12 Angry Men is without a doubt one of the best movies ever made and has been the source of many a remake or reinterpretation, either through new adaptations of the source itself, or the inspiration behind television episodes that have used the format as a means to tell a similarly claustrophobic story of jury deliberation and character development.
So it is with “One Angry Veronica”. Our titular heroine is on jury duty on what seems like a slam dunk of a verdict that slowly changes as the episode goes on. It forms the basis for a great part of the episode with an interesting mystery the likes of which this show can do in its sleep that goes in many directions before settling on its eventual resolution.
However, the episode boasts several plot twists within the confines of its ongoing story arcs that have made it one of the more controversial instalments of the series, not so much for the twists and what they involve themselves as such as how the series opts to deal with them on-screen.
The bulk of the episode involving the jury deliberation is incredibly enjoyable it has to be said, boasting a great guest cast and allowing our heroine to be enjoyably antagonistic to authority figures and pretty much pulling the rug out from under their feet by showing some of them how much more smarter and better they are (let’s face it, she is).
Like last season’s “An Echolls Family Christmas“, there is real level of darkness to some of the decisions taken here that makes it really stand out from what American television tries to do with Yuletide episodes, but unlike last year when we were privy to a lot of the drama and it flowed wonderfully, there is the feeling that certain character development and decisions have been rushed to in order to get the series to where it needs to go next.
It’s a shame really; Leo (Max Greenfield) has always been shown to be a pretty decent character, and yet here we’re shown a character who steals the tapes that Aaron Echolls made of himself and Lilly Kane for money, and while his intentions are pure (he doesn’t sell the tapes for self-gain, but instead to allow his sister who has Down’s Syndrome to attend school) it rests on a piece of character development that we’ve never been privy to before, and worst of all, he loses his job as a result.
Then there’s Logan; the reveal that he is the one who has bought the tapes of Leo. His emotional reaction to watching the tapes is honest and in line with a character we know has an emotional side even though he is the resident charming psychopath of the series and credit to Jason Dohring and his performance here, but we never get any real motivations or reasoning for why he destroys them. It’s as if the series needs to find a way to make Aaron’s prosecution all the more difficult and there it is. It would have made more sense for Sheriff Lamb to have been on the take and destroy them, or someone else for that matter, but the story here takes obviously easy routes but never makes them fly in the way they are supposed to.
Then there is the big development of the episode; Meg dies, a death we never see on-screen even though Alona Tal was a pretty substantial part of the series and her character played a big part. It’s a depressing bummer of a plot twist because it’s hard not to feel the character deserved better. She had been a wonderful addition when she showed up last season and her friendship with Veronica was nicely played by both Tal and Bell. However, she’s basically killed off via plot exposition delivered by Keith. It feels as if she was kept in a coma basically in order to deliver a child to further the plot next week (using female characters a baby delivering device is itself a reoccurring problem in many television shows unfortunately, the only saving grace is that next week’s episode, written and directed by Rob Thomas himself no less, is one of the greatest ever episodes of the show).
READ MORE: Truth Takes Time – Looking back at Alias
It’s a shame that it falls apart so spectacularly in regards to its arc elements because the stand-alone mystery-of-the-week element of “One Angry Veronica” is solid gold, incredibly entertaining, and utilises the tropes and ideas popularised by 12 Angry Men to great effect. At the very least it helps make the episode better and as such one remembers it more fondly than it would have been, and also we finally get Wallace back. Percy Daggs III, we missed you around here.
Credit where credit is due, it’s the season’s first stumbling block and it took ten episodes for it to hit a wall somewhere. Suffice to say this is only a minor stumbling block when taking the season as a whole; warm up the edge of your seat for next week.