This one starts with Veronica contemplating the big bus crash from the end of last episode. We find out that everyone on the bus died except, who’s alive but unconscious, like Gerald Ford. (Sorry, old Airplane joke.) Meg’s in a coma and Veronica feels guilty, not just for avoiding the accident by dumb luck, but because Meg might’ve avoided it too if she’d still been dating Duncan. As Duncan tries to console her, a snotty girl comes to the counter and starts barking orders, obviously not giving a damn about Veronica and Duncan’s private moment. This is the final new addition to the show, Jackie Cook (played by Tessa Thompson). At the police station, Sheriff Lamb fields questions from the press. He mentions that the bus driver (Ed Doyle) was prescribed anti-depressants but hadn’t filled the prescription lately, and that he’d tried to kill himself once before. The press jumps on that, assuming that Doyle killed himself and took a busload of students with him.
At school (which is also swamped with reporters), Veronica runs into Ed Doyle’s daughter, Jessie, who asks her to prove her father didn’t kill himself. Jessie isn’t just worried about her dad’s rep, she says the insurance company won’t pay in case of suicide and her family needs that money. Veronica is reluctant to help, but after seeing some other girls bullying Jessie (who decks one of them … Jessie’s kind of a “tough chick”), she agrees to do her best. She and Jessie go out to the crash site, which is now a roadside shrine, but Veronica knows they won’t find any clues that the cops missed.
At the baseball diamond, Woody Goodman is coaching a boys’ baseball team. He tells Keith he’s running for mayor of Neptune and asks Keith to run for Sheriff. Keith says he’ll think about it and Woody has to stop a fight between his team (who were hogging the field) and some poor kids. Woody gives the kids a nice speech about sportsmanship, but I notice he only intervened after Keith brought the fight to his attention. At home, Keith tells Veronica about Woody’s request and she’s in favour of him running. Woody is running unopposed for mayor, so his backing should pretty much guarantee Keith a win. But Keith is worried about the ugliness of politics especially since Veronica’s had to put up with being a pariah for the last couple years already.
A news interview comes on TV with the clerk at the gas station where the bus stopped just before it went over the cliff. The clerk (played by Kevin Smith … yeah, I know) says Ed Doyle was acting kind of weird that day; he bought a few things, including a St. Christopher medal (which is usually supposed to bring good luck to travelers). But he immediately threw the St. Christopher medal away. Veronica wonders what else Doyle bought and decides to look into it. At school, Veronica is still having trouble wrapping her mind around everything and gives Duncan shit for being so upbeat. He doesn’t say a word, just walks away.
At the Cook house, Jackie is still in bed and her father (baseball player Terrence Cook, who we saw last episode) comes in to roust her out of bed. We see Jackie’s snotty attitude isn’t just reserved for wait staff, but her dad knows how to handle her; he threatens to ship her back to New York to live with her mother. That motivates her to get up and when Terrence says he’ll be away for a couple days, Jackie’s looking forward to driving his Porsche. He tells her no way in hell, she can only drive the Bronco. Naturally, she takes the Porsche. At school, Wallace is immediately attracted to Jackie and offers to show her to the office, but she apparently finds him too nice for her tastes.
Veronica and Duncan apologize to each other and he says he’s not taking things as easily as he pretends. Veronica talks about her conflicting emotions: grief, guilt, and even a certain amount of happiness that she wasn’t on the bus when it crashed … which probably makes her feel even more guilty. Meanwhile, Logan is still banging Kendall, Dick and Beaver’s hot stepmom. Kendall’s husband (Dick Sr.) and the two boys come home unexpectedly, so Logan has to run up to Dick’s room to pretend he just stopped by to use the pool. Kendall bad mouths Logan and he does the same to her. Dick Sr. tells Logan he’s welcome any time and invites Logan to come to the target range tomorrow.
At school, Jackie is freaking out because someone hit her dad’s Porsche and left a fake note (because someone else was watching). Wallace offers to help find out who did it and calls Veronica, but she’s at the gas station near the bus crash and she’s pissed off because they’re selling crash memorabilia. Wallace decides to help Jackie on his own. At the gas station, Veronica plays up to the clerk’s fame complex and his weird fetish with the bus crash. (The Who song “Magic Bus” is even playing over he PA.) He gives Veronica the same thing Ed Doyle ordered (a slushy and a bag of peanuts) and she notices a sign that says they don’t make change. She buys a St. Christopher medal and gets quarters back in change; she realizes Doyle bought the medal (and threw it away) to get change for the payphone. Now all she has to do is figure out who he called.
