Veronica Mars 4×02: “Chino and the Man”

This episode moves the mystery forward and shows even more clearly how messed-up the adult Veronica is.

Previously on Veronica Mars: Dick Casablancas the Elder, a crooked real-estate developer, wanted to return the town to some idyllic version of itself from his youth (oh gee, who does that sound like?), via a group called “Neptunes United for a Tidy Town,” or NUTT; there was a young girl named Maddie whose dad owned the Sea Sprite; a bombing attack at the Sea Sprite killed Maddie’s dad, a young woman whose fiancé’s family (including his brother Congressman Daniel Malouf) hated her, a young nerd who was upset about the wi-fi, and a creepy law school student; Lawrence (not his real name) and his pal were dispatched to bring the head of the bomber to El Despiadado; and Logan proposed, but Veronica rejected him and then complained to her dad that he wasn’t mad enough about it.

Whew.

A bunch of people are partying around some fires in a trash can, including Dick the Younger (who, BTW, I always get confused with Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell’s similarly goofy-looking partner). He tries to score some heroin, only to get in a fight with some guy and get his throat slit. Omg! Only then it turns out we’re watching a movie that Dick the Younger was in. Logan, Veronica, and Dick himself are in the theater; Veronica’s rolling her eyes at Dick’s braggadociousness, as usual. Meanwhile, her voiceover is still complaining that Logan isn’t mad about the proposal!! Oh, Veronica. This is not a good color on you.

After the premiere, she brings drinks to the table, where Dick is holding court with an extremely young girl on his arm. Yikes. Someone makes a joke about Logan and Veronica making it legal, and Logan handles it gracefully while Veronica glares at him petulantly as if she’s the offensive stereotype of a thirty-one-year-old woman waiting for her boyfriend to commit, instead of what she actually is: a ridiculous commitmentphobe who wouldn’t even let him finish his charming duffel-bag proposal and now is somehow mad at him about it.

Big Dick crashes the party, giving the eyebrow to Dick’s young date. He has a “right hand man” in tow, of similar age and ethnicity: it’s Mr. Juno from Juno! Hey, Mr. Juno. His name is Clyde now, though. Clyde laughs when Veronica sasses Dick. (Dick claims filming a cop movie gave him a new appreciation for what she does and she retorts, “Hold multiple thoughts at the same time?” Hee!) After that, Dick goes off in search of afterparty details, and Clyde takes the opportunity to bust his date on being 100% still in high school, so she leaves. Good job, Clyde. Dick is such a cockwaffle, amirite.

Lawrence and Dodie are standing on the beach looking around, for no apparent reason since Lawrence tells us they’re still waiting for their boss to text the names of his nephew’s “crew” (he couldn’t have done that while they were driving up from Mexico?). Dodie keeps speaking in Spanish to his mom on the phone, though Lawrence tells him they need to blend in. A white spring breaker comes over and asks Lawrence where to get coke for no reason other than that Dodie is speaking Spanish, so Lawrence promises to meet him in an hour at the gas station, just for kicks. “Gracias,” says the white kid. Then some white spring breakers playing beach volleyball lose their ball and it lands at Dodie’s feet. When they condescendingly ask Dodie to pass el ballo, Dodie loses his temper and stabs the volleyball. For some reason the rude kid comes up and tries to get in a fight with Dodie about it. Not to blame the victim, but are you really gonna get in a fight with a guy who a) carries a pocketknife on the beach and b) is willing to stab a stranger’s volleyball? He probably shouldn’t be surprised that this ends with him being punched in the throat.

Lawrence and Dodie beat it from the beach, leaving the kid regaining his breath on the ground. Lawrence remarks that they really need to go shopping for American clothes because they’re not blending in. I mean. They could also try not standing on the beach glaring at everyone and stabbing sports equipment and punching teenagers in the throat? But sure, guys, go get a makeover, that oughtta do it.

Logan, Dick, Big Dick, and Clyde are at a driving range looking like they just raided a Brooks Brothers outlet sale. Dick makes a rude comment about the cart girls that honestly I don’t even get but it seems to have something to do with prostitution, while Big Dick literally laughs out of one side of his mouth and chides his son out of the other, claiming that Clyde is “a gentleman.” Then Dick rudely tries to buy Logan some expensive cognac on his dad’s account, but Big Dick refuses to spend $240 on four little cups of cognac. Good Lord! At least someone around here has retained a little perspective.

