Mars Investigations 19: Hot Dogs
9 min read

Mars Investigations 19: Hot Dogs

Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. Mandy, young white woman with long brown hair and a green t-shirt, is on a couch reading by lamplight. The book is Forever by Judy Blume.
The time-honored tradition of reading a Judy Blume book while babysitting

Wow, we're getting real close to the end of season one! I can't wait for the last couple of episodes which, of course, reveal Lilly's murder but also, if I remember correctly, also set us up for one (or more?) of the mysteries of season two. Let's DO this!

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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 S1E19 "Hot Dogs" from
🔍  Stray thoughts and observations on cultural references (📝) music (🎼), and tech (🚀)
🔍  Next time in Mars Investigations

🔍 Synopsis of "Hot Dogs"

Originally aired April 19, 2005

"In this episode, a student named Mandy hires Veronica to help find her lost dog. Meanwhile, the Echolls family deal's with Trina's domestic abuse, and Weevil (Francis Capra) gets arrested for breaking into the Kane home." (Source)

🔍 Stray thoughts and observations

Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A young white man is in the driver's seat, his left arm resting on the steering wheel. He is turning toward the back of the van and has a smirk on his face.
Just another ding dong in a long line of Neptune High ding dongs
  • A medium-stakes mystery! Listen, stolen dogs is a bummer but it's nice to have a break from your cults or your school shooters. (Btw, I wrote about the pleasure of the medium-stakes mystery in newsletter #5).
  • The official story for Duncan's disappearance is that he has "a sick relative in Chatanooga." This doesn't scan at ALL, which I guess is the point—that it's a bad lie thought up in haste to cover something potentially shady. The Kanes just don't seem like the types to admit to being related to people who live in Tennessee. I feel like a more believable lie would be that he's taking skiing lessons in Switzerland.
  • Claire Titelman, who plays Mandy, has had small roles on Parks and Recreation and The New Girl. Two of my favorite shows of all time, I don't mind telling you.
  • Mandy says she's an 02-er. Sounds like the more moneyed an area is, the higher the actual number of the ZIP code is, which is a funny quirk of Neptune city planning.
  • Leave it to the Kanes to live in a place that its own private security force. Gross.
  • I remain exhausted by Deputy Leo's flirting. The "tools of restraint" line? Spare me! It's kinda wild that Logan of all people is turning out to be the most likable of Veronica's love interests.
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A young white man in a green shirt and dark zip-up sweater is standing in a crowded school hallway. It's Logan and he's pointing up in the air. Veronica is looking at him.
That awkward moment after you've made out with your enemy who is also your murdered best friend's former boyfriend
  • Weevil was out here bagging on Bob for only getting a 5% commission on house sales but he's walking around with just 17 cents in his pocket!
  • Content note: This bullet will mention a rape joke. Twice in this episode, Veronica makes a "community soap" joke when talking about incarceration. This is essentially a prison rape joke, right? Thanks, I hate it. Casually joking about people getting raped in prison has never been funny and it will never be funny. Take note!
  • Mandy babysits a kid named Ryder McDade. Ryder!! A very good name for an 09er kid.
  • I do not miss the fashion of the early aughts. The combo of low-rise jeans and midriff-length shirts is just awful.
  • This was also the era of wearing pants so baggy that you walked on the back of the cuffs so eventually they wore down and tore away, leaving the hem on the back ragged and like two inches higher than in the front, which looked unchanged.
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. Wallace, a young Black man, is standing on the grass in a park beside a bench. He's wearing a jean jacket and off-white cargo pants and holding an envelope.
This era saw the rise of a baggier pant
  • I think we can add the Echolls' accountant to our pantheon of minor Jewish characters. After all, he's an accountant and his name is Barry: This is a Hollywood way of coding someone as Jewish.
  • Lenny Sopher (Mandy's bully) gets rekt by Veronica. Doesn't get much more brutal than being told "You're gonna die friendless and alone."
  • After Veronica absolutely destroys the bully she turns to Mandy with an intensity that's not too different from what she just unleashed on Lenny. She sternly tells Mandy that if she wants people to treat her with respect, "Demand it. Make them." And, you know, sure, OK. But one thing we've learned from Veronica's voiceovers so far in season one is that she's lonely and something of an outcast, and getting kicked out of her clique was just the beginning of that; she's isolated herself even more beyond that. She told Meg that her strategy for dealing with her shitty peers is to get tough and get even. Considering all that, it makes you wonder whether Veronica-brand social life advice is what the shy kids need. One thing I like about this show and about Veronica as a character is that the qualities of Veronica that make you root for her are also her weaknesses, her limitations. That will become a more salient theme in later seasons but it's starting to poke through here and I like it.
  • We get to see some detail on a couple of the missing dog flyers. They're sad and sweet and weird and perfect. Feels very real to me. Here's one:
...male, sweet dog went missing from our home on Sunday 4/10/2005. He takes some medications for developing arthritis and may be timid but loves treats. He should be wearing a red color with his tags, like in the above picture, but he’s been known to remove it. :) Please, call us with any info. /  555-0182  / Reward $50
  • Veronica says that if someone is stealing dogs they need to be beaten with a tire iron and dumped into a body of water. Harsh but ultimately feels fair.
  • Celeste shows up at Mars Investigations wearing a yellow trench coat. Yellow! She also has SEARING words for Keith—that if he was such a good detective, he'd have seen that his wife and Jake were having an affair. OUCH. But again, fair.
  • Trina was never in Lynn's will. Ouch.
  • OH and by the way: Is Keith doing that DNA test because of what Celeste said? I think so!
  • Now I remember that this episode has an obnoxiously caricaturish depiction of Latinx workers. Seems like the episode could've totally skipped this and been fine, if not better. Truly what purpose is it serving?
  • We see Logan having a snack that's low carb and therefore very era-appropriate: rolled-up deli meat
  • Dylan Goran is producing Escaping Your Past, a movie that does sound pretty bad and also a great fit for Aaron.
  • Aaron is slicing peppers for dinner without coring them first. Unless I'm mistaken 100% of people would agree this is the wrong way to prepare peppers.
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. Aaron, a middle aged white man, is seated on a couch which is draped in a leopard print blanket. He's reading Siddhartha by Herman Hess, which he holds in his right hand. His left hand, in a loose fist, rests on his chin..
Phil Jackson said it would change his perspective
  • Logan's reaction ("Father's knows best") to Aaron beating the hell out of Dylan makes it very clear yet again that Logan, probably due to enduring physical abuse of his own, is pretty miscalibrated when it comes to violence as punishment.
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A white woman with a pearl necklace and yellow trenchcoat sants in the doorway of Mars Investigations looking serious.
Serving Dick Tracy
  • Is it me or have we now seen between 5 and 10 different kinds of GPS software in this show?
  • The names of the dogs in the kennel: Bucko, Rufus, Shakes, Lola. It's weird because these names are great dog names while also not being names of any dogs. They're like too doggy. You know what I mean?
  • Veronica and Logan have a quick chat about their romantic situation and decide to "keep it to ourselves" for a while.
  • Weevil snuck into the Kane's house and stole Lilly's spy pen. What was in that pen? Duncan and Weevil are now back in our suspect pool.

