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Princess Bride - Inigo

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The Sporadic Spewings of InigoMontoya

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A Pickled Review of Veronica Mars: 2.22 "Not Pictured"
Princess Bride - Inigo
inigo

Adrift in Wonderland

As a description, "bright and shiny on the surface, rotten and foul underneath" is as apt as any for Neptune, California. That it also serves an appropriate description of the concluding episode of Season Two has left me feeling as lost as Alice when she was getting directions from the Cheshire Cat.

What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?

"Not Pictured" is a clever title. The caption on the photograph of Woody's Little League team is the key to Veronica's understanding to what happened to the school bus. What is not pictured, what is kept hidden, and what lies underneath has been a recurring theme all season. How ironic then that the nub of my problem with this episode as the resolution of Season Two is that there was too much that was not pictured.

At the end of Season One, whilst one couldn't go back and point to clues about the events of Lilly's death that one could or should have picked up on the way (other than the discovery of the camera in the penultimate episode), one could go back and point to clues about Lilly's and Aaron's characters that made those events plausible, if not damn nigh inevitable. They were scattered liberally throughout the season. The writers painted pictures of those two characters that were so vibrant that we didn't need other clues to avoid feeling cheated.

For me, no such pictures were formed in Season Two and "Not Pictured," in its role as season closer, failed to bring together sufficiently - or at all - the characters or events we'd seen over the season. Let's consider a specific example.

If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does.

The bus passengers, Curly and those on the plane died because Marcos Oliveres and Peter Ferrer were intent on not just exposing Woody for what he had done to them, but for what he did to Beaver. Had they not insisted that they were going to tell the world about Beaver, no one would have died, or so we must assume (see below). Given the consequences of their determination to out Beaver as well as themselves as Woody's victims, one really should know why they decided on this path.

There was a full episode featuring each of them: "Ahoy, Mateys!" and "Versatile Toppings," with a clearer picture emerging of Marcos than of Peter. Of Peter, we only know what his fellow posters on the Pirate's S.H.I.P. knew: that he could tell them about "the outing of all outings." The outing was of Woody, not Beaver. A fellow high school student would not be referred to in those terms. The soon-to-be-elected mayor and owner of the local baseball team would qualify.

The pre-camp Marcos was two people - the shy, quiet, unassuming boy whose friendship with Ryan may have been an exploration of his sexual orientation, and the brash, bitchy Cap'n Krunk who would happily expose any secret in pursuance of being Neptune High's gossipy shock jock. It is that latter persona that could lend itself to Marcos's fairly callous indifference to Beaver's plea to be kept out of it:

"You're already in it. You'll thank us later."

Certainly, it is Marcos who insists on Beaver's exposure. You can tell from his glance at Marcos that Peter is less certain but goes along. Had it been left there, it would be possible to fanwank that it was Marcos's Cap'n Krunk persona who was so determined to force Beaver out of the abuse closet. However, the writers muddied the waters completely by telling us that Marcos changed after Camp SelfQuest. Ryan told Veronica that he came back as someone desperate to please his parents. He gave up the radio. So Cap'n Krunk isn't, apparently, the reason. We can fanwank that the boys wanted more support for their story, wanted revenge on Woody, wanted...something. But there is no clear picture.

Another thing is that Beaver acted to protect his secret. As a motivation, it is capable of making sense, but there are difficulties with it as a secret capable of protection in the first place. As Peter said:

"Things like this don't stay secret."

We are led by the presence of the older Lucky to believe that Woody has been molesting children for years. He molested three boys on the same team in one year. How feasible is it that it was just Lucky and this particular Little League team that were prey to Woody's ideas of being a caring adult of neglected boys? How credible is it that there was not a hint of this before the culmination of the events of this season, particularly in respect of a man who was so well-known and who was running for public office?

It could be supposed that as Woody only went after children already beaten down by poor relationships with their fathers, these were precisely the children who would not say anything to a parent while it was happening. But given that Woody actually sexually abused them, he was damn lucky that not one single child was found to display either the emotional or physical damage that would have alerted someone to what was happening.

Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.

