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"Normal Is The Watchword" was the first episode and the premiere of the second season of Veronica Mars.

In this episode, Veronica reveals the events that transpired over the summer after the resolution of the murder of Lilly Kane. Meanwhile, Veronica investigates a scam involving students' forged drug tests, and a school bus mysteriously goes off a cliff.

Synopsis

Veronica is working as a waitress at a trendy coffee shop when she's approached by Kelvin Moore, star linebacker of Neptune's football team. Kelvin tells Veronica he has been banned from all sports this upcoming year because of a failed drug test, despite the fact he's been clean for ten months. Veronica calls Kelvin a bully, and says she won't help him because she's given up being a private investigator as she focuses on living a normal life.

Over the course of the episode, Veronica uses flashbacks to explain the fallout of the revelation that Aaron Echolls killed Lilly Kane. Aaron is being tried for murder, while Duncan's parents are being charged with obstruction of justice. Logan was badly beaten by the PCHers on the night Veronica solved Lilly's murder. During the altercation, Logan knocked Weevil unconscious and then was himself knocked unconscious by the PCHers. When Logan woke up bloodied and bruised, there was a knife in his hand and a member of the PCHers had been stabbed. Logan immediately fled the scene, but was later arrested at Veronica's house by Leo D'Amato. Logan was not charged as his team of lawyers easily dismissed any case against him, given that he was so badly attacked that night. Eventually, Veronica breaks up with Logan due to him repeatedly acting out with his friends, Dick Casablancas and Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas. Soon after, Veronica began dating Duncan again.

Back in present day, Veronica learns that Wallace has also been suspended from all school sports for failing a drug test. Wallace failing the test leads Veronica to taking the case. Veronica learns that last year in gym class, Kelvin "pantsed" a freshman named Butters, embarrassing him greatly. Veronica confronts Butters and learns that his real name is Vincent Clemmons, son of Principal Clemmons. Veronica suspects that Butters altered the results of the drug tests prior to Principal Clemmons reviewing them.

After sneaking into Principal Clemmons' office with Wallace, Veronica learns that the drug test results do not appear to be altered by an amateur, such as Butters. Veronica suspects someone fed Wallace and Kelvin drugs in order to have them fail the test. This theory is debunked when Veronica has Wallace take a drug test and he passes. Veronica maps out all of the victims of failed drug tests, trying to identify a connection between them. Among the failed drug test victims is Meg Manning, who refuses to speak to her now that Duncan left her for Veronica. Wallace provides Veronica with the names of the students who stand to benefit from the suspended students being kicked off their respective teams. With the help of Keith, Veronica connects the dots: all of the students who stood to benefit parents are partners of a corporation.

Veronica arranges a fake meeting with the guilty parents, posing as the man who works for the drug test company that they paid to alter the drug test. Once all the parents gather and begin to talk amongst themselves worriedly, we see that Veronica had given Principal Clemmons an earpiece to listen in nearby. It is implied that Principal Clemmons had heard enough to warrant reversing the failed drug tests.

The next day at school, Veronica goes on a field trip to meet the owner of the local baseball team, the San Diego Sharks. On the bus ride to the field trip, Dick complains that the bus smells. The owner of the team arranged the field trip because he recently enrolled his daughter, Gia, at Neptune High, in an attempt to win votes for his mayoral campaign. Dick arranges for a limo to come and pick up himself, his brother, Duncan, and Veronica so they don't have to take the bus back to school. Dick invites Meg, who refuses due to Veronica's presence. Veronica elects to take the bus home and talk to Meg, who once again rebuffs her.

The bus stops for gas and students are allowed to get out of the bus to stretch. Veronica imagines Lilly running behind the gas station, and follows the hallucination. There she finds Weevil. The two argue, with Weevil accusing Veronica of becoming an 09er. While they argue the school bus departs without Veronica. We see Meg notice that Veronica is not on the bus, but tell the teacher that every student has been accounted for.
2x01BusCrash

The bus crash.

Weevil ends up offering Veronica ride back to school as a peace offering. On the way home, Veronica and Weevil stop when they see Dick's limo pulled over to the side of the road and the guardrail on the highway destroyed. The Neptune High school bus lost control and crashed into the ocean, apparently killing all passengers aboard. Veronica suspects foul play.

Arc significance

  • A Neptune High school bus crashes, killing five students, and leaving Meg Manning in a coma. Veronica suspects foul play.
  • It is revealed that Veronica broke up with Logan over the summer and has begun dating Duncan.
  • Logan is having an affair with the step-mom of Dick and Beaver, Kendall Casablancas.

Cultural references

A variety of cultural references are made in the episode:

  • Keith is interviewed by real-life CBS host Julie Chen.
  • A school tennis player says an 09er family brought in Ilie Năstase (a former World No. 1 tennis player) to testify that their son was better than him.
  • Veronica calls former MLB player Johnny Damon "so pretty."
  • Vincent is nicknamed "Butters," which is also the nickname of a chubby South Park character, which Vincent mentions.
  • The Sharks' home stadium is clearly Petco Park, home of the real-life San Diego Padres, who were frequently mentioned by Keith and Veronica in season 1.

