Just as a heads up, there's no essay in this issue of the newsletter. I really like this episode and have plenty of thoughts about it but none that I ended up sitting down to knit into a coherent narrative. Please enjoy the bullet points instead!
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Also please note: The start and end of any potential spoilers are marked with this emoji: 🤐
🔍 Intro and housekeeping (above, already happened)
🔍 Synopsis of S1E10 "An Echolls Family Christmas" from veronicamars.fandom.com
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations on cultural references (📝) music (🎼), and tech (🚀)
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
🔍 Synopsis of "An Echolls Family Christmas"
Originally aired December 14, 2004
"In this episode, Veronica investigates when someone steals Logan's money at a poker game. Meanwhile, Keith investigates a mysterious person who is stalking Aaron Echolls. Despite ranking low in the ratings and marking a season low in terms of number of viewers, the episode was critically lauded." (source)
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations
- This episode is our first locked-room mystery! A locked-room mystery is one in which it's seemingly impossible for a perpetrator to have gotten into or out of the area where the crime was committed without being detected.
- Veronica refers to her homemade ornament as "scary" and says about it "This concerns me." EYE think the popsicle stick Rudolph is actually very cute!
- Goddamn, there's so much racist garbage coming from Logan and his 09er friends in this episode. I do think it's clearer here than it has been so far this season that we're meant to react to it like Weevil does, with a roll of the eyes and a "same ol' bozos." The fact that Weevil is unfazed underscores how mundane and everyday the racist mockery is. He doesn't seem desensitized to it exactly, but he does seem to know that the 09ers' shallowness and bigotry is their problem, not his. I don't mean to sound Pollyanna about it—any time white people (especially owning class people) are racist, it very much impacts the lives of anyone who is not white. But Weevil's reactions throughout the episode show us that this treatment isn't earth-shattering, it's just his daily life.
- Sean is Troy levels of annoying.
- Logan's streak of wearing orange, brown, green, or some combination of those colors remains unbroken. Ditto Duncan wearing blue.
- Logan and Weevil: In love? Frenemies? Both? It occurred to me on this rewatch that the verbal sparring they do has the quality of flirting. There's a touch of hostility but every barb is an invitation of some kind. To respond, to keep interacting, to barb back, to kiss, I don't know.
- We learn how the poker game played out through each person who was there sharing their memory of events. Getting to piece together what happened the night of flashback by flashback is a lot of fun.
- Does Lynn Echolls really have an alpaca?
- Much is made of Connor's hotness. I don't see it! 😤
- Even though she sucks, I must claim Monica Hadwen (née Greenblatt) for my collection of minor Jewish characters.
- Speaking of which, I caught a small, sad "Happy Hanukkah" sign at the entrance to Neptune High. It's beneath the Christmas lights and holly strung around the entrance and the big faux Christmas tree nearby. Art imitates life!
- "Aaron's a sexy, charming movie star with an ass like an 18-year old wrestler." Ms. Hadwen....yikes.
- 🤐 Impressed and delighted by her skills as a card shark, Logan smiles in Veronica's direction in a way that can only be described as, well, sweet. 🤐
- We finally get some backstory that helps us understand why anyone was ever friends with Logan. Duncan says to Logan:
When did you get like this? It's like you've been going over to the dark side, bit by bit, so slowly that I didn't notice when you morphed into a full fledged jackass.
On its own, this gives us a sense that Logan was maybe not always like this. Earlier in the episode, Lynn said to Keith, "Logan's had a tough time with Lilly's death." Taken together, we're to understand that Logan's heel turn is relatively recent and probably started in the aftermath of Lilly's murder.
- I appreciate that we see the classist, racist 09ers through the eyes of Weevil and Veronica. It's because of those two that we understand that Connor's attitude toward Weevil ("He was pretty cool. He was real, you know what I'm saying.") is, if not as overt in its othering, just as patronizing.
- Veronica's response to Weevil pointing out how much he sticks out at the Echolls' Christmas party ("I think we both stand out a bit.") is a reminder that Veronica, like many cis, normatively feminine, able-bodied, thin white liberal women, thinks that people having an unfavorable opinion of her is essentially systemic injustice.
- The slo-mo when Aaron gets stabbed, along with the close-up of the screwdriver, was one of the chintzier moments so far this season. Honestly, it's the kind of editing I expect to see in an Aaron Echolls movie.
- Can you imagine a worse getaway than taking a trip to Ojai with the Kanes and Echollses for "the crush"? (Or...would it be amazing?)
- From Veronica's confrontation with Jake Kane, it's starting to look like it was Celeste who hired Clarence Wiedman to surveil Veronica and threaten her mom. Well well well.
- Oh, another thing that happened is that Aaron got stabbed by one his (non-wife) paramours.
- Speaking of, note the parity between Veronica saying she'd sooner be impaled on a rusty spike than have the contents of Duncan's diary get exposed and Aaron getting impaled on a spike of his own.
📝 Cultural References
- San Diego Padres
- The Heat Miser
- Selma Blair, Rosie Perez, Catherine Zeta-Jones
- "Rhythm is Gonna Get You" by Gloria Estefan
- The word "ghetto" used as an adjective by white people as in "that's so ghetto" or, "Sean, isn't that ghetto brew beneath you?" I am very grateful that this racist euphemism has fallen out of extremely popular and widespread usage but in the early 2000's it was everywhere.
- I couldn't figure out what game Logan was playing on his Xbox in the pool house so I asked r/TipOfMyJoystick, a subreddit where you can post a screenshot or description of a video game and members will help you figure out what game it is. I shared a screenie of the game and within minutes a member of the sub identified it! It's X-Men Legends, an action RPG that was released in 2004.
- The nursery rhyme Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater
- I always thought "sun tea" was tea that was brewed by letting it steep outdoors in the sun (which btw doesn't sound safe to drink; FDA staffers reading this newsletter sound off). In Veronica Mars, sun tea seems to be Sun Tea, a brand of tea that's used as a diuretic.
- "The Little Drummer Boy" (when Logan says, deadpan, "pa rum pum pum.")
- "An eye for an eye" is from the Book of Exodus 21:23–27.
- Boy Meets World, the sitcom that aired on ABC from 1993-2000.
- Aaron's agent, Harvey Hadwen says to his wife: "And before me, you sat in your underwear in a fish tank at the Standard." The famous downtown LA hotel The Standard had an installation behind the reception desk called "The Box." Models (called "box girls") would sit in there in a tank top and underwear. Artists also got residencies to create installations in the Box. You can learn more about this whole thing by reading the 2018 article "Inside a Glass Case of Emotion: Meet the Standard's 'Box Girls'" by Jocelyn Silver for Paper Magazine.
Please enjoy the Dandy Warhols (the group behind the Veronica Mars theme song) covering "Little Drummer Boy" which plays when Veronica is beating the gang at poker.
- A phone book
- Veronica has replaced her flip phone with a Sidekick!
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
Reader survey results! (Take the survey here!) And then we'll dig into S1E11, "Silence of the Lamb." Pretty excited to finally have more Sheriff Lamb in my life.
Edited by Andrea Lynch
Tech support by Jen DeMarco