The time has finally come for the episode we have all been waiting for: the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-written episode of Veronica Mars. Yes, despite the killer basketball reference in “Losing Streak,” this is actually the one. Technically, an important one, as a piece of the puzzle—the identity of the Sea Sprite Bomber—is officially revealed and the search for the serial bomber begins. While Abdul-Jabbar guest-starred on an episode of iZombie earlier this season, both he and his episode co-writer Raymond Obstfeld are new to the Spondoolieverse on this front (and to television writing, in general). However, you wouldn’t be able to tell from this episode.
It’s anticlimactic and obvious, but Big Dick Casablancas was responsible for the Sea Sprite bombing. And while Clyde refused to take any part in that, he did tie up the loose end of Perry Walsh (aka P.W.), which finally answers the question of if he’s capable of that type of violence. (He is.) Despite Mars Investigations being hired by the Maloof family and the existence of the cartel and Matty, this season has always been more interested in the story behind the subsequent bombings than the original one. That’s been the case since the season’s turning point (with the third bomb) in “Keep Calm And Party On” and why it’s been so obvious that Big Dick was at least responsible for the Sea Sprite bombing, even when the serial killer aspect didn’t quite make sense for him.
The anticlimactic reveal is sort of fitting though, as it speaks to how much of a dummy Big Dick is that he could never actually be the Big Bad of the season, whether he’s committing real estate fraud in season two or accidentally killing four people in season four. That’s right, he can’t even do mass murder right: The bomb at the Sea Sprite was supposed to go off in the middle of the night, as a warning, but the timer went wonky when the wifi went out. It was a mistake, but it’s not like Big Dick feels guilt or remorse over it, so he’s still a Bad Guy; but he’s a Bad Guy who also exemplifies somehow failing upward. And Clyde really is the brains, which Big Dick can’t even see—the fact that he doesn’t realize that Keith was asking about the shell companies because he already knew about the shell companies is impressively dumb.
Obviously, the person responsible for the other bombs has to be at least slightly smarter. And the person who wrote the previous episode’s letter can’t be Big Dick, because he doesn’t even put together that Keith is saying something he apparently says all the time. He really is his son’s father. (And yet Little Dick is still the most well-adjusted one in the family.)
Now, looking at the opposite of the Big Dick reveal, while not as carefree as the “Keep Calm And Party On” montage—and not as unexpected—the montage of Veronica, Leo, and Nicole drinking and dancing here makes just as much sense. Which is to say, it makes a lot of sense. (Even if The Captain & Tennille plays and the three of them join in a conga line.) These montages aren’t exactly something you’d see in the first three seasons—the movie has Veronica and friends dancing at a party, the closest comparison to these three scenes—but they are quite necessary for this season. That’s because, since there’s no such thing as a filler or standalone episode in this streaming, eight-episode format, season four has to find some way for Veronica to have these cathartic moments of letting loose. (It’s a good thing they’re able to have fun at Comrade Quacks, considering it gets less and less crowded every time we see it.) The season can’t just be all bombs and sex offenders being bombed and cartel beheadings and sad pizza boys. That’s not all Veronica Mars is, and it never has been.
Plus, as I mentioned in “Keep Calm And Party On,” the problem with Veronica has never been that she can’t have fun; so now as an adult, the character can have this fun without the writers worrying about what it says to a younger audience to see their protagonist get loose like this. And it intentionally says a lot that the moments when Veronica gets loose (the ecstasy montage, vaping in Wallace’s bathroom, shooting bottles in a construction site, this montage) occur when she’s with Nicole, just to make clear that Veronica should feel as guilty as possible for betraying the trust of her new friend. Especially as this new friend is the first person she wants to see and talk to after Logan leaves for Navy. Not even Leo, despite this episode hitting the flirt button hard.
This episode at least explains that Veronica is specifically upset (and disappointed) over the fact that Nicole sold Comrade Quacks to Big Dick just days after she stood up to him at the city council meeting, which puts things more into perspective. Not that it makes Veronica in the right, but considering that the confrontation at the meeting was the thing that drew Veronica to Nicole in the first place, it makes sense that she’d suddenly think (upon learning about the Comrade Quacks sell) that the thing that she first admired about Nicole was a lie. It apparently didn’t last even a week. Veronica gave Weevil crap in “Heads You Lose” for selling out, so there’s a chance she feels the same way about Nicole selling to Big Dick. Forget the fact that she’s enjoyed Nicole’s company and they’ve been on the wavelength ever since they met. (Nicole suing Ilya for Comrade Quacks was her version of getting mad and getting even, after all.) During the original run of the series, Veronica obviously had people like Wallace and Mac in her life, but it’s understandable and even believable that Veronica had yet to make a friend in her adult life until Nicole. Maybe on some subconscious level, that could also be used to explain why she moved back to Neptune in the first place: While she might not be on good terms with everyone in town, at least she knows what to expect with them.
