''Veronica Mars'': Dirty rotten scoundrels | EW.com

TV Recaps | Veronica Mars

''Veronica Mars'': Dirty rotten scoundrels

''Veronica Mars'' gets back on track with an episode in which most of the male characters behave like jerks

(Veronica Mars: Patrick Ecclesine)

”Veronica Mars”: Dirty rotten scoundrels

Being a man — at least technically, legally, physically, and pretty much all points in between (except the part where I’m supposed to be good with cars and junk; automotive has never been part of my manhood makeup) — I suppose I should have been deeply offended by last night’s episode of Veronica Mars, given it was all about the whole ”men are jerks” thing. It was the kind of suck-up-to-the-female-demographic gambit that could have really alienated the show’s male constituency, if not for the fact that ”The Quick and the Wed” was perhaps the strongest overall outing in months. Plus, there were penis jokes. Like honest-to-God ”Heh-heh, he said ‘penis’ ” jokes that would make any Beavis or Butt-head giggle and titter. Men might be scum, but at least we can laugh about our junk.

But before we dive into the phallic-focused story lines that drove the episode, let’s recap that beefy recap that kicked off last night’s episode. If you recall, last week in this space, the following words, pecked by yours truly, appeared on your computer screen:

”I’m worried we might be able to already declare this season’s bus-crash mega-mystery a slight bust, just because UPN’s scheduling has killed its momentum. Not good when you’re dealing with a plot as complex as this one. It would be helpful, at least, if next week Veronica and Keith could swipe the drawing board from Dr. House’s office over at Fox and diagrammatically recap the whole thing, just to make sure we and they are on the same page.”

Well, although no props from rival shows on rival networks were involved, someone at the lame-duck weblet heeded my concern and cut together a comprehensive clip package of Where Everything Stands at the Moment. Nearly everything important was thoroughly rebooted: The bus crash mystery, the Felix Got Shanked intrigue, the whole expanding?the-city-limits business (still a little fuzzy on how Beaver’s real-estate business endeavor/school project/scam plays into it, but I’m cool with that — for now).

And about five minutes into the episode, we even got a witty review of the season 1 Lilly Kane murder mystery via an E! True Hollywood Story-ish trashumentary about her killer, former matinee idol Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin), salaciously tracking his rise-fall star trajectory from ”choirboy, cub scout, starving actor, mega-star” — illustrated with stills from Hamlin’s own fantasy opus Clash of the Titans — to ”cradle robber” and ”murderer.” (You guys wondering if the show might be building toward some kind of surprise post-facto twist in the Lilly Kane case — like maybe Echolls didn’t kill Veronica’s former best friend after all?)

At the very least, the episode earned serious entertainment value points for giving us the pretty genius scene in which Hamlin, playing a washed-up bad actor, attempted a Hannibal Lecter impression. Check that: Actually, what he was trying to do was imitate — pathetically, hilariously — Anthony Hopkins’ Oscar-winning performance as Hannibal Lecter, which made it even more genius. (Hats off to Hamlin for not only turning in a nice performance of his own but for winningly sending himself up, too.) Making the moment all the more cherry were the spectacular comedic stylings of Charisma Carpenter, back on the scene as gold digger Kendall Casablancas, and yes, by ”spectacular,” I do mean ”huge bosom,” and by ”comedic stylings,” I do mean ”and she ain’t afraid to use ‘em.” I don’t mean to sell Ms. Carpenter’s talent short by dwelling upon the former Playboy pin-up’s ample assets and her witty exploitation of ”them” in her scenes with Aaron and Logan, but let’s just say it would make me more popular with my wife if I pretended I was unimpressed with and perhaps even outraged — nay, outraged! — by Carpenter’s two-dimensional performance, even if each of those dimensions is rather sizable.

Okay! Okay! I’m a pig — just like almost every other guy on Veronica Mars not named Wallace or Keith. Like Logan Echolls, who turned up the heat on the father of his new freshman girlfriend in his mad risky plan to intimidate the coked-up plastic surgeon into withdrawing his claim that he saw Logan knife Felix. (Got that?) Logan has a lot at stake: He was informed that if he didn’t take the plea deal that was being offered him (two years with good behavior), he was looking at 11 years in the slammer, maybe more. But that’s two years too many for Logan, who continues to maintain his innocence and his claim of being the victim of a setup orchestrated by the street gang that has Dr. Griffith by the nads. And so, playing the part of Father’s Worst Nightmare to the hilt, Logan continued his perverse pressure tactics with Hannah’s dad, sending his false accuser an e-mail allegedly from Dr. Griffith’s ex-wife that spoke creepily of finding ”CONDOMS” — in ALL CAPS no less — in Hannah’s room. Nothing gets under a daddy’s skin like the thought of someone corrupting his little girl’s innocence. In the end, Hannah’s dad — accompanied by the distracting mole located just above his upper lip — gave Logan what he wanted in exchange for Logan’s promise to back away from his daughter.

Alas, it seems the poor boy has actually fallen for the girl, and judging from the episode’s final moment, he now totally regrets the entire thing. Man: I didn’t see this one coming at all! Seriously! No, seriously! Okay, maybe I did see it coming, like, a mile off. But give it up for Jason Dohring’s great work as Logan — the actor does the damaged teenage lout better than anyone. His wounded hang-dog visage — insidiously employed whenever Hannah doubts Logan’s sincerity — is pretty much all you need to know about why and how girls like Hannah get sucked into ruinous black holes like Logan.

By the way, I haven’t forgotten that the show is about a neo-Nancy Drew named Veronica Mars, and in this episode, our intrepid investigator was on the case of a runaway bride-to-be — the flighty former-rock-star-groupie sister of Wallace’s new girlfriend. It was a twisty little missing-persons case, complete with an always welcome appearance by slimeball rival PI Vinnie Van Lowe, a demonstration of Veronica’s facility with a door-jimmying slim jim, and curious clues, like novelty cameras that take pictures with borders emblazoned with little dancing penises. (Fortunately for UPN’s standards and practices department, Veronica had the borders trimmed when she developed the photos. ”Penises can be distracting,” she explained.) In the end, Veronica learned that the runaway bride hadn’t run away at all — she was driven away by her cold-feet groom, who was trying to engineer a situation to get back his engagement ring, a priceless family heirloom with a honkin’ huge rock. (”Somebody parked a diamond Volkswagen on your finger,” quipped Veronica.) Personally, I found this caper to be one of the better cases Veronica has tackled lately — mostly because it made total sense and I followed it pretty easily for a change.

I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the significant developments in the bus-crash case — Keith finding reason to believe that the explosives in Terrence Cook’s locker were planted, as well as the news that Terrence had been shot while trying to break into the home of the parents of the dead teacher he had been fooling around with. Just when Terrence seems to be a good guy, he turns around and does something suspicious again. Men! Can’t trust those guys. Just like you can’t trust everything you see on TV.

But enough of my blabbering: What did you think of all the man trouble on last night’s Mars? How is Logan’s Hannah gambit going to pan out? And are you with me that the mole on the bad doc’s face might have a moon or two orbiting around it? C’mon now, sugar! Talk back at me!