Recap / Veronica Mars S 01 E 03 Meet John Smith

At the school lunch area, Justin (Bobby Edner), a freshman, sits with two of his friends and they start ranking girls. Veronica walks by, and Justin mentions she and her dad come by the video store he works at, and says her looks and the fact her dad's a private eye make her hot. Meanwhile, Troy goes up to Veronica and again tries to ask her out, with no luck. She looks on admiringly as he leaves, though, until a student runs into her, causing her to drop her books. Duncan helps Veronica pick them up, and they stare at each other awkwardly until he walks away.

Later that day, at Duncan's house, he's lounging in the pool when Jake walks up and mentions he wants Duncan to think about his future, and write a senator he's friends with to get an intern position. Duncan doesn't pay attention, but goes back to listening to his music.

Later that night, at Keith and Veronica's apartment, Keith tells Veronica the guidance counselor wants to see him, and asks if she knows anything about it. Veronica says she doesn't and tries to change the subject, asking why Jake was at the Camelot with her mom a couple of weeks before, but Keith firmly tells her to stay out of it. Meanwhile, at the Kane house, Jake mentions how he just wants Duncan to have some direction and purpose in his life, while Celeste cautions him not to push too hard. Back at the apartment, Veronica tells Keith she's going to the library to study, while at the Kane's, Duncan tells his mom he's going to Shelley's.

Veronica and Duncan are kissing each other passionately in Duncan's car, but Veronica wakes up in her bedroom and we realize it was All Just a Dream. Credits.

That night, at the video store, Julia (Melissa Leo) thanks Justin for the recommendation, and he tells her she should check out Body Heat. Julia leaves, and we hear Veronica bantering good-naturedly with her dad about him wanting to rent Slap Shot again. Justin asks Veronica for her help, and she tells him to come see her at school the next day.

The next morning, at the Kane home, Celeste tells Duncan it's time for him to take his pill, and tries to encourage him by pointing out how there's nothing wrong with taking anti-depressants, and he's still got time for them to take affect. When she's not looking, however, Duncan drops the pill down the sink plug hole.

At school, Veronica finds Troy, and agrees to go out with him, which makes him happy. Logan brings this up to Duncan, but Duncan acts like he doesn't care, though he does run to the bathroom really quick as if he's nauseous. He also doesn't react when Veronica drags Justin into the girl's bathroom.

In the bathroom, Justin asks Veronica to help him find his father, because they're struggling financially and could use the money, even though her mom doesn't seem to want him to be found. Justin admits he has nothing to go on (his mother destroyed all of his father's pictures) except a name - "John Smith". Veronica reluctantly agrees to help.

Meanwhile, Keith goes to see the guidance counselor, Rebecca James (Paula Marshall). Rebecca tells Keith that while Veronica is an excellent student, she's been late a lot, sleeping in class, and has attitude towards some teachers and her fellow students. Keith brings up how much Lily's death affected her; Rebecca says she knows, and offers to talk to Veronica about it, but Keith brusquely tells her they'll be fine, and leaves.

That night, at the Kane house, Celeste brings up the idea of getting Duncan a life coach, which Jake shoots down. Out of nowhere, Duncan takes the opportunity to toast a dog they got rid of six years ago, and walks out.

The next day, Justin talks about asking Veronica out, but his friend cautions Veronica won't feel the same way after finding out his dad is really dead.

At Keith's office, Veronica and Wallace are stuffing envelopes, and Veronica is setting up one of the office lines, pretending it's the admissions office at Stanford. Keith walks in, and Veronica introduces him to Wallace. She then explains why she's helping Justin, and that she's sending letters to the 440 John Smith's she's narrowed down, explaining their son has won a scholarship to Stanford. She figures the real John Smith will send a letter back claiming they have the wrong address. Keith is proud...up to a point. He and Wallace then banter about how Wallace was roped into doing this, and Keith closes the door to his office. Veronica asks Wallace to get her permanent file, and Wallace reluctantly agrees.

The next morning, at the Kane house, we see Celeste again telling Duncan to take his medicine, and he drops it into the sink once again. At school, Wallace gives Veronica her file, and they banter about what's in it. Justin approaches, and Veronica tells him she should know something by the next week. Justin gives her a mix tape he made for her, and when he leaves, Wallace teases her about that. Veronica, in turn, asks Wallace to get Justin's file, and Wallace again reluctantly agrees.

