Veronica Mars: Spring Break Forever

"Neptune didn't need another private investigator. It needed an enema."

Veronica Mars is a grown-up, and she really wants you to know it.

It seems like just yesterday we were all waxing nostalgic over the return of Neptune High alums, past loves and other familiar faces. The Veronica Mars Kickstarter movie felt like one giant hug for the fans; a thank you for making its existence possible, and for sticking by the series for so long that Rob Thomas had to keep it alive. I loved it for what it was, but I understood that if Mars and co. were to continue past that, it would have to be in a different form. We had the novels in the interim – The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and Mr. Kiss and Tell – which were both good in their own way, but Veronica Mars was made for the screen.

This new iteration of the series is in the perfect format for a mystery orientated show; a heavily serialized burst of episodes on a platform that allows it to be the series it deserves to be. Both Thomas and Kristen Bell have told us this isn’t necessarily the series we want, but one that we need. Whether or not that's true remains up in the air by the close of ‘Spring Break Forever,’ the first episode of Veronica Mars since May 2007, but it certainly made one hell of a statement. This isn’t the show we loved; it’s grown up along with its titular character, and the world around her has changed because of it. It’s seedier, darker, and even more complex than it used to be, much like Veronica herself. The episode wastes no time in proving this with quite a bit of cursing (but not too much) and some more R rated content than we're used to – a decapitated head, for instance. It's all a little jarring initially, but it fits so seamlessly into the world that Thomas built that it's difficult to contest any of it.

Our first glimpse of Veronica is a flash-forward to what turns out to be the episode’s final scene. Veronica watches law enforcement comb a ruined crime scene at a seaside motel in Neptune; a familiar sight, minus the wreckage. She laments on her decision to stay in Neptune because she thought it needed her, and she needed it. Somehow, she believes that theory to be proven wrong, and these next eight episodes will tell us exactly why she's been so defeated.

Back in the present-day, Veronica helps a burned 09’er get revenge on her slimy ex by hitting him back twice as hard; getting even is also a very familiar sight where Veronica is concerned. Ronnie doesn’t exactly break through Karsyn’s entitled attitude, but she does dupe her into paying quite a bit more than her usual fee, which is useful considering Mars Investigations appears to be going through some cash-flow problems, even with two PIs now under the same roof.

Keith doesn’t seem to find it as easy to manipulate gullible clients as Veronica. He’s even taking on a supermarket case that’s paying next to nothing just because he feels like he has to. I felt bad for the Mars patriarch, here. He’s still in pain following the hit and run we saw in the movie, a fact made all the more obvious by the cane he needs to walk. He also seems to be suffering from memory loss, which isn’t an ideal situation for a PI whose job is reliant on remembering the most minuscule of details. Perhaps he should consider handing over the reins to his eagle-eyed daughter.

Whoever takes the lead, both members of the Mars family will need to be at the top of their game following an explosion at a seaside motel during spring break. There’s a whole sequence in the middle of the hour that introduces us to everyone who was there at the time. It’s clearly a pivotal scene, one that demands the viewer’s attention, but without an established character, it runs a bit too long.

Regardless, the impact of the explosion itself is even larger that it seemed initially, with all of the victims’ deaths causing a myriad of complications for those they’ve left behind. Aside from a douchebag frat boy, the blow claims the lives of the fiancĂ©e of a congressman’s brother; the son of a woman with ties to a major Mexican cartel leader by the name El Despiadado; and the owner of the motel itself, who is survived by his inquisitive teenage daughter. It’s caring for this young girl that seems to be the reason Veronica becomes so invested in the case, a fact that Veronica doesn’t hesitate to point out as a huge mistake. Time will tell how this bond forms, but it’s clear that Maddy isn’t a world away from another determined teen we met a decade ago.

I think it’ll be interesting to see if the series takes advantage of the parallels between the girl Veronica was, and the woman she is now. She’s still an inherently flawed individual, who has trouble letting people in. Given all the heartbreak and betrayal she’s witnessed in her years in the PI biz, she’s not interested in getting married. We should know that already since it’s one of the first things we heard her say in the pilot – “an absolute.” Sadly, Logan still believes in the idea, and Veronica rejecting his proposal may have some lasting consequences on their already fragile long-distance relationship.

Plus

We got a snazzy new title sequence with a cover of the classic theme song by Chrissie Hynde. I like it.