Or not. It's all fine and well to say "gotcha" to your audience, but it should never be at the expense of characterisation and a plausible plot. The resolution, and the path to it, should make a natural sense when you start to look at it closely. And in "Not Pictured," it just doesn't. Both the major mysteries have huge holes where there should be understanding.

Take Felix's murder, which was scarcely addressed in this episode, but which has culminated in Weevil's arrest. Was "Plan B," or more particularly "Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle," the resolution of that mystery?

WEEVIL: You lied all along, didn’t you? That night on the bridge, you were there. You killed Felix, didn’t you?
THUMPER: That’s an interesting theory, Eli.

Later, Weevil tells Veronica that Thumper killed Felix. Where's his evidence? Beyond his assumption that it was Thumper and the evidence of Luis, he has so little to go on. Sure, Thumper is the one doing drug deals for the Fitzpatricks and inciting the rest of the bikers to do the same behind Weevil's back, and Thumper's bike was on the scene, but that doesn't go anywhere close to establishing that he killed Felix.

What we learned about Thumper was that he was patient, that he collected dirt on those who stood in his way, that he used it when the time was opportune. It was true of how he tackled Weevil. Thumper recorded Weevil beating Curly, but he didn't use it for months, waiting for his moment to take over the bikers, when he could effectively get others to do the deed. He noted down the license plate numbers of the Fitzpatricks' customers. It was not for the benefit of the Fitzpatricks.

So applying his modus operandi, how does it work with his killing Felix? It doesn't really. He found out about Felix and Molly. The way he used that information was not merely to tell the Fitzpatricks about the relationship, but to lie and tell them that Felix was disrespecting her:

LIAM: Don't you dare cry for him. After all the things he said he did to you? You were his whore! He did not care about you! You were just the dumb blonde piece o' tail he shot his mouth off about to all his buddies. How he plugged the good ship Molly-pop.

In other words, he got their Irish up, deliberately. Why? If he simply intended to kill Felix, there was no point in him doing it, was there? These are the actions of someone who manipulates others to achieve his ambitions. The only natural explanation is that Thumper intended for the Fitzpatricks to kill Felix, ensuring his promotion to second-in-command as the first stage of his plan to subvert the bikers. Couple that with the fact that the genuine eyewitness could not identify Thumper:

LAMB: Just so I've got this straight, you saw one PCHer stab another PCHer, then put the knife in the Echolls kid's hand?
LUIS: Yeah. That's what I saw.
LAMB: Could you identify the guy if you saw him again?
LUIS: I couldn't make out faces. But the one that did the stabbing took off on a red motorcycle with some kind of black spider on the side.

Note that Luis says he couldn't make out "faces" and refers to "the one" that did the stabbing. This strongly suggests that there was more than the killer, Felix and the unconscious Logan at the scene. Who were they? On a night where bikes were being swapped around, we can't say with any certainty that Thumper did the deed.

On top of that, there is the whole Logan question. Framing Logan consisted of so much more than just putting the knife in his hand. Lamb was never looking for anyone else for the crime, so neither Thumper nor the Fitzpatricks had any real reason to work hard at seeing him convicted for it. And yet, we are to believe that the Fitzpatricks provided Tom Griffith for Thumper, a low level bag man in their organisation? It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

One tries not to critical when the result isn't as expected, but there was so many hints at one thing - that Weevil matched Thumper for manipulation in getting the Fitzpatricks to kill Thumper, that Weevil knew he was morally responsible for Thumper's death, that what you see is not what you get - that it was hard not to expect that Weevil arranged the death of the man who was morally responsible, but didn't actually do the deed. The torment and anguish thereby caused Weevil of that knowledge would be a drama goldmine. Granted, the story might not be over and I am not one to insist that it is at the end of the season. Nonetheless, I am left with a tremendous feeling of dissatisfaction.

Which brings me to the bus crash.

I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see.

Everything hinges on being able to accept sixteen-year-old Beaver Casablancas as someone who killed a dozen people, mostly strangers, to protect his particular secret. For that to be satisfying, one has to understand why it was so important to him to keep that secret, or, at the very least, to understand that he was genuinely psychotic and that his motivation was irrelevant. Being a little psychotic is like being a little pregnant - it doesn’t compute.

