Veronica Mars Recap: Total (Terrible) Recall

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!

When she’s wielding a taser or cracking wise, it’s very easy to forget that Veronica Mars‘ titular heroine is a teenage girl – and one who, as she tells us the very first time we meet her, has been raped and doesn’t know by whom.

That’s a heavy load for a tiny blonde one to carry, though throughout Season 1 she certainly manages to distract herself (and us) with perfect quips and well-laid traps for those who deserve them.

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But everything’s got to surface at some point, which is why the episode we’re talking about in this recap – “A Trip to the Dentist” – is so cathartic: We (and Veronica) finally learn what really happened to her the night before the morning she woke up at Shelly Pomroy’s house, divested of her underwear and pretty sure that she’d been violated.

Not to mention, we get a huge reveal from Duncan, some unintentionally very public LoVe PDA and a say-it-ain’t-so-Logan! cliffhanger that swings us right into the season finale.

Because we’re not recapping every episode, and because a reveal in “M.A.D.” is what sets this hour in motion, let’s go over what happened in the show’s recent past: Duncan went missing, and his parents offered a $50,000 reward for his return. Logan found out that Lilly wasn’t faithful to him, but he’s cool with it, because it makes him feel less guilty about liking Veronica. While helping a classmate trying to squelch a sex-lite tape made while she was “out of it,” Veronica realized that the girl had been drugged and the Rufie-ing had taken place at Shelly Pomroy’s party – the same event where Veronica was sexually assaulted. And the person who supplied the rape drug (which actually turns out to be GHB)? Logan Echolls.

All good? Cool. Let’s get to what happened in “A Trip to the Dentist.”

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REVISITING THE PAST | You’ll recall that Veronica stood Logan and his yacht up at the end of the last episode; when he confronts her the next day in the Neptune High parking lot, Weevil runs interference and Veronica just runs the other way.  At home, Veronica showers. It’s the first time we’ll see her obsessively cleaning in the episode, but definitely not the last, poor thing. (And now I just remembered how she went to the police and requested a rape kit after the party, and Lamb mocked her, and I’m irate all over again. Enjoy that bread, dude.)

Logan shows up at the apartment, where a flinty, still damp Veronica gives him the narrowed eye treatment. “What’d I do, Veronica?” he asks, and it’s clear he’s genuinely befuddled. She lets him in on her big secret, then says she knows he had the drugs at the bash. He cops to having Liquid X in his possession that night; he got it during a trip to Tijuana with Sean and Luke. Veronica is unmoved by the confession. She’ll find who hurt her and make them pay, she vows before closing the door in his face, “Even if it was you.”

The next day, Veronica runs around grilling other partygoers. Because the flashback to the party is told in many pieces, from various points of view, it’s probably easiest to break it down by who said what.

WHAT MEG SAW | Duncan’s current arm recalls watching a group of guys do body shots off an out-of-it Veronica by the pool the night of Shelly’s party. Just as she was going over to help (way to stall there, Meggers), someone else pushed the guys off and helped Veronica to her feet – but Meg didn’t see who. Not knowing how terrible that night ended for her pal, Meg advises Veronica to chalk it up to a drunken high school embarrassment and move on.

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WHAT LUKE SAW | Logan’s pal Luke (the guy Veronica helped out of a jam with some angry ‘roid dealers in “You Think You Know Somebody”) tells V Dick gave the GHB to girlfriend Madison to “loosen her up.” But he knows she didn’t take it, because he later witnessed her angrily spray-painting Veronica’s car with the “Slut” graffiti we saw in the pilot. (Side note: I love that Madison was so mad that she left the party to buy a can of spray paint. She’s vapid and mean, but you’ve gotta admit, she’s driven.)

WHAT MADISON SAW | “You pretty much made out with everyone,” Madison bitches when cornered in the bathroom, and her version of the flashback has a loopy Veronica trying to get guys to dance with her to the drunk girl favorite, “I Touch Myself.” And then… “I made out with Dick and Casey?!” Veronica cries, coming thisclose to tossing her cookies. (Side note: Part of what I love about this episode is how the different characters’ recollections are colored by how they view Veronica. Madison sees her as a giant loser/boyfriend stealer, so her version of events plays that up. Can’t say I’m not relieved, though, that this revisionist history isn’t corroborated by any of the others’ stories.)

