Wednesday, May 11, 2005

''Veronica Mars'': Sins of the Parents

After finishing my posts here last night, I thought about watching the season finale of ''Veronica Mars.'' But one of the few lessons I've learned in life is that it's better to go to bed and then wake up early than to stay up late; the first course assures you of some sleep, while the second runs the risk of keeping you awake way too long.
Still, for some time I was lying there, wondering what had become of Veronica, who was her father, who the killer, who the bad guys. After all, the previous week's episode had underscored the awfulness of the people in Veronica's old social circle. So first thing this morning, the dust barely out of my eyes, I was watching ''Veronica'' -- and loving almost every minute of it. I've got a ballot for the Television Critics Association awards sitting around, and I was mentally compiling a list of the categories I'd put ''Veronica'' in.
Yes, there were a couple of clunky scenes, including that who's-in-the-car cliche. And the killer's identity was not as stunning as it might have been. But any show that can make me choke up two or three times in an hour -- an hour loaded with some thrilling action, no less -- is a success.
One of the things that was good about the season finale was the way it reminded us once again that the troubled young people in the show come from parents with flaws which have caused a lot of the pain in their children's lives. An even better thing is that we also see the origins of the young people's virtues in their parents' behavior.
The shorthand for all that was the news about who is Veronica's father, but even there we had some ambiguity; Veronica, after all, is also the daughter of a terribly flawed woman, and we were reminded of that in the finale, too.
As we go into a second season, we have to be asking, now what? The finale teased us some, notably with the question of who Veronica wanted to see at the door. But I worry that, in its second season, the show could become ''Joan of Arcadia,'' the boldness of the first season lost as the writers face the ''now what'' of the second season. Still, ''Veronica'' has given us a wonderful first-season ride, and I expect to be there for the start of the second.

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