Of course, there were hints throughout the season that Beaver was screwed and screwed up, no argument there. His father and brother treat him, and from his nickname it can be assumed have always treated him, as something of a sissy - the family runt. He's been excluded from the male bonding of the big, swinging Dicks. But there was never a suggestion or hint that it was because the family thought there was something "wrong" with Beaver. There was no mention of any incidents in his childhood or past that Beaver kicked puppies or tore the wings off flies. There was no sense of fear, from either of the Dicks or from Bettina. The nearest we got was Beaver's threat to Dick in "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough":

"You hit me and you’ll suffer worse, I promise you. You remember Sally?"

For a fleeting moment, Dick looked scared and reconsidered his actions. What was this about? There was no answer to that question. All we can say is that whatever it was, it wasn't enough to modify Dick's general derisory attitude to his brother both before and after the incident. That hardly suggests it was something that marked Beaver as a psycho in his brother's eyes, just that he knew Beaver could effectively "punish" him for a beating.

The only other way one can semi-legitimately draw the conclusion that Beaver was deranged is in applying to his circumstances some popular wisdom or stereotype as to what evolves from those circumstances. Now, as a matter of general principle, I have no problem with the use of stereotypes. I don't see their use as a good or bad thing in or of itself, and there are reasons why stereotypes exist - they are commonly true or commonly understood and can be shorthand for that common knowledge. What matters and falls to be judged is how they are used and whether they are reasonable shorthand for what is being presented. In this case, what appears to be the premise is that being molested as a child turns one crazy or gay (or at least questioning of one's sexuality). Of all Woody's victims that we saw, Lucky and Beaver fall into the first category, and Peter and Marcos fall into the second.

Granted, psychopaths and sociopaths are often the victims of childhood abuse, at least as presented in fiction. Does that stereotype work the other way around to the extent that the authors can get away with revealing in the last reel that the antagonist is crazy, without any other clues? I think not.

So we have to fall back on his need to keep the abuse secret and the extreme lengths he adopted to do so. Yet, we had nothing there either, in my view. Beaver is already dismissed by his father and brother, without knowledge of the abuse. One can certainly see how Beaver would think that being abused by Woody would amount to the Dicks as further "proof" that they were "right" to be dismissive of him. Beaver wouldn't want to give them further ammunition to belittle him. That would make sense if Beaver was looking to change their perception of him. The problem is that Beaver apparently wasn't looking to do that - he brought his father down in "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang" in an act of revenge within two months of the bus crash. The positions seem contradictory and there is no explanation for his move from one to the other. In other words, he goes from "I want my daddy to love me, so I'll kill to keep him from thinking less of me than he already does" to "My daddy doesn't love me, so I'll destroy him."

The "revenge" against Big Dick is problematic too. Why take revenge on his father, but not on Dick or, more particularly, on Woody? We have no suggestion that Beaver had foreknowledge of Woody's incorporation plans. We know that he did not even appreciate the effect of incorporation on his property interests until Pope explained it. At the time of the bus crash, Beaver had no reason to think he would need Woody for anything. The most we can say, and it would explain why Beaver hung on to the recording of his conversation with Marcos and Peter which is otherwise inexplicable given its chance of coming to light and undoing all his "good" work, is that he thought it might be useful to be able to manipulate Woody at some time in the future. It is fanwank, but not an unreasonable assumption. However, the clear point is that revenge on Woody was not on his agenda.

A factor that distinguishes Woody and Big Dick, and could thus explain the difference in treatment, is that as his father, Big Dick is supposed to love him unconditionally. But the same thing could be said for Dick, who Beaver also has no interest in avenging himself upon. Beaver's sole revenge on Dick is petty and specific to Dick's humiliating him in front of Mac. I suppose one could say that destroying Big Dick hurt Dick, but Beaver's smart, knows his brother and is likely to have realised that Dick's shallowness, and access to his trust fund, would insulate him from any real angst.

The only other piece of information we have on Beaver's motivation is what he tells Veronica in "I Am God":

"I guess Dick was too big for him so he figured he's settle the score with his little brother. Story of my life."

Huh? The story of his life isn't that he has been punished for Dick's actions. It's that Dick has eclipsed him totally in his father's affections and that Dick, in Beaver's mind, would not have fallen prey to Woody because of his size (read: manliness). Without some further explanation, this statement does nothing to help us understand why Beaver did what he did.

