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Recap / Veronica Mars S 02 E 01 Normal Is The Watchword

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"Normal. That's the watchword. Sounds good, doesn't it. Senior year begins tomorrow and all appears hunky dory. Best friend? Check. Boyfriend? Check. Lilly's killer behind bars? Check."

Veronica is now working as a hostess at Java the Hut. Kelvin Moore (Charles Duckworth), one of her classmates, tells her he's been kicked out of school athletics for the year for failing the drug test even though he's been clean for 10 months. Veronica says she doesn't do that kind of work anymore, and Kelvin snarks that she's become a real 09er now and that last year was just an act for her. As he storms off, Veronica claims she's not concerned because Kelvin is a bully, but she looks troubled. Her manager (Meredith Roberts) tells her Keith is on TV being interviewed. He's promoting a book he co-wrote about Lily's murder called Big Murder, Small Town, and Veronica muses Keith wanted nothing to do with the project but had to in order to pay his medical bills, especially after Lianne made off with the $50 grand they got from the Kane family. The interviewer asks Keith about the night Aaron was captured...

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...and in a Flashback, we see the ending of the previous episode, as Veronica opens the door and says, "I was hoping it would be you." Turns out it's a badly bruised and bloody Logan, who stumbles into Veronica. Inside the house, as Logan lies down on her lap, he tells her about Weevil and the other PCHers catching up to him when he was on the bridge, and we flash back to this as well. Logan kicks Weevil in the head, knocking him unconscious, and the other PCHers, led by Felix, pull Logan off the ledge and start beating him up. Veronica tells Logan he's lucky to be alive, but Logan's not finished; we see that when he woke up, a driver looked to see if he was alright, and Logan only then realized he had a knife in his hand, and that Felix was lying on the ground, dead. Logan swears he didn't kill Felix (though he threw the knife into the water), and Veronica says she believes him. She tries to tell Logan about Aaron, but Logan already knows. Just then, Leo comes by looking for Logan, and takes him into custody.

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Back in the Hut, Veronica turns off the TV.

The next day, Veronica playfully body-checks Wallace outside Neptune High as they're walking in, but Wallace is in no mood for it; he's also been kicked out of school athletics for failing the drug test. Veronica is shocked. She remembers Kelvin's claim no 09ers failed the test, but Wallace confirms one did; Meg. Naturally, Veronica agrees to help, though she mock-gripes, "Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in!"

At lunch, Wallace tells Veronica about the drug test, and Veronica confirms no one could have switched the samples. She asks Wallace what period he's an office aide, but Wallace has to break it to her he's not, since his mom "had these crazy ideas about me having a well-rounded education." He does, however, have the key to the office, along with all of the passwords he could get. Veronica says her first move is to figure out what Wallace and the others who got kicked out of athletics all have in common, but she and Wallace can't think of any enemies Wallace has. Wallace asks about her "boyfriend", and Veronica mentions he's visiting his father. As she says goodbye to Wallace...

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...we go to another flashback; Veronica is working as a waitress at the Hut when the manager points out Duncan. He and Veronica greet each other, and Duncan mentions he's staying at the Neptune Grand for his senior year while his parents are away during the trial. Veronica's manager interrupts by telling her, "Your boyfriend's here"; it's Logan, who still looks the worse for wear, but he and Veronica embrace and kiss each other...

...and back in the present, Veronica muses how Logan and Duncan are no longer on speaking terms. She goes to Kelvin and tells him she's changed her mind; he sarcastically figures out she's only doing this because Wallace was kicked out as well. Veronica asks if Kelvin has any enemies - aside from her - including all of the kids he's bullied, and he admits to pantsing a sophomore named "Butters" who swore he'd get revenge, but he doesn't think Butters would be up to it. Veronica finds out from Jilly, another one who failed the drug test, that her father, who brokers travel property, is getting sued by a company called "Boatloads of Fun", and Viet, a tennis player, tells Veronica how the parents of his main competition - Jennings Crawford - tried to get the coach fired when Viet finished ahead of Jennings in the rankings.

Veronica sees Meg and remembers how Meg once was one of the few, if not the only, 09ers who treated her like a human being, but things haven't been the same since Duncan broke up with her, and she blamed Veronica. Sure enough, when Veronica tries to ask Meg about getting kicked off of cheerleading, Meg is decidedly unfriendly:

Meg walks off and Veronica looks sad.

Inside the school, there are metal detectors as you come through the doors, and Veronica muses at how things have heated up in Neptune between the haves and have-nots...

