It’s time for the annual Winter Carnival to raise funds for the senior trip, and Madison Sinclair expects the class to go to Catalina, but Eli and the non-09ers, I presume, want to go to Magic Mountain. Both selections: no. Most of the rich kids have boats that can sail to Catalina anyway, and I grew out of amusement parks when I was 16. Okay, they can still be fun, but… I just don’t see the appeal of MM. At least go to Disneyland or something.
Veronica is manning the FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) booth selling icy treats. Not even ice cream; just… flavored ice water. Mrs. Hauser comes by to collect money from the booths while her student aide, J.B., asks for her keys so he could get a staple gun to fix a sign. Suddenly a group of masked students streak through the carnival and Mrs. Hauser hands Veronica the moneybox for safekeeping so she can deal with the troublemakers. She puts it in a cabinet with doors on either side. When the teacher returns, the box with $12,000 is gone. I would’ve held onto it myself, literally, but then there’d by no Mystery of the Week.
After baseball legend Terrence Cook was brought in for questioning in connection to the bus crash, the student body began ostracizing his daughter, Jackie. I guess money isn’t that important, there’s still a glimmer of hope for you yet, Neptune! Veronica can relate to the shunning. Unfortunately, Jackie had accepted the role as the dunk tank girl before the whole debacle and the students, notably the ones with letter jackets, throw the balls on target with glee. Wallace comes by and throws all his balls deliberately out of bounds (like… into the parking lot and sabotaging cars out of bounds). Well, he is a basketball player. And he’s with Jane! They look cute together, but I reckon he and Jackie will somehow get back together again. Ahz well. =\ (I hate ship names, like the one I will not mention, but Jackie/Jane + Wallace = JaWa. /End nerdy Star Wars moment.)
Veronica suspects Weevil and searches his niece’s (Ophelia) backpack, but finds no money. I hate it when he’s got cranial stubble. Maybe he’s gunning for his long locks of the Kazaam era? She thinks it might be in the ball pit. No dice. Someone from yearbook has been filming and Principal Clemmons calls in those in the vicinity of the money box into his office: Madison, Veronica, Jackie, Dick, J.B. (who was first introduced as Veronica’s main rival for the Kane scholarship), and Weevil with niece in tow. (The suspect still had to be inside because the metal detectors would’ve caught the metallic box, so I guess they thought it couldn’t have been a visitor.) The students argue that finding the money in their lockers wouldn’t prove it was the senior trip money. Veronica says she remembers a $50 bill that had Nancy and her phone number written on it, which would prove it’s the stolen cash. Watching the video doesn’t reveal anything anyway, but Mrs. Hauser jumps down Jackie’s throat for sashaying with a gym bag on camera and calls her trash. She retorts that it was for her bathing suit and towel.
Two new couples: Mac and Beaver finally go public, but Dick busts his balls over their relationship and the fact that he’s still a virgin. They check out an escort website and Dick, after getting turned down by ex-girlfriend Madison (who was still flirty with him, btw; MadDick 4eva!), gets turned on by a MILF. Maybe because I’m a gal, but she doesn’t look like a mom I’d like to fuck. Well, she’s actually not one anyway. Dick discovers MILF’s penis when they are making out in the back of his car. (I guess she is a MILF, if they change it to Man I’d Like to Fuck.) He leaps out to an amused Mac and Beaver, but Dick pounces on him and raises his fist to take aim. Beaver reminds him of Sally, and he backs off. WHO IS SALLY?!?!?!
I guess I accidentally mentioned two couples, so here’s the third: Logan and Hannah. Logan really turns on his somewhat smarmy charm and lays it on very thick, and Hannah eats it up with a pink plastic spoon. When her ride picks her up from the carnival, he kisses her twice before she gets into the car. Logan bends down to meet the driver and smilingly waves to her father, Tom Griffith. You know, the fake witness who came forward as the anonymous caller on the bridge when Felix was stabbed. You so sly, Logan. (I was surprised a significant number of people didn’t recognize him. They showed him in the Previously!)
Veronica talks to Weevil again, and she finds out all who take auto shop have a copy of the classroom key. Since every room is locked for carnival, she guesses this would be the best bet. Clemmons clips every locker in shop class and they find $3000 cash (with said fifty-dollar bill) and a baggie of drugs in Eduardo Orozco’s locker — Thumper’s. Clemmons empties his locker and removes a wooden cutting board or paddle engraved with a series of alphanumeric combinations. Clemmons take it with him before Veronica can carefully grasp what it is. Luckily, she copied the principal’s office key shortly before he busted her for it in 2×09. She figures the coding are license plate numbers and goes to make a copy, only to find Mrs. Hauser’s Health test resting on the photocopier.
