With a script and direction from creator Rob Thomas, and a media res opening that puts us right into the middle of the most suspenseful moment of the episode, complete with glorious use of Fatboy Slim, the campus rapist storyline (one of Veronica Mars‘ most problematic story arcs) comes to an end – and what an end it is.
With Thomas on scripting and directing duties, it gives the audience the sense of anticipation that we might be in for another ‘Donut Run‘. While ‘Spit and Eggs’ never quite just hits those heights, it does come pretty close; and for that, one should be thankful that we’re getting something close to quality-wise this season that we did from the previous.
For anyone who has read my previous reviews up to this point of this season will know that I have had major reservations about the story arc and some of the character portrayals this season. The campus rapist story began last season with a setup episode in the shape of ‘The Rapes of Graff‘ and was really good, but going into the bulk of this season had seen the season fall into tropes and portrayals that were increasingly problematic.
‘Spit and Eggs’ doesn’t 100% redeem the season. It does pose its own problems that leave a sour taste in the mouth, but like ‘Donut Run’, there is a brilliant sense of momentum and build up of suspense that makes it incredibly entertaining even when one wants to throw their hands up in despair that the series’ creator has, once again, thrown its lead character into a situation that involves her being drugged… for the third time overall and the second time this season, within the space of two episodes.
And yet, it’s hard not to get swept along. There are choices here that are indicative of Thomas at his best, with one piece of character development involving Parker (Julie Gonzalo) that is so punch-the-air brilliant that it almost single-handedly redeems a lot of the problems that the season has had so far.
The eventual reveal that there is not one rapist, but two working in tandem. One of whom is Mercer (Ryan Devlin) who was proven innocent just a few episodes ago and has been working with Moe (Andrew McClain). It hits hard and works well, lending the reveal a powerful punch. It’s usually a stock in trade with mysteries in television series that a character who was previously proven innocent will turn out to be the guilty party, but the episode manages to make it work, even if does fall back on having Veronica be a potential victim in as many weeks.
The attempted assault on her in ‘Of Vice and Men‘ was a chilling moment, but it’s hard not to think that the series might have been better off having that moment of Veronica realising that she has been drugged reoccur here; to do it twice in the space of two episodes, one episode separating them, feels like a strange and somewhat distasteful choice given the character being sexually assaulted before.
For a story arc that was frequently problematic in the way that it was, and which has not aged particularly well, ‘Spit and Eggs’ manages to end it concretely and in an engrossing manner. But it’s also indicative of how the series is structuring itself this season. With the season opting to do smaller story arcs in place of season-long ones, the episode ends with the beginning of the next mystery to get ours and Mars Investigations attention; the murder of Dean O’Dell (Ed Begley, Jr).
It does mean that the reveal and resolution to the campus rapist mystery has in effect been rushed, or it feels rushed by Veronica Mars standards because that’s the way that Rob Thomas and the writers room have opted to do the season. I still sometimes feel like this was more of a mandate by The CW than one the writers might have gone for if given the option.
The last we see of Mercer and Moe, they’re behind a prison cell with Logan deliberately having himself thrown in with them, in one of the best scenes in an episode that is full of the it has to be said.
The opening third or so of the season has not been the best that Veronica Mars has ever been; it’s hard to shake the feeling that this story arc would have been better served today with more up-to-date attitudes towards gender politics and how to portray sexual assault. The attitude towards the assaults themselves are never really the problem, more how the series throws its mystery solving attitude towards it with a dark glee that it really shouldn’t have done. But at least it brought the story to a satisfying if somewhat rushed climax and, with a new mystery upon us, it might be fun to have Veronica Mars just devote itself to some good old-fashioned murder this season.