Nwsource.comOn TV: Season finales: ’Mars’ attack; unhappy ’Gilmore’ (charisma carpenter mention)
Thursday 11 May 2006, by Webmaster
WHAT A TERRIBLE feeling it is when the season finale of your favorite series feels like the end.
That awful fear lurked behind Tuesday night’s finales, when The WB’s "Gilmore Girls" and UPN’s "Veronica Mars" ended their seasons. One wrapped everything up in a darling bow encrusted with cameos straight out of Amy Sherman-Palladino’s CD collection, the other with horrific realizations, explosions and the bittersweetness fans have come to expect from a year in Neptune, Calif.
Why the fear, then? Because only one, "Gilmore Girls," is guaranteed to return for one last season on The CW, albeit without the creative team that guided it from the start.
The fate of "Veronica Mars" remains less certain. Oh, there have been some assurances; she is a favorite of CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff, a woman who, as the head of UPN, has done her best to expose "Veronica Mars" to new viewers.
Last summer a few episodes had a run on CBS, and this year "Veronica" began the season airing Wednesdays at 9, following "America’s Next Top Model," giving it the network’s best possible lead-in. Unfortunately, that may be one reason it was one of the lowest-rated series on TV. "Veronica" was in competition with "Lost," and, really, there’s probably more of a fan crossover between Miss Mars and the Losties than the Tyra Banks faithful. By this spring, when it moved back to Tuesdays at 9, the damage was beyond repair. (Plus "Veronica" is on UPN, so most people don’t expect it to be as terrific as it is.)
Going solely by the numbers, it looks bad for the smart-mouthed teen detective.
On behalf of "Veronica Mars" fans everywhere, then, this critic implores the suits cobbling together The CW to consider the content.
"Veronica’s" finale exceeded mere satisfaction; it probably isn’t overstating it to say it may be one of the most memorable cappers of the 2005-06 season. And while we realize most finales have yet to hit the air, what other series can brag about masterfully tying up three major mysteries and revisiting another from last season, stripping it of its innocent resolution to add an unexpected layer of horror?
Certainly not "Gilmore Girls." Of course, they’re very different shows, but they have much in common — intelligent writing, unconventional parent-child relationships, and idealized settings. (Both of them even have Logans in their ranks.) But where the Gilmores’ Stars Hollow is a hip version of the East Coast small-town fantasy, Veronica’s Neptune is where the rich clash with the poor, and everyone is hiding horrendous secrets. Even the teens. Especially the teens.
In comparison, the appeal of "Gilmore Girls" is fairly simple. On a female-skewing network, it’s a series that explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, with all the accompanying frustrations and high points. The heart of it is Rory (Alexis Bledel) and Lorelai’s (Lauren Graham) bond, cemented with the additional challenges of being best friends as well as growing up together. By now, you either love its stagy, too-clever banter and zippy pop-culture references, or you don’t.
Last year closed with Rory exercising her adulthood by going against her mother’s wishes and quitting Yale. The rift was enormous and shocking — but not as surprising as Lorelai’s last-minute proposal to Luke (Scott Patterson).
This season resolved the first issue — mother and daughter reunited, reaching a more adult level of relating to one another — but got stranded on the second. Luke’s uncomfortable acceptance and a strange moment in bed together at the start of the season grew into an alarming distance in recent episodes. But what happened in the finale was inevitable and somewhat lazy — essentially, it was a reversal of last year’s denouement. Lorelai issued a drastic ultimatum — elope with me now, or that’s it — and when that failed, she jumped in bed with Christopher (David Sutcliffe), Rory’s dad.
Cycling a story back to its start isn’t a crime but, this being the last we’ll see the handiwork of Sherman-Palladino and her husband, Dan, on the series, this tactic seemed like a hasty "ta-ta," dotted with a final indulgence in cameos by Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and even Mary Lynn Rajskub playing acoustic guitar.
Even so, we’ll miss the creators next year. After Tuesday night, fans will certainly miss Logan (Matt Czuchry) who just shipped off to England and the start of his adult life, even more.
Not as painfully, though, as "Veronica Mars" fans will mourn if their series is canceled. Even if "Veronica" doesn’t win a third go, Tuesday’s finale cements its place in TV history as another brilliant, massively underappreciated series that people will "discover" later on.
People who do watch know that "Veronica Mars" succeeds in more ways than just its writing. The themes are realistic and undeniably adult, even if the mysteries can be farfetched at times. Neptune’s kids have sex lives, usually sordid ones. Our heroine, who went for most of the season without a boyfriend, was diagnosed with an STD. Her dad only found out when a sleazy lawyer brought it up in a courtroom.
In Veronica and her private investigator dad, Keith Mars, Kristen Bell and Enrico Colantoni have created the most believable, touching father-daughter relationship on television. Jason Dohring has been outstanding as Veronica’s deep, dark, on-and-off boy/friend Logan Echolls. Even Francis Capra stretched this season as Weevil, the gang member who tried to straighten out his life only to be brought down by his ties to this season’s whodunit.
Resolving their stories made the finale an exercise in sweet tension, and every commercial break a painful eternity.
For most of the investigation into the bus crash, all signs pointed to the child-molesting mayor of Neptune, Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg), but that would have been too obvious. Kendall Casablancas (Charisma Carpenter), trophy wife, real estate swindler and, later in the season, partner to the incarcerated Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin), looked like a contender as well. Even Echolls, last season’s killer — who won an acquittal in the penultimate episode — seemed to be a possibility.
But, no. Turns out it was Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas (Kyle Gallner), younger brother of frat-boy-in-training Dick (Ryan Hansen). Beaver’s sexual-identity crisis this season, an effect of being molested by Woody, led him to commit both deeds.
Worse, we found out that he raped an unconscious, drugged Veronica, a loose end thought to have been tied up in last season’s "A Trip to the Dentist" episode. Until Tuesday, we were led to believe she had only slept with ex-boyfriend Duncan (Teddy Dunn) that night.
Before Veronica could bring him to justice, Cassidy cornered her on the roof, blew up the airplane she thought was transporting her father and Woody, and tried to throw her off the edge. Fortunately Logan arrived to save the day, and Beaver jumped to his death.
To our relief, Keith Mars wasn’t on the plane.
Thank heavens for that, and not just for the sake of our emotional health. In the final scene, Kendall tempts Keith to take her on as a client based on the contents of a briefcase. We don’t see what’s inside, and there it is — a mild cliffhanger.
Will we ever find out what’s in there? It’s a possibility, but we won’t know for certain until next week, when the networks reveal their fall schedules.
Those searching for positive hints, however, may choose to interpret a dual meaning within the exchange between security head Clarence Wiedman (Christopher B. Duncan) and Duncan, after Aaron is snuffed.
"CW?" Duncan says as he answers the phone, to which his man replies, "It’s a done deal."