TV Discussion

Veronica Mars 3×07 – ‘Of Vice and Men’ – TV Rewind

It’s hard not to find a little bit of joy in this series when Vinnie Van Lowe shows up. Ken Marino’s portrayal of the more unscrupulous side of being a private detective has been one of Veronica Mars’ great joys over its three-season run and once again he ends up being a great slice of antagonistic fun for The Mars Detective Agency to deal with.

Even though his part of the plot this week involves him blackmailing Keith over his relationship with Harmony (Laura San Giacomo), Marino’s portrayal still manages to make the part fun, yet for the first time since he appeared in the series, he brilliantly manages to convey a sense of legitimate antagonism that his character never really revels in. For once Vinnie isn’t someone to make fun off. He might actually be a genuine threat. With the finger pointed at Mercer (Ryan Devlin) and his only alibi being Logan, but who can’t reveal what they’ve been up to so as to exonerate him, thus creating friction between himself and Veronica, there is no shortage of dark drama this week, and ‘Of Vice and Men’ builds itself up to one of the darkest final moments of the series’ three-season history.

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Which is saying something in itself because there’s so much angst to get through before the series delivers its chilling cliffhanger. With Keith sleeping with a married woman, and Logan not revealing until later on in the episode what his alibi is for Mercer and how he knows he isn’t the rapist, not to mention her favourite professor, Hank (Patrick Fabian), sleeping with Dean O’Dell’s wife, Veronica is pretty much on the receiving end of some not so gentlemanly behaviour from the most present male voices in her life.

One of the criticisms levelled at the episode, and at this stage of the season is Veronica’s increasingly sarcastic edge and character, but it’s actually the one aspect of the season that is working incredibly well and which Bell is grasping brilliantly with each passing episode. With even the most grounded source of emotional support in her life, Keith, indulging in a relationship with a married woman, our heroine’s attitude is pretty much realistic and Bell’s performance authentically portrays how Veronica would genuinely deal with such drama in her life. It’s the episode’s final moments that are the main talking point here. Once again the series finds itself going into an area that may prove super problematic for some.

As a cliffhanger goes, Veronica being drugged and then nearly assaulted, being saved by Logan but finding that a part of her hair has been shaved as is the method of the campus rapist, is powerfully dark stuff.

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It also depends on how you feel about the series’ titular character, who has been the victim of sexual assault before, finding herself, once again, at the receiving end of potential sexual violence. The scene in question, particularly the moment when Veronica realises the effects of what she is feeling and recognises them instantly, is the most stomach-churning moment the series has ever pulled off, but it once again will find a modern-day audience asking themselves how they feel about the series using tropes like this to further its story arc and try to turn it into mystery genre material.

It’s an undeniably powerful moment, however, that will have no other way but to leave the stomach of the audience in absolute knots. From Bell’s performance to the way the suspense ramps up, it pretty much guarantees that you’ll be back for next week’s episode.

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