I'm back! Thanks for hanging in while I took a summer mini break.
Well, folks, this is The Episode. No longer will I need to use "🤐" when I hint at Veronica and Logan's romantic future. Please write to me and tell me what you thought of this episode, the kiss, and anything else that comes to mind. If you can remember whether you expected them to get together (back when you were first watching the show), I want to know that, too!
As I've mentioned, I really love hearing from folks who read this newsletter! Please drop me a line anytime about anything (preferably related to Veronica Mars but I'm open!) by replying to this email or contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also please note: The start and end of any potential spoilers are marked with this emoji: 🤐
🔍 Intro and housekeeping (above, already happened)
🔍 Synopsis of S1E18 "Weapons of Class Destruction" from veronicamars.fandom.com
🔍 Some thoughts on an iconic (to us) TV kiss
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations on cultural references (📝) music (🎼), and tech (🚀)
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
🔍 Synopsis of "Weapons of Class Destruction"
Originally aired April 12, 2005
"In this episode, Veronica investigates the persistent bomb threats at her school. Meanwhile, Keith begins dating Alicia Fennel, and Veronica's relationship with Logan progresses." (source)
🔍 Some thoughts on an iconic (to us) TV kiss
Many of us love this show enough to rewatch it and read a newsletter about it (and, if you're a real sicko, write a newsletter about it). For me, Veronica Mars is up there as one of my all-time favorites with the likes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, two shows that are so widely watched and critically acclaimed, that it feels, on some level, like everyone has seen them.
Veronica Mars is different in that regard. Over the years of talking about this show, I've gotten the impression that most people actually have not seen it. But I also get the impression that those who have, love it deeply.
I'm meditating on all this because having rewatched this episode, I've found myself lowkey marveling at the Logan-Veronica kiss. I am not much of a shipper in general and specifically, I don't feel very invested in LoVe. But it must be said that this scene is very fucking good!
It's so well choreographed. The music cues are just right. Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell are doing some serious acting, enough so that even this brief moment tells you a lot about what they're each going through and experiencing. That's impressive because they're not just going through horniness; we can see that they're both excited, confused, surprised, and a little lost. The kiss also does a great job of setting up the viewer to be excited as well as trepidatious about what the future of LoVe could hold. Knowing that the road ahead is likely to be complicated and fraught for these two is so much more fun than if we could expect them to have a cute, sweet teen romance.
Anyway, I've concluded that if this show was as widely seen and culturally important as your Breaking Bads and your The Wires, the kiss would straight up be an iconic moment in on-screen romance. Instead, it's only iconic and beloved to VM heads like all of us. That's OK, we'll keep writing and reading about it in our little newsletters. They can't take that away from us!
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations
- I'm sorry to be like this but considering the Logan/Veronica moment that happens later in this episode, it's very hard to care about Veronica's front door makeout sesh with Deputy Leo.
- When Veronica gets home after her date, Keith is making what looks like an epic sandwich. I love a good sandwich!
- Keith and Alicia Fennel! Getttttttt it, the both of you!
- The "I should've told you that sooner." / "I should've told you that sooner." moment was a nice one for the Veronica-Wallace friendship. I maintain that Wallace really gets the short end of the friendship stick in general but at least they had this sweet exchange.
- killemall.net redirects to a (dead) UPN site for Veronica Mars
- Joey Lauren Adams! What a weird cameo. I was looking at her Wikipedia page to get a sense of where she was at in her career when she made this episode. Strangely enough, learning that information doesn't really provide the context I was after. But I'll just say that Dazed and Confused came out in 1993. Chasing Amy came out in 1997 and Big Daddy in 1999. Harvard Man and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back both came out in 2001. Do with that info what you will.
- The Neptune High French teacher is called Madame Rousseau.
