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Recap / Veronica Mars S 02 E 02 Driver Ed

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If a school bus, travelling forty miles per hour, drives off a cliff and plunges ninety feet into the jagged coastline, how many seconds did the six high school students, their teacher, and bus driver have to contemplate the fact that they're about to die?

Veronica is at Java the Hut fixing the bakery display and thinking about the bus crash when Duncan comes in. She asks how Meg is doing, and he tells her Meg is still unconscious but hanging in there. Veronica tells another waitress she's taking a break, and then she tells Duncan about how guilty she feels because Meg wouldn't have been on the bus in the first place if it wasn't for her. Duncan tries to tell Veronica it wasn't her fault, but Veronica remains unconvinced. Just then, Jackie Cook (Tessa Thompson), who has been waiting in front of the counter while Veronica and Duncan are talking, clears her throat and asks for a macchiato. Veronica apologizes and says she's just the hostess, but before she can get the other waitress to help, Jackie snaps and asks Veronica to just make her a macchiato. Naturally, Veronica waves her hands and says, "You're a macchiato!" Jackie tells Duncan he could do better, but before we can see Veronica react more than giving Jackie a Death Glare...


...we cut to the sheriff's department, where Sheriff Lamb is facing a group of reporters asking about the bus crash, while Woody Goodman watches from a distance. Lamb mentions the driver had a history of mental illness and marital problems and was taking medication, and confirms there were no skid marks at the scene of the crime. A reporter asks if Lamb is investigating the possibility the driver was trying to kill himself; Lamb evasively says he's investigating all possibilities, and walks away. Neither the reporters nor Woody look happy.

As Veronica drives into the school parking lot the next morning, we see more reporters camped outside the school. Inside the girls' bathroom, Veronica is washing her hands when she's greeted by Jessie (Ari Graynor), the daughter of the bus driver. Jessie sullenly talks about how she's become famous since the bus crash, and pleads for Veronica to help prove her father didn't kill herself, because the insurance company won't pay for suicide. Veronica says she wouldn't know where to start, and that she can't help. Just then, a quartet of 09er girls comes into the bathroom, and one of them insults Jessie. She then turns to Veronica and is about to ask if Veronica and Duncan are coming to a party when Jessie hauls off and belts her. Veronica pulls Jessie away and agrees to help.


At the site of the bus crash, flowers, signs and candles have been placed along the road. A man in a loud Hawaiian shirt, who turns out to be "Curly" Moran (Adam Bitterman) is trying to light a candle, and Veronica helps him do it, which he thanks her for. Jessie, who's also there, wonders why no one's lighting a candle for her dad, and Veronica gently pulls her away.

At a Little League field, while Woody's team is practicing, Woody is asking Keith to run for sheriff, and is willing to support him in the campaign. Keith points out Woody supported Keith's ouster previously; Woody admits this, but says he was wrong, and thinks the rest of the community realizes that as well. Meanwhile, another team, which, unlike Woody's all-white team, is made up of different races, is complaining Woody's team has been on the field too long, and marches onto the field. Keith points out the skirmish between the two teams. Woody breaks it up, apologizes to the other team for letting things run over, and has his team leave. Keith promises to consider Woody's offer.


At the Mars apartment, while Veronica cooks for Keith, she tries to point out how Woody's support would mean Keith would have a guaranteed victory. Keith says it's not that simple, he doesn't want to put Veronica through the ugly campaign process, and wants to concentrate on protecting her. Veronica tells him the best way he can do that is to run for sheriff. The TV has been on this whole time, and just then, a reporter interviews the last person who saw the bus driver, "Ed Doyle", alive. It's Duane (Kevin Smith), a convenience store clerk wearing a "We'll never forget" shirt, and he mentions Ed bought a couple of things, started to leave, then came right back and bought a St. Christopher medal, which he describes as "freaky." Keith turns the TV off and emotionally tells Veronica he couldn't imagine what life would be like if Veronica had been in the bus when it crashed. Veronica makes a joke about what he'd do with her room; Keith tells her she doesn't have to make a joke, and while returning his hug, says, "Sure, I do." As she turns toward her room, she stops to wonder what else Doyle bought; Keith tells her not to try and make sense of it all, but Veronica points out Jessie's counting on her.