She goes to the police station to apply for the job of temp receptionist and asks to fill out the application somewhere quiet. A deputy puts her in an empty office, where she uses the phone to get the number Doyle called from the payphone. At school, Wallace talks to some guys who saw Jackie’s car get hit. They say it was some blonde (with a nice ass) in a green car. At the cop shop, Sheriff Lamb comes back and kicks Veronica out, but she’s already got the info she needed. Wallace narrows down the list of suspects by checking out parking permits and cross-referencing with the yearbook. He gets it down to four possibilities, two of which he’s already eliminated. Jackie says he’d better hurry, because her father will be home soon and she’ll be in shit. Wallace talks to another possible suspect (who kinda has the hots for him), but she has a broken leg and has been driven around by her friend lately.
At Jessie’s place, Veronica tells her the number she traced is for someone named Cotter, who lives in the same building as Jessie’s family. Jessie doesn’t recognize the name and Veronica says no one was home when she went by earlier. Sheriff Lamb and some cops show up to search the place, saying Doyle committed murder if he killed himself with a busload of people behind him. At the firing range, Logan seems a little off with is aim and Dick Casablancas Sr. gives him some tips. Dick talks about his work and how he sometimes neglects his home life; I’m not sure if we’re supposed to believe he knows Logan is banging his wife or not.
At Wallace’s convenience store job, he points out an article in the paper about one of Weevil’s bikers (Cevando) who died in the bus crash; apparently he was quite the scholar and had lots of interesting hobbies, despite being in a biker gang. Veronica goes to talk to the Cotters about Doyle’s phone call, but Cotter says he was away that day. His wife (Carla) says she got a wrong number phone call that day, but Veronica’s not convinced. Jessie calls Veronica to tell her the cops found a suicide note on Ed’s computer. Veronica goes to see Jessie and arrives just in time to see her mother yelling at Jessie and her little brother like a maniac. Jessie shows Veronica the suicide note, but the actual content—about how Ed had to get out and how he couldn’t pretend any more for the kids’ sake—makes her wonder.
At the convenience store, a reporter tries to get dirt from Wallace about the dead bus students, but Wallace is more interested in the guy’s notepad, which looks familiar. The reporter says all journalists use them. Veronica goes back to the Cotter place when Carla’s alone and tells Carla her theory; Ed wasn’t planning on killing himself, he was going to run off with Carla, leaving his family behind. Veronica introduces Carla and Jessie, and Carla tells Jessie her father definitely wasn’t planning on killing himself that day. He called her to say he couldn’t run away with her because he didn’t want to leave Jessie and her brother with their crazy-ass mother. Carla says she regrets never having the chance to be with the man she loved and that makes Veronica think about what regrets she might have if she suddenly died.
She goes to see Duncan at the Neptune Grand Hotel (he’s staying there because his parents left town to get out of the spotlight but he didn’t want to transfer schools) and they have sex. Of course, they’ve technically done it before, but this time they’re both sober. Afterwards, they hear another couple in the next room banging like crazy and turn up the TV to drown it out. After Duncan falls asleep, Veronica leaves and runs into Logan coming out of the adjoining room. When Logan leaves, she phones the room to find out who he was banging (I’m assuming it’s Kendall), but before she can figure it out, Duncan comes out of his room to say goodbye.
Later that night, Dick Sr. and Kendall spook Beaver, who spills popcorn all over the floor. When he’s cleaning it up, he finds an empty condom wrapper under the couch. At the police station, Keith tells Woody that he doesn’t want to run for Sheriff, but when he sees Jessie begging Lamb to look at the new evidence that clears her father’s name and Lamb refusing to listen to her, he rethinks his decision. At school, Wallace tells Jackie he found out who hit her car. He’s removed the spark plug from her car and trades it back in exchange for her insurance info. Jackie’s ready to kick her ass, but Wallace tells her the woman doesn’t even go to Neptune High … she’s a reporter (which he figured out when he recognized the note paper she left as the same kind that all the reporters use). Wallace has already meted out some justice, by tipping off the campus police that there’s a reporter masquerading as a student hanging around. Veronica sees Jackie giving Wallace a kiss of gratitude and recognizes her as the snotty customer from the coffee shop. At home, Keith tells Veronica he’s running for Sheriff and she’s thrilled. He says she looks different and she wonders if he can tell she’s had sex. Meanwhile, the cops find a body washed up on the beach with the name “Veronica Mars” scrawled on the guy’s hand.