On Veronica Mars
By Amy Berner
Keith: Who’s your daddy?
Veronica: I hate it when you say that.
–“Pilot” (1-1) and “Leave it to Beaver” (1-22)
Duality is one of the most important facets of characterization in noir, a film and literary style in which things are rarely what they seem. The conflicted anti-hero trying to walk a straight path, the corrupt authority figures, and the beautiful femme fatale are hallmarks of this genre in which victims become aggressors and predators become prey. Many primary characters in both noir and neo-noir (where elements of noir are mixed into other genres, as in Veronica Mars) are ambivalent, struggling with the coexistence of opposing attitudes, needs, or interests.
Veronica Mars regularly takes that concept and runs with it. From the primary conflict of the 09er “haves” versus the “have nots,” to character placement (Veronica holding Logan on the couch in “Normal is the Watchword” (2-1), and its reversal in “Not Pictured” ) and simple costuming color choices (remember Veronica’s pale floral dress in her high school graduation dream versus reality’s black dress in “Not Pictured”?), the entire show is built off of duality. It’s in the setting, the plot structure, and the characters. The show takes this idea of duality even further by regularly creating parallels and reflections of those settings, plots, and characters, either foreshadowing or reminding us of major developments.
Take “Credit Where Credit’s Due” (1-2), where Weevil’s confession and willingness to serve jail time to save his grandmother stopped the investigation before the real perpetrator, his cousin …