- Oxycontin is replacing ecstasy as the drug of choice for high school students, according to Duncan. Nowadays we would recognize this as part of the opioid crisis. It really started in the mid-1990s when physicians, assured by pharmaceutical companies that their drugs wouldn't cause addiction, started prescribing for chronic pain management. I recommend the book or audiobook Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, which chronicles the Sackler family's relentless, ruthless, aggressive marketing of extremely addictive painkillers as totally safe and not addictive.
- "Gremlin gummin' up the works?" is one of my favorite line readings of season one.
- Kinda incredible how consistently outclassed Clemmons is by Veronica. I never get tired of their dynamic. They could've made Clemmons much more aggrieved and mean in response to Veronica but instead, he's just sort of exhausted and resorts to pretty much pleading with Veronica to do less.
- The reappearance of the Camelot Motel! We first encountered this place in the pilot when Veronica saw Jake Kane meeting up with an unidentified person (who turned out to be her own mom).
- Also the reappearance of Veronica's weird attitudes about women who have sex/do sex work. The way she uses the word "hookers" in a way that feels...bad. Denigrating. I don't like it!
- What is happening with Jonathan Taylor Thomas' hair? Those wisps on the side? It's not a mullet but it's like...inspired by a mullet? I don't know.
- We see Norris use the website swordhandler.com which sadly doesn't seem to be a real thing.
- Neptune has a movie theatre called the Paragon and it's the kind of place that would host a Kurosawa retrospective.
- "Carlita, Biff, Rocco. Make some room." This is what Veronica says, joking about the fact that she's eating lunch alone. Three good names. The writers could've gone with "Susan, Steve, Frank" or whatever, and they didn't. Nice!
- In Norris' bedroom, we see posters for the movies Imminent Disaster and Death Fist. Neither are real movies but both seem like Aaron Echolls could've starred in them.
- Logan doesn't just resort to beating people up or hitting people. He seems to find deep satisfaction in punching the shit out of people. We see that for the first time in this episode and it'll be a recurring theme!
- Duncan withdrew a bunch of cash and took off. Seems like Veronica has inadvertently (slash very advertently?) planted the seed that he could in fact be responsible for Lilly's death. I love how many plausible perps we have in the mix at this point.
📝 Cultural references
- The title of this episode is a play on "weapons of mass destruction"
- Keith says to Veronica, "But seriously, folks." But Seriously, Folks... is the title of a 1978 Joe Walsh album.
- Corny says he's thinking about "going to White Castle." Is this an expression about getting high? I honestly have no idea. Please tell me!
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
- eBay, the online auction site that was still in its youth in 2005
- Seventeen Magazine
- The Washington Post
- Pulitzer Prize
- Extreme Makeover. According to Wikipedia, the reality show "depicts ordinary men and women undergoing 'extreme makeovers' involving plastic surgery, exercise regimens, hairdressing, and wardrobing." Sounds extremely dystopian to me, I'll pass!
- Bruce Lee (martial artist, movie star), Joe Strummer (member of The Clash), and Sam Kinison (stand-up comic known for screaming) all get shoutouts from Norris as the three people he'd like in his World War III bomb shelter. While Veronica's lunchtime poll question seems sort of facile, Norris' answer and what we're able to learn about him from his answer, make it clear that it's a great get-to-know-you question. Before you ask: Maya Rudolph, Dolores O'Riordan, and Jana Schmieding.
- Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber. Between 1978 and 1995 he mailed bombs all over the country, ultimately killing three people and injuring 23. This New York long read from 2018 is a fascinating study of Kaczynski's enduring influence on people who are extremely dissatisfied with how modern life has destroyed our humanity and our planet.
- I spotted a New York Rangers sticker on agent Ben's station wagon.
- Speaking of agent Ben, I got a pretty serious Christian-Slater-in-Heathers vibe from him, particularly in his scene at the motel with Veronica. Kind of a pinched, nasal-y voice and menacing energy.
- Speaking of Heathers, at lunchtime Veronica approaches Ben and Norris and says she's doing a poll for the Neptune Navigator. This really super harks back to Heathers in which the "lunchtime poll" is a pretty important element of the story.