WHAT CASEY SAW | ’09er-turned-hippie-turned-’09er-again Casey (“Drinking the Kool-Aid”) has a different take: Dick was the one singing about self-love as a muzzy Veronica stumbled by and was then passed around by the elder Casablancas. Casey turned down a make-out with Ms. Mars, telling Dick he prefers his ladies to be able to function under their own power. Sadly, that makes him seem kind of stand-up in comparison to the other male partygoers, who he relates then started pouring shots down a debilitated Veronica’s throat. The sight is hella disturbing, as teeny little V is literally force-fed enough alcohol to drop a linebacker. He also says the guys (Dick, Sean, etc.) wanted her to make out with Shelly. Charming.

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WHAT SEAN SAW | After some locker-scrubbing and some lying to Wallace (he’s aware something’s up with her and Logan, but she lies about it, and he totally knows), Veronica confronts Sean. The duck-faced butler’s kid who tried to frame Weevil for stealing poker money (“An Echolls Family Christmas”) is a smug jerk as he tells her he and Dick brought her to a guest bedroom, where they left Beaver to have his way with her.

WHAT THE CASABLANCAS BROTHERS SAW | But Dick, fearing that Veronica’s going to run over his precious new surfboard with her car, says he found her on the bed with his little brother… and Beaver reassures her nothing happened, because he had to run out of the room and puke, and that’s totally a mood-breaker. (At least he didn’t pull a Sookie Stackhouse.) “Well hey, thanks for leaving me there,” she says sarcastically, punching him on the arm and walking away. Beaver stares after her, not at all looking like a psycho with a mounting grudge.

¡DUNCAN ESTÁ AQUÍ! | Let’s take a short break to catch up with Duncan, who’s laying low in Havana. Lo siento, El Duncan; that scrappy little beard you’re sporting isn’t enough of a disguise to confuse Keith, who shows up and says he’s taking you back to Neptune.

Once back in California, Celeste refuses to pay for her son’s return, telling Keith that she and Veronica had an arrangement and “You just met her end of the bargain.” (Side note: Duncan’s mom is referring to when Veronica got Weevil out of some Kane-flavored hot water in a previous episode.)

Soon, Keith is taking off again, telling Veronica he’s tracked an entertainment lawyer on the lam to Vegas. But he’s really meeting with Abel Koontz’s former sex buddy, who was with him at the time he allegedly killed Lilly. OK, back to the terrible trip down fuzzy memory lane!

WHAT DUNCAN DID | A brief interlude with Carrie Bishop (the girl from the sleazy teacher knock-up switcheroo in Mars vs. Mars – oh hey, Leighton Meester! Congrats on the wedding!), Veronica knocks on Duncan’s door wanting to know why Carrie said she saw them having party sex in the back bedroom. “You were there too, you know,” he snarks at her, leading into a flashback where Dunks found her on the bed, she told him she missed him, and boom – sex. “Then why did you leave me there?” Veronica demands, face crumpling as she cries. “If it was so tender and loving, why did I wake up by myself, searching for my underwear?” What was so terrible that Duncan had to flee before sunrise! “Because you’re my sister!” he yells, “And I knew it!” Oof. He goes on to admit his continuing love for her, they both have full-on breakdowns in the Kane driveway, and it’s painful to watch – and gets more awkward when Veronica turns to leave and sees that Celeste has witnessed pretty much everything.

Wallace later finds Veronica in tears outside his house. He brings her inside, where she tells him everything – and shows him her files on Lilly’s murder (complete with cover photo!). (Side note: These two are unbearably cute.)

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SURPRISE! | Veronica apologizes to Logan for thinking he was her rapist, then confesses that she and Duncan made the beast with two backs at Shelly’s. Logan’s OK with it, and brings her home for dinner with his dad… who has planned a very early/very late surprise birthday party for Logan as a partial apology for their strained relationship. So when V and Logan makeout in the doorway and flip on the lights, all of the ’09ers (Duncan included) witness it. Dick’s rude comments get him kicked out, and Logan announces that if those assembled have a problem with his “girlfriend” – check out Veronica’s face off of that word – then they can leave, too. Duncan takes the cue, and goes outside to beat the tar out of his car.

