On ''Veronica Mars,'' Steve Guttenberg's Mayor Woody gropes the teenage Logan; plus, Weevil punishes Thumper for Felix's murder

By Jeff Jensen
Updated June 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Veronica Mars: Kelsey McNeal

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”Veronica Mars”: Steve Guttenberg gone bad!

The Gute groped Logan!

The Gute groped Logan!

My mind is still reeling. My stomach, still churning. For those of you who didn’t watch last night’s unusually soapy, quietly poignant, and altogether sublime outing of Veronica Mars, perhaps a little explanation is in order:

The Gute groped Logan!

It occurred about halfway through the episode. Logan won an essay-writing contest on the theme of ”freedom” — by ripping off lines from Easy Rider, it seems — and as a reward got to hang with Mayor Woody Goodman (lovable, huggable Steve Guttenberg) as his intern or honorary deputy or something. I forget. The details were among those jarred loose from my brain and shaken out of my skull after I witnessed the shocking scene in which Logan was asked by Mayor Gute to spot him while the mayor pumped iron. After a few reps, Mayor Gute got up, and then approached Logan, and then lovingly squeezed Logan’s biceps and said, ”Looking at you reminds me of the good old days when I was young and ripped. Bet you have some fun with the ladies….”


Now, at the risk of inappropriately projecting creepy connotations…that was creepy. And disturbing. This is Steve Guttenberg! The Gute! Cocoon. Police Academy. Three Men and a Baby. Casper: A Spirited Beginning, for crying out loud! The Gute is geniality incarnate! Watching him get vaguely fresh with a high school boy was just…just…wrong. It was as if my ’80s-shaped inner child had been violated. And judging from Logan’s baffled expression post-touching, I think he was thinking the same thing,

Of course, Mayor Woody’s touchy-feeliness was part and parcel of a larger pattern of curious behavior by VM‘s second-season answer to Harry Hamlin, a.k.a. Nearly Forgotten Former Pop Culture Icon As You’ve Never Seen Him Before. We haven’t seen much of the Gute lately, but it seems he’s coming on strong as VM prepares for its mystery-wrapping season-concluding endgame. And to Mayor Woody’s credit, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that immediately preceding this ”Step into my iron-pumping parlor” moment, Logan had been snooping around the mayor’s office and had even rubber-stamped Goodman’s signature on a piece of paper — and Mr. Mayor may have seen some of that snoopy stuff. His possible motivation for corrupting poor Logan? TBD….

Yeah, I’m thinking that rubber-stamp stuff is going to pay off down the road. If, in the next few episodes, we learn that someone has a document with Mayor Goodman’s signature on it, I think we should be very, very suspicious.

There was other Woody intrigue, as well. A mysterious DVD showed up, revealing that an intruder had infiltrated Woody’s house while the mayor was having dinner with his family — a bit of intimidation designed to show Goodman that he has an enemy who can get close to him at any time. Initially, the mayor and Keith suspected that the threatening DVD came from someone who opposed Goodman’s incorporation-of-Neptune plan — a scheme, by the way, that seems to be connected to the season’s ongoing fixation with real estate scams and Neptune’s fluctuating property values. (More on this in a minute — and yes, a big theory is looming ahead) But Keith ultimately sussed out that the DVD was produced last fall, before Woody brought his incorporation plan to the voters — meaning that this Phantom Menace has a different ax to grind with the mayor. Upon learning that, Goodman conspicuously shut down Keith’s investigation, claiming that he and his wife had learned the DVD was made by their disgruntled former gardener. Yeah, right. Even Keith wasn’t buying that.

Before I tell you my Big Theory, I need to touch on another subplot involving two other minor characters in this altogether Veronica-light episode of Veronica Mars: the implosion of the Beaver and Mac relationship. It was apparently a match made in Geek Heaven, but we learned that Mac was becoming increasingly concerned with Beaver’s lack of physical interest in her. Seems the shy boy had never made a move beyond first base. Never even considered sliding a hand up to second. Mac was worried: Shouldn’t horny teenage boys be interested in ”playing ball,” so to speak — especially geeky horny teenage boys? I loved the pained and wounded look on Beaver’s face when Mac finally got the gumption to confront him, and for a minute there, I was convinced that VM was playing subtly and poignantly with a nice bit of role reversal. Usually in these stories, it’s the horny guy pushing the physical relationship, and the girl saying, ”Whoa, cowboy — I’m not ready.” This is not to say that Mac was ”pushing” anything on poor little Beaver. But at the same time, it’s very true that not all boys are horndogs, and sometimes, boys actually feel obligated and even pressured to act horndoggish, because after all, that’s what boys are supposed to do, according to peer and pop culture, right? And so they feel compelled to act accordingly, lest they be seen as anything less than ”a man,” and…

Oh, who the heck are we kidding here? Mac’s right: Beaver’s got a problem! And friends, I’m worried it’s one of those dark, damaged sex problems — not one of those ”I think I’m really not that interested in girls after all” sex problems.

