As I did for the premiere of season two, I'm writing up an overview since real time has passed between seasons. Obviously, I'm happy that Logan and Veronica are a couple. What I'm not particularly thrilled with is the fact that not only was so much about the reality of these two having a relationship glossed over, but this episode appeared to do its damndest to excise the chemistry of Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell. Logan and Veronica’s relationship was presented as an average high-school romance continuing on through college and that is sooooo not Logan and Veronica. At all. In any way, shape or form.
Furthermore, Rob Thomas introduced a new character whose main purpose was to provide the point of a clearly-set-up triangle ... and Thomas put him in Duncan's clothes no less. Sheesh. As a way of presenting Logan/Veronica to potential new viewers, well, Welcome Wagon didn't hit it. Without knowing their history I'm not sure how any new viewer would be pulled in by the moments that did matter to their current fans. In addition, the largest part of the episode was spent on building up a relationship between Veronica and new guy (while working on the mystery of the week) who was cast in yearning, adoring puppy-dog mode.
Because of how quickly Logan and Veronica were rushed into a relationship in the finale last season with about zero actual build-up to reconciliation, we weren't given the opportunity to see them move forward together. The fact that the working out the grooves of their relationship -- including heading into a sexual arena -- was completely glossed over here as well doesn't leave me hopeful that Thomas will do all that much better by LoVe fans in season three than he did last season. I'd like to be proven wrong. I really and truly would.
I'm not holding my breath.
In the following write-up, you'll clearly see that I'm analyzing this as a fan of the pairing. I'm looking at their scenes, their interaction through those eyes and not through the vision of a potential new viewer because, frankly, if I were to do that, I would cry. The new guy was not presented as an obstacle in Logan and Veronica's relationship. Logan was presented as an obstacle in a potential relationship between Veronica and the new guy. Sigh. With that said, I'm going to ignore the depth of those scenes and what it means or doesn't mean for Logan and Veronica and instead focus on just the LoVe scenes, those moments both great and not so great ... and ignore the story around them.
Scene One: Butch Mars and the Echolls Kid
An observation was made that this first scene likely started out with Logan sitting on the bench alone with Veronica coming up and mirroring his position before launching into her Clint Eastwood impression. That is certainly possible. Take note of the little quirk of a smile that lifts Logan's lips once she speaks, a smile that played as if in acknowledgement of her arrival. I'm going with that as how it was intended because, really, it doesn't make much sense otherwise. They're sitting there, exactly alike, and Veronica randomly starts quoting The Outlaw Josey Wales in a very bad Clint Eastwood impersonation? Yeah, doesn't fly. So if we take it that Logan was sitting by his lonesome and his girlfriend -- excuse me ...
Ahem. So if we take it that Logan was sitting by his lonesome and his girlfriend came up, copied his position and quoted one of his celluloid heroes (I think we can presume this by the fact that he encouraged the Eastwood marathon), their first twenty seconds of their first scene of the season is awesomely adorable. My only complaint is that I wish that the director, John Kretchmer, had made it clear that Logan was alone, had given us a shot of him sitting there by himself, moved in on a close-up ... and then had Veronica ask, "You a bounty hunter, boy?" before pulling back to show her sitting exactly like him. I think if the scene had opened like that much of the commentary that there was awkwardness to the scene wouldn't have come up. Because they were cute, extremely cute. Still, even that explanation doesn't quite take away all of the awkwardness which on first glance I was willing to blame solely on direction and acting, but on rewatch, I don't think that it was the actors at all. I do believe that both Bell and Dohring did a great job with what they were given via script and direction.
The direction I've already discussed, but the script by Rob Thomas had problems as well. Logan calling his girlfriend butch in the introduction of the two as a couple? Not cool. Logan calling himself stupid in response to how he handles their relationship in the first introduction of the two as a couple? Again, so not cool. And, oy vey, that moment where the two went from walking to Logan suddenly stopping and talking about Beaver was just too abrupt and felt like something was cut, some transition was sitting alone and forgotten in the editing room. Like the direction, the dialogue in this scene wasn't natural at all, which left the excellence of our actors. And I do believe that both Bell and Dohring did with it what they could (thus the cuteness and goodness that WAS there). Frankly, I give them all of the credit for anything positive in this scene because Kretchmer and Thomas? Didn't do them or LoVe justice.
