Veronica Mars Season 1, Episode 9 – Drinking the Kool-Aid

Oh hey there! Did you notice that I accidentally missed last week? I had a big research paper due and was trying to write the recap in an airport and it just didn’t work out! So I’m a week behind at the moment, but soon I’m hoping to post two recaps in one week and catch back up to the self-imposed schedule I created, because that’s what’s important. But anyway, on to Veronica Mars!

Previously On…

  • Lianne split! And there were stalker photos of Veronica in a safe deposit box!
  • Lianne used to date Jake Kane!
  • Lilly was murdered a year earlier!
  • Abel Koontz definitely isn’t guilty of killing Lilly, but he’s on death row for it!
  • Who is Veronica’s dad – Keith Mars or Jake Kane? (I’ll be adding this to the overall mysteries section this week!)

The Play by Play

We open the episode to Veronica crying in her car, which is where we left her at the end of episode 8. As she drives home from the prison, she convinces herself that Jake Kane IS her father, that that’s what makes sense. And then she thinks a little too hard about Duncan and has to pull over on the side of the road to throw up out of her car door. Y I K E S.

When V gets home, she starts obsessing over the photos from the safe deposit box. She figures out that one of them could only have been taken when she was visiting the counselor her mom made her start seeing after Lilly died. And there’s a Book Week sign in the background of one, which helps her narrow down the timeframe to a single week the previous February. She visits a cafe across the street from where the photo was taken, asks to see the receipts after showing the creepy photo, and bam! She’s got an answer. Or at least, the beginning of an answer. Her stalker was Clarence Weidman. She finds him and follows him to – SURPRISE – Kane Software. In calling up the company, she learns he’s the head of security there. All around, it’s one big Y I K E S, but for V, it gives her purpose. She now sees this situation as the Kanes running her mom out of town, and she wants revenge.

The theme song plays and the whole episode shifts gears entirely.

V gets home from visiting the prison – it’s assumed that her dad didn’t know where she was – and Mr. Mars is all scraped up from a softball game that is never fully explained. It’s to the point where I wonder if the actor got beat up or something that week and they had to write it into the episode. But anyway, he’s very excited about something, dragging V into her bedroom. He’s got a surprise for her, and the surprise is a water bed! It’s a very sweet moment, and it really makes it clear how sad V is to even be considering the possibility that Mr. Mars isn’t her biological father.

The next day, two parents are in Mr. Mars’ office, saying that their son joined a cult and they’d like him back. The cult is called the Mooncalf Collective (??), and the son sold his Porsche and gave them all the money! The parents are clearly ’09ers, and they’re distraught.

They leave, and V starts asking her dad about taking a sample of her blood for a class project, but she’s scared. She manages to get her dad to give her a sample instead, which is amazing. Very convincing job V.

Mr. Mars immediately turns the conversation to the runaway cult member son – he’s at V’s school, and V is not a fan. He’s already 18, so they can’t force him to come home, but they’re hoping to find evidence that the cult is doing something illegal, so they can get him back that way. Immediately, Mr. Mars forbids V from going out to the cult herself. Lol! Like that didn’t just plant the idea in her head.

V then monologues about how she wanted her dad’s blood for a paternity test. Sad face.

At school, V walks right past Duncan, completely ignoring him, and he is rightfully confused. But also, you can’t recognize your own behavior in her, Duncan? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID WHEN YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT YOUR PARENTS. (This is an assumption as to why he was acting so weird, but I think it’s safe to say that that’s the thing.)

V is watching the cult member son play hacky sack with some people. And you’ll never believe who the son is (who is named in the episode, but I was waiting for this moment, because he will always have one name to me) – AARON SAMUELS, WHOSE HAIR LOOKS SEXY PUSHED BACK. Anyway, Wallace walks up and comments on the whiteness of hacky sack. V explains why she’s watching them, and Wallace says he thinks Aaron Samuels looks very normal. V replies very ominously, “Not if you knew him before.”

