Veronica Mars Recap: She's a Marshmallow

Veronica Mars Season 1 RecapIn advance of Veronica Mars’ forthcoming big-screen adaptation, TVLine is offering occasional recaps of key episodes from the series’ three-season run. Go Pirates!

Let’s start off this endeavor with a little disclaimer: I am the gooiest of Marshmallows.

I’ve been high on Veronica Mars, both the girl and the former UPN/CW series, since their debut in 2004. Thank goodness (and Rob Thomas) that a savvy pal turned me on to the pilot, which blended noir and sharp writing and mystery and then poured them all over a high school drama. The colors were garish. The central murder case was messy. The heroine was snarky.

I was hooked.

So as we wait for the drama’s cinematic debut in March, I’m goin’ back to Cali – Neptune, to be precise. Join me?

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GO PIRATES! | As the episode opens, we see a pixieish blonde pulling into her high school’s parking lot. This is Veronica, and as she’ll do for the rest of the episode, she offers crucial exposition via voiceover. She’s from Neptune, Calif., a town of extreme haves and have-nots, and we learn that when Veronica’s dad was Neptune’s sheriff, she was a prepster who dated tech scion Duncan Kane and rolled with his very privileged crowd. She was also good friends with his sister, Lilly. But that was before Veronica’s pop Keith tried to put Duncan and Lilly’s dad, Jake, in jail for life. (More on that later. And can we chat for a second about how, throughout the episode, Veronica looks like a walking, talking Delia’s catalogue? And how I totally tried – and failed — to nail this look at the time?)

Veronica cuts through a throng of student gawkers to find a naked new kid duct-taped to the flagpole with the word “snitch” scrawled across him. Later, that kid – he’s Wallace, who’ll become Veronica’s bestie – sits across from her at lunch and ignores her initial bitchiness to thank her for helping him out. We learn that Wallace is in trouble with the local biker gang because he sicced the cops on two members who stole beer from the Sac-n-Pac where he works. When he freaked and tried to recant, the douchey new Sheriff Lamb (who replaced Keith) wouldn’t listen.

Impelled by her hatred of Lamb (when she suspected she’d been rufie’d and raped at a party, he dismissed her claims and sent her away), Veronica devises a plan that will help rid Wallace of the gang threat and that will clear up a few other problems in her way. How is she so good at coming up with these detailed, well-laid plans? Well…

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ON THE CASE | Turns out, Veronica’s a budding private eye. At her dad’s office, she runs into a charmingly weaselly lawyer named Cliff who wink-wink-nod-nod wonders how Keith manages to handle so many cases when he’s so short-staffed. Though V is noncommittal, Cliff makes sure to leave her with a file on his current case: a stripper who wants to use her knowledge of police impropriety to get her out of a legal jam. (Side note: Various adult characters’ acknowledgement and acceptance of Veronica’s wise-beyond-her-years nature is one of my favorite things about this show. Girlfriend gets stuff done.)

After Cliff leaves, Keith’s office door opens and Celeste Kane – Jake’s wife, Duncan and Lilly’s mom – leaves. She thinks Jake is cheating on her, and though Keith tells Veronica not to pursue the case while he’s away catching a bail jumper, he knows she will. “Take Backup,” he advises, referring to their super cute attack dog. So she does.

TWO HOUSEHOLDS… | As Veronica stakes out the motel room where Jake is visiting an unknown woman, Veronica fills us in on the rest of the Kane-Mars saga. Jake’s tech firm invented streaming video, which made everyone who worked there hella rich. But just Jake had his greatest professional success, he and Celeste also suffered the worst thing a parent can face: Lilly was found dead by their pool, her head smashed in. (Very nice corpse acting, Amanda Seyfried!)

Veronica tells us that the crime scene footage was leaked online, and between that and Keith’s “bungling” of the case, Daddy Mars was soon out of a job. Veronica’s mom, Liane, left soon after; consequently, V hasn’t seen her mom in eight months. And now one of Kane’s former employees, Abel Koonz, is on death row for Lilly’s murder.