That night, Veronica and Troy go out on a date. Troy tells her about the time he and Duncan tried to fake a shark attack, but it ended up going wrong, and the lifeguard almost shot Troy until Duncan intervened. Veronica and Troy banter a bit about Troy being unable to stop a song being played by pounding on the jukebox, and they leave. Outside the restaurant, Troy enters his number into Veronica's cell phone, and moves in to kiss Veronica good night, but Veronica backs off, which Troy accepts. Veronica tries to sneak back into her apartment, but Keith is awake, and they banter about the date. When she goes into her bedroom, however, Veronica berates herself for turning Troy down.

That night, Duncan's again passionately kissing a blonde girl whom he calls "Veronica". Except this time it's not a dream, it's really happening, the girl is Shelley Pomeroy, and she doesn't appreciate being called by a different name, though Duncan tries to laugh his way out of it.

The next day, Wallace brings Veronica Justin's file, but warns she's not going to like what's in it. Sure enough, she finds out Justin's father is really dead, and pissed, she walks over to Justin's table at lunch and reads him the riot act. She's interrupted by a school secretary who brings Justin a letter from "John Smith".

That night, Justin stops by Veronica's apartment, and apologizes for not telling the truth. He explains his mother told him his father was dead, and when he showed her the letter, got upset and said he was better off thinking his father was dead. Justin says he still wants to find him. After he leaves, Veronica figures out the letter came from San Diego, and only three John Smiths live in that area. Keith comes into her bedroom, says he overheard the conversation, and tells Veronica he hopes she's not making her mom into a villain. Veronica tells him the hero is the one that stays, but when he leaves her room, she says via voiceover she already knows her mother is in Arizona.

The next day at school, Veronica finds Troy, who seems cool with what happened the other night. They walk towards the field, and Troy says he's willing to give Veronica the space and time she needs, and she responds by kissing him. Meanwhile, Duncan, Logan and some of the other 09er boys are up on the bleachers fooling around, but when Duncan sees Troy and Veronica, he tries to flip himself over the railing. Unfortunately, he falls off of the protective matting onto the ground and bangs his head. Troy and Veronica see this and rush over. They help Duncan to Veronica's car, and she takes him to the hospital.

At the hospital, Duncan gets treated for his head wound. Jake shows up, and he and Veronica have another awkward moment before she leaves. Dr. Levine tells Jake it's Only a Flesh Wound that a few stitches can cure, and Jake tries to ask what happened, but Duncan asks to speak to Dr. Levine in private.

Meanwhile, Veronica, driving off, says in voiceover she's found the three John Smith's in San Diego, and is going to photograph them. She calls Justin at the video store, and asks him if he has any photos that might help; he says he'll check. Julia comes in, asking about Body Heat, which Justin says he'd have to special order.

Back at the doctor's office, Dr. Levine warns Duncan about all of the side effects he can expect if he goes off of his anti-depressants, including nausea and hallucinations. Meanwhile, Keith goes to see Rebecca at her office, and tells her maybe it would be a good idea for her to talk to Veronica. They get interrupted by a phone call, and Rebecca spills her store-bought coffee. He thanks her again, and she in turn says she voted for him.

The next day, Veronica shows Justin the pictures of the three "John Smiths" that she took photos of. Justin dismisses the first two, but thinks the third man, who's bald and wearing sunglasses, might be the guy. He pressures to accompany her when she follows the third John Smith, and she reluctantly agrees. Justin shows her the pictures his dad was torn out of, and Veronica notes how much his mom must have hated his dad. Later that day, Veronica follows John Smith in his car, and when they stop, Justin goes out to confront him, but when Smith takes off his sunglasses and stares, Justin stammers he has the wrong guy. Dejected, Justin is ready to call the whole thing off, but Veronica notes the handwriting of the letter Justin got is the same as the handwriting of the shopping list in Smith's car.

At the Kane residence, Duncan is watching TV when Lily, who looks like she's a ghost, with a bloody head, walks in, freaking Duncan out. She tells him the truth is going to come out about his murder and the he needs to wake up out of his stupor. Duncan wakes up with a start, and it turns out he dreamed the whole thing.