At school the next day, while at her locker, Veronica hears a couple of 09er girls talking about the crash, and gets upset enough to slam her locker close and storm past them. She goes to Duncan, who totally misreads her mood, and she snaps at him for not acting upset enough about the crash. Duncan backs up and walks away.

At the Cook apartment, Jackie is still in bed when Terrence tells her to get a move on. She sarcastically notes he's not in a position to act like a father to her now, but he snaps that she'll be heading back to New York if she doesn't start respecting him and heading off to school. He gives her the keys to a Bronco, and tells her he'll be back in two days...

...except when Jackie pulls into the Neptune parking lot, she's driving the Porsche. Inside a classroom, one of the 09er girls is talking to Beth (Lindsey Tusing) about Cervando, one of the kids who died in the crash, when Jackie comes into the class. Wallace, who's in the class, immediately notices her, and when the teacher tells Jackie to go to the attendance office, Wallace immediately raises his hand...

...and soon, he's showing Jackie to the attendance office. He's also trying to flirt with her, but she's not having any of it, even when he tries to point out how nice he is, and especially after he jokes about her having a "daddy complex". When Jackie tells Wallace to stop analyzing her, he apologizes, and Jackie jokes at how he should have just acted like a bad boy instead.

At the Casablancas house, Logan and Kendall are having sex on by the living room couch. He brings up how more fun it is than fifth-period English, and Kendall asks him not to talk about the age difference between them.

Back at the school parking lot, Duncan apologizes to Veronica for not being more understanding, and Veronica apologizes for yelling at him. She talks about the guilty feelings she's having, even though she's glad she's alive.

Back at the Casablancas house, Logan and Kendall are still going at it when Kendall hears a car door slam. Logan quickly leaves the room. Richard Casablancas (David Starzyk) comes in with both Dick and Cassidy to find Kendall sitting on the couch, painting her nails. Cassidy wants to know why Logan's car is in the driveway; Kendall snaps that he came over to swim in the pool, he's upstairs waiting for them, and she'd prefer if their friends didn't drop over unannounced. Sure enough, Logan is upstairs in Dick's room, playing a video game, and accusing "your stepmom" of being a bitch because she wouldn't make him a sandwich. Richard comes in, and greets Logan, who returns the greeting warily. Richard tells Logan he's welcome at their house anytime, and invites him to a shooting range the next day. Logan accepts.

Back at the school, Wallace walks past Jackie, who's standing, upset, by her car. Turns out someone hit the car, and whoever did left a note which read, "People are watching me leave this note. I'm sure it looks like I'm leaving my insurance info. I'm not." Wallace agrees at how mean the note was, and offers to help. Jackie is skeptical, but Wallace, pulling out his cellphone, says he knows someone...

...who is at the convenience store where Duane works at. When Veronica answers her phone, Wallace greets her and does the same head-tilt Veronica does when asking for a favor. Veronica, however, is too upset with the fact the store is selling bus crash souvenirs. Wallace, realizing Veronica has more important things on her mind, tells her what he called about isn't important, and says he'll see her the next day. When he hangs up, he tells Jackie he's on the case.

Back at the convenience store, Veronica "recognizes" Duane and asks him about Doyle, claiming to be into the macabre. While Duane fixes a Slushy for Veronica, he tells her Doyle bought a Monster Slushy and a bag of peanuts, along with the St. Christopher medal. Veronica pays for her drink, then notices a sign that reads, "We Do Not Make Change. Don't Even Ask", which is hanging over the box of St. Christopher medals. As she buys one of the medals, she realizes Doyle bought it only so he could make change, and seeing a pay phone in the corner, guesses he did so to use the phone.

At the sheriff's department the next day, during her lunch break, Veronica approaches Sachs and tells him she wants an application. Sachs is skeptical, but Veronica points out they're advertising for a part-time receptionist, and assures him she's serious. He shows her into an interrogation room for her to fill out the application. Once he leaves, Veronica gets on the phone that's inside the room, pretends to be a detective, and calls asking for phone records from the pay phone.

Meanwhile, in the Neptune High parking lot, Wallace approaches some kids playing hackey sack, and joins in with them. Wallace asks if any of them noticed Jackie's Porsche being run into, and one of them mentions he saw a blonde girl in a green car do the damage. Wallace thanks him and leaves.

Back at the sheriff's department, Lamb comes in, and Sachs tells him about Veronica applying for a job there. Lamb is not pleased, and goes to the interrogation room, right after Veronica hangs up on her call. He asks what she's doing there, and she snarks she's applying for the job to be near him. Lamb isn't pleased, and has Veronica leave.

