Mars Investigations 21: A Trip to the Dentist
God this episode is so much better than the last one. Night and day! I had a blast watching this episode and writing this issue. Hope you all enjoy!
🚨🚨Please note that this issue of the newsletter has mentions and discussions of rape and "date rape drugs" throughout.🚨🚨
Drop me a line anytime about anything Veronica Mars-related 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 S1E21 "A Trip to the Dentist" from veronicamars.fandom.com
🔍 Some thoughts on whiplash (good)
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations on cultural references (📝) music (🎼), and tech (🚀)
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
🔍 Synopsis of "A Trip to the Dentist"
Originally aired May 3, 2005
In this episode, Veronica resolves the mystery of her sexual assault a year earlier by talking to previous acquaintances and learning about the details of what happened back then at Shelly Pomroy's party while she was under the influence of GHB.
Meanwhile, Duncan returns from running away earlier, and Veronica and Logan's relationship matures as she reacts to the news that he had roofies the night of the party.
🔍 On whiplash (good)
Wowie this episode was a ride. When it begins, Veronica is avoiding Logan because she has learned that he might be to blame for her sexual assault the night of Shelly Pomroy's party—after all, she has it on good authority that he was the one with the roofies that night. They have a confrontation about this—Veronica standing just inside her apartment and Logan on the other side of the front door.
Veronica spends the next day at school asking around about the night of the party and eventually pieces together that she was not raped; she had sex with a drunken Duncan. (I am reporting this from the perspective of Veronica, not saying she was not raped.)
That initial confrontation is followed by a tearful reunion on her couch. She tells Logan everything she learned. He expresses lots of care and concern. The matter seems settled. With this development, Veronica and Logan are back together and even more connected than before. We get a lot of sweet, vulnerable Logan in this episode. "I'm just here for whatever you need, OK?...All I care about is you," he tells her. Later, to Dick and the guests at his surprise party: "You have a problem with Veronica, you leave. Actually, you have a problem with Veronica, you're pretty much dead to me, so just, like, evaporate or something, I don't know."
Phew. Logan is trustworthy. Everything is out in the open and they're finally together. Except...Logan brings Veronica to the pool house to make out and Veronica discovers cameras hidden there. She gets out of there with the quickness and we can only presume that LoVe is once again over.
This is a LOT of back and forth about a character (and relationship) for a single episode of television. In fact, I think this is a lot of back and forth for a full season of television. But I can't overstate how well the constant baiting and switching about Logan actually works for me. It is not tiresome, it does not feel like the show is jerking me around.
I think it works so well because we're learning about Logan as Veronica does. The show is not actually changing its mind about what kind of person Logan is. It is just leading us on a journey that little by little reveals the information we need to make that call for ourselves. It's also not a flip or redemption arc, like we see with Angel in Buffy or Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. It's a gradual peeling apart of layers of the story that shows us that Logan is probably not as bad as he seems...but also might be?
I love that in the second to last episode of season one, the show is leaving our questions about Logan on read.
🔍 Stray thoughts and observations
- Front doors are pretty important in this episode. Logan and Veronica have a front door confrontation as do Duncan and Veronica. The awkwardest moment of Logan's surprise party happens as soon as they walk in the front door of Logan's house.
- The episode opens in Havana, Cuba where Duncan is hanging out reading a newspaper and enjoying an al fresco espresso. This is a big swing for Duncan considering how difficult it was to travel to Cuba back then. It was not illegal to travel to Cuba from the United States but provisions of the Trading With the Enemy Act (lol) prohibited spending money there without authorization from the government. I guess Duncan is smarter and savvier than he seemed.
- Not gonna lie, Dick’s new surfboard (R.I.P.) is pretty cool!
- Logan saying “mazel tov” was in fact on my vision board, so thank you to the writers of this episode
- Every Weevil/Logan interaction—whether they're in an enemy phase or ally phase—crackles with electricity and I love it
- I really like the soundscape we hear while Veronica makes her way to the front door to see who Backup is barking at. It's synthy with some bleeps and bloops but has a sound of urgency and maybe also a hint of sinister-ness.
- This episode has lots of Veronica cleaning and showering, both are pretty common tropes for characters dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault. As Veronica says during voiceover: "The whole ritual cleaning thing is textbook for a reason. For a couple of minutes, you're in control and everything's the way it should be, at least on the surface."
- Veronica pieces together what happened at Shelly Pomroy's party by using the recollections of a bunch of unreliable narrators. Between general intoxication, each person's subjective experience of what they saw, and everyone's own interest in portraying themselves in a positive light, how can we really get to the "truth" of what happened that night?
- 🤐 I don't think you really realize it at the time, but of course in this episode, Veronica did not get the truth about what happened that night. Knowing what we know about what is revealed in season two, it seems clear to me that Veronica was never going to get a clear, truthful account in this episode. 🤐
- Speaking of unreliable narrators, it's fun to see that multiple accounts have some of the same pieces of important dialogue, but the speaker of that dialogue changes depending on who's recounting the scene.