Meanwhile, Madison is suspiciously nice as she offers Veronica some punch. Meg advises her not to drink it; Mads is notorious for giving her enemies “a trip to the dentist,” aka spitting in their drinks. Veronica demands to know whether Madison did that to her the night of Shelly’s soiree, and when the ’09er confesses, V realizes that it was Madison who inadvertently drugged her by giving her the cup Dick meant for his girlfriend. (Side note: I was impressed back in 2005 by how this reveal was parceled out over the hour. I still am. This ep is good.)

AND ANOTHER ONE! | Logan steals Veronica away for a little nookie in the pool house, but when he accidentally breaks the key to the liquor cabinet, he has to step out for a sec. Veronica lays back and looks up at the ceiling fan… which she soon realizes has a camera concealed within. Her sleuth skills kick in, and she finds a set of secret screens that make it seem like Logan was about to videotape them getting frisky. Before her new beau/possible psychopath can return, Veronica’s called Weevil to pick her up and bring her home.

And guess who’s there, sitting on the couch with Keith? Veronica’s mom, Lianne, back from rehab!

Now it’s your turn. What did you think about the way the show handled who “raped” Veronica? We want to hear about it in the comments!

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12 Comments
  1. Austin says:

    This episode was definitely one of the best in the series. TVLine is doing a great job of getting me hyped up for the movie. :D

  2. Lapdog says:

    I’m seriously loving this trip down VM memory lane with the TV Line recaps. I’ve watched these eps so many times (esp Season 1) that your recap conjures up the playback I can see in my head, adding just the right amount of VM!superfan snarky observations. (Esp liked your “psycho Beaver foreshadowing.) Feels like the old days when I’d eagerly await the TWOP recaps after each new episode. Keep ‘em coming!

  3. Matt C. says:

    All these years later, and I’m still in awe about how good this episode is/was. And what’s even better is that nearly all of the characters from this episode are going to be back for the movie! (RIP Meg and Beaver…er, Cassidy).

  4. Ally Oop says:

    Loved this show. Thanks for the nostalgic recap!

  5. Go Pirates says:

    This, for me, was the best episode of the entire series. Diane Ruggiero wrote it perfectly. It answers one of the two big questions posed in the pilot in a way that’s smart and twisty and brutal. Each ’09er has a different piece of the puzzle and it’s taken Veronica exactly this long to put them all together. It pulls the season together and sets up the finale, while still serving as a stand-alone episode. Pure brilliance.

  6. jerry says:

    This is the one of the best episodes of the series! I knew Lily’s killer wouldn’t be Logan but I still didn’t figure out who it was. The reveal in the next episode was such a shock and still it made perfect sense. Best show ever!

  7. Tee says:

    This was one of the best episodes. I’ve been rewatching VM (thanks Amazon Prime! I didn’t have to dig out my dvd sets) and it makes me miss the show, or want more shows like it.

  8. ChicagoVMFan says:

    This along with “An Echoll’s Family Christmas” stack up as my 2 favorite episodes. The messiness of the resolution here is realistic and the overall look of the episode is great. I still think Season 1 was the best season of a drama I have seen on TV. It made you understand Lilly, Veronica, Logan and Duncan, parsed our clues every episode and the resolutions to the big mysteries made total sense.

  9. Just want to say your article is as surprising.
    The clarity in your post is just nice and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.
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    Thanks a million and please carry on the gratifying work.

  10. judymhut says:

    This is great! I am rewatching too but I’m fuzzy on something that maybe someone will shed some light for me. At this point, Veronica thinks she had sex with Ducan and that’s why her underwear is on the floor. Does she think that she wasn’t raped after this discovery? I know the end of season 2 she realizes it was Beaver who did indeed rape her. Did she have sex with Duncan then get raped by Beav that same night? And did she always think she was raped? So many questions… :)

  11. Dani says:

    The movie comes out in a few days and there hasn’t been another recap since this one. Are you not recapping the second and third season?

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