F L A S H B A C K

Weevil is reading a poem in English class, and Aaron Samuels and his girlfriend are giggling in the back of the room, clearly making fun of him. V and Duncan seem pretty engrossed though. The teacher finally calls out Aaron Samuels for giggling, and he throws Weevil under the bus, stating that he’s reading the lyrics of a Social Distortion song, not his own original poetry. /flashback

V goes to visit Aaron Samuel’s ex-girlfriend (who is not Regina George, for the record) to see if she knows what’s going on with him. She says that she has no idea, but she dumped him when he started acting different. He’s been hanging out with Blond Teacher a lot, and the ex-gf thinks they’re having an affair. Aaron Samuels – who hadn’t written his own paper since 7th grade, she says – joined the lit mag to be closer to Blond Teacher. Well. Now V has a lead.

V writes up a stereotypical lit mag poem and submits it.

At home, the hot water keeps going in and out in the Mars apartment. V complains to her dad about it, and he basically (unfortunately) tells her to stick it out, but if they get the bonus from Aaron Samuels’ parents for getting him back, they can look for a new apartment.

In class, the room divides into groups of four and V is literally the odd (wo)man out. It’s stark and a great image for us to see going into the rest of the episode.

Blond Teacher approaches V in the hallway about her lit mag poem, but it only takes her about five seconds to start talking about the Mooncalf Collective. She lives there, it turns out! And she immediately asks V to join her there after school today to see the place. V agrees, with her dad’s words in the back of her mind.

When they arrive, the first thing Blond Teacher does is tell V to stay out of the barn. OH OKAY. Have you ever met Veronica Mars before, ma’am? I think her voiceover basically says “yahtzee.”

Blond Teacher introduces V to Cult Leader, who immediately… starts making out with Blond Teacher. UMM OKAY. He also hugs V for a very long time and as a non-hugger, I am uncomfortable watching this display. To all the cult leaders out there – if you want me to join your cult, DO NOT GIVE ME A LINGERING HUG. Just… PSA.

Aaron Samuels walks up and says he had to see V for himself to believe that she was actually there, but also that he’s not surprised she found herself at the Collective. He seems very chill, honestly. Blond Teacher shows V around and invites her to stay for dinner, which V accepts. One of the people Blond Teacher introduces V to is Rain, who appears to be the youngest member of the Collective at around V’s age. Rain teaches V how to milk a cow while V tries to bait Rain into revealing illegal activity or something. It doesn’t work – Rain doesn’t bite on the Cult Leader, or on anything else illegal that may be going on. But she DOES tell V about their secret “ultimate cash crop.”

After dinner, they’re all sitting around a bonfire, and both Aaron Samuels and Rain invite V to sit with them. This is what I was talking about earlier, the stark contrast between what’s happening at school versus what the Collective is like. V is popular and wanted at the Collective. It must be a rush for her. In the end, V sits with Aaron Samuels, since he’s her target, after all. Cult Leader starts going around asking everyone about their days, and people just start sharing. Blond Teacher asks V to share her poem, and V puts on a show of getting nervous and bolts. And obviously, she stops to look in the barn on the way out… and finds a horse that scares the crap out of her! The horse was going to get put down and Cult Leader says they’re nursing him back. Which is… very nice and not at all cult-like.

Back at home, V tells her dad that Aaron Samuels’ ex-gf confirmed what his parents said. And then she contemplates the DNA test some more while taking a cold shower.

At school the next day, V chases Aaron down and apologizes. He immediately invites her back to the cult! The cult really wants V! She goes back with him, and Cult Leader hugs her again upon arrival. I’M SERIOUS, CULT LEADERS. NO HUGS FOR ME. Cult Leader invites V on a walk – he wants to talk to her about letting other people inside! Excuse me for a moment… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Okay, sorry, go on. So she assumes the same thing that I did, but I guess he’s talking about letting people inside emotionally? So he shows her their greenhouse, where the ULTIMATE CASH CROP is being grown. It’s poinsettias. They’re growing poinsettias. No illegal activity as far as the eye can see!

Mr. Mars shows up as dinner is being prepared in one of his many disguises to check the water pipes. He clearly catches V, and she knows she’s in trouble. She returns to Mars Investigations that night, and he yells at her, like any good dad would. She apologizes, but he keeps yelling – remember, Waco is a much less distant memory in 2004! Alas, though – Mr. Mars has found nothing incriminating either.