But enough of the negative, let's talk about the cute and the good that was there ... because it was indeed there. Veronica copying him, quoting lines from a (doubtless) favorite movie to him, Logan acknowledging that she so totally wears the pants in the relationship with an adorable scrunch to his face, Veronica taking it all in stride because she knows she wears the pants. And then that lean-to-kiss. *Sigh* I know that some were bothered by the distance, I get that and I can appreciate that, but I loved how it played out. I saw it as they were sitting far apart because of Veronica's little act to get Logan to smile (more on that later), were about to stand up and neither wanted to wait the few seconds it would take to stand up and so kissed before rising. It was cute. I liked. A Lot.
Another thing I liked was something that came to light during the rest of the scene. Logan is not in the happiest place ever (but really, have we ever seen him there? Sigh, poor, woobie Logan!). There is a weight of sadness that is hanging over him because of what happened with Beaver (I so refuse to give him the dignity of using his real name and I'm a tad annoyed that Veronica did so; that little psycho raped her, killed a busload of people, humiliated Mac and took obscene pleasure in torturing Veronica physically, mentally and emotionally on that roof), what is happening with Dick, his truly orphaned status (not that there is any mention of that). Bottom-line, dude is not a very happy camper right now despite having the girl. And so after their discussion about Beaver and Dick and knowing he's sad, if we go back to the first twenty seconds, that sorrow is obvious in those moments as well. What also is obvious is that Veronica was deliberately trying (and succeeding) in making her boyfriend -- excuse me ...
Ahem. What also is obvious is that Veronica was deliberately trying (and succeeding) in making her boyfriend smile, giving him a light, happy moment. Seeing Veronica actually do something so specifically for Logan, something that would have required her to think of something to do to make him smile shows a lovely commitment to him that we've never been given the opportunity to witness. Or I could be starting on LoVe Fanwanking 101 early this season. Take your pick.
As for the rest of the scene, not much there blatantly in terms of LoVe or their relationship. However, we do have the fact that Veronica is talking to Logan about stuff that's important to him (i.e., his BFF Dick) and she is listening to him, providing an outlet. Yet another sign that she does have an investment in this relationship ... yet another thing we never saw from Veronica in regards to Logan before. And that's good. The little peck wherein they more kissed air than each other's lips not as good, but, hey, we got the cute bench-kissage earlier. I won't grumble ... too much. Especially because as Logan walked away, Veronica looked after him in concern. Not down, not away from him, but her eyes following him so that the emotion on her face was for Logan and not because of Logan. Another show of investment.
Suffice it to say that for the first LoVe scene back from the break and introducing them as a full-fledged couple to old and new viewers alike, it wasn't great, it could have been a lot better, but it wasn't bad and it had some adorable moments, two kisses, Veronica showing investment in the relationship and a Logan face scrunch.
It'll do, Rob. It'll do.
Scene Two: Post-Coitus, Spooning and Forwarded Calls
While I would love for my write-up for this scene to be all giddy, giddy, happy, happy, joy, joy, alas it is not. Yes, yes, Logan and Veronica are having sex. Yay. But, but, we were left with only our imagination, and, yes, while our imagination can provide a helluva lot more than can television (especially of the R-rated -- and beyond -- variety), we should still get something, anything. Like in the final scene of Not Pictured, we weren't given all of the pieces of the story ... the fun parts. First we didn't actually see them get back together in season two, and now we are denied the events, discussion or spontaneity leading up to their first time having sex. Is it voyeuristic? Damn straight -- but hello, this is a television show, that's kinda the point. We like to watch.
Viewers deal with all of the angst, all of the downs so that we can enjoy the fluff, the ups and yet Rob Thomas seems determined to deny us that half of the equation. Yeah, yeah, it's great that they're at a point where they are having sex, but what about the fact that she found out she was raped by Beaver
Remember how most HATED the Pieta shot in Normal is the Watchword because of the awkwardness and that only after the switched places of Logan and Veronica appeared in Not Pictured did people love it? That would be John Kretchmer's direction. In fact, going back to my review of the Logan/Veronica moments for Normal is the Watchword (written by Thomas/directed by Kretchmer) I wrote this about the X-Terra makeout/machine-gun-rampage scene:
Quote:And whaddya know? The same thing happened here ... IN A SCENE WHERE THEY ARE NAKED IN BED NO LESS!!!! For whatever reason, Thomas and Kretchmer both chose to not only not sell the chemistry these two have, but to extinguish it. Maybe the point in Normal is the Watchword was to contrast the Dohring/Bell chemistry with the Bell/Dunn lack as little as possible. Perhaps that's the same case here: Downplay the Dohring/Bell chemistry so that viewers, especially new viewers, take note of any potential Bell/Chris Lowell chemistry. Why that would be a priority, I have no clue other than my old standby that Thomas wants viewers to ship Veronica with someone other than Logan. Sigh. Who knows? All I know is that Thomas and Kretchmer succeeded swimmingly in the 'downplay the chemistry' department. Oh, hell, maybe we can add Kristen Bell's name to the list with Veronica barely touching Logan and wanting to get out of that bed ASAP. Bell has made it crystal-clear that she is against the pairing of Logan and Veronica, and perhaps those feelings crept into the portrayal of the Logan/Veronica scenes. Sigh. For whatever reason, the highly-touted sweaty bed scene was pretty much a bust. There were three reasons, however, that it wasn't a complete bust.
