After an episode with a few too many dead ends, the penultimate installment of Veronica Mars finally lets Veronica nail a suspect — quite literally, as it turns out. The nails extracted from Penn’s back post–Sea Sprite bombing weren’t from the bombs themselves, but from Matty’s childhood string art, meaning there’s indisputable proof the Sea Sprite and Perry Walsh bombs had a different source (Big Dick) than the later ones. That’s not new news for us as viewers, but it opens Veronica up to some better investigative angles.
I’m of two minds about Veronica and Keith’s conclusion: that Penn, Pizza Boy Who Cried Wolf, copycatted what he thought were Walsh’s nail bombs. On the one hand, the culprit in Veronica Mars is usually the loudest, most obnoxious cusshead of the bunch. And it’s entirely possible that the show is weaponizing Patton Oswalt’s extreme likability against the audience. (They did it with Martin Starr in the movie, after all.)
Still, that’s a pretty big body count to rack up over a minor public humiliation. Plus, all the post-Walsh victims were spring breakers — and despite their flaws, those little heathens do order a lot of pizza. Even if Penn once put a Hearst classmate’s eye out because he got too competitive in a paintball game, is that really tantamount to a taste for mass murder? We learn in this episode that Don also went there, so he has at least one school friend.
Then there’s the fact that the show has been mighty cagey with further info on Nicole, despite her continuing to have all the ingredients: motive, opportunity, and no disincentive to bomb her own place as a cover-up, since she already sold it. The victims in the previous years’ killings — a fellow bar worker and a frat boy — could’ve easily crossed her path at Quack’s. Veronica’s bug may not have picked up anything interesting, but it’s not like Nicole is going to be chatting about her latest and greatest bomb with her liquor distributor.
I also think Amalia Maloof has more going on than meets the eye. She’s been kind of an obnoxious background character for much of the show, but it’s clear that she wants Daniel to run for Senate, which was the same goal his blackmailer had. She’s not the type to get her immaculately manicured hands dirty, but she has plenty of means — enough to finance a hatchet man, distracting both of Neptune’s leading private investigators, and maybe even the cops. Even after she relented on the theory about Penn, Chief Langdon still wasn’t willing to hear Veronica out on Daniel’s whole cartel payoff thing. Could she be on the take?
In any case, Amalia certainly knows how to oligarch better than Big Dick, who should probably know by now that the No. 1 rule of a criminal conspiracy is to not piss off your partner in said criminal conspiracy. Clyde, who’s a classic car aficionado, wanted Quack’s to open his own dealership; Big Dick sold him out for a better deal. So with the help of his mayhem-maker, Weevil, Clyde links up with Alonzo and Dodie, offering indisputable proof that Big Dick is (finally, actually) their target. In the previous episode’s blowup over Big Dick’s carelessness with his voice memos, Clyde had actually hit the record button, capturing his subsequent confession.
Unfortunately, that intel comes a bit too late for Veronica and Keith, who nearly die at the hands of the cartel hit men in a shoot-out at Penn’s girlfriend’s cabin. After a few episodes of hard-core investigation, the sequence is intended to add some excitement to the proceedings, but I’m not sure I buy it. Yes, Dodie and Alonzo are very rash, but if Alonzo’s smart enough to let Keith and Veronica do his work for him, surely he’s smart enough not to risk arrest via a big, noisy gunfight with at least one ex-cop. Killing a close pal of your new girlfriend’s scary brother also seems like a bad move — even if Weevil and the PCHers hadn’t ridden in, as usual, to save Veronica from certain doom.
On the upside, the shooting is an excuse for the show to dive into some really lovely emotional beats. His memory having failed again in the clutch, Keith’s despair about nearly getting Veronica killed is heartbreaking. Enrico Colantoni is wonderful in the big scene between Keith and Veronica at the precinct, as Keith tries not to break down. And of course, there’s the big romantic moment between Veronica and Logan, as she finally accepts his proposal, having realized he’s what’s most important.
But Keith and Veronica’s big moments of revelation also come at the cost of their new friendships. A guilty Veronica uncharacteristically confesses to Nicole about the bug, hoping she’ll win points back with her honesty. Instead, Nicole freezes her out for good. And Keith and Clyde ruefully kiss their blossoming boomer bromance good-bye, as Keith makes it clear that he knows Clyde’s not on the up-and-up with regards to Big Dick.
As Veronica tells Nicole, betraying your friends is “just part of the job.” But she’s all too aware that character flaws “don’t count less if you’re self-aware about them.” Veronica’s gained a little clarity in the heat of the moment, but she’s also continued to pare down her world to just the two people she can’t live without. When there’s a whole town out to get you, that’s not a lot.
• It was 1,000 percent gratuitous, but damn was Leo and Veronica’s “Lebowski and chill” dream sequence enjoyable. It’s pure pandering to my specific demo — onetime teen-girl viewers who want to see Veronica have some more grown-up fun — but I’ll take my female-gaze-y sex scenes where I can get them (almost never, almost nowhere).
• Hector made a good sales pitch, but I don’t think we’re going to get sufficient episodes to see Weevil suffer his way through Weight Watchers. Though honestly, if he has anger issues now …
• Speaking of diets, Keith cracking sheepish Monty Python jokes after Veronica catches him breaking his is perhaps the dadliest moment that has ever appeared on television, equaled only by that scene a few episodes back of Keith and Clyde getting wasted and telling stories about their idiot employees.
• Apparently, there’s a Kane High in Neptune now? (Wallace got offered a varsity coaching job there.) I wonder if that has something to do with the incorporation — maybe the 09ers now have their own high school, separate from the Neptune High riffraff.
• Cliff’s rueful “let’s face it, the world stopped making sense when Prince died” got my single biggest laugh of the season. Daran Norris has really been the secret MVP of the reboot’s supporting cast.