Veronica Mars Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot

Welcome to the first edition of Marshmallow Fridays! I’m here to talk the very first episode of Veronica Mars, the one that started it all. The one where our intrepid main character meets Wallace, where she introduces us to Weevil and Logan and Duncan, and where we see that she is the type of person who uses her skills and her hurt and anger for (mostly) good. The one where we see the beginnings of a long running plot arc that features possibly the most realistic and functioning father-daughter relationship on television. Y’all, this show is so good. If you haven’t watched and you’d like to watch before reading this recap, I would highly recommend it (all episodes are streaming on Hulu – this blog is not sponsored by Hulu, lol).

Let’s begin, shall we?

Episode Trigger Warnings: murder, rape, infidelity, bad early to mid 2000s hair


The Play by Play

Let’s start with the opening couple lines of the show:

This is my school. If you go here, either your parents are millionaires, or your parents work for millionaires. Neptune, California – a town without a middle class.

This is said as a voice over as we see our heroine, Veronica Mars, for the first time. Kristen Bell, the goddess herself, sporting absolutely terrible layered hair straight out of 2004. She approaches a crowd, and who else do we see for the first time?

Wallace Fennel, taped to a flagpole, with the word “Snitch” written across his chest. Oh Wallace. Veronica cuts him down while making snarky remarks, naturally. And in the very next scene, we see her sleeping in class. She’s woken up by the teacher, where she quotes Alexander Pope and translates the prose as “life’s a bitch until you die.” Lol. And we’re less than five minutes into the first episode of one of my favorite shows of all time.

Next we’re in the hallway, where Veronica’s voice over tells us about the “random” locker searches, and how her connections in Neptune allow her to know when they’re going to happen and whose lockers are going to be searched that day. It’s hers today, and as she opens it up, she snarks at Vice Principal Clemmons and Deputy Sacks (both recurring characters), and scolds the drug dog, Buster, when he growls at her. As expected in the voice over, her locker is empty except for a picture of Clemmons in a heart.

I just love her.

At lunch, we see the first of several flashbacks in this first episode of the show. Veronica is waxing poetic about how she used to sit at the popular table because she was dating the son of the wealthiest man in Neptune, software magnate Jake Kane. Duncan Kane, V’s ex-boyfriend, is sitting at the table in the present day with his good friend Logan Echolls, son of movie star Aaron Echolls. Duncan is portrayed as the strong and sensitive type, where Logan is painted as the biggest asshole Neptune has ever seen. I N T E R E S T I N G. And then Wallace sits down, breaking the flashback spell she was under. She quips at him about not being invited to sit with her, but it’s Wallace. She takes it back. And the best duo possibly ever was formed.

During this lunch, we meet another important recurring character – Weevil, aka Eli Navarro, the leader of the Pacific Coast Highway Biker “club.” Lol. It’s a gang, y’all. A high school biker gang. Good stuff. Weevil taunts Wallace about how he was supposed to wait for the PCHers at the flagpole, and V comes to his rescue again, initiating the first sparring between V and Weevil – but definitely not the last. A show staple, really. SO GOOD.

Once the PCHers leave, V asks Wallace what he did to get on their bad side. He flashes back to when two of them robbed the Sack ‘n’ Pack, where he worked, and he hit the silent alarm, which alerted the sheriff. The rest of the gang was sitting outside the store as the two thieves got taken away in handcuffs… hence the “snitch,” I suppose. Poor Wallace. New to town and already making such a grand impression on the local motorcycle gang. This arrest scene, though, gives us our first glimpse of Sheriff Lamb, who is universally the best worst character on this show, I think. More often than not, he’s just the worst. But he has his moments.

This was not one of them.

After school, V goes home to walk her ADORABLE white and brown pitbull on the beach, where they run into Wallace again, this time flying a RC airplane. We get to see on V’s face that she believes she made a friend for the first time since… well, we’ll get into that.

She then goes to work at her dad’s office, where he’s a private investigator. He’s in with a client, but we get to meet Cliff, the local public defender who is a Mars family friend. Cliff tells V about a case he has where a local stripper named Loretta Cancun vandalized a laundromat. But the key is that she has information on how her place of employment, the Seventh Veil, has an “interesting” way of keeping their liquor license. And since she has an insatiable sense of curiosity, you know V is on the case.

Cliff leaves, and Mr. Mars’ office door opens, revealing… Celeste Kane, wife of Jake Kane, mother of Duncan. It’s pretty clear that Celeste doesn’t think highly of the Mars family, which doesn’t make sense at first. We also get to see Mr. Mars for the first time – hi, Mr. Mars! But anyway, then Veronica has this epic quote that sums up the feeling of the first season of the show in a nutshell:

She’s a bitch, but can you blame her? After all, my dad did try to send her husband to jail for life.

Dun dun dun!

