On ''Veronica Mars,'' O'Dell's murder is finally solved (it was Tim the TA!), but not until his wife joins him in the hereafter, and LoPa make it (sort of) official

By Missy Schwartz
Updated March 01, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars
Credit: Veronica Mars: Michael Desmond

”Veronica Mars”: And the murderer is…

Never trust a TA whose hair could double as a pot holder. That’s the lesson we learned in last night’s episode, in which Dean O’Dell’s murderer was finally revealed.

And, oh, what an episode it was, dizzyingly jam-packed with red herrings, false finger-pointing, and even a nod to one of the lamest bands of the ’80s, Night Ranger. In a pair of scenes shot from gorgeously noirish angles, we saw Keith Mars — make that Sheriff Mars, at least for now — interrogating first Mindy O’Dell and then Professor Landry. Both suspects confirmed that the dean himself was the mysterious second male voice overheard in the cheatin’ couple’s hotel room. The night of his death, he showed up with a gun and started threatening to…what? According to Mindy: ruin Landry’s precious career. According to the prof: divorce his adulterous wife.

Neither suspect seemed to have the upper hand until Mindy learned of the bloody clothes found in the incinerator. Then the guilt seemed to fall on Landry, whom Keith arrested in the middle of his criminology lecture. (Nice riff on the late — yes, he’s really gone — Sheriff Lamb’s in-class bust of Veronica two weeks back.) Pretty soon, Landry found himself behind bars, where, sadly, he proved far less entertaining than Cell-Block Veronica. Convinced of their mentor’s innocence, TA Tim and Veronica teamed up to confirm his alibi. Around the same time, Mindy O’Dell was cashing in her dead hubby’s life insurance policy, slipping on her she-must-be-guilty dark shades, shipping her kids off to the U.K., and skipping town in her brand-new boat. Aha! So she’s the killer! Everyone knows a guilty person hits the road (or the waterways) as soon as the check clears. But then…Landry ditched Neptune, too. And when Sheriff Mars finally caught up with the boat down in Cabo San Lucas, Landry had accidentally offed Mindy in the heat of an argument over who, exactly, killed Cyrus O’Dell.

I have to say, my head was starting to hurt by the time Keith tracked down Landry. (Whose sobbing, incidentally, I found cringe-worthy. Not to get all Randy Jackson on you, Patrick Fabian, but it just wasn’t working for me, dawg.) I didn’t buy that either Mindy or the prof had the dean’s blood on their hands — that would have been too easy — but the story had dead-man’s-curved itself through so many possible scenarios and he-said-she-saids that I was feeling like I do when I stare at the computer too long and the room starts to warp.

That is, until the next-to-last scene, when Veronica sat at the back of TA Tim’s class and glanced suspiciously at a classmate’s newspaper featuring the front-page headline, ”Professor arrested in murder of Hearst Dean, Wife.” Then I knew it was Tim. Of course it was Tim — the same smug jerk who framed Veronica for plagiarism and whose last name, let’s not forget, is Foyle. (Foil, get it?) What followed was one of those exhilarating scenes that make Veronica Mars such great TV: Our gal caught Tim in a detail he shouldn’t have known, found a bug in her own cell phone, and, rising from her seat, proceeded to chop the self-satisfied TA down to size. It was he who had bugged Landry’s phone, murdered Cyrus, and planted the blood-stained clothes in the Freddy Krueger lair — all to seek revenge on a prof whose only real crime was daring to think Tim was not all that. Leaning right in to the guy’s face, our fearless heroine snapped, ”Bet he’ll change his mind about you being not that smart.” Bang!

As much as Kristen Bell owned the scene, James Jordan played creepy Tim to a T, giving him just the right amount of nervous shiftiness. And by the way, Mr. Jordan, major bonus points for being able to do anything underneath a rug that not even George Costanza would be caught dead in. Seriously, folks at the CW, was a decent wig not in the budget?

So it was a satisfying end to a juicy seven-episode arc. I do love the richness of the multilayered VM plots, but the leanness of this episode — Veronica and Keith focused on this one case — was particularly gratifying. Plus, we were treated to a string of slam-dunk references: to VM‘s Tuesday-night sister show (”I’m just trying to figure out which Gilmore Girl you are”); John Wayne (”I’m a-tellin’ ya, pilgrim, I’m dead!”); and even my favorite childhood game, Clue (”Nice gloves. You headed to the parlor to strangle Colonel Mustard after this?”)

There was also the matter of…Logan and Parker, who are now ”sort of seeing each other,” according to She of the Miraculous Hair Growth. Now, last week some of you did not take to my half-joking comment about how you might devise Parker’s death, claiming I was being way too hard on the girl. Perhaps. I posed the question not because I hate her but because that entire episode was about death and, more important, a TV series that normally thrills us with complex, fully written characters owes us more. If Team VM insists on limiting Mac’s involvement and replacing her with an ”attractive blonde,” well, I don’t like it, but I might be able to live with it — if Parker actually became interesting. I’m tired of her being presented as a mere empty vessel to whom things happen, one who has given us very little evidence of having a personality. Her telling Logan that she couldn’t give up a friend like Veronica was a start. A slow one, but a start nonetheless.

So LoPa. Is it now officially a thing? It sure seems like it’s going to try to be one. I’m as tired of the Ross-and-Rachel yo-yo-ing of LoVe as the rest of you. Still, my heart ached when Logan asked Veronica if she’d mind if he asked Parker out. Of course steely Ms. Mars said she wouldn’t — but we all know she’s dying inside. And, frankly, I’m fed up with her being emotionally frozen week after week. I get the tough-chick thing, but who decided that strong women can’t also feel? Why do they have to be emotional robots?

What about you, TV Watchers? At what point did you know that Turdy Tim was the killer? Were you also distracted by his sad shower cap of hair? When will Veronica have her emotional meltdown? Do you think Keith is going to hang on to his sheriff’s uniform for good? And was that news report about the San Diego businessman found dead the next Mars case?

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Veronica Mars

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