Welcome back, Marshmallows - I’m continuing my belated odyssey with Veronica Mars Season 1 Episode 2, titled “Credit Where Credit’s Due.” (Or, as it might’ve been called if it was an episode of Friends, “The One with Paris Hilton.”)
My DVD is primed, my popcorn is popped and my expectations are high after the impressive pilot.
The episode opens with Veronica’s new pal Wallace trying to convince her to crash an “09er” party - that is, a party hosted by the rich kids who live in the prosperous 90909 zip code.
Naturally, this prestigious group includes Veronica’s ex, Duncan Kane, his bestie Logan, and, somewhat improbably, Paris Hilton, who is playing Logan’s vapid girlfriend, Caitlin. Let’s just say it’s not much of a stretch for her - and yet she still isn’t quite capable of talking like an actual human being.
(Remember when scoring a Paris Hilton cameo was considered a casting coup? Me neither, but apparently Las Vegas, The O.C., George Lopez, American Dreams and Supernatural all seemed to think it was a good idea at one point, too.)
While Veronica and Wallace wisely skip the kegger, the shindig does attract the attention of Weevil’s PCH biker gang, since it’s being held on their turf. This leads to another macho face-off between Weevil and Logan, during which Logan attempts to embarrass Weevil and his cousin, Chardo, by pointing out that their grandma cleans his house.
This tees up the episode’s main story, as the next day, Weevil’s grandmother is arrested for credit card fraud after allegedly stealing pre-approved applications from Logan’s trash and running up one hell of a bill under his family’s name. While suspicion initially falls on Weevil, who turns himself in so that his grandmother doesn’t have to do time, it’s actually his older cousin, Chardo, who stole the cards, using the money to romance Caitlin with fancy hotel stays and gifts.
After Logan and Weevil find out the truth - thanks to some sleuthing from Veronica - Chardo’s in for a world of hurt… Weevil saves him from being beaten up by the 09ers, only to evict him from the biker gang and have thembeat the snot out of him instead. At least he’s keeping it in the family, I guess? Caitlin’s betrayal of Logan also results in her being excommunicated from the popular group, and, if IMDB is correct, she and Chardo are never seen on the show again. That’s what you get when you stab your friends in the back, kids - your clique erases you from existence.
As with many second episodes of freshman series, “Credit Where Credit’s Due” spends a fair amount of time reestablishing the character dynamics and story beats that were introduced in the pilot; we’re reminded that Veronica used to be part of the cool crowd, but that her father lost his job as sheriff for “wrongfully” accusing Jake Kane of murdering his daughter, Lilly. While it’s a little tedious to have the same information imparted in pretty much the same fashion two episodes in a row, the exposition isn’t as clumsily executed as it is in some shows, and at this point, it seems to be an unavoidable TV trope, as if networks just assume that we’ve all suffered head injuries in the time between episodes.
Thankfully, as well as retreading old ground, we’re also given a little plot progression, as the many unpaid parking tickets on Lilly’s old car allow Veronica to unearth a disconcerting new piece of evidence in her murder investigation: Lilly was caught on a traffic camera at 6:02 on the evening of her murder, two hours after her alleged time of death.
The time change invalidates all of the Kane family’s alibis, meaning that Veronica’s dad might’ve been right about Jake Kane murdering his daughter all along - dun dun dun!
The pilot did a good job of populating Veronica’s life with an intriguing cast of supporting characters, and it was nice to learn more about Weevil’s home life in this episode; we see that despite his machismo, he’s a noble kid who just wants to do right by his family. When Logan attempts to shame him by pointing out that his grandmother is Logan’s cleaning lady, Weevil doesn’t rise to the bait - it's Chardo who responds.
From what little we’ve seen so far, Weevil seems secure in his identity and isn’t about to pretend that the 09ers are any better than him just because they have money - something that he and Veronica have in common. He also doesn’t hesitate to point out the racial and social inequality in the way the Neptune Sheriff’s Department seemingly operates, initially assuming that the cops are there to bust them for the altercation at the beach party while letting the rich white kids off the hook when they come to arrest his grandmother.
“Credit” also introduces two new characters who I’m assuming will stick around a little longer than Paris Hilton: Ms. Dent, the teacher in charge of the school paper, and Troy Vandegraff, a rich kid who’s friends with Duncan but seems drawn to Veronica despite what the rest of the 09ers say about her.
While I was initially a little skeptical about Troy’s intentions (and could still see those suspicions confirmed) he seems like a nice guy who is capable of independent thought, unlike the rest of Logan’s entitled posse - although he’s trying a little too hard with Veronica for my tastes. It will be interesting to see how the tension between his crowd and Veronica evolves while Troy is trying to play both sides.
The school paper - and Veronica’s new position as photographer - thankfully creates a realistic way for Veronica to be forced into close quarters with Duncan even though she’s been ostracized from his group, allowing us to learn more about their history. And while he still seems painfully bland, I’m hoping that their unavoidable working relationship will allow us to see more of his personality (or at least prove that he has one) as the season continues.
While “Credit Where Credit’s Due” was a less engaging installment than the pilot, I appreciated the further development of Weevil’s character and recognize the building blocks for future plotlines in the introduction of the paper and Troy. I’m also enjoying the quirky, partners-in-crime dynamic that’s forming between both Veronica and her father and Veronica and Wallace - she's such a bad influence!
Be sure to visit our section of Veronica Mars quotes and return next week for my third Veronica Mars rewatch!