Cast

Main Cast

Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars
Percy Daggs III as Wallace Fennel
Teddy Dunn as Duncan Kane
Jason Dohring as Logan Echolls
Francis Capra as Eli "Weevil" Navarro
Ryan Hansen as Dick Casablancas
Kyle Gallner as Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas
Tessa Thompson as Jackie Cook
Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars

Guest Stars

Special Appearances

Co-Stars

Music

Breathin' -- Asylum Street Spankers
The Change -- Jon Dee Graham
Long Time Coming -- Delays
Ashes -- Embrace

Writing and acting

  • Ryan Hansen and Kyle Gallner are promoted to series regulars.
  • Near the beginning of the episode, Veronica says, "Logan and Duncan don't speak anymore. I guess that's what happens when your best friend starts dating your ex." The audience is led to believe that she's going out with Logan and Duncan is spiteful because of it, but it's later revealed to be the other way around--that Veronica broke up with Logan last summer, and started dating Duncan again.

Production details

  • This episode was originally titled "Urine Trouble".

Quotes and trivia


Veronica:(After talking to Dick Casablancas) I feel dirty.
Duncan: Dirty one r, or two r's?
  • This is a reference to the Christina Aguilera song "Dirrty".

Veronica: I can't believe after a year of working here you don't know the make and model of the filing cabinet.
Wallace: Yeah, it is hard to believe. Usually memorizing that information is the first thing I do when I enter a room containing a filing cabinet.

Veronica: Got any enemies you know about?
Wallace: Well, there's the Klan.
Veronica: This is not really their M.O.
Wallace: I guess that leaves everybody that hates you.

Veronica: I heard that you were kicked off the cheerleading squad.
Meg: Yeah, but you know me, I'm a major stoner. It was really affecting me, too, I was like, "Let's go! Let's go! L-E-T-S… duh…"

Logan: Hey, can Dick and Beaver come out to play?

Keith: What's up, honey?
Veronica: Wallace is having a little trouble giving me a urine sample.
Keith: Can't you talk on the phone and paint your nails like other girls?
  • This may also be a reference to the website "Television Without Pity," which used a clipart of a teenage girl talking on the phone and painting her nails to represent the show; Rob Thomas participates in the forums on the website.

Veronica: You never played Little League?
Duncan: Oh, well, Mom was afraid a ball would hit me in the face. Dad was afraid it would interfere with Mock UN and I was afraid I couldn't hit a curveball.
Veronica: I'm afraid you're gonna get love handles if you eat all that.
Duncan: I have an excellent metabolism.
Veronica: Well then, it's official. I hate you.

Veronica: When my dad finds out about this, he's not gonna let me wash this hand.
Terrence: So, who's your favorite player?
Veronica: Ummm...
Duncan: Tell him. Be honest.
Terrence: It's Johnny Damon, isn't it?
Veronica: He's so pretty.

Veronica: And, the thing that I can't stand is that…I'm pretty sure there's a part of you that's having fun with all of this.
Logan: Fun? Fun? My mom is dead! My girlfriend is dead! My dad is a murderer! And the only person I still care about is dumping me. You think I'm having fun?

Veronica: I should go. 'Cause my Dad is probably watching us through a telescope.
Logan: He's probably impressed with your virtue.
Veronica: And that telescope is mounted on a rifle.
[Logan holds up his five fingers]
Logan: Five more minutes. He should feel lucky. You could be out here with some pretty boy jerk just looking to get laid.
Veronica: Wait. What are you saying, you not pretty?
Logan: No. What I'm trying to say is I'm in love with you.
Veronica: The things guys will say to get past second base.

Veronica: I heard you were pantsed in gym last year.
Vincent: Are you requesting a private viewing?

Trivia

  • Jason Dohring and Ryan Hansen improvised a crude hand gesture widely known as "The Shocker" during the pool scene. While the act slipped by the censors, it was unable to be edited out of broadcast because Jason Dohring did the gesture for every take.
  • Charisma Carpenter joins the cast, making her the second Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum to star on the show, after Alyson Hannigan. This is not the first time, former co-stars have been cast on the show.
  • Logan says that Trina Echolls is insisting on playing herself in The Aaron Echolls Story but the producers want Tara Reid. Alyson Hannigan, who plays Trina, worked with Reid in American Pie and American Pie 2. Additionally, the network wanted Reid to play the role of Trina.
  • This episode had an estimated audience size of 3.30 million US viewers on its first airing.[1]

Goofs

  • When Veronica takes a flash picture at 12:08, the flash is not enabled on her camera. The pulse of light was added as a visual effect.
  • When Veronica is talking to Weevil at the gas station, the film crew is reflected in Weevil's helmet. You can see the camera, a boom mic, and two large white reflectors set up behind the camera.
  • When Keith is interviewed on television, the news crawl refers to "malnutritioned" Ugandan tribes. The correct word is "malnourished".

References

  1. http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/index.jsp

External links

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