So we come to the scene on the roof, a scene at the end of which I expected to understand Beaver's motivation for his actions.

I'll declare straight off that I have no argument with the revelation that Beaver raped Veronica. It changed nothing in "A Trip to the Dentist" and I don't consider it a retcon or taking away from the power of that episode. I also have no problem with the writers spanning seasons, as to do otherwise would put up artificial barriers to an ongoing story. The rape revelation was genuinely surprising and shocking. It matched what we had seen or could reasonably have derived from what we had seen of Beaver. His abuse had left him with a distorted and dysfunctional attitude to sex, as he displayed with Mac in "Plan B" and in "Not Pictured." This lack of confidence was also a product of his treatment by the Dicks. Big Dick's propensity to trade up to younger models in wives and Dick's bragging indicate that it was one of the key ways in which the Dicks measured a worth, and one of the ways in which Beaver came up short. Dick repeated the family credo in "Not Pictured":

"Oh, that's what I'm talking about. It feels good to be a man from time to time, huh?"

So it makes perfect sense to me that a screwed up Beaver took the opportunity presented to him on a plate to prove he was a man. It would have been helpful to know why Beaver then, in an apparent act of contrition despite getting away with the lie, told Veronica about Logan's alibi in "Leave It to Beaver," but I can forgive the omission in an episode that was already exposition-heavy.

What I am struggling to forgive is the fact that this is all I understand about Beaver's motivations. I am no closer to knowing if Beaver was an evil genius, a raving lunatic or a tortured victim of abuse who shut off any doubt and remorse as a defence mechanism. The way the character was played/directed in the scene didn't make one state any more or less likely than another. He was evil, cold-blooded and manipulative in taunting Veronica with Keith's impending death and using the taser. He was crazy in the way he sent at least three people to their deaths in a mid-air fireball. He was pathetic in his plea to be recognised for who he was. The only constant was that he had no remorse throughout, another reason why it would have been helpful to understand his actions in "Leave It to Beaver" which stand out in contradiction.

But who was Beaver? Who was Cassidy? I never knew.

Curiouser and curiouser.

There was so much else left unresolved too. In addition to the points made about Felix's murder and the bus crash above, and with the proviso that they might always be addressed later but as things stand they mark questions which I feel should have had answers, here are some of them:

• Why did Marcos and Peter hold back from telling the world about Woody before the crash? Why were they on the bus in the first place? In addition to the confusion introduced by Ryan about Marcos, it can't be explained by it being a mandatory trip. It wasn't, as was made clear by Veronica in the season opener: "...anyone from newspaper, yearbook, and the broadcast news class who wants to tour Shark Field tomorrow." So what did Beaver do to stop them talking before or at Shark Field, and how did he get them there?
• When and how did Beaver plant the bomb and the rat on the bus? It had to be near the driver, the only one whose body was peppered with fragments.
• Beaver's plan was dependent on his being right behind the bus to activate the bomb at the critical time. How did Beaver keep the limo directly behind the bus, which included a stop at a petrol station, without anyone, including the limo driver, testifying to his efforts?
• How did Beaver know exactly where to be at the time the PCHers attacked Curly? Did he set up a meeting with Curly then anonymously call the bikers to tell them? If he did, why would Curly comply with a kid he thought was a mass murderer? Did Curly try to blackmail Beaver? Did Weevil get more than one call or was he less than forthcoming in what he told Veronica (a distinct possibility)?
• Did Beaver plant the C-4 in Terrence Cook's locker in Woody's hangar? If not, how did it get there? If so, how and why? Beaver's whole motivation is supposedly to stop anyone finding out about Woody, making this action somewhat dangerous.
• How and when did Beaver get access to Woody's hangar to plant the bomb on the plane? At what point, did he decide to kill Woody and for what reason? (The nearest I can fanwank this is that is wasn't revenge, it was cover up and self-protection. Once he sent Woody the tape, he had to think Woody would know that he, being the only survivor of the victims in the era of Peter and Marcos, was the likely blackmailer, and that Woody could connect Beaver to them and the bus crash.)
• Why was Lucky seemingly disinterested in stalking Woody throughout the summer when he was leading the 09ers in their battle against the PCHers, but then obsessively interested come November/December 2005 and through to his death?
• Who shot out Logan's windows? (This is, perhaps, relatively minor as it could simply have been intended to show Weevil's loss of control. Alternatively, it could have Lucky who wanted to light a fire under Logan.)
• How did Lilly's blood get on Aaron's Oscar?
• Grace Manning?