Like Leo (though he’s just stopping by). While Leo’s return episode acknowledged Leo and Veronica’s past relationship—mostly through Logan’s simmering jealousy—the episode pretty much played them as platonic old friends, with Leo functioning as a sounding board for Veronica in the aftermath of the rejected proposal. Here, as soon as Logan’s on his way out of the country, the switch just flips. Like I said in my review of “Heads You Lose,” the selling point of Veronica/Leo (at least, for Veronica) is how effortless they are as a pair. Even Nicole can see it when they’re dancing together, but it’s something that, ultimately, is not what Veronica wants out of a relationship. However, it’s so captivating to watch, even knowing they’re not going to end up together, because the Leo character has always allowed Max Greenfield to show a specific (and mumbly) charm and charisma that he’s rarely gotten to show in other projects (other than as Young Sandy Cohen on The O.C.). And that’s what makes this non-existent (but it kind of exists, right?) love triangle so interesting. Considering that the other angles in Veronica/Logan love triangles have been Duncan and Piz, it kind of feels like the game was always rigged; neither could hold their own against Logan in terms of keeping up with Veronica. While Leo wasn’t always able to keep up with her (she really did a number on him in the first season), he’s naturally evolved into someone who can, despite not even being a series regular. (Duncan seemingly devolved in that sense, and while Piz was a good guy, he wasn’t the good guy for Veronica.)
As such, of course Leo left that file open on his desk for Veronica to go through. He knows who she is, he learned his lesson many years ago. (Leo also proves he’s got some tricks up his sleeve by planting a tracking device in her purse with a little sleight of hand. Not everyone is able to play Veronica Mars so successfully.) With the Sea Sprite bombing out of the way—for the audience, at least—the information that Leo compiles (and Veronica and Keith follow up on) about previous spring break “accidents” steers the direction of the rest of the bombings. This takes them down the path of an incident leading to a death at Chattanooga Charlie’s last year and a Hearst Pi Sig freshman dying from burns during spring break three years ago. (Again, the lack of Mac means relying on the kindness of others to do the tech grunt work, so Veronica takes Penn up on his latest offer for him and the Murderheads to help on the case, having them do background checks on the three Pi Sig witnesses who refused to talk.) In moving on to the serial bomber specifically though, that means adding this previously unchecked aspect of the past few Spring Breaks into the mix all of a sudden. And while the act of Veronica getting this information from Leo is fun—a classic Veronica Mars move—the actual existence of it at this point in the season is also very much a classic Veronica Mars move (in a less fun way)—“And now it’s actually time to set up for the season finale.” Like the bomber’s letter, it’s one of those story points that just rings false, that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Kind of like Claudia Navarro as a character, actually. Unfortunately, we don’t know enough about Claudia to know how much she knows about Alonzo’s line of work or if she even cares that she’s going to get Veronica and Keith killed by him. Her even bringing up Veronica breaking into Alonzo and Dodie’s room comes across like a reaction to Weevil telling her she can’t work at his less-than-legit auto shop after she’s been laid off from her hotel job, not something she would’ve brought up otherwise. But this is kind of par for the course when it comes to Weevil and his family (immediate and otherwise) throughout the series—we’re never quite given a clear picture on any of it. It’s, unfortunately, one of the few aspects of Veronica Mars that it’s simply too late to fix. And while, in theory, fleshing out Weevil’s family is a great choice for the show, it’s clear now that her existence is only to bridge the story gap between the cartel and the rest of the action.
But as for the more-realized Navarro, Weevil confronts Veronica one more time, this time looking for a missing Juan Diego. Since it’s unlikely Veronica disappeared the kid, the best bet is that he took his $600 and fled (for fear of what Clyde would do). Weevil continues to make excuses for his actions (“I got shot, Veronica. Some rich white lady shot me and I got arrested!”) and Veronica continues to have zero sympathy (“Yeah, that was shitty. And I was there for you. And so was my dad, and so was Cliff. But you were weak.”). Veronica calling Weevil “weak” is pretty much the end of it all, as Veronica refuses to accept weakness (from herself or others), as unhealthy as that is. Weevil’s weakness disgusts her. And as Weevil tells her he’s trying to help his people, Veronica can’t seem to get it through his head that his way of going about doing that is all a means to his people being run out of town by the likes of Big Dick and his people. (Claudia even loses her hotel job because all of the spring breakers are leaving town.)
