There is probably some alternative universe out there somewhere where Veronica Mars is everything you would expect a series with the moniker of “teen detective drama” to be; it’s a universe where the series is light, fluffy, probably funny, charming in an obvious way and doesn’t do much to ruffle the feathers of the viewers or the characters.
Thankfully we live in a universe where the series we got was none of those things; yes it is funny, and it does have considerable charm in the shape of its talented cast, but that’s as far as it goes and if you need reminding, as if you did, “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” (I really hope I don’t have to explain the reference) is a prime example of Veronica Mars reminding you that Neptune is as horrible a town as it comes, and while we get a glimmer of hope from the last place you would expect it, the episode goes and reminds you that to bring you there, other horrible things have happened.
With Meg in a coma, it means we haven’t had as much time for Alona Tal actually being awake and all that, but the series hasn’t been afraid to remind us of the faltering friendship she had with Veronica, a faltering friendship that came about after we were presented with Meg being one of the few of the decent 09-ers to occupy Neptune and to display a more than positive relationship with our heroine.
“Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” shines a flashlight on Meg’s life prior to the bus crash as well as puts a spotlight on Gia (Krysten Ritter) and her own home life, her story and that of her family connecting devastatingly with Meg’s and her attempts to stop the abuse of that of a child she was a babysitter for prior to the events of the crash.
With a Diane Ruggiero-Wright teleplay, always a sign of a great episode, “Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner” is another high-wire balancing act from the season, running with almost too high a list of storylines and concentrating on them brilliantly. This is clearly the second season’s main concern; not just to have several plotlines to focus differing episodes on, but just a massive amount of plot to turn to week after week.
Once again, one gets the feeling that in the hands of a different writers room this would be an almost borderline mess, but Veronica Mars handles everything so well, throwing in everything from Meg’s life prior to the crash, Logan being lied to by a potential witness in the murder investigation on the bridge, to the unsettling hints of abuse coming from Woody’s home when Veronica visits.
That’s right, Steve Guttenberg turns up the dark this week; after several weeks of basically playing variations of every character he played back in the 80’s, we’re once again reminded of just how dark and unsettling Neptune is when even the County Supervisor that we’ve come to like because “hey, it’s Steve Guttenberg and who didn’t like Three Men and a Baby” having his own potentially dark and twisted secrets.
That key moment where we are shown but not told what the dark secret is at the heart of the Goodman household (although we can only guess but we’re going to have to wait a while for that eventual revelation to land) is as chilling and disturbing as Veronica Mars has ever gotten.
Of course, we only get a hint of that, the biggest twist is reserved for the episode’s final moments when we learn that the abused child Meg was trying to rescue was her own sister, final moments that carry a loaded charge when Veronica and Duncan try to rescue Meg’s sister only to be arrested by Sheriff Lamb and just when one is ready to decry the foulness of the arrest and Lamb himself, not to mention the level of injustice that runs throughout, we get that one moment of decency from Neptune’s antagonistic representative of law enforcement when he lets Veronica and Duncan go and we realise he knows exactly what goes on in Meg’s house due to his own personal experience.
It’s a powerful conclusion to what is another highlight of the season, a season that is getting better and better with each passing episode. One can debate until the cow’s come home what season-long mystery is better, but there is once again a mastery and confidence to the storytelling this second season that makes is one of the most underrated and underappreciated seasons of television ever produced.
Have you seen this episode of Veronica Mars? Let us know what you made of it.