Veronica Mars Rewatch – “Pilot”

You can watch the Pilot episode for free on TheWB.com

VM S1E1 header

“Sooner or later, the people you love let you down.”

Television pilots are a tricky business. All at once they have to establish everything about the show–the characters, the tone, the ongoing story–while hooking in viewers for the long haul. Some shows end up looking A LOT different from the pilot, even just a few episodes later. Most shows, I’d say, need about a half-season before they really find their rhythm.

And some shows, like Veronica Mars, manage to knock it out of the park right on the first swing.

It’s a frequent trope of high school shows to start by introducing the main character to the school/town as a way of introducing the show to the viewers. In the pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy moves to Sunnydale. In Pretty Little Liars, Aria Montgomery returns to town. In The Vampire Diaries, the Salvatore brothers move in. Veronica Mars instead takes the approach of dropping us right into the middle of Veronica’s life and delivering the necessary exposition through her noir-ish voice-overs.

The pilot opens with the titular character on a stake-out in front of a sleazy motel, instead of studying for her Calculus exam. Your average high school student she is not.

VM S1E1 stakeout

“My after-school job means tailing philandering spouses or investigating false injury claims.”

The cynical and snarky Veronica walks us through life in Neptune (“the town without a middle class”) and subsequently introduces herself as the outsider–willing to step forward to cut Wallace down from the flagpole, punking the vice principal in the locker search, and eating lunch alone. She’s no longer a part of the popular crowd, not after the death of Lilly Kane–her best friend and sister of her ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane.

VM S1E1 Lilly

“I’ve got a secret, a good one.”

Veronica spends her free time working for her father, Keith Mars, at Mars Investigations. Keith had been the sheriff in Neptune until the Lilly Kane murder. After blaming the murder on Lilly’s father, Jake Kane, Keith was voted out of office and Veronica’s mother leaves town. Abel Koontz, a disgruntled former employee of Jake Kane, was found guilty of the murder. Now, Veronica and Keith are left picking up the pieces of their lives.

But, as Veronica finds out, Keith has a secret; he’s still investigating Lilly’s murder. And she needs to find out why.

"These questions need answers; that's what I do."

“These questions need answers; that’s what I do.”

Right from the get-go the show doesn’t shy away from anything–the first episode alone features bullying, rape, and murder. And these are issues that Veronica Mars will go back to again and again. Instead of her rape being played as a “very special episode,” it’s an issue that will continue to haunt Veronica through the duration of the series.

Keith Mars will always be one of my favorite TV dads: the perfect combination of cool, funny, caring, and willing to let his daughter be independent. The ups and downs of his relationship with Veronica is another highlight of the show for me.

What I Love:

  • Logan Echolls –“Every school has their obligatory psychotic jackass, well, he’s ours.” Although, it’s hard to love him this early on. His line to Veronica about Keith destroying the Kane family is a particular punch in the gut.
  • Cliff McCormack. The public defender is only in the episode briefly, and infrequent in the series, but I adore him. Fun Fact: Daran Norris might not look familiar, but he should sound familiar–he’s done tons of animated voices, including Cosmo on Fairly OddParents and Spottswoode in Team America.
  • “I suddenly feel like I’m in a scene from The Outsiders.””Be cool, Sodapop.”
  • “Well, you know what they say: Veronica Mars, she’s a marshmallow.”

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