We actually have a similar scene from season one to compare this one to. In Meet John Smith, Veronica had a making-out-in-a-car fantasy, and it was about 20,000 times hotter in terms of direction, execution and action (definitely, not in terms of chemistry with the guy). I mean, really, that scene was S-T-E-A-M-Y in the execution. This one, in comparison, is just sad. In this scene, the sexual heat and steam were barely non-existent. Maybe the show was just going for romance, but the steam should have been there as well, I think.
Now, of course, I'm not saying that it's because Jason Dohring and Kristen Bell are incapable of generating that heat (I mean, we saw plenty evidence of their heat-generating abilities with one another onscreen last season), but the direction of this scene did its damndest to deny them that capability. Their lips were fused together for, oh, about three seconds upon lying down and two seconds later both were kissing the side of the other's mouth, and then we got motorcycles revving and then the gunfire. There was no necking, there was no making-out, there was no French-kissing, there was no open-mouth kissing. Damnit!
It was about as asexual as a scene like that could possibly be. I don't know, maybe the idea was that if they actually played fair with their chemistry, it would contrast too sharply with Bell and Teddy Dunn's lack. I don't know. I just know that the execution of the sexual element of this scene actually seemed to be done in such a way as to dampen the sexual heat between these two as much as possible. Double sigh. And double damnit!
Number one was the fact that Jason Dohring was not wearing a shirt. That? Always a good thing. The second reason was much less shallow. When Veronica threatened that she was going to spoon Logan's brains out, it worked on a couple of levels. First of all, it was cute and showed a spark of the girl that she was before all of the madness happened which brought to my mind the fact that we know that Logan had a small crush on that girl (ala The Wrath of Con truth or dare flashback). That somewhat girly-girl innocence of Veronica paired with the bad-ass detective miss of a threatening spooning was a lovely contradiction. In addition, it brought back a quick flash to Logan's snarky line in the hallway scene from Driver Ed.
- Logan: FYI, if the cuddling is the best part, he didn't do it right.
Finally, the fact that Logan and Veronica are having sex would be reason number three. Logan. Veronica. Having sex. Yay.
Now remember above when I mentioned this write-up would include the good and the bad? Well, above was the (mostly) bad ... all the rest is good. Admittedly, I appear to be the only person on the planet who found good with one particular aspect coming up very soon. But before we get to that, let's glory in Logan's unabashedly happy smile a bit longer after Veronica makes her spooning comment. That boy just looks so, so in love. *Sigh* Which brings us to that particular voice-over that upset just about every viewer but me mostly because it told just about every viewer but me that while the boy is so, so in love, the girl is ... not so much.
That is the gist of what most people got from Veronica's voiceover:
- Veronica Mars Voiceover: Okay, Veronica, aren't you the girl who laughed at those idiots who tried to take their high school romances to college with them?
Nothing prior to this voiceover indicated that Logan and Veronica had a long-term relationship of any kind. They could have met just that summer and only begun dating in the past couple of months for all earlier scenes had explained. This was Thomas's way, albeit a very clunky way, of letting viewers know these two have been together a long time, throughout high school. This isn't a recent summer fling. No, it doesn't even remotely offer a glimpse into the complexity of their relationship, but I think (hope) that's going to come. The point was to say that there is a depth to this relationship; the inference from Veronica's line from people who don't know the history of the show would be that this guy has been HER guy for a long time which infers not some casual relationship. And I think that that alone was the motivation for the line.