Mr. Mars and V eat dinner, and he tries to ask her about her day while she tries to ask him about Celeste. He gets a call about a bail jumper, then tells V not to get involved in the Kane stuff while he’s gone. Oh, Mr. Mars. You know better. Which gives us another great quote:

When you go after Jake Kane, you take Backup.

Oh, don’t worry. V almost always takes Backup.

Jump to V on a stakeout that night, following Jake Kane from his office to the Camelot motel for a clandestine meeting. CLEARLY he is cheating on Celeste. CLEARLY. Through these scenes, we get the story of V’s best friend’s murder. You see, not only was V dating Duncan, but she was also best friends with Duncan’s sister, Lilly Kane. And last year, Lilly was murdered in her own backyard. Lilly’s last words to V were “I’ve got a secret – a good one.” And V never got to learn the secret. Mr. Mars was sheriff at the time, and he always thought Jake Kane killed his own daughter, which led to an outcry in the town and a special election to oust him as sheriff. And then the new sheriff caught the supposed killer of Lilly Kane – an Abel Koontz, former Kane Software employee. But it didn’t feel right to the Mars family. It didn’t work. So they’ve kept searching, quietly, privately. But I digress…

V get surrounded by the PCHers, all upset that she was standing up for Wallace earlier and making gross and lewd jokes. When one of them approaches her car, her dog jumps him. And then she tases another one, Felix Toombs, all while Weevil watches his guys get beat up on by V. She calls her dog off – whose name is Backup, by the way, fave thing EVER – and she flashes the taser at Felix again (he becomes important later, which is why I named him for you – I’m trying to be nice like that without giving tooooooo much away). Weevil makes a deal with her, giving her one week to clear his boys of the theft at the Sack ‘n’ Pack.

It’s at this point where we get one of the more difficult flashbacks in the series. Veronica reminisces on her own rape, not long after Lilly’s death. She remembers enough of it, but not enough to know who raped her. It’s an appropriate amount of rough to watch, and it endeared her to me because it showed how strong she was right off the bat. ❤

At school the next day, Logan pulls up next to V and jeers her as he inches along in his car while she walks. It’s all fun and games until Logan starts poking fun at V’s alcoholic mom who left them after Mr. Mars lost the sheriff position. That’s when Duncan makes him stop. And at that point, V flashes back to her mom leaving. It’s heartbreaking and powerful and V is so, so strong. It’s also nice to see that glimpse of non-asshole Duncan. Although, at this point, it’s nearly impossible to see how he hangs out with Logan. But we’ll get there!

Lunchtime rolls around, and V sits at her usual table, which is already occupied by Wallace. He has a great opening line for this conversation:

Girl, you should hear the things people say about you.

Nice, Wallace. However, because V has an incontrovertible sense of humor (and Wallace says that he’d rather sit with the girl who cut him down from the flagpole than the ones who laughed at him), she brings Wallace into her Master Plan™.

This is one of many things that I love about Veronica Mars as a show. We get to see her process without having any idea what she’s doing or how she pieced things together. And then she gets to reveal it to us at the end. In this case, she also pulls in Corny, who is one of the more pleasant recurring characters, and the plan is set in motion.

The Rough Outline of the Plan

  1. Request Corny create something funny in art class.
  2. Use that something to cause a chain of reactions so V can get something she needs.
  3. Solve all the mysteries.

Easy peasy, right?

In her room, V gets the license plate from the Camelot for her dad to run when he gets home. When he arrives after catching the bail jumper, we get our first “Who’s your daddy?” from him, because he’s the daddest dad of them all. He cooks dinner, she shows him the photo, and he gets visibly upset, forbidding V to go anywhere near the Kane case from then on. Even though it’s only the first episode, it’s pretty clear from V’s reaction that this isn’t a side of Keith Mars that we get very often. So, obviously, it only makes her more curious. A girl after my own heart, she is.

That night, V stakes out the Seventh Veil to figure out the interesting way they’re keeping their liquor license. And now The Plan is truly in motion!

V’s Master Plan™

  1. Logan gets busted during a “random” locker search with a bong. He immediately knows it was V who put it there, clearly.
  2. V and Wallace sit in her car outside the sheriff’s department and activate said bong to cause smoke and maybe a little fire, so that Inga (the sheriff’s receptionist) will call the fire department.
  3. The fire department will come to check out the fire, allowing the fire chief to switch out an evidence envelope, giving it to V later that day.
  4. Save the world.

At her dad’s office, V calls in the license plate her dad wouldn’t run to find out who it belongs to. Turns out… it’s her mother’s car. Unwelcome plot twist! Ugh. She then presses her dad on why he’s dropping the Kane case, and he lies to her. Meaning he already knew about her mother’s car. Poor Mr. Mars. He’s a joy.

The next day, V goes to the courthouse to watch the PCHers’ preliminary hearing. She runs into Inga, who asks about the last time she was there, which leads to more of V recalling her own rape. Yikes on yikes on yikes. That’s in reference to Sheriff Lamb in the flashback. He’s the fucking worst.

