Mars Investigations 14: Mars vs. Mars
9 min read

Mars Investigations 14: Mars vs. Mars

Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. Leighton Meester is sitting at a yellow table during lunch a Neptune High. She is looking at an off-screen Veronica with some glibness.
Our queen

Big news, gang!! A very cool person (Jenny) who reads this newsletter and is a friend of mine, directed me to a thread on Twitter explaining the VERY simple way to take screenshots while streaming in Chrome. I am so grateful! Enjoy the screenies within.

Also, as a heads up, I will be mentioning suicide here and there throughout the newsletter.

As a reminder, you can get in touch with me by replying to this email or contacting me at

Also please note: The start and end of any potential spoilers are marked with this emoji: 🤐

🔍  Intro and housekeeping (above, already happened)
🔍  Synopsis of S1E14 "Mars vs. Mars" from
🔍  Some thoughts on unreliable women
🔍  Stray thoughts and observations on cultural references (📝) music (🎼), and tech (🚀)
🔍  Next time in Mars Investigations

🔍 Synopsis of "Mars vs. Mars"

Originally aired February 15, 2005

"When Carrie Bishop, the gossip queen of the 09ers, accuses Mr. Rooks, Veronica's favorite teacher, of having an affair with her, Veronica sets out to prove her wrong and Mr. Rooks innocent." (source)

🔍 Some thoughts on unreliable women

Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. A young woman with long blond hair is standing in a front door talking to Veronica, whose back is to us.
Susan Knight probably looks upset because Veronica is blaming her for how Carrie's been treated

Content note: There are mentions of sexual assault/predation throughout this section of the newsletter

KEITH: The girl deserves to be heard.
VERONICA: No actually she doesn't. She's a liar, and a gossip, and a manipulator.

I've always felt like the maxim "Believe Women" was woefully incomplete. And that's fine—catchphrases need to be catchy, to capture a mood, not provide nuanced analysis. But it's always bothered me because it proposes simply believing women as a corrective to the much more entrenched structural conundrum of who we consider reliable, believable, credible. And all of us "believing women" doesn't really address the many systems and structures that marginalize people who are most vulnerable to sexual assault who JUST COINCIDENTALLY are also the people we consider unreliable and lacking credibility.

On rewatch, it's hard not to think of this episode as a great example of the limitations of "Believe Women." Yes, Veronica should have simply believed that Mr. Rooks was a predator. But on the other hand, Carrie was actually lying about him. I just can't help but feel like what Veronica asserts in the quote I pulled out above is the real, if inadvertent, mission statement of this episode (even though it gets quasi-undermined later on).

This episode could have been an exploration of the questions: Who do we think deserves to be heard and believed? What would it mean if we accepted the simple, boring truth about sexual assault accusations: the vast majority of them are true? That sexual assault is very simply a common, everyday thing, not the bombshell you'd think it was based on how we react when a man in power is accused of it. To get real, what would it mean to look at sexual predation as the result of a society that has empowered cis white heteropatriarchy and systematically subjugated everything that wasn't that or attempted to question that?

Ok, so maybe Veronica Mars was never going to tackle all of that. But, it could have done something. But instead, rather than asking questions that subvert assumptions around sexual predation and believability, we get a pretty facile takeaway, which is that we should Believe Women because even gossipy, mean women can be telling the truth about sexual assault. What was probably not intended was for the viewer to come away thinking "Man, women really are unreliable. But I guess sometimes they're also telling the truth?" When you go through the list of women in this episode, that message really jumps out. Just look at our dramatis personae:

  • Carrie Bishop, who is not lying about Mr. Rooks being a predator but is lying about her being one of his victims
  • Susan Knight, who has been hiding her relationship with Mr. Rooks (a lie by omission) and her pregnancy. And, if we agree with Veronica's framing, selfishly letting her friend Carrie take the fall
  • Miss Stanton, the woman who's been making TV appearances saying she saw Lynn jump off the bridge (a lie)
  • Sandra Bolan of Sunset Springs, a fan so obsessed with Aaron (and Lynn) Echolls that she thinks she saw Lynn get into a van with a mysterious stranger
  • Lynn Echolls herself; her own son thinks she staged her own suicide

This is just a lot of unreliable women, especially for one episode of television. Heck, even Veronica is somewhat unreliable. She jumps to a conclusion based on Carrie's reputation, refuses to put any stock in the evidence that points to Mr. Rooks' possible guilt, and works her ass off to get him exonerated.

I have no choice but to conclude that this episode did a very Believe Women job of dealing with the topic of sexual predation.