There is nothing there that I can see that says I want to dump my boyfriend from high school now that I'm in college. I read it as Veronica saying that while she used to make fun of girls who did that, hello! look at HER boyfriend and now, she totally gets EXACTLY why "those idiots" do that. I know, I know, I am so in the minority in this, but I just can't read the line any other way. I didn't read it as her questioning moving onto college with Logan, but understanding WHY anyone would move onto college with their boyfriend if their boyfriend is anything like Logan.
Just me still? Okay, moving on.
We then got to the best part of this scene: The phone call from Keith. Yes. The best part of the first 'Logan and Veronica are having sex' scene is a phone call from her father. Go figure. It was just too cute and filled with the schmoopy goodness that we love in LoVe scenes. Veronica running out to stop him, Logan answering just as he realizes he shouldn't. His quick and breezy response to her explanation -- "We need to work on our communication -- which may or may not hint at future problems, was just too cute as he handed her the phone. And then the bestest part of the best part was Logan almost curling around her, not quite kissing her shoulders, making his presence very known as she's lying to her father about exactly where she is and what she and Logan are doing. It was just so cute, so sweet and his smile was so happy and they were so adorable and it was the first, complete, unadulterated this is WHY we love LoVe moment in the whole episode. It was just ... aaaahhh!! Love.
Scene Three: Simply Nice is Simply Wonderful
Because I know so many loved this scene unabashedly (and, honestly, so did I for the very most part), I'm going to take a page from my analysis for the final scene in Not Pictured and offer readers the opportunity to just skip the sole negative aspect of Logan and Veronica's final scene. Simply click here and you will be transported past the Negative Nellie that demanded she come out to play for at least a little bit.
If you've been reading my chemistry section regularly you know that I generally like to end on happy notes (if they can be found). In order to do that, I begin with the not-so-happy that struck me while watching any LoVe scenes and try and get those out of the way first. In this case, it's fairly easy because there was a heckuva lot to just love, love, love about this scene and very little to, well, not. So, yeah, let's just get that out of the way and before I start I want to note that while every chemistry update is entirely subjective, this one may be considered more subjective than most because it has to do with an acting choice. Read on.
As wonderful as this last scene featuring Logan and Veronica is, there is one thing that mars (heehee) its splendor. And that thing can be attributed to a single factor. Surprisingly (in light of the rest of the episode) it's not the script by Rob Thomas -- which actually calls for some of the sweetest Love interaction we've seen yet, or direction by John Kretchmer. The fault can be laid at one person's feet. And that person would be Kristen Bell. As stated above, the script called for a sweetness tinged with a vulnerability that clearly showed the strong feelings that both Logan and Veronica have for one another. Jason Dohring played that perfectly. Was there any doubt in any viewer's mind that Logan remains head over heels for Veronica? Of course not. Yes, yes, he had the dialogue that pretty much said as much. That's Logan; he uses his words to wound and to woo (both to devastating effect). Of course he would have the words. However, it was more than the words; it was how he said them, his body language, the way he looked at her ... his smile, his eyes shining with love. Everything about him and from him radiated love for this girl.
With Veronica it's a different story. All Bell had to play with (as is usually the case) was her body language because Veronica doesn't use sweet words when it comes to heartfelt emotion. Instead, she employs gentle sarcasm or doesn't say a word. No, her feelings are revealed through her body language, the play of emotions upon her face, in her eyes. Throughout the series' run (especially in the first season), Bell has been a master at this, saying more nonverbally than many an actor could with a page-long monologue. In this scene, in the moment when Logan opened up yet again, Veronica gave a swift smile and then ... ducked her head. Her hair fell forward, covering her face and we couldn't see her expression, any play of emotion.
I'll play Devil's advocate to myself for a moment. Perhaps the intention was to show that Veronica was uncomfortable with Logan's devotion to her. That is certainly the impression that many viewers received from Bell's acting choice. However, taking in her dialogue, the reaction to the key, the hand-holding, kissing, as well as Logan's "What, no quip?" comment which read not as a hurt query, but rather affectionate teasing, it's difficult to see how the intention was that Veronica didn't feel the same as Logan. Except it came across that way because Kristen Bell chose to play it that way by denying us the beauty of her expressive face.
Hey, at least it was merely a few moments in an otherwise wonderfully scripted, directed and acted scene. Yes, I'll reiterate on the acting because Dohring was spot-on in his portrayal of an adoring Logan as detailed earlier and everything before and after the quipless moment showed Bell just as on target. This takes us to the good parts. Woohoo!
