In this episode, Veronica investigates a potentially rigged student election after her ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane wins over more popular candidate Wanda Varner. Meanwhile, Logan faces the consequences of running an illegal boxing ring which brutally pits homeless people against each other, and Veronica investigates Lilly Kane's murder further.
Logan finds a mob of paparazzi waiting for him in the morning one day. Meanwhile, Duncan talks to his father Jake about running for school president. In addition, a cheerleader sees another girl, Wanda, get her food delivered, and she confronts Mallory Dent about the problem. Eventually, a fight ensues between the two. Veronica says she used to be in pep squad with Wanda. At dinner that day, Keith and Veronica see on the news that the convicted murderer of Lilly Kane, Abel Koontz, has fired his legal defense counsel. In newspaper class the next day, Veronica is tasked with covering the school election just as soon as she sees that Wanda is running. Duncan also starts to think about beginning a campaign.
Later, Veronica interviews Wanda. She gives some politically charged responses, leaving Veronica dumbstruck. Duncan sees an ad for his presidential run on the school TV, which he did not know about, although Logan actually created the video. Veronica decides to research more into Lilly's murder. She starts with researching suspects—Abel Koontz, Celeste Kane, Jake, and Duncan. She opens her father's safe and begins to look for clues. That night, Logan runs an illegal boxing ring. The next day, it is announced that Duncan has actually won the presidency, to the shock of the entire school. Veronica proudly announces that "now [she's] got a story," implying that she believes it was rigged.
Later, Veronica talks with another faculty member, Mrs. Donaldson, who says that one adult must sign a request for the votes to be recounted. Veronica recruits Mallory, and she accepts. Veronica runs through the ballots with Wallace and Wanda, but they still show a victory for Duncan. However, Veronica finds a ballot of a student who wrote "Wanda Rulez" on his form, but voted for Duncan. Veronica soon finds that the voting instructions for the ballots were different in different rooms. She confronts the principal about this, but he doubts her. It turns out that Madison Sinclair, an 09er girl, made the ballot orders, and Veronica considers the mystery solved. The principal gives in and a run-off is scheduled for that Thursday. That night, Veronica calls an adult reporter to ask him for his copy of a piece he did a few days ago on Abel Koontz.
Jake pressures Duncan to win the election, and Jake wins him over with jokes. The next day, Veronica sees defaced Wanda posters and clean new Duncan posters. Veronica and Wanda decide to hang out and make new posters. In newspaper class, Veronica confronts Duncan about his role in the election, but he doesn't respond. That night, Logan finds his father, who cannot sleep due to the recent press about Logan's homeless boxing ring. Wanda and Veronica talk on the day of the election, and they decide to have a sleepover, win or lose. Logan's father Aaron tells Logan that he is going to force him to volunteer at a soup kitchen as a publicity response. It starts to go well, but Logan states that his father is donating $500,000 to the Neptune Food Bank, which he is not. Later that day, Aaron whips him with a belt while Logan's mother sits in another room.
Veronica is subject to an emergency locker check, after which she hears that Duncan won the presidency. It turns out that Wanda tricked Veronica into taking part in the uncovering scheme in order to clear her record of a drug charge. Later that day, Veronica receives her package from the reporter and starts to lie to Keith about its contents before telling her dad the truth and pleading with him to reopen the case. She shows the footage of Abel Koontz's arrests and the shoes made by Veronica that one of the images contains. Keith asks what she thinks those shoes were doing with Abel Koontz, and Veronica responds, "Good question."
- Abel Koontz fires his public defender.
- Veronica finds out that the pair of Lilly's shoes found out on Abel Koontz's houseboat were still in her room after her murder.
- We find out that Logan is being abused by his father.
A variety of pop culture references are made in the episode:
- Wanda refers to Xanadu, possibly a reference to Charles Foster Kane's mansion in Citizen Kane.
- Wanda refers to Xanadu, possibly a reference as well to the film "Xanadu (film)" equating blond cheerleader Mallory Dent with "Olivia Newton-John" who plays a modern incarnarion of "Terpsichore", the Greek "muse" of dance.
- One of Wanda's campaign signs says "Give me liberty, or give me death!"
- Logan makes a reference to A Fish Called Wanda, a 1988 heist film.