Big Dick Casablancas is still in town, and campaigning against the party scene that keeps the bars, motels and other low-level joints in business. Nicole, a local business owner played by The Good Place's Kirby Howell Baptiste, is very much against his plans. Veronica liked her instantly, and I think I did as well.

Another great character introduced was Alonzo, played by Clifton Collins Jr. He works for El Despiadado and he wasn't fazed in the slightest by a head being thrown into his boss' backyard. His assignment to the bombing case can only spell trouble.

Wallace is an 09'er now, with a wife and an adorable son. I'm so happy that he seems happy. Our Wallace deserves the best.

Tina Majorino (Mac) is sitting this series out, which is a shame.

I was gagged at the amount of time Jason Dohring spent half-naked. For the record, if he got down on one knee looking like that, I'd say yes to anything he asked!

Cliff was the one to refer Veronica and Keith to the congressman Daniel Maloof. I forgot how much I adore him.

A few elements introduced in the novels carry over into the series: Marcia Langdon, the police chief who ran against Dan Lamb in Mr. Kiss and Tell is one. Veronica's new dog Pony is another. I'm glad these little developments weren't ignored so that they could remain canon.

He Said, She Said

Veronica: "I spent my first 19 years trying to escape my hometown of Neptune. Made it out, then, after a decade away, decided Neptune needed me, and I needed it. I was wrong on both counts."

Karsyn: "Tell me we're recording this."
Veronica: "'We're recording this' is my middle name."

Veronica: "There is no George Bailey moment at the end of this story, Dad. When we go belly up, no one's taking up a collection for us."
Keith: "There's always that law degree."

Veronica: "This Sea Sprite bombing. I like to think I would have walked away if we didn't need the money. Knowing what I know now I wish I had. But there was a girl and I started to care about the girl. And if you know anything about what I do that's never good."

Pacing issues aside, I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. It made a strong case for making another return to Neptune, one that’s shed a whole different light on how corrupt and dangerous it still is, and how fantastic a character Veronica remains five years later. It’s good to be back.

7 out of 10 engagement rings.

7 comments:

Katie Hart - Pinterest Manager said...

Ah, I'd forgotten the same actress who plays Nicole also played Simone on The Good Place. It will be interesting to see her and Kristin Bell interact as different characters.

I binged the entire season in one day with my best friend (it was 105 out with a heat index of 125, so staying indoors seemed the best idea), so I'm going to wait until the final episode review to leave full comments, as they are a bit blurred together in my mind and I don't want to accidentally drop spoilers.

Juan said...

I'm loving every cussing second of this new series. A lot has changed after all this years, but the chemistry between Veronica and her father, and Veronica and Logan which is the reason I always watched the series is still there, and I'm living for it. Bring it on!

Panda said...

If only I was able to watch it all in one go! The surprise drop really...surprised me. Spoilers are everywhere :(

Panda said...

Agreed on the chemistry for both pairings. I was a bit burned out with LoVe by the end of the OG series, but I adore what they’ve done with them in this.

Billie Doux said...

As you said, Panda, Veronica Mars has grown up. This episode was even bordering on R-rated. The set-up of a huge crime to be solved has lots of suspects and a bit too much exposition. I think I enjoyed Veronica's divorce/video case at the beginning the most because I kept laughing.

Logan proposing made me a bit sad because I just didn't want Veronica to refuse, and I knew that she would.

Please don't tell me that Keith has early onset Alzheimers. Or a brain tumor. That might be a bit too much for me.

Wallace! Cliff! :)

Billie Doux said...

P.S. I suspect Jason Dohring may have been working out.

Lamounier said...

18 minutes into the episode I stopped watching it. I could not believe that after all these years, it only took 18 minutes into the new season for Veronica to be a jerk to Logan. I'm not a shipper (okay, maybe I am), but why can't these two have more than three seconds of happiness? It's not even that she turned the marriage proposal down, but how she did it. Geez, in the movie, Veronica seemed more mature than that.

So today I resumed watching the episode and I ended up liking it a lot. Nicole, the bar owner, was awesome, and the setup for the main arc was really well done. I wanna see where this goes.

I loved Keith being sarcastic about Logan's proposal. It's nice to know that, after all these years, he sees Logan for the good man he is. But Veronica better treat Logan better. I hope this doesn't turn into the first half of season three all over again.

Big Dick Casablancas is still in town

Oh, that's him! I was having trouble remembering who he was.