Let’s do some math:

1. Beaver’s on-the-run crooked pop was involved in a real estate scam.

2. Beaver — pretty smart about real estate himself — is involved in a real estate venture (scam?) with his hottie gold-digging stepmom, played by Charisma Carpenter.

3. Beaver’s got sex issues.

4. Mayor Woody Goodman is also deeply invested in real estate.

5. He’s also deeply concerned about property values.

6. It’s very possible the Gute has sex issues of his own.

7. Someone is stalking/terrorizing the Gute.

Big Theory: Woody was taking advantage of Beaver, if not sexually abusing him. In the course of this ”relationship”/exploitation, the Beave learned a thing or two about real estate — plus the Gute’s re-incorporation plan, plus potentially other shady aspects of Goodman’s real estate business and ambitions. Now Beaver is exploiting that knowledge for his own gain. Moreover, he sent that DVD to Goodman because inevitably Beaver’s scheme is going to be uncovered by or run afoul of the Gute. The implicit message/threat of the DVD: ”Back off — or I tell the world you’re a child-molesting pervert.”

Either I’m right, or I gots me a pretty dark imagination, huh?

So let’s talk about some other stuff — briefly. It was a big night for many of VM‘s smaller players, and an unusual episode in that it wasn’t driven by a stand-alone mystery (or multiple stand-alone mysteries). It was the closest VM has ever come to being a Twin Peaks-ish mystery soap — lots of characters doing various things that advance their various story lines. And I have to say Veronica needed an episode like this. It needed an episode that clarified characters and ongoing arcs without the packaging of a single-use mystery-of-the-week story cluttering the Big Picture.

And so: Wallace realized he still had feelings for Jackie and broke up with his girlfriend. But then Jackie squelched his advances out of concern that the rest of the school would think of her as a man-eating witch. It was nice to see Wallace grow some new dimension — Wallace the Jerk — but did you get the feeling that even the actor wasn’t quite buying into his story line? And by the way: Is it just me, or does Jackie seem not quite bummed out enough over the murder charges hanging over her father, not to mention the fact that Pops is apparently suicidal?

It was also a pivotal outing for Weevil, who pushed to the max his investigation into the death of Felix, who we learned was regarded by Weevil as something of a little brother, maybe even a son. Outside the Beaver-Mac scenes, Weevil had the best, most emotional moment of the night, telling Felix’s girlfriend, ”I loved him more!” It was a revelatory moment for the character — a real peek inside his usually closed heart. With a little help from Veronica, Weevil was able to link his treacherous former protégé Thumper to Felix’s murder. But after Sheriff Lamb refused to act on their illegally obtained evidence, Weevil took matters into his own hands, ingeniously making the Fitzpatricks think that Thumper was trying to skim their drug money. We were led to believe the Fitzpatricks had chained Thumper to a urinal in Sharks Stadium, which in the final scene was demolished. Ironically, the ceremonial official presiding over the event was none other than the bad boy Thumper framed for Felix’s murder: Logan. Nice bit of ironic justice there. But alas, the only bit of hard evidence linking Thumper to Felix’s murder — his motorcycle — was also destroyed in the blast. With Thumper dead, he can’t clarify the murder mystery by copping to (or denying) the crime. And with the motorcycle blown to bits, the cops can’t close the case. Which means that whoever is really behind Felix’s murder is free to frame Logan anew — or to frame someone else.

Unless, of course, Thumper really did murder Felix, and then the whole matter is finally put to rest — minus, of course, the inevitable consequences that will occur as a result of Weevil’s taking care of business himself. (Yep: I, too, saw those kids in the van who were eyewitnesses to Weevil’s takedown of Thumper.)

But what do you think? Did Thumper really kill Felix? What will happen to Weevil? And what about my creepy Beaver-Gute link? Are you suddenly feeling like you never, ever want to be alone in a room with me? (Don’t worry: I feel the same way.)

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