- Logan's father says that Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and E! have been calling to ask about his son's actions.
- Veronica compares her relationship to her father to the comic strip "Spy vs. Spy" from MAD Magazine.
- 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
- Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Mallory Dent
- Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars
- Lisa Rinna as Lynn Echolls
- Rachel Roth as Wanda Varner
- Amanda Seyfried as Lilly Kane
- Jane Lynch as Mrs. Donaldson
- Reginald Ballard as Homeless Vet
- Harry Hamlin as Aaron Echolls
- Kyle Secor as Jake Kane
- "Still in Love Song" - The Stills
- "Feel Alright" - The Red Onions
- "Bandido" - Daniel Indart
- "I'm In a Way" - The Rite Flyers
- "Ventura Highway" - America
As noted on the episode page for the "Pilot" that the original 'ocean' plotline (Lilly's body is found in the ocean, instead of by the pool) was dropped at the insistence of the network. However, by that point the production team had already created some of the physical materials for the "Pilot" episode, such as paperwork relating to the Kane murder case. Rather than destroy these and recreate them with the adjusted plot line, they were apparently carried forward through the "Pilot" and subsequent episodes.
A document with 'ocean' plot elements was clearly visible on screen in "Return of the Kane". The document appears in a scene where Veronica opens Keith's safe, and discovers the Kane murder files that he had been secretly working on since the recall election. The document can be seen on screen approximately 13 minutes and 30 seconds into the episode.
The document is the report that Keith filed while still Sheriff, after discovering Lilly's body in the ocean. It contains a lot of detail (the Kanes lived at 1235 Sandtrap - at least during pre-production for the Pilot), but the items below are the main points of interest. (Note that the headings are guesses: the DVD resolution was too low to read the fine print from the form.)
- Type of Crime: possible kidnapping
- No. of Suspects, Identities: 1 - Jake Kane, male, father
- Response from Suspects: denied feelings
- Location of Crime: Ocean
- Investigating Authorities: Sheriff K. Mars, Deputy Sacks
- Physical Description of Victim: bloated
- Miss Kane was last seen @ 1pm @ drill team car wash. several
- students whitnessed[sic] seeing her leaving in her car, VW bug, plate
- B52-KRN. Miss Kane was found 7 days later, by PBS underwater
- dive team, in the ocean amoung[sic] sea weed, etc.
- Nothing else was found with Miss Kane. Missing is her back-pack,
- shoes, watch.
- Nothing else has been found, and no definite suspects with the
- exception of Jake Kane.
- Veronica: Why are you here?
- Lilly: Don't you watch any horror movies? My soul is doomed to walk the earth until justice has been served.
- Veronica: Really?
- Lilly: Yeah, that and, as kind of a side project, I dispense fashion advice.
- Veronica: I want to find out who this kid is and what art room he voted in.
- Wallace: Yeah, and I want a statue of myself in the main lobby, holding a musket and staring down danger. Since we're talking about stuff we want.
- [Deputy Sachs after he searches Veronica's locker and finds nothing.]
- Veronica: There's a couple of suckers… in the bag if you want one.
- Aaron Echolls: Vince, whats happening? Yeah I got the script, I've seen better writing on cereal boxes. Big deal, the man hasn’t made a watchable movie since the 70’s.
- [Veronica and Wanda talk about getting together for a party, of course Veronica is really just testing her...]
- Wanda: Bitchen! do we need any provisions...?
- Veronica: Provisions... with a capital E...? Absolutely, but I know a guy.
- Wanda: Oh jealous, wish I knew a guy.
- Wanda "Dub" Varner is a character from Rob Thomas' novel Rats Saw God.
- The title of this episode "Return of the Kane", is a play on to J.R.R. Tolkien's third volume, Return of the King, from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- When Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin) is giving autographs in front of his house you can hear someone clearly saying "Hi, Harry."
- When Veronica hands Keith the crime scene photo, you can clearly see through the back that it is a picture of Lilly's head, but it is shown to be a picture of her shoes.
- When Veronica approaches Mrs. Donaldson to request a recount of the ballots, the board behind her says that secant(θ)/cotan(θ) = hypotenuse/opposite, which is incorrect. The quantity is actually equivalent to (hypotenuse*opposite)/adjacent^2.