Sadly, I could go on and on and on...

Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it.

It is the nature of any mystery that there will be secrets and that what you see is veneer, else there would be no mystery at all. To have a theme with substance, you need more than that, for it is so broad and inherent in the genre that little can be made of it. Yet, that is really as much as can be said of the commonality of what has been emphasised time and again during this season. Was there another theme? I'm sure others have found something in it satisfying, but for me, the structure that a strong theme would give just isn't there.

The whole, as represented by "Not Pictured," amounted to something less than the sum of its parts. This saddens me deeply as someone who was fairly happy to fanwank through any holes in "Donut Run" and as someone who has devoted time and energy to the show beyond the watching of it. I'm not swearing off the show. I still think it is the best and most engaging drama on TV, with well-drawn characters, Beaver notwithstanding, about whom I care and want to continue to enjoy. It is still my opinion that, given its precarious hold on survival, fandom should concentrate on supporting the show and attracting new viewers in its public face. That was never to imply that one shouldn't have or express negative views - just a plea to keep them in-house, as it were, until the show was stronger. I don't want to hang, draw and quarter Rob Thomas, I don't want the network to interfere with the writers, and I sure as hell don't want the show to pander to specific interest groups amongst fandom. But I do hope that more care is taken next season in structuring the mysteries so that they make sense. I'd take that over "Gotcha" any day.

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Love you too, sweetcheeks.

A bummer, eh?

What's a bummer? That there were problems with the episode? Yes, a bummer, definitely.

If you mean it's a bummer that you think I'm nifty and call me sweetcheeks, then, no, I don't agree. That's just neat.

This was all kinds of fabulous, you.

Also, Cervando killed Felix.

Also, Cervando killed Felix.

No, he didn't. It was BEAVER!

Nice. And I see you draw inspiration from some of our discussions. :P

I don't want the network to interfere with the writers

Seriously? I have the feeling they are already doing that, and massively. It might explain why some of the solutions feel so abrupt and rather black-and-white. It might also explain the sudden necessity of making Jackie "sympathetic" by given her the "secretly disadvantaged" background.

Mais oui, mon ami. I put great value in our discussions and how they help me get my thoughts in order. Even when we don't agree :)

I think you're right about network interference and it may go someway to explain some of the problems with the season as a whole. I can only hope it stops.

Of course, the network forced Jackie onto them to begin with, so you know, stupid crackmonkeys.

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I never hated Jackie, I must confess. I would like to have known more about why she decided to play the game she did when she arrived at Neptune, but sadly the speed with which they ushered her out never really gave us that insight.

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See, that was the only thing that made perfect sense to me. Remember the values Beaver grew up with, those displayed by Big Dick and Dick. For them, other people are of little consequence, so using and abusing them is a non-issue for the Casablanceses. Then couple that with his being screwed up about his manliness after what Woody did to him, and it works. For me. I appreciate that it doesn't for everyone.

Sometimes making sense simply isn't enough... I think the "Gotcha!" factor plays into this again. If you are emotionally invested in Beaver you'll probably experience the rape reveal as a slap in the face. Just imagine what it might have felt like if Logan had been revealed as Lilly's ruthless killer in Season One. On the surface it makes sense: the jealousy is there, the temper is there, the occasional violence is there and can certainly also be fanwanked as a legacy of his abusive father. And yet, would it make for a satisfying solution for the myriads of fans who love Logan? I think not. (Hell, I would have found that solution boring.)I'd love to hear TPTB's opinion on Cassidy as a character, because I would bet they are unable to see him as something more than a clever plot device, and would probably be shocked to see how many people actually rooted for him.

As to the mystery and characterisation, I couldn't fault making Logan the killer of Lilly in Season One. The capacity was there. I would have been gutted because I like the character, and more particularly, I want to watch more of him, but I don't think my liking of that character, or anyone's liking of any character, should be an obstacle to an author making him or her the killer. There have been many attractive, charming, and sympathetic murderers in fiction.