...and in a flashback, we see Logan and Veronica walking out of a courtroom with protesters yelling at them. Veronica mentions in a voiceover that the motorist who "probably saved Logan's life" left after calling 911, and of course the knife was gone, so Logan's lawyers were easily able to show that even if Logan did kill Felix, it was most likely self-defense. The judge dismissed the case, and everything went crazy.

Back in the present, at night in Veronica's bedroom, she has a big white board of all of the kids who have been kicked out of school athletics. She tells Wallace about Butters, and Wallace remembers laughing at the prank, and that the others might have as well. Veronica says she'll talk to Butters. Keith walks in, and Wallace mentions how good he looked on TV. Veronica teases Keith about how her manager thinks Keith is hot; Wallace pretends to be offended, and Keith mentions how much he worships Alicia. Wallace leaves, and Veronica and Keith greet each other.

The next day, in the school hallways, Veronica greets Butters, who hates the nickname, and prefers to be called Vincent (Adam Hendershott). Veronica brings up the pantsing incident, and mentions how Kelvin is looking for payback, but Vincent smugly tells her that won't be the case, and we see why; he's Clemmons' son.

That night, Veronica and Wallace sneak into the administration office, and look through school files. Veronica figures Butters must have altered the files before his father looked at them, but when Wallace gives her the files of some of the other kids in the same boat as him, Veronica realizes they couldn't have been altered. She notes that the files were signed by "Jim Chimory", but it was handwritten and there were no indications anything was messed with. Veronica then has the thought maybe Wallace accidentally ingested an illegal substance, and Wallace remembers eating cookies from the spirit box he and the others received at the back-to-school athletics banquet. Veronica says she's going to pick something up at the drug store, and asks Wallace to meet her at her place, but Wallace says he'll just follow her there. Veronica muses it isn't a good time to go out alone...

...and we go to another flashback, as Veronica and Logan are making out in his car. Veronica mentions she should go, as Keith probably has a telescope mounted on a rifle watching the car. Logan motions with his hand and mouths, "Five more minutes." Logan then mentions he's in love with Veronica, and the two of them resume kissing each other passionately when they're interrupted by gunfire through the window. Neither of them are hurt, but they're shaken up, and they see, and hear, a motorcycle speeding away, though not who's driving it.

Back in the present, in the Mars apartment, Veronica asks Wallace, who's in the bathroom, if he's done yet, and Wallace complains he won't be if Veronica keeps asking all the time. Keith walks in; Veronica tells him Wallace is giving a urine sample - though she claims at first it's for health class - and asks if Keith can help. Keith asks if he tried turning the water on (Wallace did), and then adds, "Also, pinching your own nipples can sometimes work." Wallace (from behind the door still) and Veronica are both grossed out, and Veronica kicks Keith out.

A little later, Veronica checks the urine sample, and declares Wallace clean, which means Butters couldn't have messed up the sample, which means they're back to square one. Wallace brings up the fact all of the players who have been expelled from school athletics were starters. He mentions the names of all the kids who are replacing him and the others who were expelled, and Veronica gets an idea. After telling Keith the truth about why she needed a urine sample from Wallace, Veronica asks Keith to find out who the partners are at "Boatloads of Fun Corp." Keith finds out it's the parents of all the kids who are replacing the expelled starters.

The next day, at school and in journalism class, Veronica tells Wallace she's sending an e-mail to the parents of the replacement kids from "Jim Chimory", telling them he wants more money. Ms. Dumas (Naima Mora), the new teacher, asks Veronica for her permission slip, which she hands over. Veronica explains to Wallace how the journalism, yearbook and broadcast classes are all invited on a field trip to tour Shark Field. Wallace can't believe she's going, even though she likes baseball, because she hates people. Veronica says going on a field trip is what normal girls do, and Wallace agrees; "Normal is the watchword."

In the hallway, Veronica walks by Weevil and three other PCHers, and he and Veronica give each other a meaningful look. Veronica muses at how everyone's forced to choose sides now...

...which leads to another flashback, as Veronica meets Logan for lunch at the summer school classes he's been forced to take. Logan mentions how Trina wants to make a TV movie about Lily, but is having problems with negotiations because she wants to play herself. Dick and Cassidy greet them, and they show Logan the gasoline they bought. Veronica asks about it, and Logan tells her they're going to play a prank on Pan High by dumping it on their football field. Back in the present, Veronica notes how they burned down a community pool instead, which doesn't affect the 09er kids since they all have backyard pools...

