On the outside, the former UPN show (now CW show) Veronica Mars looks like your average teen drama show. But more internally and for anyone who closely watches the show, Veronica Mars is more like The OC than The Gilmore Girls. If season one didn’t seem like it, then the added sex and relation woes in season two solidifies the show’s subverted nature as a teen soap opera masquerading as a modern-day, girl power-esque Sherlock Holmes tale. I mean, what realistic teen show doesn’t seem like a soap opera?
Season two begins with the unveiling of the mystery person who knocked on Veronica’s (Kristen Bell) door at the season one finale’s conclusion. While I won’t reveal the mystery person’s identity, I will say that the revelation will prolong the everlasting and never-ending saga of Veronica’s love life. Almost as deeply situated in the show as the murder of her best friend Lilly is the nonstop revolving lineup of men seeking the attention and love of Miss Mars.
The same episodic formula of season one continues in season two. Despite her aim to move away from private sleuthing, Veronica still continues to solve crimes and mysteries throughout each episode while also discovering another clue into the season’s main storyline. Veronica spent season one trying to find her best friend’s killer. She spends this season trying to find the cause of a school bus accident that killed everyone on board and also very nearly killed her. Was it an accident? Or was it planned? Veronica and her dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni) take converging paths to unveil the truth.
In addition to helping the sheriff’s department with the bus accident, Veronica manages to find the time to discover the cause of failed drug tests by Neptune High’s top athletes (“Normal Is The Watchword”); investigate the disappearance of Abel Koontz’s daughter (“Rat Saw God”); and help Logan (Jason Dohring) in endless problems.
Veronica also finds out what kind of person her mother was (“My Mother, The Fiend”); recovers $12,000 earmarked for the senior class trip lost during a school carnival (“Ain’t No Magic Mountain High Enough”); testifies at the murder trial of Aaron Echolls (“Happy Go Lucky”); and more, while also trying to graduate with the highest GPA in her class.
But Neptune is a little more complicated than it used to be with new characters and more development with the old characters. Logan Echolls’ best friends Dick (Ryan Hansen) and Cassidy Casablancas (Kyle Gallner) become more prominent because of the involvement of their stepmother (Charisma Carpenter) in Neptune’s affairs. The arrest of Logan’s father (Harry Hamlin) for the murder of Lilly and the indictments of Duncan’s (Teddy Dunn) parents in the cover-up causes the two teens to become emancipated minors, free of supervision or responsibility.
Meanwhile, Veronica’s best friend Wallace Fennell (Percy Daggs III) has his own love interest in Neptune High newcomer Jackie Cook (Tessa Thompson), who Veronica is quick to dislike. And a new mayoral candidate (Steve Guttenberg) wants to take the city into a new direction with Keith’s help.
The main problem with the show is its unrealistic portrayal of upper-class high school kids. Do rich kids really act spoiled? How hierarchal are high schools? This theme is explored with the bus accident when it turns out that most of those killed were those who couldn’t afford other transportation back to school from a field trip.
Segmented populations are further explored through the show’s stereotypes. While the racial themes between the rich white kids (09ers) and the not-rich Latino kids (PCHers) continue, a new race is added. Although they seem to be white trash, the fighting Fitzpatricks are Irish and deal drugs, an activity that expands the tensions between the main groups, enough to warrant the cooperation between long-feuding enemies Logan and Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra). What could be so serious that the two seek each other’s help?
While I sometimes weary of the tired Shakespearean dialogue and constant pop culture references, I must mention that Kristen Bell really charms and shines as the title character. Veronica’s talent for discovering overlooked evidence and answering difficult questions might be overshadowed by how cute and adorable the girl is. She’s the real reason to watch Veronica Mars, despite the show’s penchant for reliable cause-and- effect mystery solving and mildly intriguing storylines. Although I’m not sure how well the show is for repeat viewings, the first-time around will always leave you wondering about Veronica’s next move.