TV discussion

TV Rewind… Veronica Mars 2×04 – ‘Green-Eyed Monster’

Another case of infidelity this week, after all, Veronica Mars is a series about a private detective agency and those types of cases do appear to take up about ninety-nine per cent of their caseload if pop culture is anything to go by.

Like “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang” last week, things do get murkier and a lot more complicated than just a simple case of cheating on a loved one, and while last week’s episode expanded into the realm of criminal fraud and a major getaway via helicopter, things are kept more grounded and character-driven this week, even if the repercussions and drama are of an intense quality.

Character driven is the key point of phrase with “Green-Eyed Monster”, with lots of jealousy fuelled motivations going on. This is probably the soapiest episode of the show thus far, but it still manages to maintain a sense of drama and heft that one wouldn’t find on something like The O.C. or One Tree Hill. As always, Veronica Mars is cut from a wonderfully genre driven cloth, like Buffy, managing to be both teen soap and something above it.

In fact, one could argue that it’s everything else going on around the case of the week that helps “Green-Eyed Monster” be even better than it probably would have been had it just opted to focus on the case of the week. It does take some interesting detours and emotional twists and turns, including linking itself to house sitting for Nicholas Cage of all people (this being filmed and broadcast in 2005, it comes at a time when Cage was still a legitimate movie star capable of picking good projects instead of starring in whatever script was being thrown his way), but in truth it’s when Dayna Lynne North’s teleplay focuses on character and the ongoing story arcs going on around them that it soars.

The most interesting sub plot going on doesn’t even involve the season long investigation into the bus crash this week, it actually involves Wallace. Percy Daggs III’s performance as Veronica’s best friend has always been a quiet highlight of the series and now with the emergence of new characters such as Jackie and now Nathan Woods (a pre-Black Lightning Cress Williams), the series has made the wise decision to throw some dramatic heft at Wallace’s way, becoming involved with Jackie (Tessa Thompson doing a nice line in subtle teenage antagonism) and then later with a humdinger of a twist involving Woods.

Cress Williams is a wonderful actor, but for the life of me, it’s hard to watch him play antagonistic figures. Not that he isn’t good at it, far from it, in fact, he’s a great actor, but having seen him portray parental figures who are somewhat motivated by less than pure intentions in something like this or Friday Night Lights and then go to playing the wonderfully kind and pure-hearted superhero and all-around wonderful dad Jefferson Pierce in the DC Comics adaptation is the sign of a very talented performer, but watching him play someone who is about to bulldoze his way into Wallace’s life and potentially put into jeopardy Alicia and Wallace’s romance is hard to watch especially when the antagonism is coming from someone who has become famous for playing such a kind-hearted and gentle soul (albeit one who can knock out villains with lightning bolts from his hands).

It’s this strand of the episode that delivers some of the best drama this week, with Nathan basically doing a Darth Vader on an unsuspecting Wallace right at the end of the episode, leaving one wondering where next week will take us.

Once again, it’s a sure sign that while dealing with more plot this year, Veronica Mars is doing so without going off the rails; on top of all this we have the introduction of Meg’s parents that will come into play again in a bigger and more darkly devastating way later in the season, while the bus crash investigation takes an even bigger turn with the motivations of Weevil coming into play.

It’s all coming together wonderfully and four episodes into its second year, Veronica Mars is flowing with confidence and bravado in such a way that you would swear this was a major hit for UPN as opposed to one of the lowest-rated series on American television at this stage.

Why weren’t more people watching this show?

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