I liked Beaver, if not with the fervour of you and persnick, but my complaints about him as the killer are unrelated to that fondness. The solution this time was unsatisfying to me because I can't understand enough key plot points and key characteristics that make Beaver a credible killer.

but I don't think my liking of that character, or anyone's liking of any character, should be an obstacle to an author making him or her the killer

Of course not, but that is also not my point. I was trying to explain why the rape revelation is so difficult to swallow for many Beaver fans, because I don't think it really has much to do with this being logical in face of the character traits you mentioned above. The Powers That Be made us love the character, mostly so that revealing him as the culprit would have an emotional punch - or, to put it on a very low level, so that they could have the "Gotcha!" experience you've mentioned in your review. But in showing that he was lying basically from the second episode we saw him, a moment in which many people's love of the character started, they drove home that this love was always based on a lie, that it was in a way foolish. It feels like a deliberate betrayal, and I'm really stressing "it feels like" here. This isn't about logic, or about a satisfying solution to the mystery, it's about the emotional resolution that a lot of people didn't get, because Beaver was vilified too much in the end. And I think this impact - this loss of an emotional satisfying resolution - is something TPTB underestimated, because they really seem bad at understanding how attached viewers get to characters - or whom they get attached to, or why. This is not about them not being "allowed" to turn Beaver into the culprit, it is about them doing it cheaply - and I think the rape reveal was emotionally cheap, because it made a lot of the people who loved Beaver feel horrible for doing so. From a character standpoint - given what we've heard in the finale - I think it works, and I don't have a lot of emotional trouble with it, either, but I understand why a lot of Beaver fans do.

Isn't it contradictory to say on the one hand, "they [TPTB] are unable to see him as something more than a clever plot device, and would probably be shocked to see how many people actually rooted for him" and "The Powers That Be made us love the character, mostly so that revealing him as the culprit would have an emotional punch"?

The characterisation of the rape reveal as cheap is not one I find readily acceptable. I don't know what writers do other than manipulate the reader's/viewer's emotional responses, the sole question for me being whether or not they do it well. I do however agree on his being too vilified at the end, but again, I founded that opinion in the confused characterisation. In other words, we agree for different reasons. I am grateful for the insight.

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I think on this one, there were. Throughout the season, one had Dick's attitude to sex on display. Dick was consistently a user, as could be implied about Big Dick. Some of that had to rub off on Beaver. Then there was the violence of his reaction to Mac's concern about sex, which she coupled with Veronica - inadvertently hitting on the right combination. I do agree about the chlamydia being a common STD, but I think it fit Veronica's judgement of Duncan, and the precautions they took during sex, for her to realise that she hadn't got it from him and it could be no one other than one who passed it to her that night. Seeing Cassidy's name, knowing he was the third boy, and knowing Woody carried it, gave her the link she was missing. Worked for me - one of the few things that did.

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Interesting this, because whilst I am very unclear on his motivation for so doing, I called him setting his father up in "Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang" at the time. It's in the clue section on MI.net. Of course, at the time I didn't dream of his greater culpability and at the time, I could buy the motivation of his doing it to get back at his neglegent father.

I don't think Beaver had any reason to kill Veronica at the time of the bus crash. He hadn't seen her is that much action before then, although he was well aware of her reputation, but I doubt he thought he had much to fear from her at that point. As to her being, or not being, on the bus, I think he was as callous about her fate as about Meg's and the others. I can't break this down into any deep-down desire on his part to get caught, particularly as she was on the bus, as far as he knew. And I'm sad to say that I think the only reason why Beaver didn't shoot first on the roof was because, as is true in many a mystery, we had to have the exposition.

I like your comments on the true state of being of the 09ers and the have-nots. I wished they'd found some time to explore that theme a little more.

I'm so sorry to hear about the abuse you faced. There is a popular stereotype that abused kids do perfect the ability to hide truths, so perhaps this is what they were going for. I don't know. They sure as hell didn't do it well enough.

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Do you have the expression "as it were" in the States? I know fandom doesn't have a house, hence me qualifying my use of the word with that expression.