📝 Cultural references

Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A young Latinx mad in a leather jacket, Weevil, is standing outisde school talkin to Veronica.
What secrets does the spy pen contain!
  • While babysitting, Mandy is reading Forever... by Judy Blume. This novel, published in 1975, was banned from many schools because of its depictions of sex and birth control. By giving Mandy pigtails, having her read Judy Blume, and being super attached to her dog, has the overall effect of making her seem sort of childlike. It's a very specific choice that sort of calls attention to itself. Why is Mandy this way?
  • This bullet point will have a spoiler for the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Weevil jokes about Veronica bringing him a nail file and a J. Lo poster while he's in lockup. You may remember that in The Shawshank Redemption, the main character uses a rock hammer to dig his way out of prison and covers his tunnel with a post of Rita Hayworth. Seems like a reference to this classic prison trope.
  • Keith keeps a box in his closet labeled "Playboy" so that Veronica stays away from it and will not discover it's actually full of Lilly Kane case details. Note to all dads out there: If you have something you want to hide from your kid, labeling it as porn is the weirdest fuckin' way to go about it.
  • Aaron is reading Siddhartha, the 1922 novel by Herman Hesse which is about a man's journey to find enlightenment and is based on the early life of the Buddha. The book has been recommended to him by Phil Jackson, who is perhaps best known for coaching the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls. Absolutely incredible to imagine Phil Jackson thinking this book will help Aaron be less of a dipshit.
  • Logan imitates Yoda when he says "Important your family is. Hm, hm." I don't really understand this joke!
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A white man in a sheriff deputy uniform, Leo, is leaning on a counter smiling.
Veronica asking for the ol' pre-breakup favor
  • JP Morgan, where Lynn Echolls' investment accounts are
  • Snausages, the dog treat (and a great word)
  • Pop Tart
  • Hans says, "Actually, I rounded up 101 of them and some crazy lady is making a coat." This is a reference to 101 Dalmations.
  • Trina's jean jacket has a few pins. One of them says "Save Fashion, Wear Juicy." This was a Juicy Couture slogan on shirts and other merch in the early 2000s. What a great choice for Trina, a character who would absolutely want to wear the label that celebs like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan came to be associated with. This is a great article about Juice's rise and fall, btw.
  • The party game charades
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. Veronica, a young white woman in a plaid jacket, and Wallace, a young Black man in a jean jacket are walking while carrying lunch trays. They are chatting and both look upset.
Parental PDA discussion
  • Veronica calls Trina's boyfriend her "Romeo." This is a reference to Romeo and Juliet by Wm. Shakespeare.
  • Lilly's spy pen was a prize in a cereal box! That takes me back. Here's a fun article that attempts to answer the question "Where did all the cereal box prizes go?"
  • Father's Knows Best, the TV sitcom that was on the air from 1954-1958. The return of Logan's strangely outdated cultural references!
Screenshot from Veronica Mars S1E19. A young white woman, Trina, in a pink hoodie is sitting at a mirror, her back to the camera. We can see her face in the mirror. She has one black eye. Her father Aaron, a middle aged white man in a black tee is standing over her, looking concerned.
I really feel for Trina!!
  • PDA = public display of affection
  • "This is a career-defining moment you're passing up. I mean, hello, Travolta, Pump Fiction." Trina is trying to persuade Aaron to take a part in her boyfriend's movie by telling him it will revive his career the way Pulp Fiction (1994) did for John Travolta.

🎼 Music

Dean Martin's "That's Amore" playing while Aaron Echolls beats the absolute daylights out of Dylan Goran is a pretty incredible choice. The jauntiest of jaunty tunes as the backdrop to one abusive monster beating the hell out of another? That's amore.

🚀 Tech

Can you believe I didn't take one note on the tech in this episode? I don't think we saw anything new here!

🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations

Looks like next up is "M.A.D." I think I hated this episode? I remember revenge porn playing a role. Let's see!

Tech support by Jen DeMarco