Anyway, the upshot of the conversation is that Dick thinks Logan is poor now because he’s just making his military salary, and then Big Dick spends some time bragging about his prison tattoo while Clyde smiles inscrutably behind him. Flashback to prison: a wailing Big Dick is being held down by a bunch of tough dudes who are tattooing his name on his arm… until Clyde, also in a uniform, comes in and breaks up the fun. So Clyde is not just the right-hand man slash property manager: he and Big Dick go way back. Interesting.

Veronica and Keith interview the friends of the nerdy victim, Gabriel, in their spring break hotel room. They explain why Gabriel was in the office (to fix the wi-fi, as we know) and one of them–perhaps impressed by how tough she is when she throws the video game controller out of one of the nerds’ hands–keeps hitting on Veronica with various strategies: faux feminism, claiming not to be as nerdy as Gabriel, offering her a beer, and (most hilariously) bragging about having a lot of thoughts. Veronica is not impressed. The one thing they learn, except that someone named King Pagursky was Gabriel’s only enemy: not only were Alex, Jillian, and Tawny at Comrade Quack’s the night before the bombing, but so were the nerds–and so was the law student, who got kicked out by Nicole. “Total dick,” says the one with the most absurd hair.

As soon as the Mars team leaves, planning to run down King Pagursky at Comrade Quack’s, Lawrence and Dodie make their entrance. They interrupt the nerds while the horny one is trying to convince his friends that Veronica wants him. Lawrence and Dodie knock and stroll in, wearing their new American duds. Lawrence makes a funny joke about how he looks like a regular spring breaker but Dodie, who’s wearing a giant Hawaiian shirt, “looks like he rents boats.” But soon joke time is over, and Lawrence asks for “Greg.” When the one named Craig finally realizes they mean him, Lawrence socks him in the face and the men demand to know who killed Gabriel. After a few more punches, the horny one breaks and blames it on King Pagursky, who has a grudge against Gabriel after a robotics challenge. Dodie and Lawrence make like they’re gonna go kill King Pagursky.

Over at the golf club, Big Dick casually reveals to everyone that Clyde is a former bank robber, and then runs into someone who’s considering one of Dick’s proposals–and kicks Clyde out of the game to discuss it. Rude!

Clyde drives a golf cart over to the impromptu meeting, and we get another flashback of Big Dick shuffling over to him in the prison kitchen and asking to trade protection on the inside for protection on the outside. As soon as he leaves, the guy who was beating up Dick in the beginning comes over and accepts his payment for the charade: a big box of ramen noodles. Ooh, Clyde is devious!

And a little greedy: when he runs into the “cart girl,” he orders ten little bottles of the $60 cognac on Big Dick’s tab. Not that I judge. I’m glad he’s sticking it to Big Dick! (Um, dirty?)

Sheriff Langdon has Maddie at the police station and makes a classic mistake: trying to sympathize with a snotty teenager. She says that her brother was murdered and instead of even feigning the least bit of sympathy, Maddie snots, “Were there pieces of him on your windshield?” Jeez. She’s like Veronica at sixteen meets, like… someone really cranky. Langdon calls her a smartass and moves to the interrogation. She asks if Maddie’s father had any enemies or debts, to which Maddie makes more smartass answers. Then another officer pulls her out to say the mayor’s on the phone, worried about the progress of the investigation. Langdon says he can go suck a dick and it’s only been three days. Meanwhile, Maddie sneaks out–just as poor Langdon is complaining, “Kids hate me.” When she realizes what happened, she says, “That little shit!” Yeah… I’m on Langdon’s side here. I know she’s grieving and all, but Maddie’s kinda a pill.

