Mercer personified the trust issues that will break Veronica and Logan up. She'll be looking to get Logan back and solving Mercer's murder may be how she thinks she can succeed.

grim squeaker: I know. I just don't see it, mostly because I think this episode Mercer went from "my boyfriend's evil influence" to "possible informant/shady contact who owes me favours." To wit, the information about the Dean and Chip both gambling. Besides, if this one gets offed, too, it would be the fourth of my bio characters to bite the bullet. And this one I really like.

Inigo: Sorry. I know it's Mercer. But sweetie, you love them, they have to die. Have we learned nothing?

grim squeaker: It's like I'm the black widow of Veronica Mars fandom. Watch out, minor supporting characters! Run for your lives!

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