So far this season, the best episodes of Veronica Mars have been penned by Diane Ruggiero. No surprise there given that she’s been pretty much the main writer after creator and showrunner and Rob Thomas, and there’s a sense that she has the best way to navigate some of the thornier themes that the third season has found itself running with.
That is until we get to “Lord of the Pi’s” which features one of the strangest pieces of stunt casting in American television history; Patti Hearst playing a key member of the Hearst Board of Trustees, who gets kidnapped during the course of the episode and who Logan and Keith have to find during the course of the episode. It would help if Hearst was putting in a great performance, but she really doesn’t, and there’s a story that implies that her agent put her forward as appearing in the series without consulting her first and she expressed reluctance at playing a character similar to herself.
Then there’s the storyline involving the Lilith House fraternity house and more or less the confirmation that the accusations that their members have been raped are in fact fake accusations cannot help but muddy the waters of an already problematic storyline even further, but without the benefit of making it complex in a well written way; it just happens to make the entire story arc once again kind of ill-thought and borderline offensive; all men are rapists, all feminists are just men haters who just want to bring men down by faking rapes. If the series was actually using this storyline to comment on toxic masculinity and militant feminism that would be fine, but the storytelling and character development here is way too basic and not thought out enough to land with the power that it should.
It’s having the effect of just making the season the more this storyline goes on for increasingly ugly. As stated before, if this felt complex and well handled it would be something incredibly powerful, but instead it just feels as if the writers room for this season, a room full of writers who have navigated through tricky waters before but more often than not managed to bring their work through the other side in a good way (some moments have dated negatively but more so due to the passage of time), but the more the campus rapist storyline continues (and we only have one episode left of it thanks to the way the season has been structured) the less it seems as if it’s going to redeem itself and just dig itself more into areas that either don’t work or just leave one with a sour taste.
Away from the college rapist storyline, the case the week involving Patty Hearst playing a high-profile kidnap victim goes exactly in the manner you’d think it would; that is, not very well, while at this stage in the series, the more that the series keep Logan in the series and ups the angst-riddled drama between himself and Veronica the more it feels that at this stage in the season the series has nothing for Logan to do any more outside of mining drama between himself and Veronica.
Eight episodes into the season, the central relationship between the characters appear to have hit a stumbling block again and while this part of the episode is superior to everything else going on, it can’t help but give one the feeling of burying their heads in their hands because once again the series has nothing to do for LoVe but just hit the obvious drama tropes again just as the season is a third of the way through.
The final scene involving Veronica not answering Logan’s phone call should hit hard and leave one kind of devastated, but maybe because it comes at the end of an episode where it leaves one clamouring for the first two seasons when the series was at its absolute best, it lands with a thud instead of a lump in the throat.
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