The same Sheriff Lamb is on the witness stand when V enters the courtroom. He sees her and is immediately suspicious. But he keeps talking, mostly because he likes talking on the whole. The security tape from the Sack ‘n’ Pack is supposed to play as part of the evidence, but instead, it’s V’s footage of the “interesting” way that the Seventh Veil keeps its liquor license… which is blowjobs for cops in their work vehicles. COOL COOL COOL. Must be nice to be a white man… that’s all I’m saying. Anyway, everyone gets off! Yay! Lamb is furious, Cliff is grateful, and Weevil owes V. But not for long. He always makes good.

I’d just like to point out here that this part of the episode features V’s worst hair. By far. It’s so bad. It’s feathered and overly layered and just TERRIBLE.

V then meets Wallace at the beach to give him the security footage, so he can decide what he wants to do with it. He is so thankful that he names the fans of the show from here on out with this quote:

You’re a marshmallow, Veronica Mars.

We’re all marshmallows, Veronica Mars. ❤

Logan and his cronies show up with a crowbar, and he knocks both of V’s headlights in. He says his dad took his car after the bong incident, and he makes so many jokes about it that it feels, even from this very first episode, that something at Logan’s house isn’t right. But we’ll get to that later in the season.

At this point, the PCHers show up to defend V. Weevil dents the hood of Logan’s friend’s car, and then tells him to apologize to V. He refuses, Weevil beats him up, and then the rich kids leave. V then makes Weevil apologize to Wallace… who still won’t give up the surveillance tape. Good work, team. All the crimes have been solved!

At the end of the episode, V breaks into her dad’s safe and finds a file he’s been keeping on Lilly Kane’s murder… even though the person who supposedly did it is already in jail for life. She’s looking through things, trying to connect some dots, when her dad arrives. He seems to know that she broke into the safe, but he doesn’t say anything to her. It seems like this might be one of the first times there were any secrets between the members of the Mars family, and it’s adorable.

V then goes to the Camelot to see if the mystery woman is still there, and there’s no luck. She’s disappointed because that mystery woman was her mother. And V vows at the end of the episode to do anything in her power to get her family back together again.

And end pilot!

The Episode Mystery

This pilot episode is the first time we see how the writers use certain plot devices that continue throughout the series. The biggest thing that took a little getting used to (but that I LOVE) is that as an audience, we don’t always understand what’s going on until the end, when Veronica explains it to us. That was the case here. In this first episode, there are several mysteries:

  1. How are the PCHers going to get out of their charge of robbing the convenience store?
  2. How is Cliff going to get his client off?
  3. How is Wallace going to make Neptune livable after crossing the PCHers?

The answer to each of these is VERONICA, obviously.

The Overall Mystery

Since this is the very first episode, everything here is an introduction. We are introduced to Lilly, and we are introduced to Leanne, the two most powerful and influential women in young Veronica’s life who both leave her within a short period of time. And, not coincidentally at all, they are the center of two of the three mysteries of the season.

  1. Who killed Lilly Kane?
  2. Who raped Veronica?
  3. Where is Lianne Mars?

What’s cool about this show is that sometimes a mystery goes on for an entire season, and sometimes it’s only for a 5 or 6 episode arc. I’ll cover anything that takes longer than a single episode in this section, just for future knowledge.

What Aged Like a Dairy Product

  • VERONICA’S HAIRCUT.

It’s literally all I could focus on in some scenes. Yikes.

What Aged Like a Fine Wine

  • I can always appreciate a good banter between friends, and we started to see that for the first time in this episode. Particularly the conversations between V and Wallace and V and Weevil are of note here.

It also helps that nothing very controversial happens in this first episode. The later episodes sometimes go into some NOT SO GREAT areas that no one knew how to handle in 2004.

Rating

If you’ve read my book reviews (you’re here, so I’d assume you’ve seen them!), you already know that I review things by the rainbow when I read books. I’m going to do the same thing here. For reference, here’s the rating system for Marshmallow Fridays:

  • Red = I couldn’t even get through this episode because it was so bad
  • Orange = Pushed through, hated everything
  • Yellow = Opposite of enjoyable, but had some bright spots
  • Green = This was mediocre!
  • Blue = A solid episode!
  • Purple = Television at it’s finest, 12/10, must watch repeatedly.

So, this was the pilot! Meaning it obviously wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to get us into the setting, the characters, and the overall vibe of the show. It was good, but it wasn’t great. Therefore, I’m going to give the Veronica Mars, Season 1, Episode 1: Pilot a BLUE rating. It was solid enough to gain a fan base, and that’s what truly matters!

What did you think? Do you love this show as much as I do? This is my first show recap in a long time, and I tend to get a little chatty, so let me know what you think in the comments!

Be a marshmallow, everyone!

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