It’s hard not to love “Ruskie Business”; its got a twisty-turny mystery that changes course halfway through; it’s got a school dance with an 80s theme; oh, and Alyson Hannigan shows up, basically allowing us catch a glimpse to an alternate universe where she played Cordelia on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as opposed to charming, nerdy Willow.
The episode may not be a stone cold classic of the series by any stretch, especially compared to “Mars vs Mars” last week, but it shows so well what the series is capable of and the genre pool it likes to play in; its mystery-of-the-week plays on concealed identity, missing spouses and people who aren’t who they claim to be, and yet has time to go to a school dance complete with Logan doing his best Tom Cruise impression while in the midst of a complete emotional breakdown, hence the play on words in the title, itself a reference to a famed 80’s teen movie.
It’s funny and charming and ends on such a big cliffhanger, you could almost use it as an episode to introduce to newcomers, except its so full of arc significance, it’s almost impossible for newcomers to jump aboard at this point, such is the complexities to many of the on going threads going on within it.
For all the talk of Russians and gangsters and the Witness Protection Program, it still manages to throw in Veronica helping Meg (Alona Tal) find her secret admirer, a high school plot if there ever was one and yet it still plays on a more epic playing field than other teen shows, the private eye element forever allowing it to reach to higher story telling concerns.
Then, to top it all off, like icing on a cake, Alyson Hannigan shows up and basically plays right against type as Logan’s sister, Trina, an appearance that effectively ends the mystery over whether Lynn is really dead.
Fuelled on by the use of his mother’s credit card after her death, the eventual revelation allows the series to deliver two brilliant moments. The most obvious is Logan’s breakdown in Veronica’s arms as he realises that his mother is truly gone. Jason Dohring does a great turn in being the douche-bag school psycho, of the attractive variety of course, this being a high school drama and all that, but crying is not something we’ve seen him do and the image if him falling teary eyed into Veronica’s arm is truly unexpectedly wonderful and deeply, deeply moving.
Then there’s Alyson Hannigan. Arguably an MVP on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Willow, the image of her as a Cordelia Chase-style mean girl, complete with wonderfully vindictive banter between her and Logan, is an instant episode stealer. Not the last time the series will bring Sunnydale High alumni over to the equally problematic and troublesome world of Neptune, it almost feels like the series putting its flag in the sand as an equal to the classic and definitive 90’s teen genre series.
It all builds to what looks like is going to be a happy ending, complete with high school dance and Veronica accompanying Leo (Max Greenfield, always a joy to have back) complete with gorgeous use of “Time after Time” by Cyndi Lauper, which is always a good thing, but the spectre of the story arc raises its head again and by the time the credits roll, we’re reminded of the emotional stakes at play and the bigger threats lurking around Veronica’s world.
It puts a lovely, albeit in an intense way, cap on what is a wonderful episode of the show, simply doing what it does so well. On its own, it’s wonderful, but as part of the ongoing fabric of the series and its continuity, it’s another homerun for a series that knows how to deliver them all too well, while making you run your Greatest Hits of Cyndi Lauper collection.
Are you a fan of Veronica Mars? What did you think of this episode? Let us know!