TV discussion

Veronica Mars 2×19 – ‘Nevermind the Buttocks’ – TV Rewind

After two weeks of sustained focus on this year’s story arc, and last week’s dreamy trip into Veronica’s thoughts and dreams, ‘Nevermind the Buttocks’ (great title) sees Veronica Mars return to its mixture of case-of-the-week along with its sustained story arc. Phil Klemmer’s teleplay is an excellent example of the series doing what is essentially a meat and potatoes episode but doing it entertainingly well.

On top of all that, it also manages to find time to return to the Lilly Kane murder case, and while the perpetrator is still the same, it’s now a question of whether or not Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin) will actually serve justice that’s going to push certain areas of the narrative.

For a television series to return to a previous arc and open up old wounds and storytelling avenues again may seem under any other circumstances as a television series repeating itself,  but it actually falls perfectly into the realm of the noir-inflected world that Veronica Mars has set itself up in so perfectly.

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While ‘Nevermind the Buttocks’ (given how often the word that this episode’s title is a play on appears in many US television series, there’s an anarchic part of me that would have loved it if they had taken the chance and titled it with said word) is not the greatest hour that Veronica Mars has ever given us, it ends up being one of those incredibly enjoyable hours of the series that it always ends up doing so well; case-of-the-week, an advancement of the story arc and some great character stuff.

With only three episodes left, there’s a very pleasing sense of the series building up to a big reveal, all the while still leaving the audience guessing as to where the eventual destination will be. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and all, and when one rewatches the series you can see where the direction signs are and how the writers managed to successfully keep the plates spinning while clearly knowing where the eventual destination would be. But even in a rewatch (which these reviews are predominantly based on), it’s still easy to get caught up in the chase, even when seeing the series throw in red herrings designed to lead the audience, and by association the characters, down a different path.

With many other series it would be so easy to get annoyed with a mere case-of-the-week, but what Veronica Mars has always done so well with its format is to take what could so easily fit into what one might expect from the format of ‘high school teen detective’ and take them into darker avenues.

This week Veronica may be trying to help a fellow student, Harry (Tommy Snider) find the car that knocked down his dog, but the one direction the audience would least expect that to end up heading towards is the Fitzpatrick clan.

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One could easily find the Irish criminal clan not as threatening as the series is making them out to be; it’s a common criticism from other analytical Marshmallows, but we’ve already seen Veronica almost be permanently damaged by leader Liam (Rodney Rowland from Space: Above and Beyond). So when Keith finds himself potentially at the end of Liam’s violent instincts, it’s not hard to feel a level of threat raise in a way that other teen series would stay away from, while his link to Kendall is another little detail that can’t help but get our curiosities piqued, while also giving us a chance to enjoy a return appearance from Charisma Carpenter.

Given Liam’s eventual link to Veronica’s current case, it ends up leading to Veronica having to make a choice that may impact the safety of the life of Harry, and it makes for a wonderful ending that plays straight into the heart of how wonderful a series this can be when it comes to characters facing tough choices and dilemmas.

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