Veronica and Keith are at some kind of office inside Quack’s, which apparently has a pretty bumpin’ scene even in the middle of the afternoon (you can see it from the windows of the office, which is up in some kind of balcony). Veronica pulls up a tweet from Penn (the pizza delivery guy, Patton Oswalt) that asks if Langdon will make a mess of this case, like former Sheriffs Lamb and Mars did with their cases (“Dumb,” he editorializes). It’s sort of like a Trump tweet but instead of sounding like it was written by a fifth-grader who can’t spell, it sounds like it was written by a fifth-grader who can spell. Veronica, pissed off, wants to pay Penn a little visit. Keith points out that he’s not as intimidating as he once was (although honestly I am 100% sure Veronica could take Penn.)

Just then Nicole comes in; apparently this is her office. And like, what has happened to these two?! They’re looking at tweets when some trusting soul left them alone in an office full of papers? You would think they’d have been knee-deep in Nicole’s files by the time she came in, just for kicks. When Veronica asks about the people who died in the bombing being at Quack’s, Nicole remembers the law student. She explains that he was forcing an unconscious woman’s head into his lap, and that she punched him because she couldn’t find her Uzi. Hee! Veronica also gets a kick out of this. They’re clearly kindred spirits.

When she gets home, Logan is cooking her paella. Veronica, true to her new extremely contradictory persona, is incredibly awkward with him instead of being psyched that her ridiculously fit boyfriend and rejected would-be fiancé is sitting at home making her a fancy meal. Logan reports the interesting fact he learned today about Clyde, and Veronica complains that Neptune sucks because it’s being run by a bunch of former criminals (which, I mean. I feel like once someone has done their time they should have the chance to redeem themselves? Hasn’t she heard of Jean Valjean? On the other hand, it’s not like any black or Hispanic ex-cons are sitting in Neptune’s seat of government, so I see Veronica’s point, it’s more about corruption than redemption).

Then she proceeds to be even MORE absurd: when Logan mildly agrees with her complaint, she attacks him for being too much of a yes-man. Logan annoys me slightly by saying that “disagreeing with you doesn’t end well either,” like spare me the martyrdom act, Logan, I think you can handle a little disagreement with your feisty girlfriend. But Veronica is being a massive pill here, so, I guess he has a pass for one passive-aggressive remark. Anyway, she says she wants there to be a little “classic Logan” mixed into his new, mature persona (oh, how meta this show always is! I’m sure they knew the fans would want a little classic Logan!) And by “classic” she pretty clearly means the dude who would break taillights and generally be a semi-violent jerk. 

Now, finally, they get into it about the rejected proposal. Veronica thinks that he knew she’d say no and was fine with it. Logan says that actually, he is angry, but he’s with his therapist “Jane” trying to make sure it doesn’t destroy him. He says she says she wants Bruce but she really wants “the green guy.” Aww. That’s so sad!

Veronica, still not satisfied, insists she does want Bruce but then immediately asks Logan if he’s on meds (“Goddammit, no,” he says). She accuses him of being “sanded down,” so he PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE CABINET. Well, that escalated quickly. Logan asks if that’s “classic Logan enough” for her.

Veronica answers by having sex with him right there in the kitchen.

Jeez. That was a great scene. I mean, yes, it was all sexy and whatnot — those two always had such good chemistry! But also, it’s so real. Back when they were kids, and Veronica was kind of messed up but had her dad to keep her steady, whereas Logan was an abuse victim with a temper problem, Logan was clearly the fucked-up one. But being “the fucked-up one” is actually not a permanent state, and Logan has done work with himself to deal with his temper and his problems, whereas Veronica has simply refused. So now he’s growing up, and she’s stuck in this limbo where she just wants to have banter with her dad, and not make a commitment, and use quips and defensiveness instead of actually dealing with any of her fears or her feelings or her traumas. So the streams have crossed, and now the abused thirty-one-year-old guy who’s in therapy trying to fix himself is in many ways less of a fuck-up than the thirty-one-year-old woman who’s in denial about her problems and gets turned on when he punches the furniture.

Anyway. The next morning, Veronica wakes up all cheery and satisfied. Logan isn’t so sunny; he asks if she likes him losing control like that, and when she refuses to discuss it seriously he takes out the dog. He also remarks that he left his therapist’s number out and Veronica should call her. Yeah. She really should.