So why did Lilly tell Veronica she had a secret – “a good one” – the day she died? And why is Duncan catatonic at the crime scene? And why, when Keith sees the photos Veronica captured during Jake’s visit to the Camelot motel, does he abruptly (and somewhat angrily) warn her to stay away from the case? Could it be because, as Veronica learns, the car parked outside is registered to Liane?

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OH, LOGAN | I’ve saved the best, most so-wrong-it’s-right for last. Early in the episode, we meet Logan Echolls, a pooka-shell-wearing, incredibly cutting, rich young jerk. Or, as V puts it, “Every school has an obligatory psychotic jackass. He’s ours.” He’s also Duncan’s best friend, and he was Lilly’s boyfriend.

Through a complicated, pretty awesome plan about which I won’t go into detail here, Veronica manages to get Logan busted for drug paraphernalia that isn’t his, switch some damning evidence in the Sac-n-Pac investigation (which gets the PCHers off Wallace’s back) and help Cliff’s exotic dancer client with her case – with a bonus of making the Neptune Sheriff’s Department look like a pack of horny imbeciles.

Wallace and V have a cute moment at the beach – it’s where he delivers a speech so fitting for their budding friendship, I’m going to reproduce it in its entirety here:

“Underneath that angry young woman shell, there’s a slightly less angry young woman who’s just dying to bake me something. You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars. A twinkie.”

RELATED | 7 Big Spoilers About the Veronica Mars Movie — Including Who Won’t Be Back

I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING TO ROOT FOR THIS GUY IN A FEW SHORT EPISODES | But Logan is not as impressed with Veronica’s genius as Wallace and I are, so he takes a tire iron to her headlights… until Weevil, head of the biker gang (known as the PCHers, which I’m not entirely sure we learn in this episode but we all know that’s what they’re called so I’m just going to go with it) shuts him down with a few punches to the gut. (Side note: Logan, having that urrgly Fisher-Price Xterra taken away from you is a privilege, not a punishment.)

With all of the episode’s other loose ends capped, Veronica sneaks into her pop’s office after hours and opens his secret safe… where she finds evidence of his ongoing investigation of Lilly’s death – including Veronica’s Camelot photo. What the?

Now it’s your turn. If you’re new to the series, what are your initial thoughts on the episode? If you’ve been a member of Mars Investigations for years, what about the pilot piqued your interest? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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31 Comments
  1. Allison P says:

    Yesterday I finished an 8-day binge of the show. Very happy to join the fandom of such a well-done series.

  2. alistaircrane says:

    It was on UPN and the CW, not the WB.

  3. Josh says:

    This is awesome!

  4. Kim Fritz says:

    Love this show. One of the greatest television shows on TV. Gladly gave my money to get the movie and can’t wait to see it. This is the show that made me fall in love with Kristen Bell along with the rest of the world, and the fact that they got the entire core cast back just shows how classy and grateful they all are for the fame.

    Now, the pilot, so strong and amazing and a great way to introduce us to Veronica. It is one of the strongest pilots I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I watch A LOT of tv. I will forever be in love with this show and look forward to more Veronica even beyond the movie, whether it be sequels, a book series, or Rob Thomas tweeting updates as Veronica. I’m not picky, I’ll take whatever Veronica Mars I can get! Proud to be a Marshmallow!

  5. Emily says:

    So excited you are doing this! Going to have to rewatch the series before the movie comes out!

  6. yvette says:

    I love this show so much, it was one of bests around at the time and as happy as I am about the movie it still makes me mad that they cut this awesome show for a dumb one im sure..

    • Kevin McB says:

      IIRC, they cut it for a second “final” season of “Seventh Heaven.” That’s right, they were in their final season, they had a series finale in the can… and then they decided to bring it back and VM had to go to make room.

  7. Esaul says:

    I’m interested in this idea of recapping VM. Nice!

  8. Lecholls says:

    Thanks for doing recaps. Fun way to get us excited for the movie.