Back at Neptune High, in the lunch area, Wallace tells Jackie how he used his connections at the attendance office to get a list of parking permits, and through that, he's narrowed down the list of suspects. Jackie reminds him she only has till tomorrow, and claims Wallace is only doing this to get into her pants. Wallace insists he'll have the case solved.

A little later, Wallace is looking at a green car, which he thinks was the culprit, when a voice asks him what he's doing. Turns out it's Jane (Valorie Curry), a classmate of Wallace's. She's on crutches, as she just had knee surgery, so she's having Bob, a friend of hers, chauffeur her, but she implies to Wallace she's available. Wallace looks discomfited.

At the Doyle apartment, Veronica tells Jessie about the phone call her father made, which was to a neighbor who wasn't home when Veronica checked. Jessie thinks it's a good sign, but as Veronica tells her she's going to check back at the neighbor's later, the doorbell rings. It's Lamb, who has a warrant to search the apartment.

Richard and Dick Casablancas, along with Logan, are at a shooting range. Richard's shooting is straight and clear, while Dick is going all over the place. Logan hits one in the head and three around the chest, though not dead center. Richard greets Logan, who is still uncomfortable around him, and tells him while letting off steam is good, the prime focus in shooting should be the head and heart. He tells Logan he lives his life, and works his job, with the same focus that he shows with shooting, and walks off. Dick goes to Logan and tells him since his father and stepmother are going to the Neptune Grand the following night, they should have girls over. Logan points out his house is available, but Dick tells him, "Only psycho chicks want to go to Casa de Killer." Stung by that, Logan turns and fires at the target again, hitting the chest dead center.

At the Sac-And-Pac that night, Veronica and Wallace are reading an article in The Neptune Register, about Cervando, a PCHer who died in the crash.

A little later, Veronica goes to the Cotter apartment, and Jeff (Greg Thirloway) answers. Veronica says she's from the DA's office, and asks about the phone call. Jeff says he was out of town at the time, and asks his wife, Carla (Kristin Dattilo) about the call. She says it must have been a wrong number. Veronica's cellphone rings, and as she thanks the Cotters for their time, she answers the phone. It's Jessie, who tearfully tells her Lamb found a suicide note on her father's computer.

The next day, Veronica drops by Jessie's apartment to find everyone a wreck. Randi, the mother, is yelling at Jessie and Bruno, her little brother, for crying, and telling them their father was worthless. Jessie tries to point out about Veronica being there, and Randi storms off. Jessie turns to her younger brother and tells him their father was sick and in pain, and Bruno asks, "Where was it?" Jessie doesn't have an answer for that, and lets Bruno play outside. Jessie shows Veronica the note, which reads, "I'm sorry to leave you this way, but I truly believe in my heart that it's for the best. I can't go on like this. I can't stay just for the kids, even though they mean more to me than anything. This isn't good for them." Jessie angrily says the family is better off without him, but as she leaves to answer her mother's call, Veronica picks up the note and looks thoughtful.

That night, at the Sac-And-Pac, a man named Bernie (Marty Ryan) approaches Wallace. He tries to make small talk and then asks about the crash. Wallace is able to guess he's a reporter, and evades the questions, but gets an idea when he sees the reporter's notepad.

A little later, Veronica goes back to the Cotter apartment. Carla answers this time, and Veronica gently tells her she thinks Ed Doyle wasn't going to kill himself, but was planning to leave his wife, and guesses it was for Carla. Tear-stricken, Carla invites Veronica in.

A little later, at Java the Hut, Veronica introduces Jessie to Carla. Carla confirms she and Jessie's father were in love, and he called right before the bus crash to confirm he'd see Carla later. She mentions how she never got to be with the man she loved, and Veronica has a Eureka Moment...

...which leads her to go to Duncan's room at the Neptune Grand, and passionately embrace him when he opens the door. As Duncan carries her to his bed, we see a pillow with a picture of the Mona Lisa on it below the bed...