Veronica and Keith go interview the pizza guy, Penn, in his basement apartment (which he later corrects them is just where he lives while he rents out his entire house during the on-season). Penn immediately makes things awkward by asking why they don’t order Cho’s pizza anymore. He offers them a beer, but they decline, and Veronica asks him to take down his tweet about Keith. Penn takes the opportunity to brag about how now he has 2000 followers on Twitter and that he used to only be followed by Murderheads, some club he’s in that does amateur investigations. Veronica and Keith don’t remember the Murderheads, which mildly insults Penn, but Keith eventually covers and pretends to remember. Penn repeats his story: he had just left the Sea Sprite when the bomb went off, and he doesn’t remember anything before waking up in the hospital.

Veronica is more interested in talking about the mean tweet. Penn agrees to take it down as a professional courtesy, and Veronica agrees sweetly, “Right. From one pizza delivery guy to two people who do not do that.” Hee. But come on, Veronica, maybe keep a lid on it now that you’ve gotten what you wanted! Penn reminds Veronica of some of Keith’s mistakes and then, just as they’re on their way out, asks if “they’ll ever figure out who murdered Lilly Kane.” So he’s one of those conspiracy theorists. Yikes.

Clyde drops by Mars Investigations, where Veronica is working. He says he has an old girlfriend from when he went to jail and asks Veronica to find her. Veronica looks at him sympathetically and says that this woman apparently doesn’t want him in her life. Clyde sadly makes to go and thanks her for her directness. Aww.

Keith drops by the morgue to talk to Daniel Maloof. His brother Alex is identifying his fiancée Tawny’s body, and he learns that her family is there at the coroner’s office too. He and Keith find Daniel and the family squabbling about the engagement ring, which wasn’t on Tawny’s personal effects. When Alex shows up they accuse him of stealing it and throw in a few racially charged remarks about Alex not being American enough. So Alex’s mom snootily calls them “traaaaaaash.” Hee.

The Chief, Langdon, interrupts the lovefest and sends everyone out except for the Maloofs. So Keith has to call Veronica and tell her he can’t join her to talk to Maddie; he also warns Veronica that Maddie already slipped out of one interrogation. Veronica is charmed by this, along with Maddie’s “I’m the honor student who beat up your bully” sticker. “I think I can handle a sixteen-year-old girl,” she says, which… I mean… that’s kind of a weird thing to say given that she was once a crafty sixteen-year-old girl. Sure enough, Maddie is looking out the window and totally sees Veronica putting a tracker on her car.

Inside the house, Maddie’s mom, Renee, tries to keep the other two kids from driving her crazy while Veronica waits for Maddie. But then Maddie disappears and so does her brother’s scooter. Veronica leaves, at which point the clever Maddie pops up from her driver’s seat and drives away. “Oh, you are good,” Veronica says when she figures this out. She follows Maddie’s car to where it’s parked; we see that Maddie is riding her brother’s scooter through a thick crowd of spring breakers, and Veronica sets out on foot. Veronica says, “All right, Veronica, where would you be heading?” Just to let us know that Maddie is a stand-in for young Veronica, in case you didn’t get the heavily laid-on hints to this effect in the rest of the scene.

Veronica lights on the answer: the Sea Sprite, which is currently lying empty. When she sneaks in, she sees a scooter parked outside one of the suites. Veronica uses her trusty bag of PI tools to break into the room, which is empty but strewn with clothes. Veronica goes through a bunch of other rooms, yelling incautiously for Maddie, but when she reemerges to the balcony she finds the scooter gone. “Well played,” she tells the now-departed Maddie. GET IT GUYS? Maddie is the stand-in for Veronica. No, seriously, do you get it yet?

Veronica goes back inside and finds a collection of… business cards? In one of the slots, now empty, is a card for something called Alpha-Jolly Amusements, which alarms Veronica (as we’ll find out, it’s because Alpha-Jolly Amusements was the company that stocked the vending machine at the Sea Sprite, meaning Maddie is keeping up with Veronica’s investigation on her own). OK, well I’m alarmed by the fact that a sixteen-year-old girl is collecting paper business cards.