The perception of VM Seasons One and Two seem to suggest that in this case, the show is not as you describe, that is, with heavy network input in the first year and less in the second. I'm sure I've read comments from some of the show's makers to the effect that there was little in the way of network notes in the first season. Going in to Season Two, we already believed that Jackie had been imposed on the team, we saw various Top Models, a reality celebrity (I think, I had no idea who Kristin Cavallari was), Meg surviving long past was healthy for the storyline in the opinion of many, including myself. You may be right. I claim no inside knowledge. It just doesn't seem that way.

I have no problem with criticism. I wouldn't have written this entry if I had. What I did have a problem with, in the context of a show that was surviving on the strength and passion of its fanbase, was segments of that fanbase getting very vocal, and by that I mean letters sent outside of fandom, about their demands for the plot they wanted. If nothing else, it's just bratty or so it seems to me. And I had a problem with people whining after something like three episodes into the season that it wasn't like Season One. I know we disagree on this and that's fair dos. Certainly, however, I never intended to suggest that one couldn't or shouldn't be critical. In that respect, I think everyone should be. Sadly, I don't think that's the case, for if it were the American public wouldn't rot their brains on substanceless reality fare and trash. (Or any other public for that matter - here, currently, it's Big Brother, making the prospect of two months of wall-to-wall World Cup coverage almost welcome.)

Yes, I agree that constructive and valid criticism is a very useful and positive thing for any producer (of a thing, not the job title), including that from fans who are smart and able to deliver it in a way that is intelligent, well-founded on evidence, and not snotty, whining, or developed from some bizarre sense of entitlement to dictate the story. I don't know how they filter out the crap though, and when there's a lot of crap, or when it's delivered without a modicum of courtesy, I can understand if they tire of it.

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By in-house, I meant amongst ourselves, in forums, journals, wherever fans gather, and not by way of letter-writing outside the fandom. Does that make sense? As to how fans express their criticism - any way they like, although, as with all things, I'd rather read something well-written, based on something substantial, and, if at all possible, either funny or lyrical.

I'm sorry if missed the keyword "/studio" in my response, although it doesn't change that response as a statement of my perception. I am happy to concede that others may know more about the subject and am just reporting my own impression. I would tend to give Rob Thomas more credence than unnamed insiders, but I haven't had the conversation with him, so I don't know.

As to your undoubted talents, I only share the extensive experience of watching TV over the years, albeit in a different country for the most part and with a very different production system in play. However, I have never been into either spoilers or into knowing how things works outside what is presented on screen. I have no interest in the "business," just the product - a bit like my car. I want it to go from A to B, keep me dry, and the radio/CD to work.

I'm not afraid of criticising people directly. I don't go out of my way to do it and I try to stay relatively polite. It takes little effort on my part to attempt not to be rude to individuals as a general principle, although I am prone to sarcasm. I wasn't talking about you, your friends, or any anyone specific. I was referring to the sense of entitlement some fans seem to me to adopt about their favourite shows. By that, I mean the sense that they should be able to dictate the course of those shows. And, I suppose I was talking about rudeness, too. I'm half-British. It goes against the grain, unless it's clever.

I'm the opposite of you, more forgiving of the writers, actors, crew and less forgiving of the fans. I don't know where it comes from. Perhaps it is from the fact that the former group are the ones who've actually created the thing I love, whereas the fans are getting a free ride. I haven't really thought that through, but that's an initial stab at it. If the show was healthy in its ratings, it wouldn't even matter.

And as I've said, I have no problem with people posting what they want, when they want (in my case, it had to wait for MI.net updates, completing the transcripts for 221 and 222, and some other stuff). If it's interesting or well-written or funny, I'd even want to read it, even when I disagree. And I'm lucky in that I have a forum where I have more immediate discussions and I don't use my LJ for that.

I have no conscious sense that I have to stick to something I've said in the past, or that I am contradicting something I've said in the past, or that I have to apologise for my own opinion of this episode. I feel how I feel and agree that I have every right to feel it.

OMG! Having to continue to another post...

