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Season 3, Episode 1
"Welcome Wagon"

Aired October 3, 2006 on The CW
Recap/Review by Yellowqueen22

Episode Regular Cast: Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars), Jason Dohring (Logan Echolls), Percy Daggs III (Wallace Fennel), Ryan Hansen (Dick Casablancas), Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars), Tina Majorino (Mac), Chris Lowell (Piz), Julie Gonzalo (Parker)

Guest Stars: Charisma Carpenter (Kendall Casablancas), James Jordan

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Yellowqueen22, moderator of the Neptunesite Forums (swing by there if you haven't already!), is now gracing us with weekly recaps and reviews WARNING: If you have not seen the episode, spoilers definitely follow.

Recap:

“Here it is… first day of college. What do you say Veronica? New school, fresh start, how about you try not to piss anyone off this time around.”

The episode begins, as they always do, with a clever voice over to set up the episode, as Veronica walks through the Hearst College campus (note the “Take Back the Night” banner it quite obviously marks the first major mystery of the season). Veronica’s first class is quite appropriately “Criminology.” In typical Veronica fashion, Veronica manages to solve the class case of “Murder on the River Boat Queen” in record time by using her savvy internet skills, impressing her new professor, Dr. Landry, and annoying the teaching assistant.

Veronica and Logan have an adorable on campus exchange, proving that our favorite tumultuous couple not only managed to finally make it through a summer, but also managed to get Logan into college. Logan, always in for a little self-deprecating humor, mentions getting flipped off by his BFF, Dick Casablancas, who apparently blames Logan for the death of his younger brother, Cassidy “Beaver”.

Vinnie shows up at Mars Investigations for some tasteless humor about hit jobs and to play with Keith’s toys – Keith is less than impressed. Later that night Keith goes home to share in some snarky father-daughter bonding time as they look over pictures from their trip to New York. Veronica does not fail to rub it in her father’s nose that his scheduled arrival to New York was three days late. Much to Veronica’s feigned dismay, Keith puts Backup in charge while he is out of town and instructs him to kick Logan out after midnight.

Wallace and Piz bond as roommates with some banter about nudity and good looks, as well as discovering that all of Piz’s earthly belongings were stolen. Piz is reluctant to believe Wallace about his female detective friend, until of course he meets Veronica and is smitten with her charm and beauty. Veronica teases Piz about his small town trusting attitude after learning that he left his car unlocked, the same car containing all his earthly possessions.

The head shaving rapist from last season (Episode 2.16 – The Rapes of Graff) is still on campus. The women are mad. The men don’t care. Dick is behaving like a dick. Mac is “frozen from the waist down” as a result of her evening with Beaver. Mac’s new roommate, Parker, is a “one woman red light district.” And speaking of sexual exploits, it is very clear that Logan and Veronica have engaged in quite a lot of coital bliss.

The next day we discover that the Le Barron we all came to love has finally been put to rest, as Veronica now drives a Saturn around campus (gotta love the cheesy Saturn, Mars, Neptune jokes). Veronica snarks with Deputy Sacks, interviews a whole bunch of students, and attends a concert in the pursuit of Piz’s belongings – all with smitten Piz, sidekick Wallace, cynical Mac, and bubbly Parker in tow. Later that night, Dick shows up for a little action with Parker, only to be met by Mac at the door. Dick and Mac share a painful exchange about Beaver, proving that neither is over his death.

While Veronica continues to look for Piz’s belongings, Piz and Wallace engage in “Bird Watching” aka looking at half naked girls sun-tanning on campus. Logan and Veronica meet to exchange room keys and sarcastic banter, but Veronica is left quip-less after Logan declares that all he wants is her. Enter the town drunk, Dick, who is saved by Logan and Veronica’s stun gun after Dick hits on a girl and is beaten up by her boyfriend. Enter Piz, who is dismayed to realize that Veronica is currently off the market.

Putting all the pieces together, Veronica figures out that the mentoring program is being used to create a modern day Fagin’s Gang, who help steal belonging from unsuspecting Hearst students. Deputy Sacks arrests Fagin and finds the stolen goods, while Veronica and Piz drink a cold drink enjoying the show.

Veronica is forced to enter Parker & Mac’s dorm room to get tickets, while Parker is busy earning her red-light district name. Later that night, a desperate Dick comes to Logan for aid and Veronica discovers that Parker has been a victim of the Hearst serial rapist.

Meanwhile, Keith picks up the elder Fitzpatrick, who looks remarkably like Woody Goodman at first glance, after he is released from prison. Keith takes him to Kendall, who he helped escape from Neptune with millions in tow. Kendall and Fitzpatrick are reunited and filled with Sara Lee bliss, until of course Keith discovers that Vinnie bugged him and Fitzpatrick is yielding a gun.

Review:

New Network = New Credits: Veronica Mars fans often complain about the cheesiness of the old credits and have long since begged for revised opening credits. But to be completely honest, I loved the old credits. The childish sketches and notes on lined paper provided a fabulous contrast to the dark, film-noir nature of the show. Additionally, I loved the up-beat tone of the credits, fueled by the original version of "We Used to Be Friends” by the Dandy Warhols. However, with the move to college and a new network, season three seemed like the perfect time to revamp the opening credits. While the look of the new credits is much more in line with an adult film noir TV show, part of me still misses the doodles and drawings. Don’t get me wrong – the new look is classy and sleek, and I really do like it, but perhaps I’m just not liking the whole idea of changing my favorite show. The biggest problem with the new credits is that I can NOT stand the new remix of "We Used to Be Friends." I LOVED rocking out to my beloved Veronica Mars credits each week and now I'm stuck with some cheesy remix. Finally, I'm a little perturbed by the new cast order in the credits – Jason has moved his way to the front of the line, pushing Percy to the number three spot, and the newbies are listed before our darling fan favorites Tina and Francis. Finally, when exactly did the show change it’s name to Veronica & Logan Mars, because boy oh boy do the opening credits feature the two of them together, especially in the last moments of the credits.