Speaking of whom, she arrives at Alpha-Jolly Amusements and finds a sketchy-looking guy (if you’ve forgotten that he’s Liam Fitzpatrick of the Fitzpatrick crime family heavily featured in an earlier season, you’re not alone; I had no recognition of him whatsoever and I’ve already forgotten what the deal was with the Fitzpatricks, but according to the internet they threatened Veronica and are generally baddies). Maddie demands to talk to whoever stocked the snacks at the Sea Sprite last week. Liam starts to blow her off, but she pushes him, saying that someone put gum in the machine even though they don’t do gum because they’re a motel. What? People at motels don’t like gum? I’m so confused. So Liam proceeds to fully take off his belt like he’s going to whip her with it, and Maddie finally leaves. Now, you’d think she’d maybe make a run for it since she’s in an abandoned warehouse with someone crazy enough to pull a belt on a teenaged girl, but she doesn’t. Instead, she spray-paints all the vending machines, and then runs into two guys, one of whom is the man with the mole who stocked the gum. Maddie thinks this is a great time to ask him about the vending machines.

OK, is Maddie a little irritating? I mean, Veronica was brave and stuff at that age, but it never felt like she was taking unnecessary risks. I also feel like we only get 8 episodes of this resurrected show and the amount of screentime being lavished on Maddie is seriously eating into my time to enjoy watching Veronica herself.

Anyway, Liam runs out and yells to “grab the little bitch,” so Maddie runs out of the building screaming, only to be picked up by Veronica. Yay!! (I am a sucker for scenes where someone is rescued from bad guys by a magically appearing car driven by their frenemy. See also: the pilot of Alias.) The vending machine guy, holding a wrench, makes to smash in the car window, but Veronica pulls a gun on him and calls him Liam, which was my first hint that we even knew this dude at all.

In the car, Veronica lectures Maddie about how dangerous the Fitzpatricks are. (Fourteen kids, thirteen criminals, one priest. Being Irish, I’ll allow that joke.) She tells Maddie she could’ve told her theory to the police instead of investigating herself. But when she claims to work for Daniel Maloof, Maddie gets mad: she blames Alex for demanding a refund and delaying her dad so that they were in the lobby during the bombing. Veronica’s voiceover tells us that she understands how Maddie feels, and that Maddie might “set and harden” due to her trauma. And, yes, I feel like we’ve been beaten savagely over the head with the Maddie-Veronica parallel, but I can’t help feeling for Veronica: she knows she’s too hard, and she’s drawn to saving Maddie precisely because she wishes she could go back and protect herself from all the hurts that have made her this way. It’s really moving.

Speaking of too hard, here’s Logan playing violent video games with Dick the Would-Be Statutory Rapist! Great. Veronica calls him just then and Dick puts her on speaker phone, so that Dick gets to hear all of Veronica’s rambling thoughts about the proposal and judge Logan for saying “I love you” to his long-time girlfriend. Yay, toxic masculinity. Once Veronica realizes they’re at the Neptune Grand she instantly demands a favor from the ever-willing Logan. Some things never change!

So Logan drops by the suite at the Grand where the Maloofs are staying, apparently to ge ta check for Veronica and Keith. Alex is sitting on the couch complaining about his lost fingers. While Logan is in the back room, two extremely angry-looking white dudes (from Tawny’s family) come in and attack them, looking for the engagement ring. Logan emerges and takes both of them down with very little help from the Maloofs. Those brand-new muscles of his are really coming in handy!

Veornica is at home eating a salad when Keith stops by and turns on the TV, which is magically tuned to a playlist of “Hulu originals.” A little free advertising for the parent company, eh? Penn has gotten himself on TV with a new theory that Daniel Maloof put a bomb in Tawny’s makeup bag to try to kill her as a way of ending her engagement to his brother. Keith and Veronica are not thrilled about this.

Over in their rather less fancy hotel room, Lawrence and Dodie realize that now they have to kill a congressman. Unfortunately, they already killed King Pagurski–his head is sitting on their counter. Ewww, yucky!!

Veronica and Keith think Daniel wouldn’t have been the bomber, but that there is something suspicious about him. Logan arrives, all bloodstained from his fight with Tawny’s family, with the check. “I didn’t want you to murder him for it,” Veronica says, half-joking. So Logan cracks a beer and reveals that he’s signed on as security detail for Daniel Maloof.

So Logan and Veronica are coworkers now! I like it.

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