  9. ZmaX says:

    I’m actually marathoning the show right now in preparation for the movie. Its great that you guys are doing this.

  10. Lisa says:

    TVLine is awesome. I am looking forward to every one if these recaps!! Thanks.

  11. Yasmin says:

    I was just rewatching the first season the last few days. I’m watching the season finale right now! I remember the old TV Guide podcast being the reason I started watching. (Still amazed how Angel very early on figured out the resolution of the season two whodunnit!) Don’t remember when I started, but I think the show was already in it’s second season, so I binged watched even then. I just loved how smart and funny, but still really dark it was. And looking back, there are so many (now) well known guest stars even in season one!

  12. Tina B. says:

    Love Veronica Mars, love LoVe! Thanks for the recaps! The more fans the better!

  13. A Fellow Marshmallow says:

    Every time I see a yellow Xterra on the road, I think of Logan! And how did we ever like Logan in the first half on season one?!

    • gdv says:

      There’s a moment in episode 2, I think (the ep with—ugh—Paris Hilton), where Logan and Veronica are in class together and he says something snarky to her, and she retaliates. Then he sorta raises his eyebrows at her in flirtation. Right then, I knew, they had way too much chemistry to not get them together.

    • Craig Riley says:

      I don’t think we did until that episode where they do the Lily Kane tribute video.

  14. webly3 says:

    I just finished watching the first season for the first time last week. It was quite amazing. I haven’t began on the second season yet (well besides the first 10 minutes) because I know once I start it, it will be hard for me to stop. Lol. I’m really excited you guys are re-caping these though. I always wanted to go to TVLine to recap once I saw the twist of the episode. But then I remembered these episodes aired years ago. Can’t wait for the movie. :D Logan X Veronica ftw though.

  15. robinepowell says:

    I’ve always been a fan of the show and own all three seasons on DVD.

    If Veronica Mars were to debut on TV today, I think it would last a lot longer then three seasons.

    • Mikael says:

      If the CW had the people running it now back then, VM wouldn’t have been canceled. It would fit in perfectly with the new theme of not having all shows be like Gossip Girl. And they probably wouldn’t have made them dumb down the show by making them get rid of season-long mysteries and focus so much on the Logan-Veronica-Piz triangle.

  16. gilch says:

    Lilly, not Lily! But I love the idea of recaps in preparation for the movie.

  17. Michelle says:

    This is why I love you, TVLine.

  18. A says:

    gosh I love this show

  19. maddie says:

    Kimberly your episodes synopses are always apt and cheeky. The best ones I read. Well done. Well. Done!

    Way too excited for this film. Have already started all of my friends on season one in preparation.

  20. Belinda says:

    I was 26 when the pilot originally aired and caught it one night after having a few drinks with friends. I declared to my then BF (now husband) that it was the most awesome show ever. He gave me a lot of crap for raving over a teen show but I managed to watch the repeat a few days later sober and was pleasantly surprised to discover my drunken critique was accurate. He watched the second epidose with me and we were both Marshmallows from then on holding annual binge marathons.

    I’m not sure why it clicked with me. I was nothing like Veronica (as a teen or an adult) but I wanted to be like her or have her as a friend. For me, she was an incredible role model and I look forward to one day introducing her to my nieces. The acting, the dialogue, the framing, the pace. Magic on the small screen which I look forward to seeing translate to the big screen.

  21. Carda says:

    I’m already done with the first DVD of season 3, so little to go on with… is it March yet?? *__*

  22. Steven says:

    There is a marathon of the first season that is screening at the Prince Charles Cinema here in London on Saturday. I already have the box set but kinda want to go! I also really want to go home now and start from the Pilot!!!

  23. Alan says:

    probably the best pilot iver ever seen.
    the more i think about it the more i realise how far ahead of its time this show was, if it debuted now in the current tv climate it would be getting favourable comparisons to every show considered to be among the best out there.

  24. Radha says:

    Can’t wait for the movie. This was one of the ones that got cancelled way too soon. I am also proud to be a Marshmallow. <3