This is the town of Neptune, as seen by Veronica Mars, a cynical high school student and private detective. Neptune is a "a town without a middle class, if you live here, your parents are either millionaires, or work for millionaires." She sees the new kid, Wallace, taped to the flagpole by the PCH bike club. She cuts him down, goes to sleep, gets woken up, effortlessly recites Pope, then summarizes it as "life's a bitch, then you die".
At lunch, Veronica looks across at the popular table where she used to sit. She wasn't rich enough, but her father was Sheriff, and Duncan Kane, son of billionaire Jake Kane, was her boyfriend, until he dumped her for no reason. She is snapped out of her reverie by the appearance of Wallace, and then by the appearance of Weevil, leader of the PCH bike club, who tells Wallace he's a dead man walking. The PCH bike club leaves, and Veronica interrogates why Wallace is in so much trouble: two of the PCH members stole some stuff from Sac-N-Pac, where he works, and he pressed the silent alarm. He also denied it when the police (or Sheriff's department) got there, pissing the Sheriff off too.
Veronica goes home, and has a flashback of Duncan, when he was her boyfriend, in a pool, telling her "it's our song". Then it's her mother, and a group of friends, bringing out a cake for Veronica's birthday.
She takes her dog out for a run on the beach and sees Wallace. He waves, and she hesitantly waves back.
She then sees Celeste Kane's car parked outside her dad's office: something which surprises her. She goes inside and talks with sleazy lawyer Cliff McCormack, who says her dad should investigate the claim of one of Cliff's clients that the seventh veil, where she dances, has in interestingâ way of keeping their liquor license. Cliff leaves, and Celeste walks out to where Veronica can hear her, saying, "I don't like you, Mr Mars... I hate the fact I'm here. But if anyone will be dogged and resourceful in this matter, it will be you". Celeste leaves, and Veronica thinks about her: "Yeah, she's a bitch, but can you blame her? Dad did try and have her husband sent away for life."
Veronica and her father, Keith, discuss being hired by Celeste Kane over dinner (much to Keith's reluctance). Celeste thinks Jake is seeing someone else. Keith then gets a call, a bail-jumper on the move. He has to go and tells Veronica not to do anything about the Kane case, but then tells her to take Backup when she goes after Jane Kane.
Veronica follows Jake Kane, and reflects on the family: not only had their son Duncan been her boyfriend, but their daughter, Lilly, had been her best friend. The day of a pep squad carwash, Lilly told Veronica "I've got a secret. A good one." Later that night, Keith, then Sheriff, was called to a disturbance at the Kane household; he told Veronica to stay the car, but she saw Duncan, near catatonic. She ran out of the car, asking Duncan what happened, getting no answer, then asking him where Lilly was. The answer? Dead by the side of the pool, with her head bashed in. Present Veronica takes back the voiceover, saying everybody knows this story, the murder of Lilly Kane ... and everybody remembers the bungling local sheriff, who went after the wrong man.
Back in the present, Veronica sees Jake enter a room at the Camelot.
Back in flashback-land, two boys are at a computer and say it's the Lilly Kane video. It is indeed, and a teary-eyed Veronica starts to walk out but is intercepted by Logan, one of the rich kids. He asks her if her Dad still thinks Lilly's father did this, telling Veronica "That's my girlfriend. Your friend. Duncan's sister." He then asks her what's wrong with her and her dad. In the Mars house, Keith and Lianne (Veronica's mom) fight, while the VMVO tells us Keith was removed from office by an emergency recall election. Lianne wanted to leave Neptune, but Keith wouldn't be run out of town. On the TV, we see footage of Abel Koontz, a former Kane Software employee, being arrested for Lilly's murder.
Back in the present, where Veronica is still observing the Camelot, the PCHers pull up. Her dog Backup attacks one of the bikers, and Veronica tells the dog to chill. She tells the PCHers to leave Wallace alone for a week, and Weevil responds by implying she's a slut, but agrees to leave Wallace alone for a week. The PCHers leave, and Veronica thinks about his remarks: "You wanna know how I lost my virginity? So do I."
Another flashback shows the story: Veronica went to a party at Shelley Pomroy's, just to show up the people who had turned against her. Someone (she doesn't know who) passed her a roofied drink. Veronica passed out and woke up the next morning, a strap on her dress broken and underwear missing. She starts to cry and walks out of the house, seeing insults written on her windshield.
Jake Kane exits the Camelot, and Veronica tries to get a look at the woman but she doesn't step outside. Veronica does snap the woman's license plates, however.