- Also speaking of Heathers, the main character of that movie is named Veronica (played by Winona Ryder).
- In that movie, a SPOILERS FOR HEATHERS a student plants a bomb in their high school.
- So, OK, Heathers was probably an influence on this episode.
- Veronica mentions the iconic Starbucks drink the Frappuccino, which debuted 10 years earlier in 1995.
- 21 Jump Street, the police procedural that was on Fox from 1987-1991. It starred Johnny Depp, Holly Robinson, Peter DeLuise, and Dustin Nguyen, and boy, did I watch every single episode of it.
- Keith and Alicia are watching Storm Warning, the 1951 movie with Ronald Regan, Ginger Rogers, and Doris Day.
- Maltese Falcon the classic 1941 noir starring Humphrey Bogart.
- "Kill 'em all, let god sort 'em out." According to Wikipedia, this is an informal translation of "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." This is the phrase "reportedly spoken by the commander of the Albigensian Crusade, prior to the massacre at Béziers on 22 July 1209." Translated directly from the medieval Latin: "Kill them. The Lord knows those that are his own." The informal version sounds way more metal.
- Saying "Waco" is a shorthand for referencing the 1993 siege by law enforcement on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas that caused the deaths of 86 people. Seventy-six of those deaths were of Branch Davidians, which included 25 children. I recommend the 1997 documentary Waco: The Rules of Engagement which offers a thorough look at the siege and the congressional hearings that followed. It also offers a pretty compelling counternarrative to the received wisdom (from the U.S. government) about how everything went down.
- Columbine. This bullet point will talk about school shootings. Sigh. What can be said? Depending on your age, you might not realize that mass shootings at schools used to feel like pretty uncommon events. When this episode aired, the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School where two students killed 12 people and wounded 21 others was probably the highest-profile school shooting to date. I can't overstate how shocking it felt at the time. It had the highest death toll (by far) of any school shooting since 1966. Of course, nowadays, Columbine doesn't have the cultural meaning it had back in 2005; mass shootings that leave a lot of people dead and injured don't seem rare at all. By the way, I learned these morbid facts about this topic from the Wikipedia page "List of school shootings in the United States by death toll."
- Braveheart and William Wallace, a leader in the First War of Scottish Independence
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- [Mr. Burns voice] "Excellent." Veronica is referencing The Simpsons' character's iconic catchphrase.
- "Failure is not an option." is not a real quote from history. It's sort of a tagline that came up during the making of Apollo 13.
- Warty Warthog was the first released version of the free, open-source operating system Ubuntu
- iPod Mini, which was around for less than two years. It was replaced by the iPod Nano, which came out in September of 2005
The only music cue we're talking about for this episode is "Momentary Thing" by Something Happens. Has any song ever been better paired with a kiss in any TV show or movie? The melody is right, the swell comes at the perfect time, the lyrics are evocative. I've never taken a film studies class but I assume this is the kind of thing you learn how to do.
- "Prepaid jobber" is the kind of thing you'd say before The Wire popularized "burner."
- Veronica calls the wifi in Norris' house "the Clayton family wireless system." The term "WiFi" was only added to the dictionary in 2005, after all!
- A dial tone. Veronica hears one when Pete hangs up on her but this kinda wouldn't have ever happened because Veronica is on her sidekick and cell phones don't get dial tones! Mental Floss explains that when human operators were replaced in the late 1940's with automated systems that connected calls, the dial tone was invented so that callers would know that their phone was connected to the system, the system was live, and that they could place their call. Cell phones don't connect with any system until the number is dialed and the user hits "send" so technically a dial tone isn't really needed. Those little bars on the screen tell you if you have service! Still, I miss dial tones!
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
Next up is S1E19, "Hot Dogs." This is about missing dogs, I think? Can't remember what else. Excited to be reminded!
Tech support by Jen DeMarco