The most interesting thing about this conversation—besides Weevil calling Veronica out for living in a town she says she hates, as Logan did—is Weevil telling her, “We can’t all be like you. Practically perfect in every way.” That is a lot to unpack because “perfect” and “Veronica Mars” go together like baking soda and vinegar. Veronica is unbendable in the way she lives her life, but that’s the type of thing that makes her imperfect—the type of thing that makes her reject her boyfriend’s proposal or bug her new best friend’s office. His point of reference for her perfection is her diplomas she doesn’t even use; her point of reference for his weakness is his wife, daughter, and legit business that he “pissed...all away.” There is no budging on either side—as Veronica even gives Weevil an early “I told you so”—because both Veronica and Weevil are as stubborn as they come. This is the third episode in a row of Veronica/Weevil one-on-ones, and each time, the interaction between these former friends escalates. It’s upsetting that there is no easy resolution to this conflict between the two of them because what’s done is done. And while Francis Capra plays Weevil like he’s trying to prove that’s not the case, Kristen Bell plays Veronica like she knows it is, leading to a type of push and pull in these scenes. But what is Weevil trying to pull Veronica toward? Accepting his criminal fate? Accepting him essentially screwing over his own people in the long run? This is exactly why Veronica pushes.
As for loose ends, after an episode-long absence, the Maloofs return in a surprisingly enjoyable fashion. Becoming stir crazy in the Neptune Grand has seemingly lightened them all up quite a bit, with Alex no longer angry, Amalia actually showing a sense of humor, and Daniel no longer vibrating with fear (as Logan handles his blackmailer issue). Part of that also seems to be the fact that they’ve all taken a liking to Logan during this time. In fact, they probably like him even more when he drops the big reveal (to them) that he understood and spoke Arabic the entire time. The only other scene with the Maloofs—which again highlights how little importance they had, despite the amount of focus in the first half of the season—is the one where Logan’s replacement comes in (and the aftermath of that).
Of all the characters in Veronica Mars’ world, Clarence Wiedman didn’t need to return this season. But it makes sense that he would be the next best man for the job, both for his skill and his past as security for a high-profile client. The most disappointing part about Daniel inevitably getting shot is simply the fact that it prevented the opportunity to witness Wiedman shut down any and all of his cagey behavior. But since the shooting does occur, it leads to the season finally wrapping up the one-note Maloof/Carr storyline. Tyler Carr shoots Daniel in the shoulder, so he should be fine, but Wiedman makes sure to shoot Tyler dead… as it’s still unclear why Alonzo and Dodie—the men who love beheading people—weren’t able to do so. Other than for the purposes of a boring revenge plot.
- Veronica (v.o.): “There might be something wrong with me. Maybe Logan was right. I should have sought professional help right then.” This crosses Veronica’s mind when she’s listening to Nicole have sex in her bugged office. Unfortunately, Veronica doesn’t actually follow up and get professional help.
- Keith: “She Home Alone’d them.” Keith said it before I could even start writing the same thing in my notes. Her family even went to Paris.
- While it should be fun to see Logan make a teenager practically wet their pants, during the scene with Baron Jr. I was really struck by the realization that, if you had season one Logan Echolls now (or any character on television right now act like season one Logan), he’d kind of have to be alt-right. From the trolling racism (and Bum Fights) to actual racism (and Bum Fights) to taking out all of his rage about his not-so-perfect life out on people who look different from him. He’d be the one making the Muslim “jokes” that have been all over this season with the Maloofs.
- Veronica: “Alexa. Who’s the bomber?”
Keith “Uh, we don’t have one of those.” I took this as a Hulu vs. Amazon joke, but Penn has an Alexa.
- “@BigDickProps” Why?
- Veronica: “Logan, I admire your dedication to self-discovery.”
Logan: “You sure?”
Veronica: “Somewhat. But I’m absolutely fine with where I’ve landed.”