Same Old Veronica: While the network may have changed, the episode featured the same old Veronica. And may I just say that Kristen Bell has never looked prettier than she does as Veronica this season. I love that she is still sassy and snarky, but that she isn't bogged down by the chip on her shoulder like in season one, or overwrought with cruel and pointless snark like in season two. The Veronica of season three is still not afraid to speak her mind and do her thing, but she seems less inclined to do it intentionally to make enemies or pick fights. On top of that, I’m glad that season three Veronica hasn’t forgotten the pain she went through in the past two seasons – she noticeably is pained to discuss Cassidy’s jump off the Neptune Grand and is uncomfortable by Piz’s mention of Lilly.

Disappointing Logan - Logan is always my favorite character, but apparently over the course of the summer Logan has forgot that he is a smart and witty guy, who may be tortured, but still knows how to have a good time. Instead the opening episode features a seemingly miserable Logan, who is still wallowing in last season's troubles. Now don't get me wrong... our little Logan has a lot to be upset about, but if Veronica can recover from the last two seasons, then I'm thinking Logan should be able to do the same. And why is Logan feeling so guilty about Cassidy??? Veronica is just as responsible as Logan. And the only person truly responsible is Cassidy. Sure Dick seems to be blaming Logan, but from the way he treated Mac, I'm guessing he's blaming everyone but himself so that he doesn't have to deal. Logan couldn't even manage to make a funny/witty comment during the sex scene. However, on a second watch of the episode I did notice that Logan had his witty moments, what with the butch comments at the beginning, dealing with Keith’s midnight phone call (“We need to work on communication.”), and calling Veronica on her continuous snark when he tries to be loving towards her (“What no quip?”). Even so, Logan was noticeably low key and unexciting. I beg of the writers... remember that the reason we love Logan is because he can keep up with Veronica's intelligence and banter.

Overcoming Last Season - our old pals on Veronica Mars did not disappoint, rather they shone. Most notably Dick and Mac were fantastic in this episode - primarily because we get to see them both dealing with the effects of Cassidy's death. The shocked look on Dick's face when Mac opens the door to her room is beyond priceless. The tortured pain on both of their faces is enough to make me love them. What is great about both characters in this episode is that it is clear that they are both in pain and both dealing with their pain in their own very characteristic ways. Dick is typically self destructive, ending up beaten, drunk and begging Logan for help. Mac is cynical and angry, but trying to cope through therapy and discussion with friends.

Missing Old Friends – In this episode Wallace plays his usual role as cheerleader for Veronica Mars and slightly silly sidekick. However, Wallace is given very little to do in the episode. Although I love Wallace, if the writers aren’t going to use him and make him part of the actual story, then what is the point of having him on board. On top of that, inquiring minds want to know where are Sherriff Lamb and Weevil??? Francis is still in the credits and Michael just got added, but neither were present in the season premiere.

New Friends - both Piz and Parker make light hearted and potentially welcome additions to the Neptune family. Although both characters seem a little cartoonish (as if the writers are trying to hard to make them likeable stereotypes), they both still have a lot of potential. Many are comparing Piz to Duncan, but I really don't see it. Piz is more the down to earth, slightly dorky, nice boy, who just isn't entirely smooth with the ladies. He is definitely a far cry from many of the men in Veronica's life. Actually, Piz seems to be more of a cross between Leo and Wallace, then a repeat Duncan. Although Piz's character is a little over-the-top in this episode, it’s very possible that with some typical Neptune mystery springing and character development, he'll turn into a well-rounded, interesting, and likeable character. As for Parker, she is the epitome of everything Veronica and Mac aren't, and as such she is a breath of fresh air. So far she seems to be the female version of Dick... only incredibly nice. Her bubbly and silly nature throughout the episode made the impact of her screaming into the mirror in the last moments that much more meaningful and painful. Although, I guessed the twist at the end (that Parker would be one of the rape victims) as soon as Veronica went into the room to get the tickets (why else would they place Veronica in the room while Parker was having sex), I still liked the twist and the way it was set up.

The Mysteries: Why is Mayor Goodman still alive??? Oh wait... that's just someone who looks like him. Who is the Hearst serial rapist??? This mystery was a good choice to open the season with. It began in one of the best episodes of last season (2.16 – Rapes of Graff). It involves all of the characters because of their connection to Hearst. It is an emotional subject for the audience because of its touchy nature and is an emotional subject for Veronica because of her rape. Why the hell is Keith helping a convict and Kendall??? Although it was hinted at, it was never clearly laid out. Why did the Keith story line unfold so undramatically??? Is this just giving us clues to that mystery or poor momentum - I'm hoping for the first. What is going on in with Kendall and the Fitzpatricks??? None of it is clear to me yet, but I’m guessing that is the point. I guess now we know why Charisma kept giving all those evasive answers regarding how many episodes she’d be in this season.

Conclusion: The episode was good and fresh. It wasn't the best episode ever, but it was up to par. I think the episode, especially with its lighter tone and clear/simple references to past seasons (instead of confusing back-story references), will be able to hook new viewers who stay tuned in after Gilmore Girls. Here is hoping for a kick-ass season!!!

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