A key advantage in how effectively child abuse was presented in the last episode is that it paves the way for more serious topics to be dealt with going forward. Point in case: “The Girl Next Door” would not have had enough credit to approach rape the way it did if it had come earlier in the season. The episode makes the wise decision not to present trauma in the same offhand way it used last time, there is a tragic finality to what happens, but it still resists tying everything up with a neat little bow. The show seems more interested in “exploring” these issues than in “dealing” with them, which is pretty impressive. Dealing with rape is hard enough in life, and certainly beyond the scope of a one hour network drama. These events are a part of, and yet explicitly bigger than, Veronica’s world.
This week’s case involves Veronica’s missing neighbor and her suspect boyfriend. After what happened to Logan last week I was quick to assume murder, but that possibility doesn’t really occur to Veronica until Keith advises her to expect the worse. Somehow, she was thinking things would “work out” once she solves the case and we’re reminded of how naïve she still is. Of course, the neighbor is found, although it turns out that she fled to avoid her molesting step father who was coming to town. It’s a rather grim turn for a series that was dealing with email scams a couple of weeks ago.
Veronica knew about the rape through the course of her investigation but never connected the dots back to the step father. Keith, upon learning what Veronica knows, instantly recognizes what’s going on and races to the rescue, gunning the man down in the nick of time. No, it’s not quite the tragedy implied by the episode’s opening; it’s the bad guy that’s going to the hospital and no one’s going to the morgue, but it’s still the most high-stakes case the Mars’ have been involved in and Veronica does bare some responsibility for everything that went wrong.
Given how dark the case of the week is, the going’s on at Neptune High feel pretty out of place. Logan and Weevil get stuck in detention together and end up bonding by pranking the teacher that put them there. Weevil gets caught and expelled for not turning in his accomplice, and Logan turns himself in and uses his 09er influence to mitigate both their punishments. There’s some semi-interesting stuff about the class divide going on here, but it still makes the episode feel uneven. The series needs to do a better job of navigating between the light a heavyweight stories.
Has no one in the writing room ever been intimidated? Veronica’s looking for answers from some guy and so enlists Weevil and his gang to… riffle through his merchandise? Really? I’m sorry, but these guys still aren’t scary, particularly with so many abusive dads running around.
Speaking of abusive dads, that’s two in a row. It’s certainly a contrast with the relationship Veronica and Keith have, but I’m wondering what (if anything) this is building to in the show’s wider youth/adult relationships.
More good Lilly stuff: She and Weevil were involved, though it’s not clear exactly how. Class is one of the central themes of the show and so it’s fitting that it get woven into the central plot.
Did anyone else feel bad for the English teacher? Yes, impaling his car was impressive, but did the guy really deserve that?