With hype growing louder and stronger for the Veronica Mars movie in March, Laura Prudom has a long way to go until she catches up in time for the movie.
But at least she's trying! In this look back, the TV Fanatic contributor reviews Veronica Mars Seaon 1 Episode 4, "The Wrath of Con," in which our plucky heroine investigates the seedy underbelly of gaming culture... or, more accurately, busts two college nerds who are scamming people out of thousands of dollars.
The hour doesn't do much to advance the season's ongoing mystery - the real circumstances surrounding Lilly Kane's murder - although the flashbacks do offer us further insight into the past dynamics between Lilly, Veronica, Duncan and Logan.
The episode and the flashbacks are centered around the school's impending Homecoming dance, with Veronica caught up in memories of the time she and her friends skipped the event and spent the night roaming the town in the back of a limo and playing I Have Never on the beach.
It's an idyllic look back at a period Veronica clearly considers one of the happiest of her life, and we certainly get a better sense of Lilly's vivacious, rule-breaking temperament through Veronica's nostalgia.
This is even more apparent when juxtaposed with the milquetoast, censored version of Lilly that her parents want to portray through a video memorial that Logan volunteers to put together to celebrate the unveiling of a fountain dedicated to Lilly's memory.
The video finally gives Veronica and Logan the opportunity for a brief truce, after Veronica offers Logan the tape from their wild Homecoming night to spice up the tame portrayal of Lilly that he's putting together from footage of ballet recitals and girl scout trips. The finished product is a much more honest - and touching - look back at Lilly's short life than the "respectful" version ever could've been.
The reminder of how full of life Lilly was brings her father (and tough biker dude Weevil) to tears, while her mother is a little less sentimental.
We're slowly starting to get hints of Logan's humanity through his douche-bro armor, and it's obvious that losing Lilly has taken an enormous toll on him, even if the flashbacks make it apparent that he was always prone to using humor as a defense mechanism. He's still a more interesting character than Duncan at this point, although after two episodes with very little screen-time, it's Weevil I'm most interested in seeing more of.
The case of the week fell a little flat for me (mostly because the inner workings of computers and conversations about math have a soporific effect on me in general), and the writing was happy to rely on lazy stereotypes of dorky male gamers who aren't used to interacting with girls, rather than offering us deeper insight into their lives and motivations.
I continue to be impressed by the elaborate logistics of each investigation - this week, the scammers were using jobbing actors as go-betweens to meet unsuspecting students, making it a much more complicated case for Veronica to unravel - but since we never really saw the two college students as anything other than remorseless hucksters, and we were told what their master plan was instead of the narrative showing it, I found it hard to engage with Veronica's sleuthing.
Ultimately, the episode works better as a character piece than a standalone -- we meet a new love interest for Wallace, Georgia; see a hilarious first meeting between Troy and Keith, in which Veronica's savvy dad busts her new boy for booking a room at the Four Seasons for Homecoming night; and get a reminder that Lilly is still a big influence on Veronica's life, prompting her to wear a sexy red strapless dress and go skinny dipping just as her best friend encouraged her to do before she died.
While the cases might not always be gripping, it's reassuring to know that the characters will always be entertaining enough to keep an episode moving.
Thank you for reading - and don't forget to watch Veronica Mars online right here at TV Fanatic!