I thought the episode was weak, even though it had a lot of things going for it.
One thing I really missed about this show is how bloody high school it's supposed to be. Yeah, teen noir, whatever, but I love the world of Neptune High for being the world of Neptune High. I think this episode broke the record for number of returning characters in a teaser. So I liked seeing all the high school stuff, but at the same time, the whole teaser felt really unfocused. And yet, it was actually unfocused in a way that I like, because I like when the scenes kind of transition from one to the next, where characters walk to one place, and another character is in the background, so the action shifts to them. Either I wasn't in the right mood, or it just wasn't done well.
They're really trying to make us like Jackie, aren't they? They're turning her into the new Veronica. Well, the old Veronica. While it seems totally ridiculous for the entire school to turn against her like that, it's also totally in-character for Neptune. And, I suppose, high schools everywhere. There's this herd effect where a sentiment just spreads like a virus, and you've got to be cool and hate who everyone else hates.
(You guys totally know the bathroom graffiti said fuckslutwhore.)
Also, um, I still don't hate Jackie now. I mean, maybe if I watched her previous episodes now, I wouldn't hate her as much then either. Or maybe I would, because she was a total annoying bitch. Anyway, I think they're actually doing a good job making us like Jackie because it's kind of a side product of things that have to occur as part of the bus crash mystery, you know? And with Jackie helping them out last week, it's not unlikely for Veronica to be warming up to her, especially when she empathizes with her circumstances. And Wallace very deliberately throwing the balls into left field was a nice gesture. So I don't think "LIKE JACKIE!" is being forced down our throats; I feel it's pretty organic. It does seem to come out of nowhere because of her extended absence, though.
And since we're on the subject, the Keith/Terrence scenes were all very good. It was good to see him again, and it was good to see more of him as a character. We finally found out what he was talking to Woody about at the field trip (and did anyone do a double-take because they thought they heard him say, "...do the colored commentary"?). And we got backstory about Mrs. Dumbass and learned that the Fitzpatricks are involved in EVERYTHING. I swear, by the end of the season, we're going to find out that the Fitzpatricks killed Lilly Kane.
And speaking of things we hear a lot about: they need to stop using the phrase "special lady friend." It's getting old. Vary it up a little, at least. Special friend lady. Lady friend who is special. Lady and special friend. There wasn't enough Jane. I need more Jane! She's cute!
Although Hannah's cute too. Even though the whole Logan/Hannah courtship was very strange and awkward and Jason Dohring looked extremely bored this entire episode. But ooh, what a payoff. As soon as I saw her father, I had one of those great "Oh, fuck" moments. Yeah, Logan, macking on the daughter of the guy who's fingering you for murder isn't so hot.
Mac and Cassidy are ADORABLE. Dick is a DICK. Seriously, I think this is as big a dick as we've ever seen him. So the Bambi Gasm payback was pretty sweet. I love how Beaver totally played on his thing for Kendall.
Oh, back to Keith and Terrence. I said way back when we first heard the gambling accusations that the wording pretty clearly implied that Terrence had thrown a game, so I wasn't surprised by that. I don't know if it was supposed to be a bigger deal, but it was clearly a huge deal for Keith, and Enrico Colantoni rocked the hell out of that scene. Shattered dreams are never fun. Finding out your hero isn't so heroic is just part of growing up. Or hitting middle age. You go, Keith. You defend that innocent man.
Then there was the whole A plot, which didn't have nearly enough oomph to it, though the twisty-turny bits at the end redeemed it some. It was just Veronica jumping from conclusion to conclusion and getting nowhere. Although it's kind of sweet that her first suspect did turn out to be the culprit, so she's not totally off her game. And we got a couple nice blue flashbacks.
But, dammit, I was totally calling the money box being in a pie box. They were the exact right size and shape. Of course, I have no idea why Madison would want to steal the money, but hey. I thought I was being smart.
Going back to Jackie: "Standing while black" was a great line, especially because I was just thinking the other day that I'm totally surprised there hasn't been this huge thing about the fact that the reason everyone hates her is that she's black.
lilserf has just pointed out to me that this was a good way to set 90% of the episode in one set. It was practically a hurricane episode! Except for the three thousand guest stars. They even brought back Cora, for fuck's sake.
Kristen Bell, like Jason Dohring, felt similarly off her game, like she was overdelivering everything. Didn't have the usual Veronica pizzazz. It was especially noticeable during her theatrics during the parlor scene. Maybe this really was the first episode they filmed after the hiatus, and they had trouble easing back into things.
The episode was not up to Diane's usual standard. She did concoct a very twisty-turny MOTW with lots of false leads and red herrings and unexpected subplots, but it lacked focus. There wasn't enough drive, and the dots weren't being connected together strongly enough. The jokes weren't as zippy. Yay for the gobs of continuity, though (even a random "Girl Next Door" callback!).
But, you know, whatever. Off episodes happen, and we get over it. I feel like I might enjoy it more on a second go when I'm in a better mood because, like I said, the elements of a good episode are there. If you really did like it, please feel free to squee all over my comments in disagreement. It would make me happy.
And now I must go to bed so I can wake up in, like, four hours to catch my plane to San Francisco. For a job interview. For a position for which my mom's brother's wife's brother makes the hiring decision. So, um, I think my odds are pretty good. I also plan to lunch with Buffistas, watch horror movie trailers at Wondercon with cadhla and witness her playing DDR, and push hobviously in front of a bus. I return Saturday night. Please limit yourself to three kerfuffles (one major and two minor) while I'm gone.