One of the things that the LoVe fandom wanted to see was Logan and Veronica just being a couple. Yes, the big moments are nice (or, ahem, would be if we actually got them beyond the first kiss), but seeing them just interact as boyfriend and girlfriend is something that we figured would be pretty durn squeeworthy. This scene showed in excellent form that we were right. Squeeworthy indeed!
From the opening shot of them just casually sitting in public eating lunch together, having a conversation that didn't involve anything more heartbreaking than Logan skipping a few classes, it was nice. And sometimes simply nice is simply wonderful. That was the case here. We witnessed a comfort level that we've never got the opportunity to see before (and that was missing for some reason in the first scene). They were just two college kids, hanging out, choosing to be in one another's company because they wanted to be. Plainly put, we were seeing Logan and Veronica as a couple ... in public ... not in flashback ... relatively happy with the place the other had in their life. It was nice ... really nice.
And then, and then, and then SQUEEE!!! Logan gave her his bonus birthday gift and it was just so sweet and schmoopy and totally Logan. Veronica's over-the-top response ("A bow? A bow?! You got me a bow!") fading into silence as she took in the actuality of the gift was lovely. Logan may be the only person on the planet who is able to reduce Veronica to quipless ... but not for long. But ah, ah, ah, even when she tried to teasingly snark her way out of emotionally revealing herself by suggesting there are other girls in Logan's life (ah, Veronica!), Logan's gentle reprimand clearly explained that they were having a moment and to just let it ride *sigh* as he reached over and took her hand. Caressing her fingers, looking into her eyes, placing a kiss on her knuckles, declaring her sole status as his girl, the 'not for long' even went bye-bye as Veronica was truly rendered quipless. Why? I choose to believe it's because she lurves him ... she's just incapable of articulating that emotion. Yet.
What followed then should have broken the moment, but actually didn't because of the Logan/Veronica response to the situation. Of course, I'm talking about Dick's arrival and subsequent beat-down by big, angry dude upon whose girlfriend Dick was working his mojo. Logan's one-word request for Veronica's bag and her calm hand-over showed a couple who understands one another, who can communicate and who can work well together. Awesome.
And then Piz showed up (blecch!) trying to be all cute and adorable and instead looking like a complete dorkwad. The good news is that Veronica seemed barely aware of him and even, dare I say it? (why, yes, I shall) annoyed as if by a pesky fly. Then when Logan walked up, without a moment's hesitation, she turned to her man, completely focusing on him, his words and tilting her head up for the kiss she knew was coming. *Sigh*
What about Logan's "nice shirt" comment though? Was there any deeper meaning behind that? I do think there was; in fact, I think that was one of several issues that was brought up throughout this episode that Logan and Veronica may or may not be facing in the coming episodes. We had:
- - awkwardness
- Logan's sorrow
- Veronica questioning her relationship with Logan (for everyone but me)
- lack of communication
- potential cheating (see Logan and physical)
- Veronica's inability to reciprocate Logan's articulated feelings
So what does it mean? Hopefully, nothing. However, I do think it was there as a sign of Logan's continued (and certainly reasonable) fear that Veronica will leave him again (as she did in his mind the first time) for the "good" guy. It also was a subtle way of informing the audience (*sob*) that Piz is potentially a long-term problem ... one that will be around and a constant thorn ala Duncan. But if we're going to compare to Duncan, let us compare the good in this scenario. While it's obviously a different situation, everything in this episode DID scream that Piz is the new Donut and by that account, there was a great difference in Veronica's reaction to Logan coming up for a kiss while she was talking to the other guy.
In Normal is the Watchword, Veronica was all a'googly-eyed, practically mooning over Duncan and clearly uncomfortable when Logan showed up. She also appeared self-conscious when her boyfriend kissed her in front of him. Here, Piz was barely a blip on her radar even when he was talking to her and once Logan showed up, all of her attention was upon him and the kiss they shared was honest and oblivious to anything else.
So cherish the good, do your best to ignore the bad because while there were definitely problems with the introduction of Logan and Veronica's relationship to newbies, as long-time fans, the good definitely outweighed the bad. (And hopefully newbies will stick around and be given the opportunity in future episodes to see the allure of LoVe.) We were shown a Veronica invested in the relationship, concerned about Logan, sexually happy with Logan, Logan once more in a place where he feels fully comfortable in sharing his feelings with her (without getting wasted), and a comfort level between the two that we never even saw approached before. Compared to what we have gotten, lord knows that's something. That is something.