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Veronica Mars “Normal is the Watchword”/ “Driver Ed” Review (2×01/2×02)

7 Sep

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EPISODE 1: “Normal is the Watchword”

Damn, talk about a cliffhanger.

The bus crash is a thrilling end to the episode and an exciting kick off to season two, but it’s too bad that the preceding 40 minutes are fairly average. Yes, it’s difficult to follow up a masterpiece like “Leave It to Beaver”, but “Normal is the Watchword” feels like a two hour premiere that had to be cut in half. It’s chaotic, and not in a good way; the writers accomplish their goal of rushing through exposition and throwing us back into the action, but as a result, the fallout over last season’s resolution fails to make as big of an impact as it could have. In addition, the flashback overload is nifty at first, but it brings diminishing returns as the episode progresses, and that plus a bland case of the week makes for a subpar Veronica Mars premiere.

Like with all episodes of the show, however, there’s still quite a bit to like. There are interesting ideas about attempting to find normalcy and about how relationships change as your worldview changes, and Logan still remains a fascinating character to watch. Dohring’s performance–along with the writing–finds an excellent balance for the guy, as although we recognize that he’s in a shitty situation, we definitely can’t let him off the hook for his actions. Impressive characterization, as always.

GRADE: B-

EPISODE 2: “Driver Ed”

This is a better and more focused episode, and it revolves around the fallout of the bus crash for Jessie Doyle, the daughter of the bus driver. As people like Lamb are running around trying to find a scapegoat to destroy, here’s a daughter who simply wants to understand what happened, who wants to find the truth. It’s clear that Keith and Veronica connect to that desire–given the beating they took from the media during the Lilly Kane case–and Enrico Colantoni is once again fantastic throughout the episode; the highlight is the scene in which he sees Jessie being ignored by Lamb, and you can see the decision click for him in his mind.

Elsewhere, it’s nice to see Wallace on a case by himself! I don’t really like Jackie, but I suppose that’s the point; I’m wondering if the show will start to explore a rift between Veronica and Wallace this season.

GRADE: B+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-New credits, and new regulars: Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas and Kyle Gallner as Cassidy, both of whom we’ve seen before. Looks like they’ll have expanded roles this season.

-I predicted Logan and was correct, but I can see the argument for Veronica thinking it was Duncan at first. Whatever the case, I kind of wish it was Vinnie Van Lowe.

-Krysten Ritter!

-Van Clemmons had sex once, and he now has a son.

-Veronica hallucinates Lilly in the premiere, and the hallucination leads her to Weevil. Definitely indicates the lingering effects of the Lilly case, which I assume will still reverberate throughout the season.

-Charisma Carpenter, Buffy/Angel alum, shows up as Kendall Casablancas. That reminds me: I need to watch Buffy. Also, Steve Guttenberg shows up as Woody Goodman.

– “Tweaking you own nipples can sometimes work.” I missed you, Keith Mars. One thing’s for sure: putting Wallace, Keith, and Veronica in a room together is always going to lead to a sweet/funny/fantastic scene.

-The Meg about face is a bit jarring here, but I do like her character and hope we get a good storyline for her, now that we know she’s alive.

– “I should go. My dad is probably watching us through a telescope.” “Then he’s probably impressed with your virtue.” “And that telescope is mounted on a rifle.”

-Pretty soon, everyone in this show is going to start pairing up and having sex at the same hotel.

-Great work by Ari Graynor (aka Rachel Dunham from Fringe) in the second episode, especially during those scenes with Jessie’s brother.

-Sheriff Lamb: What are you up to, Veronica?

Veronica: Last question, actually. ‘Why do you want this position?’ Honestly — and really, tell me the truth — how much of an asskiss would I be if I admit it’s to be close to you? Seriously, why do birds suddenly appear every time you’re near?

– “You’re a macchiato!”

Photo credit: CW/UPN, Veronica Mars

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