It’s sometimes easy to overlook, but there is an inherent slice of tragedy that runs through Veronica Mars. Being a teen drama that dabbles within an established genre, in this case, film noir, death permeates and haunts many corners of Neptune.
Last season we were in the throes of a murder investigation. This year has seen the series up the ante and take out a bus with several students. “I Am God” spends time with those students as Veronica finds her dreams haunted by those who have been lost. Loss is a persistent theme of the episode as if the series is daring to remind the audience that while we can sit and watch and enjoy the drive of a fantastic thriller, we’re doing so while spending time with death.
It’s hard to shake that Neptune is a place where innocence comes to die, and Diane Ruggiero and Cathy Belben’s teleplay reminds us of that in every corner. Dreams and flashbacks had always played a massive part in the fabric of the series, but the second season hasn’t spent as much time with them in that regard, which “I Am God” more than makes up for in this hour.
Veronica and Kristen Bell’s performance has always been one of the most brilliantly complex on television; a likeable character with a heart of gold, but one who isn’t afraid to hurt those who hurt others and whose attitude to injustice is basically to operate on a policy of scorched earth. In spending time with her psyche and her dreams this week, complete with a welcome reappearance from Paula Marshall as school guidance counselor Rebecca, we get to see a touch more of a side of her personality that we seldom ever witness, the one whose drive is haunted by those that have been lost.
Unsurprisingly the episode was met with mixed reviews by those who thought the series was either stalling or exploring an emotional thread it should have done much earlier in the season – but to hell with that, it still works.
Those hyper-stylised dream sequences on the bus have a touch of surrealism to them, another nod and a wink to Veronica Mars forebear Twin Peaks, the town with secrets and where death is just another day of the week. We get to spend some time again with Meg and are reminded of how much we miss the friendship between her and Veronica. It’s always lovely when television shows brings back those who have been lost and Alona Tal makes a lovely reappearance throughout the episode.
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“I Am God” reminds us though, if we need it, that Meg was not the only loss from the event that got the season in motion. There were others on the bus, other kids and the driver and they all take their time to correspond with our heroine, whose drive and character and current direction in life have always been driven by the hand of the grim reaper if you look at it closely enough.
Her avenging angel quality, much like the season itself, has been given its drive by the higher body count. Innocence is something that unfortunately comes to die in Neptune, and it’s innocence that we’ll see is easily corrupted, if we need any reminding, come the season finale.
Yes, the episode is a slowdown, but its a glorious recharging of the series’ batteries before it spreads trouble even further. Once again, there isn’t even really a case of the week, the episode just wants to spend time with its heroine and her inner psyche. There are other plot lines for sure going on this week, and we get some fun stuff between Logan and Wallace and the introduction of Lucky (James Jordan) whose role is going to have a profound effect as events go forward, but this is all about Veronica and what goes on inside her head.
The image of her on that bus, haunted by those whose deaths she is investigating, is one of the series’ most brilliantly surreal and engaging and it’s the icing on the cake for a superb episode.
It reminds us that for a series that can draw one in irrevocably that youth and innocence are not powerful enough for a town like Neptune. The kids are no longer our future. They’re simply ghosts haunting our memories.
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