‘Show Me the Monkey’ marks a first for Veronica Mars. The episode is pretty much a straightforward episode in terms of storytelling, mixing a stand-alone tale with forwarding development of its ongoing story arc.
Except, this is the tenth episode of the season and it’s marking the beginning of a new story arc within the season, having brought one to an end in the previous episode. As such ‘Show Me the Monkey’ feels both like Veronica Mars by the numbers, albeit good numbers as the episode is massively enjoyable, and yet different also.
As such, it’s the first episode this season that feels purely enjoyable in a way that many episodes haven’t this year. With the campus rapist storyline now complete, having been brought to a problematic, rushed ending that was still effective strangely and which probably sums up the things I both liked and inherently disliked about the first third of the season, we now have a new ongoing mystery to be solved in the shape of Dean O’Dell’s (Ed Begley, Jr) murder.
Murder is horrible too, don’t get me wrong, but for the first time this season, it feels as if Veronica Mars isn’t throwing itself into storytelling avenues that might make for queasy viewing in a 2019 setting. Although, to be honest, I sometimes find it hard to believe that it didn’t make for queasy viewing in 2007.
Getting back to ‘Show Me the Monkey’, and how I love these episode titles that feel witty and yet don’t feel like they were thought up first and then married to an episode with the plot line thought up afterwards, what we have here is the series giving us one of its most enjoyable and college relevant stand-alone mysteries with an ongoing arc that feels promising and, best of all, fun.
As massively entertaining a series that Veronica Mars is, its story arcs up to this point have never exactly been a means to allow the audience to have a good time. It probably makes sense that at some point sexual assault was going to be a major factor in an ongoing mystery because everything up to this stage in the series has involved teen murder, statutory rape, sex tapes and sexual assault, so it refreshing to see the series just throw Veronica and Keith into a mystery involving a murder and the avenues that it might lead down.
It still gives the feeling that the series has had to compromise a little in order to further its continued existence at this stage; remember this was its debut season on The CW and its ratings were never that great when it was a UPN series in the first place.
All that aside, this is a wickedly fun and entertaining hour of television. A case involving a missing monkey might not sound like the centre of an engrossing mystery, but it’s the series just having fun for a change and the eventual twist on who stole the monkey from the lab actually works pretty well.
One if left a little unsure of the series opting to potentially make Veronica, Logan and Piz a love triangle at this stage, it feels like every teen drama has to go through this and we’ve already had a variation of this last season with Veronica, Logan and Duncan, and it always felt as if the series knew that Logan was an end game of sorts in terms of the relationship stakes, and yet it’s hard to criticise it outright given that Chris Lowell has made a charming addition to the series this season and there’s a feeling that the writers might have run out of things to give Logan to do since the whole story thread with his father came to a conclusion at the end of last season and this means we get to see Jason Dohring do that wounded soul thing he does so well when the series isn’t having him be psychotic.
Minor criticisms aside are easily put aside here though. This is the most cleanly enjoyable the series has been in a while and when you get is an episode as well done as this, you take it when you’re getting it. It leaves you hopeful for more like it around the corner.