...and we go to Dick Casablancas' house, where Cassidy has just jumped into the pool, and Dick and Logan are lounging by it. Dick threatens Cassidy for getting him wet, and then asks Logan if he's going back to school. Logan acts indifferent to the prospect. Kendall Casablancas (Charisma Carpenter), Dick and Cassidy's new stepmom, comes outside wearing a bikini and an open robe and holding a margarita, and Dick and Logan leer at her. She asks if anyone wants a Rice Krispie treat, and when Logan says yes, snaps back, "Go make it yourself, then, kid. Do I look like a cook?" As she walks over to the other side of the pool and steps in, Dick asks Logan if he has any plans that night. Logan says he does, and indicates it's with a woman.

At the Hut, a couple walk up to Veronica and say they're meeting someone named "Chimory". Veronica smiles and escorts them to a table, where the other parents are all waiting. As they start to argue amongst themselves and give themselves away, Veronica, who's been listening on an earpiece, passes Clemmons, who also has been listening in with his own earpiece. Just then, Veronica's manager says, "Veronica, your boyfriend's here." Veronica turns...and it's Duncan. They embrace and kiss each other.

The next day, Veronica and Duncan are about to board the bus to the field trip when they see Logan. He and Duncan snark at each other, and when Veronica pleads for Duncan to just get on the bus, Logan says to Veronica how he's going to miss her. On the bus, as Gia (Krysten Ritter) moves past the two of them to get a seat, Veronica muses how Logan didn't take their breakup well...

...and in a flashback, we see the breakup happening. Veronica tells Logan she can't stand by and watch him continue to self-destruct and hatch revenge plans with his "toadies" that could get him killed. An upset Logan responds that everyone assumes he's guilty except those "toadies", who are his friends. Veronica accuses him of having fun with his revenge plans, which is when Logan loses it and starts to yell about everything that's happened to him, and wonders how it could be "fun". Just then, Keith barrels in, grabs Logan in an arm lock, and tells him to get out.

Back in the present, on the bus, Dick tells Ms. Dumas how it stinks in the back of the bus. He then leers at Gia, and asks Duncan about her.

Logan goes over to the Casablancas house, and when Kendall answers the door, greets her with, "Can Dick and Beaver come out and play?" She smiles and leads Logan into the house, and takes off her robe; he follows.

At Shark Field, Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg) tells the students how he likes games with a lot of home runs. He then mentions how he coached some of the students when they were in Little League, how he's running for mayor, and he wants to introduce them all to his daughter Gia, who greets everybody. A little later, Duncan is helping himself to food from a buffet while Veronica watches. Veronica notices Terrence Cook (Jeffrey Sams), a former star player, arguing with Woody, and Woody stops the argument to introduce Terrence to the other students. Dick comes over to Duncan and tells him his father is sending a limo, and invites him to join. Duncan enthusiastically agrees, Veronica reluctantly so. But when Meg turns down Dick's invitation (because, it's implied, Veronica will be there), Veronica tells Duncan she wants to try one last time to make it right with Meg, so she'll be taking the bus. Just then, Terrence walks over to the buffet table, and Veronica gushes at how he's Keith's favorite player ever. Terrence is flattered, and teases her about Johnny Damon being her favorite; Veronica admits it's because she thinks he's good-looking.

Back on the bus, Veronica tries once again to make an overture to Meg, saying she heard she's back on the cheerleading squad, but Meg turns her down once again (she offers to pay Veronica), and Veronica turns away. She muses how it wasn't like she seduced Duncan on his and Meg's wedding night...

...and in a final flashback, we see a montage of scenes where Duncan was a customer at the Hut, which apparently was every day over the summer. In the last scene of the montage, the day of Veronica's 18th birthday - weeks after she broke up with Logan, whom she was faithful to, and long after Duncan and Meg broke up - Duncan leaves her a small box with a ribbon tied around it on his table. When Veronica opens it, there's a fortune cookie inside. She opens the cookie, reads the message, and runs after Duncan. When she catches up to him, they embrace.

Back in the present, the bus has pulled up at a gas station, and Ms. Dumas gives everyone five minutes. Veronica comes out of the convenience store with a bottle of water, and thinks she hears and sees Lily. She walks around the corner and sees Weevil. As they start to argue with each other, Ms. Dumas is asking if everyone is back on the bus; Meg, looking back at Veronica and Weevil, says yes, they are.

Weevil accuses Veronica of showing her true colors by running back to the 09er kids, and Veronica retorts Weevil doesn't know what he's talking about. Weevil, angrier by now, once again accuses Logan of killing Felix and getting away with it, even though Veronica points out how Logan was too beat up to do so. Weevil denies Veronica's implication that it was one of his boys who did the deed, and Veronica brings up how someone shot at her and Logan and almost killed them. Weevil looks uncomfortable at this. Just then, the bus pulls away. Veronica calls Wallace up asking for a ride, but Weevil offers her one instead...

