TV discussion

TV Rewind… Veronica Mars 2×05 – ‘Blast from the Past’

Last week, “Green-Eyed Monster” ended with Wallace (Percy Daggs III) basically being Darth Vader-ed right as we went into the Rob Thomas executive producer credit. “Blast from the Past” doesn’t leave us waiting very long to find out what happens next and deals directly with the fallout that comes from such a paternal confession.

It marks the beginning of another very busy episode of the series that it makes one wonder how the characters of the series can deal with leading such emotionally complicated, busy lives that every week, either having to deal with the complexities of their situations as well as an ongoing investigation in to the bus crash, which throws in another humdinger of a clue this week that it leaves one gagging for more information.

It’s probably not the best episode of the season so far, but it says something once again that Veronica Mars is able to make even what may be lesser episodes such a satisfying hour of television to watch; Rob Thomas and his writers room have clearly got their hooks into us, and once again this week it’s been lovely to spend more time with Wallace outside of his friendship with Veronica and in his life away from Neptune High and his sleuth friend who it seems as if  he has no problem doing all those favours for.

Better yet, the episode even gives us more Jackie to enjoy or hate as might be the case given some of her behaviour in this episode. Every teen series has to have the mean girl and while Veronica Mars has already gotten one in the blonde shape of Madison Sinclair, Jackie is clearly a more complicated character than just the “mean girl”. There is a definite antagonism that is fun to watch, given that Tessa Thompson really runs with the confident demeanour of the character in a series that already features one of the teen drama genres most confident protagonists, but given the revelations this week about her father, it’s clear there is more going on here than just the “mean girl” trope, even if her behaviour can be characterised as mean.

Remarkably for a series that has often stayed clear of straying too far into the soapier realm of teen soap or even just a straightforward teen drama, it’s this week’s mystery of the week that sees ‘Blast from the Past’ explore relationships and friendships in a teen drama way, but with a layer of complexity that makes it so very much a part of Veronica Mars. Even taking away the mystery drama elements, this is still above and beyond what other teen dramas were doing on television at the time, and the world of Neptune is always showing itself to be such an emotionally complex place in comparison to something like The OC.

Jackie has essentially set Veronica up and the episode’s story involves Veronica’s investigation into Jackie’s stolen card leading her to appear on to a cheaply produced television show featuring a psychic where Veronica is somewhat humiliated in front of a studio and television viewing audience

Veronica and her scorched earth policy being what it is, she is hell-bent on a revenge scheme that Wallace has to talk her out of it, but with Homecoming Dance around the corner, the staple of many teen movies and television shows that are way too numerous to mention, Wallace tells Jackie he isn’t going with her because of  her actions.

It’s a lovely piece of scripting. We really would love to see Veronica go after Jackie in spectacular fashion, but it’s enough just to have her pay for her actions in a more subtle way and while Jackie may be above being simply another Madison, there is still something delightfully subtle and satisfying in her not getting to go to the dance with the guy she really wants to.

Once again there is a lot going on here, but it’s the filtering of the majority of its storytelling through its characters that allows ‘Blast from the Past’ to quietly soar, particularly through Wallace. Percy Daggs III’s performance these last two weeks have been wonderful, so wonderful in fact that it’s a shame he’s going to be missing in action for the next few weeks as the character makes the decision to abscond with his father Nathan (a returning Cress Williams).

There is still a lot left to engage us for the next few weeks; the election for sheriff is heating up and it seems there was an explosion on the bus before it went over that bridge. Even with all its character drama, this is still functioning as a mystery drama of excellence and as always, even if the bus crash isn’t dominating the storytelling, it’s those little moments like this that take us back that reminds you why we keep coming back for more.

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