- 🤐 Speaking still of unreliable narrators, how do we feel about the fact that things we learn in season two undo things we've learned in this episode about the night of Shelly Pomroy's party? Speaking of baiting and switching, it's kind of a huge thing to "change" for the viewer. It's not as severe as "it was all a dream" but it's not that far off either. 🤐
- This all reminds me of S1E10, "An Echolls' Family Christmas," another great episode that Veronica pieces together from various accounts of those who were present when she was not.
- Kinda wild to think of how all of this would go down if it happened in a world with social media or even just smartphones.
- Man, the boys all really suck. They're out here talking openly about getting girls intoxicated as a way to trick or coerce them into sex. The ones who are not actively participating in this are just watching it happen.
- During the scene where Dick is feeding Veronica shots, I just wrote "very upsetting"
- OK, so it seems like Duncan believes he and Veronica are siblings. Awkward!
- Veronica lies to Wallace about why Logan had the absence slip. And Wallace seems to know she's lying to him. Later, when she goes to his house to tell him everything that's been going on, she says "This is so not an 'I told you so,' but do you see why I kinda keep things to myself?" I wonder if this will turn over a new leaf in their friendship where Veronica is kinder and less transactional with Wallace. (I genuinely wonder because I don't remember!)
- Madison has burns:
MADISON: What's the deal, can't buy bronzer with food stamps?
VERONICA: You wrote slut on my car last year at Shelly's party. Why?
MADISON: Because whore had too many letters.
- Man, life in the Echolls household is ROUGH. The old man doesn't even know his son's birthday or about his life-threatening shellfish allergy
- Do we think Aaron throwing the surprise party was actually a move to force LoVe out into the open, to retaliate against Logan for speaking to his father with such a fresh mouth?
- The misdirect of Keith visiting the sex worker after the fight with Alicia...whatever!
- Well, well, well, if it isn't Abel Koontz's alibi, Ms. Collins!
- I've never understood the title of this episode until now. "A trip to the dentist" refers to the way Madison spits in people's cups, the way you spit into the sink at the dentist. (Right?)
- Duncan enters some kind of anger fugue state, which has us realizing that he might really be capable of getting so angry he blacks out. And...commits murder?
- Just when you think there won't be any more twists, Veronica finds the security cameras in the pool house!
- Just when you REALLY think there won't be any more twists, Veronica arrives home to see that Lianne is back!
- One thing I appreciate about this episode is that we get to see Wallace and Weevil as characters Veronica can trust and rely on. She's significantly less alone than she was 20 episodes ago.
📝 Cultural references
- The newspaper Duncan is reading in Havana is the Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail
- Duncan says "So did they give you the jet to take me back home? Or am I supposed to click my heels?" This is a reference to The Wizard of Oz, in which Dorothy is able to get home by clicking her heels together.
- Dick says about his surfboard: "Double concave bottom with the sweetest little rocker through the tail." These are real surfboard things, I looked them up! The rocker has to do with maneuverability. And "concaves make your rails 'stickier,' which helps when you want to bury the rail during a bottom turn or a huge carve on the shoulder." No clue what any of this means but you can learn more from barefootsurftravel.com.
- The Sun Also Rises/Hemingway/"Don't blame Papa." Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) was a writer. His nickname was "Papa," called that by his much older friends.
- Veronica says to Luke, "Remember when I saved you from drug dealers and I said I may call upon you for a favor someday." This feels like a reference to The Godfather (1972) when Don Corleone says "Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me."
- Dick says Madison doesn't drink because she's on Atkins. The Atkins Diet is a low-carb fad diet that was created in the 1970s but had a renaissance in the early 2000s.
- Veronica says to Madison "You can keep asking, but you're not the fairest, trust me." This is a reference to Snow White. The evil stepmother looks into her magic mirror and asks "Mirror, mirror on the wall: Who is the fairest of them all?"
- When Keith says he's going to Vegas to pick up a bounty, Veronica asks if it's a white Bengal tiger. White tigers are commonly associated with the Las Vegas magic act Siegfried and Roy.
Just a quick note to say that we hear a cover of the 1990 song "I Touch Myself" (originally by the Divinyls, is this episode by the band Saucy Monky) a couple of different times in the episode. It's used to highlight the unreliability of the narrators. In one flashback Veronica is singing along to it, in another it's Dick who's doing that.
The best music moment in the show for me is when we hear the beginning of Air's "Cemetary Party." It starts playing when Veronica leaves Duncan's house after their confrontation at his front door. I guess my bias is showing but there's just nothing more evocative or moodier than a melancholy synth.
Would you believe I didn't make any notes about tech in this episode? Either we didn't see much that was new or I didn't notice it because I was so engrossed. Who can say which it is?
🔍 Next time in Mars Investigations
WOW, gang, the next episode is the season one finale. I remember the broad strokes but not much else. I can't wait to see how they wrap this all up.
Tech support by Jen DeMarco