Aaron Samuels’ parents show up at Mars Investigations again to state that Aaron Samuels’ grandmother is dying and he is the sole heir to her fortune. They brought with them a deprogramming expert! He’s going to force Aaron Samuels to leave the cult! Mr. Mars is not impressed by any of this.

Back at home, the water temperature continues to change on V mid-shower.

At school, Wallace asks V about case progress, and she says there’s likely nothing to find. V says that Aaron Samuels is a nicer person now. Wallace tells V that it sounds like she’s been drinking the Kool-Aid, and honestly, V is a GREAT cult target. Aaron Samuels approaches to talk to V, and Wallace rolls his eyes and walks away. He calls her soft!

V goes with Aaron Samuels to visit his grandmother in the hospital. He reveals that his parents have known about the inheritance for a year, which means they straight up lied to Mr. Mars’ face! How rude. V drops Aaron Samuels back off at the Collective, and she admits that she kind of wishes she could stay.

At home again, V is drinking milk and notices the missing person on the milk carton. It’s Rain, real name Debby Reynolds. This is something that Mr. Mars can actually pursue, even though V hates this idea. They’re just hippy throwbacks, she says! Mr. Mars reminds her that they’re paid by their clients, not their consciences. Ouch.

At school, V was about to tell Blond Teacher about working for her dad when Aaron Samuels interrupts them, crying. His grandmother died that morning.

Aaron Samuels goes with the Collective to his grandmother’s funeral. V tells Cult Leader about her dad’s plan, and he’s a legit good person and tells her not to worry, that it’s okay.

Aaron Samuels walks V to her car and thanks her for being good to him the last few weeks. He says he has to go talk to his parents… who are waiting to kidnap and deprogram him. Lovely. V goes to Mars Investigations to tell her dad about the kidnapping, and Mr. Mars says there’s nothing they can do. He also reveals he never did anything about Rain. Her life had been pretty terrible before and she’s better off now.

In a voiceover, V says that she’s starting to come to terms with her possible paternity; she arrives at school and starts making jokes with Duncan. She basically says she doesn’t think she’d ever be able to deny the man who raised her, especially for one who ran her mother out of town.

Aaron Samuels shows up in a brand new sports car. He acknowledges V, but is more back to his old self.

At home, the paternity results arrive in the mail, but V doesn’t open them. She’s debating late into the night, and eventually gets up to shred them.

End episode!


Episode Mystery

Teenage boy joins a cult while his wealthy but helpless parents stand by is kind of a strange episode mystery. But hey. This is Veronica Mars we’re talking about. Strange episodes are their bread and butter, aren’t they? Had V opened the paternity test results, that would have also been an episode mystery, but she did not, so it’s in the next section now!


Overall Mystery

  • Who killed Lilly Kane?

No progress in this episode! But big things are def coming!

  • Who raped Veronica?

I PROMISE THIS IS AN ACTUAL MYSTERY THAT COMES INTO PLAY. But still no progress made.

  • Where is Lianne Mars?

Hard to say, hard to say. *shrug*

  • Who is Veronica’s father?

This is the mystery that’s going to eat at us for a few more episodes. V had the results in hand in this episode and shredded them. Which I love, honestly. But still! We want answers!


What Aged Like a Dairy Product

Hippy cults? This is just a plot point that one doesn’t see anymore in shows! It’s interesting to watch, especially since this particular episode aired about a dozen or so years after Waco, so cults were a THING. And I know they still are, but what we hear about now isn’t the type of cult where teenage members still go to public school.


What Aged Like a Fine Wine

Oh wow, so much of this episode was pretty great. Mr. Mars’ anger at V for going to the cult after he expressly said not to – that’s what’s standing out to me, especially while V is questioning her true paternity. He loves her so much, and that is completely timeless. We need more shows with this element in them, honestly. Or maybe I’m just not watching the right shows.


Rating

A reminder of the rating system:

  • 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.

You know, I like this episode. It’s weird and very not typical Veronica Mars. So I’m going to give Season 1, Episode 9 a BLUE rating. Partially because of Aaron Samuels! But also, there was a severe lack of Logan in this episode.

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