🔍 Stray thoughts and observations

Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. Adam Scott in a baggy button down shirt, tie, and baggy jeans with floppy hair is standing at the front of a classroom full of students.
Just call him "Teach"
  • When Logan asks Veronica for help finding his mom, he looks as vulnerable as we've ever seen him—hugging his jacket closed across his chest, averting his eyes, and absolutely void of his usual obnoxious joie de vivre.
  • The chess theme is strong: Mr. Rooks, Susan Knight, Carrie Bishop. So what do we think? Is all this pesky sexual misconduct stuff simply a matter of he said/she said, a chess match of gamesmanship to see who can outmaneuver their opponent?
  • Mr. Rooks is a very good depiction of the Cool Teacher. He's the guy who is younger than most other teachers, makes learning fun, probably has a bumper sticker that says "Subvert the dominant paradigm," and maybe sits backward in a chair. (And not infrequently is boundaryless and/or a predator.)
  • One of Veronica's classmates is Corazon Soliman. I don't know what to make of this but Corazon "Dinky" Soliman was the Philippines' Secretary of Social Welfare and Development from 2010 to 2016.
  • The first time we see Duncan in this episode, he's dressed head to toe in beige. It's jarring to see Duncan in Logan's palette. What does it mean? Nothing? Everything?
Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. Duncan is wearing a cream-colored sweater with brown stripes and brown cargo pants. He's standing outside talking to Veronica.
(to the tune of "Lady in Red"): Duncan in beige
  • Sort of related, just after Beige Duncan recommends his doctor to Veronica, two identically dressed girls (flared blue jeans, identically pink shirts), walk by in the background. Makes me rethink all my color theories. I think the person in charge of the wardrobe just really loves pinks for this show.  
Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. Veronica is in the foreground in a brown sweater and carrying a beige shoulder bag. In the background are two young women dressed almost identically in longsleeved, v-neck pink shirts and dark, flared jeans.
Even wardrobe directors run out of ideas sometimes
  • As Veronica is looking through Carrie Bishop's file, we hear her thoughts via Bell's voiceover. Logan enters the scene and interrupts her thoughts which also interrupts the narration. This is the first time there's been a dissolving of the boundary between what's happening in the world of the show and the voiceover/narration of what's happening.
  • I couldn't snap a good screenshot of it but there's a mural in the sheriff's department and I would love to know what it's depicting. My guess is that it's some kind of "the founding of Neptune" type deals. If any eagle-eyed viewers were able to tell, please hit me up!
  • Two Aaron Echolls movies: Delta Blue Bombers and The Pursuit of Happiness (the movie set Lynn and Aaron met on). Please someone write a synopsis for either movie and send it to me.
  • "White trash" is a term we should all stop using as it reinforces white supremacy
  • "I used you, then fell for you, not the other way around." The way Leo responds to this you'd think it was the most romantic thing he'd ever heard. Leo, love yourself, bro.
  • What the hell is up with that weird deck cage thing Mr. Rooks' daughter does her coloring in?
  • The District Extemporaneous Speaking Competition. These kids are too enriched with extracurriculars. Stay home and play video games and crank-call people like the rest of us.
  • There is a tabloid called the National Instigator which obviously sounds a lot like the National Inquirer. As a fan of the TV show Riverdale in which there's a hotel called the Five Seasons and a credit card called American Excess, I really like the thing of giving something a name that's just a tiiiiiny bit different from its real-world counterpart.
  • Do NOT google "Hedonism Lodge," even if it's for a newsletter and you're just checking to see if it's a real place
  • 🤐  Veronica and Logan's flirting is getting less hostile and definitely more vulnerable. 🤐
  • Oxcarbazepine is in fact an anticonvulsant used to treat certain kinds of seizures. 🤐 It's also used to treat bipolar disorder. 🤐
  • Weevil has a soft spot for Logan, and tbh it's kind of touching. Do we think that comes from the moment (and detention) they shared earlier this season? Or does he feel connected to Logan because they both were in love with Lilly? Either way, he seems to take Logan's grieving pretty seriously.
  • Bombshell wise, we have learned that Abel Koontz is dying and Lynn Echolls' credit cards have been used.
  • I am not one for theorycrafting about where mysteries are going. Trying to predict what a show is doing and how it will take us there is just one of my least favorite ways to engage with what I'm watching. I like to just strap in for the ride and see where it takes me. So, I remember that at this point during my original watch of the show, I had NO CLUE where things with Lilly's murder were going and I was simply excited to find out. There were MANY possibilities that all seemed equally plausible to me, especially since I wasn't spending real time trying to puzzle it out. If you recall what you were thinking about Lilly's murder at this point in your original watch, please reply and tell me about it!  
Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. A young man with floppy brown hair is looking down while Weevil stands next to him, his hand gripping his neck, looking at him and smiling.
It's Weevil's world, we just live in it

📝  Cultural references

  • Do we think the title of this episode is a reference to the 1979 movie Kramer vs. Kramer? Probably not because that movie is about a couple getting divorced and this one is about a disagreement between a father and daughter but it's hard not to think of it as a reference point.
  • Weekly World News was an American tabloid that was published from 1979-2007. It is probably best known for its "coverage" of Bat Boy, who was half-bat, half-human, and first featured in WWN in 1992. He made lots of appearances in the pages of WWN over the years. For example, they covered how Bat Boy bit Santa Claus and traveled to outer space. And also his endorsement of Al Gore for president in 2000. The more you know dot meme!
  • The Jerry Springer Show
  • Tattoo You by the Rolling Stones
  • Sweet Valley High, the young adult series by Francine Pascal.
  • Kid Rock
  • Donald Trump
  • Weevil calls Logan "Opie." This is a reference Opie Taylor, the little kid played by Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 to 1968.
  • Z Gallerie, a chain of home furnishing and decor stores. I had never heard of this store and frankly, the name sounds like something that would be made up for a TV show. But it happens to be real. Did other people know this?
Screenshot from S1E14 of Veronica Mars. A middle-aged woman with short blond hair wearing a gold necklace and earrings and a blazer.
Is it me or does school board chairman Jessica Fuller kind of look like Edie Falco?

🎼 Music

A very music-forward episode, for obvious reasons. We had some nice blippy/bloopy soundscaping which I believe is the original score plus the following:

  • "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by The Police
  • "Worried About You" by the Rolling Stones (forever ruined by Mr. Rooks but a great song)
  • "Tulips" by Bloc Party

🚀 Tech

  • When Duncan says Dr. Levine is "in the book," he means the phone book
  • Text messages (and the novelty of text messages) played an important role in this episode. It's a nice little time capsule and it was sort of interesting to remember how new and special texting used to feel.

🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations

Next up is "Ruskie Business." I vaguely remember this episode as one I used to skip when I'd rewatch, so let's see how this goes.

Tech support by Jen DeMarco