LEO D'AMATO - Another Veronica Mars "Nice Guy"
***MINOR SPOILERS FOR MR. KISS AND TELL SO BEWARE***
I’m sure someone will want to take my head off for this, but here I go anyway…
Am I the only person who looks at Leo and sees a guy who stole key evidence from a murder trial - video footage of an underage girl’s statutory rape by her murderer - with every intent to distribute said evidence to the mass media in order to make a buck?
Yes, this transgression was over a decade ago, but on a base level, I have always felt that was such an inherently despicable thing to do.
I still consider Dick’s forwarding of Veronica’s sex tape to his entire mailing list to be one of the grossest things he ever did. In that case, although it’s of little consolation, Veronica was at least of age and the act was consensual, even if the video was not. I would be remiss if I did not hold Leo to a similar standard. In fact, I would be remiss to not consider Leo’s act significantly worse considering he was an officer of the law and it was completely premeditated, carefully executed felony, and in no way could be attributed to a momentary act of stupidity.
Secondarily, what Leo did was such a huge slight against Veronica personally. He was completely aware of how deeply important both Lilly and justice for murder were to Veronica and still went through with it. Veronica and Keith spent 2 years of their lives doggedly pursuing this case, obliterating their reputations in the process. They both nearly died obtaining that evidence and Leo’s actions broke the chain of custody, making the footage completely inadmissible (even if it had been recovered), and significantly weakening the case against Aaron.
Leo claimed that Veronica and Duncan could still testify to what they saw on the tape. Right out of the gate this is a weak argument, but even so, if they had been able to testify/hadn’t been discredited/were believed/gotten Aaron convicted, it doesn’t address the fact that Leo was willing to distribute unconsented video of a teenage girl’s sexual assault by her killer for public consumption - of Veronica’s best friend no less - all of which makes my stomach churn.
I understand that Leo’s sister was having a hard time at school and he was trying to get funds to put her in a different environment, but one teenage girl’s suffering does not warrant the sexual exploitation of another. Nor does it warrant aiding a rapist and a murderer to go free.
I was always sorta baffled by how easily Keith and Veronica let Leo off the hook for this. It stuck in my craw and I don’t think I’ve ever fully articulated it before. When the movie came out, it definitely rubbed me the wrong way that Veronica was so happy to be buddy-buddy with him. Now that Leo’s back in the picture in Mr. Kiss and Tell as another, and I quote, “nice guy,” I felt like I had to get this off my chest.
My idea of a “nice guy” and Rob’s idea are obviously very different. To be clear, venturing into extreme moral gray areas does not a bad person make in my book (duh - especially in fiction), but the nature of those actions - the reasoning and purpose behind them, does. Sure, both Veronica and Leo step over a very big moral line in Mr. Kiss and Tell with Sweet Pea, but in that case, they do so in the name of justice and they don’t exploit the victim in the process. When Leo stole the Lilly/Aaron tapes, there were numerous potential and actual victims from his actions, but there was no retribution, no balancing of scales, no justice to be found for the party’s at play as his motivation. It was essentially mass sabotage of potential justice for a get-rich-quick scheme to help a third party removed from the fallout.
Overall, all the characters of Veronica Mars have done morally questionable and sometimes outright wrong things, but I desperately wish Rob et al. would stop making the distinction between “nice guys” so poorly and therefore painfully drawn. For the life of me, I can’t see Veronica or Keith being so dismissive of Leo’s past transgression if they had been considering it in the same context as I have been. Basically, ensuring the key evidence was inadmissible in a deeply personal case that Keith and Veronica sacrificed 2 years, their personal reputations, and almost their lives to see come to fruition = serious betrayal. Sexually exploiting a dead minor being violated by her murder to make money = disgusting.
I’m sure someone will accuse me of ragging on Leo because I’m a Logan loyalist (while completely holding him responsible for his own shitty actions mind you) and there is a “love triangle”-type musing in MKAT, but this really goes beyond the concept of someone vying for Veronica’s affection…
I genuinely do like Leo as a character. I think he has potential within the universe - especially as someone who’s willing to cross certain lines - but it’s just that once again I’m frustrated by who gets held accountable for what within the Veronica Mars universe and why, regardless of romantic entanglements.
The supposed “nice guys” of VM have by and large done more things that I personally would never forgive than the supposed “bad boys”. Especially if I was Veronica Mars.
Am I the only one who is still massively squigged by Leo’s actions back in the day? As a fandom, we talk a lot about the merits of the term “nice guy” as it has been attributed to Duncan and Piz, but as far as I know, not so much when it comes to Leo.
(P.S. Don’t even get me started on the fact that during the search for the missing evidence Lamb and Keith both clearly state that there were two sets of the Lilly/Aaron tapes stolen from two separate safes at the sheriff’s department and the implications of that… I’ve never glossed over that in my viewing, but it appears the PTB always have. That is a rant for another day…)
TODAY’S NEWLY ADDED EXTRA RANT…
The above argument speaks to whitewashing past misdeeds and ignoring established character behavior in order to keep a character Rob is fond of around and considered a “nice guy”. Today I’m also going to mention how subsequently, it also feels like there was blatant invention of present relationships in order to justify Leo’s purpose in the book…
In MKAT, the idea that Keith supposedly “adores” Leo despite all that I mentioned above (and even though they have never had any scenes together besides Keith determining Leo’s guilt and I guess that they worked together for all of 2 seconds when Keith was Acting Sheriff), the implied friendship between he and Mac and Wallace due to one wave (even though they have never had any scenes together prior to this, ever) and that Veronica (the queen of secrecy) would take him to the hotel room to be a party to her Sweet Pea misdeeds (when there was no actual reason he needed to be there until the next day and him being there just gave confirmation of her illegal actions to a detective) all seem like plot contrivances to make Leo seem "more convenient", which is infuriating.
If you want Leo to be credible threat to Veronica’s happiness with Logan (which for the love of God, I really don’t, FOR SO MANY REASONS, but that’s besides the point), why not at least do it validly and in character? If you love Max Greenfield and and you want him and his New Girl popularity around for the next movie, great. If you just love Leo as a character and you want to keep him integral, great. But why must his presence, plot purpose, and emotional impact be contrived to do it?
Sorry to add fuel to the fire.
That’s it for today folks. Rant over. Thoughts?