Favorite Scene From Each Episode of Veronica Mars, Day 25: Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang, or, Logan’s Jerkass Woobieness in Full Bloom
Between a couple of long trips and that darn FanFic Author Appreciation Week, it has been a while since I did one of these Favorite Scenes posts. I have not been missed, as a quick perusal shows that people like bibliophileiz, dieselpunkd, and others are producing far better written and more interesting stuff for susanmichelin’s game. But inferiority has never stopped me before, and since this tumblr (and I am sure this really sets it apart) is all about self-indulgence, away we go (once more).
If I were actually going to pick my _favorite_ scene from “Cheatty Cheatty Bang Bang” at the moment, it might actually be the hilariously lame and awkward double date movie night with Veronica, Duncan, Wallace, and Jackie. It has it all: Donut being a dork, Wallace being waaay too excited about Jackie, and, best of all, Veronica (in a hilarious shirt/sweater vest combo thing) getting annoyed at Jackie, and doing her possessive thing about Wallace, foreshadowing her going through the roof when she finds out about Logan and Kendall later in the episode. Honestly, how was Jackie so gracious through all this? Have we ever solved the mystery of why Jackie suddenly decided to go out with Wallace (see the previous post in this series)?
(Side note: as much as we talk about all over Veronica’s behavior being guided by her experience of exclusion and stuff, I think we have to give a fair bit of the “credit” for her jealously to being an only child. She is clearly not used to other people playing with her toys.)
So if I was going to be more fun and stuff, that is the scene I would discuss. However, for some reason I feel compelled to do beat this Woobie Logan horse once more.
Logan is a jerk. Hopefully readers can acknowledge that – “jerk” may seem mild, but I am hoping it gets the job done via understatement. Yet we also feel sorry for him, even at or close to his expressions of jerkassery. As pretty much everyone knows by now, Logan Echolls is pretty much the paradigmatic (and arguably premiere) jerkass woobie in recent television.
Two scenes of his woobieness are quite jerkass-adjacent. These scenes are quite well-known and frequently discussed for reasons I take to be obvious. I think they are linked, though, by just how badly Logan gets hurt in each scene, who does the hurting, and what it says about where he is at this point in the season.
First, we have the scene where Duncan and Logan are getting patched up by the school nurse (that is some school nurses office!) in the wake of their fight, spurred on by Logan’s asinine, but guilty-pleasure inducing comment: “Didn’t plug her right the first time, huh?”
For once, it’s hard to blame the Dick-meister.
Back to the nurse's’ office: the first time I watched this scene, when Logan said “Oh, hell with Veronica. She’s in the rear-view mirror,” I was taken aback. What? Logan doesn’t care about Duncan basically waiting around for Logan to screw it up with Veronica then slip back in via cheesy fortune cookie? He’s lying, right? Surely all the stuff about Duncan not having his back is a smokescreen.
However, on further reflection, although the Veronica issue probably added to Logan’s bitterness, on Logan’s end, I really do think it is almost completely about Duncan abandoning him. It is Duncan who viciously shoves Logan’s failings with Veronica into his face: “You lost her; I didn’t steal her.”
But it now seems to me that Logan is being honest here: he wants to know why Duncan abandoned him during the worst summer of Logan’s already-less-than-awesome life. It is important to remember, I think, how Logan treated Duncan in the first season. From beginning to end, Logan does his best to look out for Duncan and take care of him, even if Logan does not always do so in the best way (and sometimes makes things worse). The way Logan looks as Duncan walks away from him in both “Meet John Smith” and “A Trip to the Dentist” says it all.
I enjoy excessive mocking of and piling onto Duncan as much as all good-hearted people, but there is no need for that here. The situation speaks for itself. Logan is not asking why Duncan did not help him burn down the pool or anything like that. He is simply wanting to know why Duncan never contacted him in the aftermath of the horrific revelations about Aaron and Lilly, Logan being nearly beaten to death, and then arrested for the death of one of his assailants and becoming the “eye of the storm.” (Let’s leave aside Duncan’s indication to Veronica in “Leave It to Beaver” that he knew Logan was being abused.) Even at this moment, all Logan is looking for is some acknowledgment by Duncan that he actually cares about Logan. I really do think (and his behavior toward Veronica and Duncan after this episode, though hardly pristine, backs this up) he was willing to give Veronica up if that is what she and Duncan wanted. He really was willing to try and put Veronica “in the rear view mirror.”
