TV discussion

Veronica Mars 2×20 – ‘Look Who’s Stalking’ – TV Rewind

Sometimes I’m wary of television series that have great episode titles. It sometimes feels as if the writers have come up with clever puns or a play on words and then try to figure out a narrative around it, but I never get the feeling from Veronica Mars that was the case. Many of the episodes have been way too good for that.

‘Look Who’s Stalking’  is a great title, and the case of the week is another enjoyable one that allows us to spend some time with Gia, which means more time with a pre-Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad Krysten Ritter, and there is a lot of wonderful stuff going on with the myriad storylines that have been running throughout the entire season.

However, if you’re a LoVe (sic) shipper, and let’s be honest a lot of us probably are, then this is a highlight of an episode featuring one of the best ever moments between Logan and Veronica that gets our hearts all a flutter, but then reminds us not long after, as if we need any reminding, that Veronica Mars is a heartbreaker of a series.

It gives us one thing, takes away another, and then reminds us just how complex Logan can be, and when we say complex, what we really mean is an idiot capable of making stupid decisions that makes you want to give the guy a hard slap across the face and demand of him “what were you thinking?”.

Sometimes shipping characters on a television series can either be a good or a bad thing. Many television series have given us some of the greatest modern-day love stories for the ages. The X-Files gave us Mulder and Scully; Buffy gave us Buffy and Angel, then Buffy and Spike; while Angel gave us Angel and Cordelia (and subsequent plot lines and twists that to this day I will never forgive Joss Whedon for and yes, I mean season four when I say that). And away from genre television, I have always had a massive soft spot for Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation; possibly the best love story that has ever played out in an American comedy series.

Sometimes it feels as if some of the fans of certain pairings on television series need to be reminded that the show has way more to recommend that just that pairing, but let’s be honest, it’s hard to resist a great love story, particularly on a medium that allows us to spend anywhere from several weeks to several years watching that relationship develop.

Like many teen series, or teen genre hybrids, Veronica Mars seemed as if it had one relationship to chart a course with before realising that they had other options to pursue. Watch the first half of season one and it feels as if the star-crossed lovers angle is going to be devoted to Veronica and Duncan, before many a twist and turn (most infamously, potential incest) reared its head.

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Almost accidentally, Kristen Bell had great chemistry with Jason Dohring and then, suddenly, the series had a new pool to play in. Love triangles can in themselves be a trope, and the first thing I hate with fandoms is when they feel the need to call themselves “Team what’s his or her face”, but the great thing about Veronica Mars was how even they knew that LoVe was meant to be a thing but wasn’t afraid to pile on the angst once it got to that point.

Their relationship flourished and broke during the hiatus between seasons one and two and this season has had them at each other’s throats throughout most it, but it’s all been building up to the most wonderful scenes between them here in the latter stages of the episode.

In amongst the many dark themes going on in ‘Look Who’s Stalking, like stalking, of course, the ongoing saga involving Woody and the eventual direction it’s going to take us, the episode gives us what every teen drama inevitably gets to at some point in its run: the prom. Except prom has been cancelled so Logan decides to hold an alternative prom and it’s where we get one of the most celebrated scenes of the series.

Here’s my thing: I didn’t get around to watching Veronica Mars until late on. It was probably not long before the movie release that I managed to get the American-encoded DVDs of the series. The series hadn’t been treated the best on British television (it aired on the long-gone Trouble, then E4, and to this day is still hard to come by on any streaming services in the UK, something I hope changes with the upcoming revival).

While Logan describes the relationship as epic, it never felt that way to me watching it as twenty-something. Maybe it was because I was in my late twenties by that stage, and I was at that point where I loved the series but still viewed the characters as teenagers with their lives ahead of them and so calling their relationship epic seemed a bit much. Don’t get me wrong, I bought into the relationship. But epic? That was pushing it surely.

Interestingly, my future wife was going through her first viewing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer around the same time, a series that pretty much defined my own teen years, and she had the opinion that Buffy and Angel never felt epic to her in the way that pop culture had made out, which I always felt it did, until I had a eureka moment during our conversations about the two ships that have come to define these two similar yet different series.

It’s the feeling of being epic they evoke that makes them feel… well… epic. It’s not necessarily the narratives themselves, but it’s the feeling that we experience through them that conveys that quality that makes it feel like the romance to end all romances within the confines of their stories.

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Everything feels heightened when you’re in your teen years, and to Veronica and Logan who are just about to graduate high school and enter college, their love, their ups and downs, the way they’ve gone from bitter enemies (let’s not forget Logan took a baseball bat to Veronica’s car in the ‘Pilot’), to boyfriend and girlfriend, to estranged, to potentially getting back together, to Logan messing up by sleeping with Kendall just as Veronica shows up at his door wanting to reconcile.

It’s great television drama, that may not actually be epic, but the keyword is feel. It feels epic, and the same can go for any relationship in any teen affiliated drama or television series. It may not be Titanic, although that isn’t technically epic either if you think about it because that movie takes place over the course of a few days, but at that precipice of an age where we’re not kids anymore but not yet fully into the world of adulthood, a few days, or months, or just a year can be the most epic time in the world. Being seventeen is epic. Being on the cusp of leaving school for college is epic and having gone through the emotional wringer with the bad boy is also epic.

The scene in question is brilliant, and it ends up being the icing on the cake of a great episode that has a lot going on, with a great mystery of the week and a great continuation of several threads that are about to reach a conclusion that are as dark as anything this series has ever attempted.

We get that one little bit of hope that maybe LoVe can be again before it’s taken away from us and from Veronica right at the final moments before the episode ends. It’s a brilliantly bitter moment to end on and, yes, it does feel epic.

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