...I am defensive of the show. I love it, I want it to survive and thrive, and I want to continue following the lives of characters I adore. No apology there either. I'll readily admit to having a siege mentality about it, because we live constantly on the edge of crisis. And whilst I think you overstate the extent to which quips and blurb on MI.net, a fan site designed to bring in new viewers, reflect my personal opinions, not least because there are a number of us with differing ones working for a common cause, I chose to trust Rob until he gives me reason not to. That's not now, for the record. I was disappointed in the resolution of the Season Two mystery for all the reasons I've given, and perhaps more, but he hasn't lost my trust that he can deliver more of what I love. It's like any favourite artist - author, musician, director, painter, sculptor, etc. I can't think of a single one where I've loved with equal fervour every single thing they've ever done.

I hope this response isn't defensive. Or reproachful. Or obnoxious. I certainly intend to be none of those things and I'm carefully re-reading both the final paragraph of my journal and my previous response to ascertain where I have been so, or could be perceived as having been so. For that, to the extent that I have come across that way, I do apologise.

I don't think you need worry about my opinion about keeping criticism in-house. Outside MI.net, I'm not widely read. You're one of, what, three? In the grand scheme of things, I'm very small potatoes. And foreign. And old and cranky occasionally. Well, actually, old always. I don't mistake it for wisdom.

you're brilliant you know that?

sooo much stuff here... can't remember half of it!! lol.

anyway... one question... grace manning?? who was that? i can't remember... *scratches head* lol.

props to you. =) has been a pretty good season for the average vm watcher/reader. lol. =)

but seriously, how on EARTH do you do this?? lol. =)

not that i'm complaining! ^^

we'll see you next season?

Aw, thanks. Grace Manning is Meg's little sister, last seen creeping out of a closet. What was that all about? What did Lamb do? Where is she? Why did her parents, who let Lizzie run around fairly wild the year before and had a pretty balanced daughter in Meg, suddenly turn into bizzaro parents?

*sigh*

It worries me that I've forgotten a lot, but it was getting really long!

oh YEAH... nodsnods... i remember now...

hahahaha... it's cool. these things are amusing for me to read...

also amusing with the fact that you're like some UBER vm... nerd? hahaha. jkz jkz. =)

love you for it. =)

I finally got a chance to read your review. I think you made some excellent points. I, too, was frustrated by the lack of motive and resolution this season. But I also have irritation with how the final episode was set up and finished. For example, how is it that Veronica’s tazer was powerful enough to drop Danny Boyd and the boy at the Hearst mixer but barely even enough to sting Veronica? She is five foot one and Cassidy tazed her twice yet she was still conscious and functional.

Then there is the absolutely cheap shot of trying to make us think that Keith had been killed in the plane explosion. Did anyone actually believe that Rob Thomas would kill off the character that has been described as the ‘best father on television’? It was a silly and ineffective ploy. And it made Veronica’s behavior on the rooftop took stupid. In fact, from the moment she stepped foot at the Neptune Grand, Veronica did one stupid thing after another. Didn’t she learn from the ending of “Look Who’s Stalking” that nothing good comes from her going to the Neptune Grand?

First she sends a text message to Mac telling her that Cassidy was a killer. Didn’t she think that Cassidy might have seen it? Or that Mac might be so alarmed by that information that she may have acted or said something to alert Cassidy? Secondly, why was Veronica even on the roof? If she had thought for a single second, she would know that Mac wouldn’t ask to meet her on the roof – Mac would go to the safety of the party.

Thirdly, once Veronica is on the roof and Cassidy is promising to blow up the plane in one minute, why would she try to call Keith? If Keith was going to die, wouldn’t it have been better to let him die unsuspecting and happy instead of listening to his incoherent daughter’s babbling? And shouldn’t Veronica have tried to do something more useful with the phone, such as call the police? If nothing else, the call would be recorded and Veronica could have told Cassidy that the call was being recorded. That might have been leverage because as soon as that plane blew up, everyone would know Cassidy was responsible. His secret was coming out, blowing up the plane wouldn’t change that.

The whole episode was badly conceived and required the viewer to suspend belief to a level I could not do. And I won’t even go into the ending of the Logan/Veronica relationship. It was as illogical and preposterous as the rest of the episode. So maybe it fit right in.

Anyway, you made some excellent points in your review. Good job.

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