Duncan has known Logan long enough to know what Logan is really asking. And while Duncan has clearly been through a lot as well, his response makes one wonder if Duncan is simply being narcissistic (by assuming that only he, and not Logan, suffered in the wake of Lilly’s death), or if he is being deliberately cruel, too (by throwing Aaron in Logan’s face, as if it were somehow Logan’s fault). “Your dad murdered my sister” (followed by walking out) isn’t as brutal as Duncan’s eye rolling “you were there, too” response to Veronica confronting him about Shelly Pomeroy’s party, but it is a heck of a runner-up. Well done, Duncan.
The icing on the cake is Duncan’s nonchalant attitude after the whole confrontation. “Veronica, it’s no big deal, just what guys do sometimes.” Duncan really just does not get it, or worse, he does get it, and Logan’s situation is just a blip on Duncan’s radar.
The second scene I want to discuss is the memorable “poor little rich boy” scene (as I call it) or, as others call it, the “towel scene.” (Hmm…) This scene has multiple dimensions. The one towards which I would normally be drawn – psycho-stalker jealous ex-girlfriend Veronica who gets angry with Logan for having sex with someone else even though she is sleeping with his former best friend (GOTZMINE) – is tremendous, but this time around I want to focus on something a bit more specific.
First of all, keep in mind that this scene, coming about midway through the third episode of the season, is the first time Veronica has spoken to Logan in real time (that is, outside of flashbacks) the whole season. If this post was not already too long, I would go into that in more depth. For now, I will just note (and again, this issue itself could be a whole post, so this is not all there is to it) that this method of protecting herself also serves (unintentionally on her part, at least at first) to hurt Logan – it is as if she is wishing he (and the memories of their time together) would just go away from her “perfectly normal” world with Duncan and their fantastic double dates with Wallace and Jackie. Suffice it to say that there is plenty of pent-up emotion in this scene.
Despite her anger and self-denial, Veronica is right about one thing: Logan is being deliberately self-destructive. Leaving aside the moral aspects of adultery (and statutory rape on Kendall’s side): as Logan himself noted in the previous episode, the gun-toting Mr. Casablancas has a very similar life philosophy to Logan’s own murdering father. (The symbolic aspects of Logan’s affair with Kendall are manifold and too much to get into here; off the top of my head: the symbolic revenge of cuckolding someone like his father just as Aaron did to him; the “revenge” on Lilly by showing he could do it, too; and most of all, his desire for self-destruction after his perceived abandonment by Veronica in order to follow Lilly, “the love of his life,” down the same path in order to join Lilly in oblivion).
Logan does seem to finally be getting some sense of satisfaction by Veronica simply being there and acknowledging his existence. But it is not enough. Her jealousy, at least in the manner she cannot help but express it, seems to be purely sexual. From his perspective, Veronica did not come to find him until she knew he was having sex with someone else (Charisma Carpenter as Kendall is one of the greatest recurring-character casting moves I’ve ever seen). Without getting into the details, it is pretty clear that Logan can have great sex with pretty much anyone. He is used to being the object of lust. Whatever joy that brings to his life is hardly unique. He wants something else from Veronica. He wants her to trust him, care for him, and love him.
While Logan may put a smarmy, self-satisfied look on his face, Logan is clearly feeling something else on the inside as Veronica rants. Yes, Logan is being ridiculously reckless and obnoxious. He has not been trustworthy. But Veronica still manages to find a way to go above and beyong in being incredibly personal and cruel. Logan can accept being a cliché, a “poor little rich boy with a death-wish.” But Veronica goes one step further: “I used to think that it was bad luck that landed you in danger… The knife fight on the bridge and the drive-by in your car. But no, now I see you actually enjoy it, don’t you, Logan?”
Contrast this with Veronica’s (at least in her memories) reaction the night Logan came to her door. Logan said he woke up and Felix was dead, and that he did not kill Felix. Veronica believed him. Veronica’s rant in this scene implies that it was a “knife fight,” that she no longer believes him about that. Perhaps even worse, the drive-by in which not just Logan, but Veronica was also killed (which is implied to have spurred Logan on to the despicable act of burning down the public pool) is glossed by Veronica as something else Logan “enjoyed.” What Logan is hearing is that he is scum who does not even really care about her (when, in fact, she was one of the only things he still cared about; not the only thing, though, as we saw from the scene with Duncan, even if Logan was willing to give up Duncan for her; just as he now seems to be willing to give up Veronica for Duncan), and basically got what he had coming the night of the knife fight.
What Logan hears in all this, then, despite his cocky countenance, is that Veronica, like Duncan (and like everyone else Logan has ever loved, at least as he perceives it), simply does not care about him.