At school the next day, Logan taunts Veronica about the breakup with Duncan, and her alcoholic mother, which angers Duncan. They ride off, and Veronica thinks about her mother who walked out 8 months ago, leaving only a unicorn music box and note saying she'd be back for Veronica someday.
At lunch, Wallace sits with her again and mentions the things people say about [Veronica]. She asks why he's sitting with her if people say such awful things, and he responds that she's still the girl who cut him off that flagpole when everyone else stood around and laughed. Veronica starts to plan how to get the PCHers off Wallace's ass.
This plan features the work of resident stoner Corny, who calls the plan "twisted."
At home, Veronica downloads the pictures from the Camelot. Keith enters, with $2,500 from catching the bail jumper. They celebrate with a steak dinner, and Veronica shows him the license plates from the Camelot which noticeably disturb Keith, who tells Veronica to drop the Kane case.
Veronica follows up on the Seventh Veil's transgressions, calling it step number one in her plan to save Wallace.
Stage two is the next day: Logan is getting a random locker search for drugs, and they find a bong in his locker. Wallace and Veronica watch and laugh, and Logan tells Veronica he knows it's her doing.
Stage three: Wallace and Veronica go to the Sheriff 's department, and set off the bong, causing it to spark and smoke. Inga, the receptionist, calls the fire brigade, who Veronica goes to see later, asking one of them if he made the switch - he hands her an envelope.
At home, Veronica impersonates Inga, saying the Sheriff's department computer froze, and they need someone to run the plates for a hit and run (actually, the plates from the woman in the Camelot). The man runs the plates, and tells her: the car is registered to one Lianne Mars.
Keith enters, and Veronica asks again why they're dropping the Kane case. Keith lies and says it's corporate espionage stuff. He then asks her if she wants to watch a movie, and Veronica saying she can't walks out.
She then goes to the Sheriff's department and talks to Inga, who says "I haven't seen you since... since...". Veronica asks where the Cortez-Wn prelim is, and Inga tells her Courtroom 3. As Veronica walks away, she thinks "Come on, Inga? The last time we saw each other? That's easy."
Flashback to the morning after Veronica was raped, she entered the police station. Inga asked her what happened, and Veronica said she needed to report a crime. Cut to her discussion with Sheriff Lamb, who laughs and clearly doesn't believe her.
Back to the present day, the Cortez-Wn preliminary. The sheriff is testifying; the court is shown a video, which is meant to be the Sac-N-Pac security tape. What it actually is, however, is a dancer from the Seventh Veil performing a certain act on one of the Sheriff's deputies. Cliff asks if this is an appropriate time to ask for a dismissal, and Veronica does the finger-gun thing at Sheriff Lamb.
Veronica and Wallace meet again on the beach, and she gives him the actual Sac-N-Pac video. He thanks her, and she claims her own selfish reasons; he doesn't buy it, calling her "a marshmallow." She tries to use his model plane, until Wallace points something out: Veronica's car is under threat.
Logan and his friends are all at her car, and Logan tells her that thanks to her, his Dad took his car away. He begins to smash in her headlights, but is interrupted by the appearance of the PCHers. They scare off the rich kids, and Weevil starts hitting Logan telling him to apologize to Veronica. Logan refuses, but Veronica has Weevil to let Logan go, and then tells Weevil to apologize to Wallace who has the Sac-N-Pac video. Weevil apologizes, but Wallace doesn't give him the video.
Veronica breaks into her father's safe, investigating why he lied to her, and she finds a recently updated Lilly Kane murder file, including Vereonica's file from the Camelot.
Keith enters after Veronica's shut everything away. He says he's rented the South Park movie, Veronica's favorite, for family fun night. She says she has to make a stop, and then we see her driving to the Camelot, looking for her mother.
She summarizes thus: "Okay, it's a long shot but I can't help myself. I used to think I knew what tore our family apart. Now I'm sure I don't. But I promise this. I will find out what really happened and I will bring this family back together again. I'm sorry, is that mushy? Well, you know what they say. Veronica Mars, she's a marshmallow."
- Break the Cutie (the flashbacks explore how exactly Veronica got broken)
- Early Installment Weirdness: Backup is played by a different dog than in the rest of the series. And there are some quite self-consciously quirky writing choices like Lamb's "go see the wizard" lines which are quietly phased out over the first few episodes.
- Expository Hairstyle Change
- Ironic Echo ("Who's your daddy?")
- Flashbacks (Many)
- HeelFace Turn (Weevil)
- Private Detective established as the Mars's current occupation
- Rape as Backstory: Veronica's flashbacks.