Logan: “Are you?” Kristen Bell’s delivery of “Somewhat.” channels a very specific type of annoyance before she moves right on with Veronica dancing around the conversation she and Logan have been having all season. And then they leave things in a weird place after Logan doesn’t hear her leave (as the shower is too loud).
- Clyde: “Little early for that.”
Big Dick: “Oh, but I finished my homework, Mom. Ya see what I did there? I called you ‘Mom.’ It’s funny because my mom was also a judgmental shrew.” Of course Big Dick explains his jokes
- Is there anything sweeter than Veronica giving Matty a taser? (If it’s her taser, then it’s even sweeter.) Veronica’s “I know everything.” and “Fully up to speed.” about the Casablancas family history is definitely funnier. In theory, the audience can say the same thing—but not everyone watching the show is a longtime fan, you know.
- Keith: “So Leo said it was okay for you to photograph confidential FBI files?”
Veronica: “Not in those exact words.”
Keith: “Which words did he use?”
Veronica: “It was more of a vibe. There was a twinkle of consent in his eye, the invitation implicit in the very act of leaving the room.”
Keith: “Implicit because he left you in the room and didn’t specifically say, ‘Please don’t photography these.’”
Veronica: “See? You get it.”
- In addition to all the condoms, Alonzo’s hotel draw seems to have all the shampoo bottles Claudia gave (and made herself) to him. And because Dodie wouldn’t get rid of the Bible like Alonzo said, Veronica finds the Carr brothers’ driver’s licenses as bookmarks.
- Vinnie—who works out of a strip club—believes Matty stole the Maloof ring, due to process of elimination… and the fact that he saw her on the news, in the Sea Sprite rubble, picking up stuff. Also, he’s charging Amalia $3,000 a day, which Veronica calls “the highest rate that any human has ever paid for investigative services.” But in his defense, he has to do things like “[track] down a couple of Mexicans.”
- Veronica: “Logan, I’m home! I’m back from a strip club! Never touch me again. Men disgust me.”
- While Logan’s not able to get a hold of Veronica before he leaves, he is able to leave her a voicemail, confirming that he still wants to marry her and wants her to give it some thought. That’s when Veronica pours her glass of wine like she’s a character on Cougar Town.
- Hector: “That was her dad. She was definitely in your room, man.” And he follows it up with his classic cackle and point, of course. Claudia not knowing what former Sheriff Keith Mars looks like actually makes a lot of sense. I’d argue that, unless you live in a really small town or deal with law enforcement a lot, it’s normal not to know what your sheriff looks like. The only thing that makes this questionable is the fact that this is a town where the news is always on, so maybe she should’ve seen him at least once.
- The blackmail video shows that Daniel is a submissive, and the way it was obtained was by a kid on a field trip seeing Daniel’s password right there on his computer. Baron Jr. at least provides Logan (and subsequently, Veronica) with crucial information, which is that Daniel paid off two cartel members. The combination of Vinnie’s Mexican comment and seeing Alonzo at Weevil’s auto shop is what leads to the undercover break-in—which is blown because Veronica gets worried that Keith’s fake heart attack is real—and the world of headless danger Veronica’s potentially about to be in.
- It may have seemed like Veronica Mars had retired its love of The Big Lebowski, but as this episode reveals, it did not. (Kareem knew.) It’s a shame Leo is dead to Veronica now because he’s never seen the movie, but he is right: To hear her describe it is to hear a petite blonde woman go on a tangent about some bizarre trip she must’ve had once. He’s right to think she’s made up the plot.
- Don’s trying to take over Murderheads, as the rest of the group decided that Penn should start running things by him first before he goes public. (Which is why Penn attempts to go to Langdon and then Mars Investigations with the Big Dick/”Prostitute yourself.” connection, to circumvent the group. Even though he tells Keith and Veronica that the group would be sharing a cut of the reward.) And “the pizza boy who cried wolf” has stuck with Penn.
- Veronica: “Some shit about relationships having to evolve, to eliminate the destructive gene in their DNA.”
Nicole: “So what’s the destructive gene in your relationship?”
Veronica: “I think it might be me. I think I’m the poacher. No. no, the tusk.”
Leo: “Oh yeah, you’re the tusk. And I say that as someone who’s been gored.”
- Veronica: “Matty, this is Leo. Leo, this is Matty—my protege.”
Leo: “Okay, so... Don’t shoot her?”
- Matty: “Never have children!” Veronica’s already kind of adopted Matty and is a good mom to Pony. That’s all she needs.