...and they head down the road on Weevil's bike. They see smoke up ahead, and Weevil ends up pulling up next to the limo Dick's father sent, which is parked by a cliff. The limo driver is calling 911, and Dick, Beaver, and a shocked Gia are looking out over the cliff. Veronica looks over, and sees the bus has crashed into the water; Duncan, who's also shocked, sees Veronica and hugs her.

This is Neptune. Nothing happens accidentally.

This episode contains examples of:

  • As Herself: TV anchor/reporter Julie Chen plays herself as the one interviewing Keith about his book at the beginning.
  • Big Eater: Wallace.
    Wallace: The day of the back-to-school athletics banquet there were spirit boxes in our lockers. There weren't any brownies in there, but there were cookies.
    Veronica: Did you eat one?
    Wallace: I ate six.
    Veronica: That's my Wallace.
  • Broken Bird: Logan has become one.
  • Call-Back: Weevil and the other PCHers confronting Logan, Lianne running off with the settlement money, and Veronica mentioning how she and Duncan found out they weren't half-siblings.
    • Dick makes a point of saying that he "wholly approves" of Logan's relationship with Veronica after Logan kicked him out for insulting her in "A Trip to the Dentist."
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Woody's apparently offhand remark that not only did he used to coach Little League, but that he knows some of the students indicates the Big Bad's whole motivation.
  • Daddy's Girl: Parodied.
    Keith: So, senior year. How was your first day of school, honey?
    Veronica: Great. I beat up a freshman, stole his lunch money and then skipped out after lunch.
    Keith: What, no premarital sex?
    Veronica: Oh, yeah, yes. But don't worry, Dad, I swear you're gonna like these guys.
    Keith: That's my girl.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Wallace has certainly become quite a good one this season:
    Wallace: You know what else I found out today? This failed drug test goes on my permanent file. Any college I apply to is gonna see it.
    Veronica: Well, if you would have taken another year of office aide, we could have done something about that file.
    Wallace: Yeah, cause this is my fault.
    • Then, later, as they're breaking into the administration office:
    Veronica: I can't believe after a year of working here, you don't know the make and model of the filing cabinet.
    Wallace: Yeah, it is hard to believe. Usually, memorizing that information is the first thing I do when I enter a room containing a filing cabinet.
  • Foreshadowing: Just about everything mentioned in this episode that's not related to the Mystery of the Week becomes important later.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It boggles the mind Logan and Dick got away with doing "The Shocker" gesture on network TV. Word of God confirms he was also amazed.
  • How Unscientific!: Some viewers were not pleased that it was Lily's ghost that kept Veronica from getting back on the bus.
  • Jerk Jock: Kelvin.
  • May–December Romance: Kendall and Logan are a Gender Flipped version.
    • "Romance" may be pushing it; they're more Friends with Benefits. ("Friends" may be pushing it as well, though...)
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Ryan Hansen as Dick and Kyle Gallner as Cassidy/Beaver. Both of them were promoted, even though Dick isn't important to the plot of the season, so suspicion wouldn't immediately fall on Cassidy as the season's Big Bad.
  • Red Shirt: Miss Dumass and most of the students on the bus, except Meg. To be fair, Peter and Marcos also turn out to be vitally important.
  • Retcon: Given Kristen Bell's performance at the end of the last season, it's pretty clear that the resolution to the "Who's at the door?" cliffhanger wasn't the original idea.
  • Shout-Out: In addition to the ones listed above:
    • When Veronica refuses at first to help Kelvin, she suggests he try Encyclopedia Brown.
    • When Veronica tells Keith about trying to get a urine sample from Wallace, he responds, "Can't you talk on the phone and paint your nails like other girls?" That image (of a girl painting her nails while on the phone) was the icon for the show when it was recapped on Television Without Pity.
    • In one of the flashbacks, Dick calls Veronica Logan's "special lady friend."
    • When Duncan and Logan see each other outside the school bus, Duncan snarks that he thought Logan would be rumbling with the Jets and the Sharks, and Logan replies, "Cool it, Action."
  • Miss Not Appearing In This Episode: Inverted; though Tessa Thompson (Jackie) is listed in the opening credits, she doesn't appear at all in this episode.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Logan strategically places a cushion over himself when Kendall first walks by.
  • Too Much Information: Veronica and Wallace are both horrified at Keith's suggestion for getting Wallace to pee.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Meg, though we find out much later why.
  • Trophy Wife: Kendall.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Wallace says to Veronica at one point, "Did you know that you're my hero?", which is a line from Bette Midler's "The Wind Beneath my Wings".
  • Wham Episode

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