Veronica meets up with Jackie to wheedle an apology out of Mrs. Hauser, and to give her the stolen test. (Clemmons, J.B., and Madison are also there. The scene kinda felt slapped on.) Veronica offers whoever had access to her copier code would be the guilty party. Initially I thought it was Madison, who did the same thing last year in 1×06, but with election ballots. It must’ve been a joke for fans who had been watching for that long. I mean, they could’ve filled her role with pretty much anyone, but they chose Madison to return for this particular storyline? Anyway, her student aide is J.B., if you can recall, but he claims she’s framing him because he’s .003 behind her GPA. She brings him outside so they can talk in private, because he’s a Triton, the school’s secret Stonecutter-like society. (WHO MAKES STEVE GUTTENBERG A STAR, AND THEN PUTS HIM ON VERONICA MARS? Hah, the connections are too hilarious for me not to connect.) The Tritons initiate new members by having them streak with ski masks (sounds like a perverted terrorist group, actually), so he knew the opportune time Mrs. Hauser would be distracted. Veronica takes out her trusty laptop and shows him a picture she took last year when she thought they were guilty of something (they weren’t) — and there he is, photoshopped next to Duncan. (I bet he wasn’t there last year in 1×12, was he? I’m going to go check afterward.) The Tritons value their secrecy above everything, so he agrees to confess lest she post his photo revealing his Triton identity. He must’ve been thinking, “Damn! Why must I be so good in my high school career that the Tritons wanted me in their super-secret, slightly homoerotic society? Now I’ll keep my role in the Tritons safe, but I’m in trouble with the school and will probably lose the Kane scholarship.” Yeah, I don’t exactly get his thinking, either. But then again, I’m guessing the Tritons will unleash a can of whoop-ass, whereupon Jack Bauer will jump out! When they return to the room with his confession, Veronica notices a footprint in the glitter on the floor and reaches into a ceiling panel (hey, did I tell you my high school’s ceilings are made of seaweed?) above that spot, and pulls out more cash. The footprint is of a heel, which Clemmons notices Hauser is wearing. And yes… ding! ding! ding! Veronice surmises Hauser had been skimming the fat long before the cash box was ever stolen.
Terrence Cook comes to Keith’s agency for help in clearing his name. He thinks Sheriff Lamb is out to get him because he has been speaking to the minority population on Woody Goodman’s behalf in support of Neptune’s incorporation, which would put Lamb out of his current job. Terrence had just happened to be at Shark Field the day of the school trip and signed autographs, including on baseballs. The bus driver’s body was embedded with cell phone and baseball fragments; Lamb thinks he called from his cell to set off the bomb. He is not too forthcoming with all the facts though — Keith has to show him the photo of him and Ms. Dumass before he explains their relationship was a fling, but it turned “Fatal Attraction.” She came to Neptune and got the teaching job without telling him. (You know, Naima’s performance actually makes more sense to me now, in retrospect. I just thought she was doing a terrible job.) His fiancée left because Ms. Dumass confronted her. But wait, there’s more! Act now and you — I mean, Terrence is still not telling the whole truth so Keith plays a recording of the bugged conversation between Lamb and Cook, when the sheriff was blackmailing him in return for his silence on his knowledge of his gambling problem. Turns out he threw game four of the ALCS to get rid of his debt. Oh, so they weren’t sexual favors, then? ‘Cuz, that’d be a lot of blowjobs to make up that debt. Leslie (I’m guessing Ms. Dumass’s name) was in the house when two Fitzpatrick men (ooh, more Fitzpatricks tying into the crash!) came to him about his gambling debt. Ms. Dumass (I… just can’t call her Leslie. She looks like a Megan, or Christine. Or Naima) threatens to expose this piece of info if he breaks up with her, but of course, she died. Seems like a motive, but Keith offers to take his case anyway. He knows that in spite of his wrongdoings (that Keith knows about, I mean, how do you know he didn’t illegally smuggle a ferret or something else?), he would never kill a busload of kids. But he could be biased, you now, since Terrence is his sports idol and all. (Who knew Naima’s character would be so consequential?)
The next day, Eli drives up in a shitty car. Veronica asks how he did it; she admits the “Nancy bill” was just something she made up. He originally hid it in Ophelia’s backpack, but he knew she would search it so he hid it in the ball pit immediately afterward. Ophelia went in to retrieve it and while they were busy taking out the balls, he was framing Thumper. Eli asks if it’s love or lust that prevented her from turning him in. She says it’s love of roller coasters, and she hates the idea of hobnobbing with her classmates (also Magic Mountain would probably piss them off too, as a bonus). So all that just to avoid the school bus? And he’s always making fun of rich boys who flaunt their status? Whatever. It’s only like four more months until he’s out of there. Just when they make me think Weevil’s a sympathetic character, they pull the rug from beneath me. I guess Veronica lets her friends get away with money-swindling schemes. After all, Mac bought a VW Beetle with her purity test money (all the way back in 1×08!) and she let her go. Please, please, please do not pair Weevil up with Veronica. I hate the idea of that so much, I’d prefer it if Weevil spent ten fruitful years with Logan, and my ultimate VM pairing is Logan with Veronica. I have chanted “expect the worst” this year, but this would be the worst of the worst. If that happens I will kill… something.
Also — ever hear of tickets? Which carnival, amusement park, or arcade accepts money at the stand instead of at a ticket/token booth? I can’t think of many, and even then it’s because the coins are safely locked into whatever reservoir is built into the game. Barring from snacks at parks, everything else that requires money accepts tickets only. Hell, my senior class fundraiser in elementary school printed our own tickets, as did during bazaar week in CPC. Saves the trouble of having Mrs. Hauser walking all over the place to collect money and stealing it, because the cash taken in would have to match the amount of tickets spent. Most of the time, the mysteries are good because everything makes sense after, but this was really sloppy. I mean, they could afford to rent a dunk tank, ball pit, and all sorts of games and prizes you could find at a regular fair or carnival (unless it’s in storage, which I’m doubting), but they couldn’t buy a couple of rolls of tickets or spend time printing some? Especially since it seems every teacher has a student aide? I liked that the MotW executed itself differently (only the last minute or so doesn’t take place on that day), but not the actual mystery. At least the bus crash and stabbing storyline advanced.