...and some time later, Duncan and Veronica are lying together in bed. They hear moaning and thumping from the room next to theirs. Veronica jokes about trying to compete with them, but Duncan turns on the TV instead. A little later, when Duncan's asleep, Veronica sneaks out of the room. In the hallway, she's pulling on her boot when the door from the room next door opens, and Logan comes out. They stare at each other, shocked, but Logan recovers first and rhetorically asks Veronica if there's something different about her. He blows her a kiss and leaves. Veronica recovers enough to call the Neptune Grand and ask them to transfer her to the room next door. Kendall answers the phone, but before Veronica can register this, Duncan opens up the door. Veronica apologizes for leaving, saying she needs to get home before Keith finds out; she kisses Duncan and leaves.

Later that night, at the Casablancas house, Cassidy has fallen asleep watching TV. Richard and Kendall sneak in and scare Cassidy, causing him to spill popcorn on the floor, which Kendall warns him to clean up. As Cassidy is doing so, he notices an empty condom wrapper on the floor, and looks up, concerned.

The next day, Keith goes to Woody's office, which is in the sheriff's department, and tells him thanks but no thanks about running for sheriff. Woody hopes Keith will change his mind, but takes the decision with good grace. Just then, Keith hears Jessie pleading with Lamb to open the case of the bus crash investigation back up, since she has proof her father didn't kill herself, but Lamb is unmoved. Keith looks troubled.

In the school parking lot, Wallace and Jackie are waiting by Wallace's car. Beth, the girl who was asking questions about the crash in Wallace and Jackie's class, walks over to a green car and sees the note Wallace left on her windshield. Jackie wants to take her revenge right there, but Wallace warns her not to start a Cat Fight. Beth storms over, asking Wallace for her spark plugs, but Wallace will only give them back if she gives her insurance information to them. They make the exchange, and Beth storms off. Jackie still wants to take matters into her own hands, but Wallace points out Beth is an undercover reporter, and as we see two school security guards approach Beth, he also mentions how he alerted Clemmons of that fact. Jackie kisses him and tells him she might have to reconsider her position on nice guys. As Jackie walks away, Veronica, who witnessed the kiss, asks Wallace about her.

Back at the Mars Apartment, Veronica asks about Keith turning down Woody's offer. When Keith tells Veronica he changed his mind and decided to run, an overjoyed Veronica hugs him. He then looks at her and asks if something's different about her. A freaked-out Veronica can't believe Keith can tell she just had sex recently.

At the beach, Lamb and his deputies find Curly Moran washed up on the shore, dead. Lamb also finds out Veronica's name is written on one of Moran's hands.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Adults Dressed as Children: Though unlike most examples of this trope, the actress playing the part wasn't an egregious case of Dawson Casting, and didn't exaggerate to fit in (though we only saw her in a couple of scenes).
  • Call-Back: To the bus crash, obviously, but also to Lamb once again prematurely declaring an investigation into murder is over.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Though Veronica and Keith still have their storylines, this episode is where Wallace gets to show his stuff.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The skirmish between the two Little League teams is a milder version of the tension between the haves and have-nots that's currently brewing in Neptune.
  • Establishing Character Moment: From Veronica's point of view, when Jackie told Duncan he could do better than Veronica. From Wallace's point of view, however, all Jackie had to do was show up.
  • Foreshadowing: Cervando, Keith deciding to run again, the condom Beaver finds, the dead man on the beach with Veronica's name on his hand, Jane's crush on Wallace, and a number of other things become important later.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Averted here; Word of God mentioned he wanted to call the elder Casablancas "Big Dick", but for once, the UPN censors were on the job.
  • Hollywood Law: Life insurance actually does pay out for suicides in California. And this won't be the last time the show makes this mistake.
  • Oh, Crap!: Lamb hears that Veronica is inside the sheriff's office, unsupervised.
  • Rich Bitch: Jackie, or so it seems at first.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In telling Jackie how he figured out Beth was a reporter, Wallace mentions the film Never Been Kissed.
    • Duane compares the goth kids who have been asking him about Ed Doyle to The Munsters, though he allows Veronica is the "Marilyn" of goth kids.
    • As they're reading the article on Cervando, Veronica asks Wallace to go on Oprah if she dies to tell the world she loved puppies.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Veronica and Wallace's storylines get equal time.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Veronica is leaving the interrogation room after lying to Lamb about applying to the job to be near him, she says, "Seriously, why do birds suddenly appear every time you're near?"
  • Wham Shot: The reveal that the corpse that just washed up on the beach has Veronica's name written on his hand. Hits even more thanks to the creepy final notes of "Where Is My Mind?" being played over it.

How well does it match the trope?

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