Moms are in short supply in Season 1, Episode 15 of Veronica Mars, titled “Ruskie Business.” Nonetheless, Veronica manages to find hers. (Lianne is drunker than a high school football player at a model-home party, but she’s found nonetheless.) Sadly, Miss Mars’ maternal hunt goes 1-for-2, leaving a half-orphaned Logan alternately sobbing in a hotel lobby and careening into a school dance sans pants.
Since we’re not recapping every episode, let’s go over a few key points revealed in the lead-up to “Ruskie Business.” Veronica and Duncan may be half-siblings, given that Lianne Mars and Jake Kane had an affair years ago. The call to arrest Lily’s alleged murderer Abel Koontz came from Kane Software’s head of security, a very menancing fella named Clarence Wiedman. Veronica has a sweet pal named Meg. And even though the world is pretty sure that Lynn Echolls parked her convertible on a bridge and took a swan dive into the sweet hereafter, Logan is convinced she’s alive and on the run.
All caught up? Good. Let’s reminisce about what takes place in “Ruskie Business.”
LYNN ON THE LAM? | Logan and Veronica have a little conference at school: She’s been tracking his mom’s credit cards, only the one registered in Lynn’s maiden name has been used recently – and it was to rent a car. (Oof, the hope in Logan’s eyes even at this early point in the hour is nearly unbearable.) Young Mr. Echolls, who’s turned out not to be just the resident a-hole he seemed in the pilot, gives Veronica a very contrite look as he rubs her arm and thanks her for helping him.
But this wouldn’t be Veronica Mars if our girl only had one case to keep her busy, so she rapidly picks up a few more. First, Meg wants help finding out the identity of the secret admirer who’s texting her and sending her gorge bouquets. And over at Mars Investigations, a Russian mail-order bride named Catherine wants Keith and Veronica’s help finding the schlubby guy she left but now wants back. His name? Tom Cruz.
“How hard can it be to find an actor named Tom Cruz?” V muses to Wallace, interrupting their hangout one night to do a little work. “Tom Cruise? Not as good a private eye as I thought,” he responds. (Heh.) Spotting an opportunity, Veronica asks her basketball-playing pal to snoop around and see which of his teammates is sweet on Meg. “What is it with your girls and your girly-girl drama?” he cries, but agrees to help. (Side note: In some parallel universe, Veronica totally woke up one day and realized that she was in love with her bestie — who also realized he was in love with her. They now live in a brownstone in Brooklyn and have two adorable, precocious kids.)
THE BASH IS A BUST | Veronica and Meg attend a kegger at a housing development’s model home to sniff out Meg’s incognito boyfriend, but all they end up with is a spilled beer and more questions. Loverboy isn’t Caz (an appropriately Neanderthal-looking Zachery Ty Bryan of Home Improvement fame) or the nerdy Martin – on another note, I definitely rocked Meg’s am-I-a-bun?-am-I-a-ponytail? updo back in the day. I do enjoy Meg and Veronica’s easy back-and-forth in this episode, though (10-Year-Old Spoiler Alert) it’ll end rather soon.
DO SVIDANIYA | After a basic search turns up nothing on the elusive Mr. Cruz, Keith wants Veronica to drop the case. “Honey, we’re private investigators, not the friggin’ Love Boat,” he tells her. But Veronica keeps on detectin’, eventually finding the address of the man Catherine seeks. Just before she can hand it over, Keith shows up and shuts down her do-goodery: Catherine isn’t looking for a lost love, she’s a plant helping the Russian mafia roust a turncoat out of the Witness Protection Program.
So Veronica and her dad help lure the mob henchmen to the same staged house where Caz threw his party, the sheriff’s office arrest the bad guys, and that’s the end of “Catherine” and her great tale of woe.
RISKY | But let’s get back to Logan, who earlier in the episode meets Veronica at a posh hotel where Lynn’s card has been used. The teens pretend to be engaged so they can get a bead on which suite the card-user is holed up in. (Related: Does Veronica just have that bridal binder hanging around? If not, that’s some impressively fast last-minute work.) And when V’s attempts to cajole her way into the room fail, Logan says he’ll just wait in the lobby until his mother comes down.
He’s still there that evening, when Veronica returns after a tip from Duncan. Finally, a woman in a black trench coat and hat exits the penthouse elevator and approaches the front desk. “That’s her,” Logan says, standing and lighting up with barely restrained joy. But when the woman turns around, it’s really his half-sister Trina (Buffy/How I Met Your Mother‘s Alyson Hannigan). In no time at all, she manages to dash his dream, hint at a history of him being abused by Aaron and be completely vapid as she tries to bond with Veronica. When things get a little heated, Veronica jumps in and leads Logan away; within a few paces, he’s bent in half and crying, clutching the girl who used to be his enemy. Oh, Logan. If Veronica’s face had dialogue in this scene, it would say, “WTF? How do I… oh, OK? Um, guess I’ll rub your back?”
TIME AFTER TIME | The next time we see Logan, he’s drunkenly sliding into the school’s ’80s dance dressed in a button-down shirt, white briefs, sunglasses and socks. “I cannot escape Tom Cruise,” Veronica says in a tone of wonder. (You and 2006-era Katie Holmes, honey.) Trina soon retrieves her inebriated sibling, ending that storyline for the night.
But so much more happens before this heart is completely eclipsed. (Runner-up to that sentence: … “before that kaja is fully googooed.”) Duncan turns out to be Meg’s admirer, and Veronica graciously leads her girlfriend to what’s likely to be a relationship with V’s ex-boyfriend. It’s a very selfless act, but Veronica’s only human: She barely makes it to her car before she falls apart in the driver’s seat. Enter Deputy Leo, who’s donned his best Don Johnson get-up to squire his crush to her school event. (Side note: How old is Leo supposed to be here? Because even if he’s in his early 20s, it still feels borderline inappropriate for him to be macking on a 17-year-old – I don’t care how worldly she is.) My reservations aside, they kiss, and it’s cute.
The moment is broken when Veronica gets another of the crank calls she’s received all episode. But when she calls back (remember *69?), she learns that the number is a payphone in Barstow… and a blonde woman was there just a moment ago. V runs out on a stymied Leo, and she winds up at a dusty looking bar the next morning.
Lianne is half-passed out at the bar, but she panics when Veronica tries to walk her to the door. Remember when I said Logan’s love for his mom was heartbreaking earlier? Veronica’s conflicted feelings are just as affecting here. “I can’t be seen with you. They’re gonna hurt you,” Lianne mumbles – as Veronica catches a glimpse of Kane thug Wiedman before he walks out the door. Well, that can’t be good.
Now it’s your turn. If you’re new to the series, what are your initial thoughts on the episode? If you’ve been taking Backup for years, what about the episode piqued your interest? If I recall correctly, this was the first episode in which I didn’t actively hate Logan. Did you have a similar experience? Sound off in the comments!