Veronica follows Smith in her car as he pulls up to his house. While he's inside, Veronica sneaks into the garage to see if the car inside is the same one Justin said his dad once owned. Smith comes into the garage ready to arrest her. Veronica says she knows what kind of activities he's up to, but Smith counters he's a parole officer. When Veronica calls him "John Smith", he just stares at her. Meanwhile, outside, Justin runs towards the house when he sees the classic car his dad used to own drive up the driveway. Veronica and Smith turn towards the garage door as it opens, and Veronica and Justin see the person who's driving the "classic car" is Julia - who is Justin's father.

Justin is freaked out as Julia tearfully tries to tell him what happened, and that while she understands why his mother would want to pretend she was really dead, she drove to the video store just to see Justin to know he was all right. Justin angrily calls her a "circus freak", and leaves, and Veronica stammers out an apology to Julia. On their way back, Veronica tells Justin that Julia drove 90 miles just to see Justin for a few minutes, and that should count for something.

The next day, Veronica vows to drive to Arizona after school to find her mother. She sees Duncan and asks if he's all right, but he brushes her off, having gone back on his medication. Keith "accidentally" shows up at the place Rebecca gets coffee at, and they greet each other. At the video store, Justin's co-worker tells him Body Heat has come in, and after some hesitation, Justin calls Julia to tell her.

In Arizona, Veronica goes to the house and sees a woman, but it turns out to be a friend of her mom's, not her mom. Veronica tries asking the friend, named Adriana, where Lianne went, but Adriana says Lianne didn't tell her because she knew Adriana couldn't keep a secret. She also says Veronica is all Lianne thinks about, but Veronica tearfully says she doesn't believe it. That night, Veronica drives by Troy's house and calls him. When he comes outside, she cries again and falls into his arms.

This episode provides examples of:

  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: When Justin claims he's going to ask Veronica out on a date, one of his friends snarks that he himself has a date with Halle Berry.
  • Arc Words: Veronica to Keith: "The hero is the one that stays."
  • As the Good Book Says...:
    Keith: Have you been playing nice with the other children?
    Veronica: You know, Dad, I'm old school. An eye for an eye.
    Keith: I think that's actually Old Testament.
  • Call-Back: Veronica asks Keith again about Jake and Lianne at the Camelot Motel.
  • Dead Person Conversation: After Duncan comes off his medication, he sees Lily, head wound and all, telling him that the 'facts' involving her death don't add up.
  • Foreshadowing: Dr. Levine will figure in a future episode. Also, we see the beginning of the relationship between Keith and Rebecca.
  • Hallucinations: Duncan starts getting these, first with Veronica and then Lily, as he starts coming off his anti-depressants.
  • Jerkass: Justin isn't Veronica's most sympathetic client. He started the job just as an excuse to hang out with her and try to wrangle it into a date, and he's far from accepting that his father is a transwoman (though he does at least start to soften up at the end).
  • No Medication for Me: Duncan decides to stop taking his anti-depressants, although unlike many examples of this trope he does end up talking the decision over with a doctor.
  • Removed from the Picture: John Smith.
  • Shout-Out: When Duncan is on the bleachers with Logan and the others, he starts singing "Summer Nights".
    • Also, the scene of Jake talking to Duncan while Duncan is in the pool is similar to the pool scene in The Graduate.
    • Troy trying to change the song on the mini-jukebox at their table by banging on it is similar to what The Fonz would do.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: As noted above, Veronica gives this to Troy, though it's more to apologize for the night before.
  • So Proud of You: Played with; when Veronica tells Keith about the 440 letters she's sending, his response is, "Part of me is proud...and let's just leave it at that."
  • Transgender: Julia.
  • Verbal Backspace: After Veronica tells Keith about how she's trying to find "John Smith":
    Keith: (to Wallace) So how did she rope you into this?
    Wallace: She promised me all the answer keys to (Veronica shoots him a Death Glare)...she promised to be my friend.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Duncan tells Logan not to bother him about Troy and Veronica, Duncan replies, "Okay, nowhere man, you be the fool on the hill."