Welcome to the third season of Veronica Mars. This episode introduces us to Veronica’s new circumstances and brings in a couple of new characters. Veronica’s attending Hearst College now (along with Logan, Wallace, and Mac) and still living at home with her dad. She’s dating (and banging Logan) and seems to have recovered from all the craziness of last season’s finale. As this episode opens, we learn that the asshole rapist at Hearst (who likes to shave the heads of the women he’s raped) was never caught, so students are organizing a “Take Back the Night” rally to fight back. Veronica’s first class is criminology, which should be pretty easy for her. The professor (Landry) is pretty good-looking, although his TA (Timothy Foyle) seems like a bit of a dick. Landry mentions a mentoring program for at-risk kids and then gives them a murder mystery to solve, assigning different students as witnesses or detectives. Apparently, Foyle holds the record for solving the case, but Veronica shatters it because she recognizes the mystery as an old board game and looks up the solution online. Veronica can’t resist a little snark and Foyle is not too happy that she made him look stupid.
Veronica runs into Logan on campus and he tells her Dick Casablancas is going to Hearst too. Dick’s a real mess and still blames Logan for Beaver killing himself. At the office, Vinnie Van Lowe drops by to ask for Keith’s help on some bullshit case. Keith turns him down and Vinnie picks up Keith’s briefcase. It’s pretty obvious (to me anyway) that Vinnie dropped a bug in the case, but Keith doesn’t seem to suspect anything. At home, Veronica shows Keith some photos from their New York trip and she’s still pissed off that he showed up three days late for the trip. (I assume that has something to do with Kendall’s request in last season’s finale.) He tells her he’s going after a bail-jumper and will be away for a few days.
At Hearst, Wallace meets his new roommate (with the rather strange nickname of Piz), who seems pretty cool. Too bad he’s not all that smart, because he fell for the old “welcome wagon” scam and someone stole all the stuff from his car, including his vintage Gretsch guitar. Wallace says he knows somebody who can get it back. Piz is skeptical until he meets Veronica and instantly starts crushing on her. He tells her a heavy-set blonde checked his name off a clipboard, gave him his dorm assignment, and promised to watch his stuff until he got back. Naturally it was gone, but the thief traced the word “unwashed” (with some fancy lettering) into the dirt on Piz’s car.
They go talk to Piz’s RA (a guy named Moe who’s a big Battlestar Galactica fan), who tells them Hearst doesn’t have a welcoming committee. At the prison, Cormac Fitzpatrick is released and is picked up by … Keith. So much for chasing a bail jumper. At Hearst, Veronica attends a rally where a rape victim is asking for tougher rules around campus, including shutting down all the frat houses. The women in the crowd are behind her, but the guys are all booing. Veronica runs into Mac and we find out that her close encounter with the deranged Beaver last season has basically killed her sex drive. She’s seeing a therapist, but hasn’t made any progress. Ironically, Mac’s roommate is quite the sex maniac, entertaining a different dude every night.
The rally is interrupted by a half-naked goofball in a mask dancing around with a blow-up doll. Some women kick his ass and unmask him and it turns out to be Dick, being a dick as usual. Keith drives Cormac out into the country and we find out what Kendall asked him to do last season. Apparently, Liam wanted a cut of the money Kendall inherited and she was fine with that, until he decided he wanted most of it. Liam was gunning for her, so she asked Keith to get her out of town and set her up with a new identity. Cormac and Kendall go way back (she did time for him), so he’s grateful to Keith for hiding Kendall from his brother. Now that he’s out of prison, Cormac can’t wait to see Kendall again.
At home, Logan and Veronica are banging, when Keith calls to check on her. Logan answers and Veronica assures Keith he’s leaving right away. (Keith: “Give Logan my regards as you’re shaking his hand goodnight and I’ll be sure to call unexpectedly again.”) We find out Kendall paid Keith a good sum for helping her and Keith bought Veronica a new car to make up for being late for the New York trip. Veronica and Piz talk to deputy Sax, who says there have been a few other “welcome wagon” victims. She convinces him to give her their names by assuring him he’ll get the credit if she tracks down the thieves.
Back on campus, Veronica talks to the other victims of the scam, confirming is was a chubby blonde who ripped them off. One of the victims is a blonde, a junior, who gets snotty when Veronica asks how she could be in her third year and not know there’s no Hearst Welcome Wagon. Veronica sees a poster for a punk band called the Unwashed with the same funky lettering as the graffiti on Piz’s car. She goes to see Mac and meets her roommate, Parker. Parker is very … exuberant (and not shy about changing in front of people) and when Veronica asks Mac if she wants to go see a band, Parker invites herself along.
At the show, Parker dances with a bunch of dudes in the mosh pit and Veronica gets on stage to offer a reward to anyone who saw anything when Piz got ripped off. Three young punks tell her they saw a nondescript van and mention a blonde who seemed like she was wearing a fat-suit and took it off to reveal a hell of a bod. Later that night, a drunken Dick drops by Parker’s room to give her shit for not calling him back. Mac tells him Parker is out and Dick tells her Beaver never cared about her, he was just using her as cover. The next day, Veronica tells Piz she found his missing guitar on Craigslist. They go to see the seller (whose name is Donald Fagen … that has to be an in-joke), who tells them he bought it off a hot, skinny blonde.
Veronica gets an idea and goes back to see the junior who supposedly was a victim of the scam, taking a photo of her and showing it to Piz. He doesn’t think it looks like the same girl who ripped him off though. Out in the middle of nowhere, Keith and Cormac break down and have to wait for help. In Neptune, Veronica goes to see Donald and shows him the blonde’s photo. He says he’s pretty sure she’s the one who sold him the guitar. Veronica notices he’s in Landry’s criminology class and asks about the mentoring program. Donald says it’s the best thing he ever did. Veronica notices a photo of a city-scape and asks him about it; he says it was taken from the Seattle Space Needle.
Veronica asks Foyle about the mentoring program and (with a little help from Mac) snoops through the files until she finds the three punks from the club who were so helpful. Later, Logan and Veronica have dinner at a fast food place and Logan gives her a key to his room. A drunken Dick comes in and hits on some random girl. Her boyfriend beats the shit out of him until Logan uses Veronica’s stun gun to zap the guy. Naturally, Dick’s not thankful at all and takes off. Piz comes in and gets a shock when he realizes Veronica has a boyfriend. She shows him the photo she lifted from Donald’s place of Donald and a chubby blonde on top of the Space Needle. Piz says that’s the woman who ripped him off.
Veronica takes the evidence on Donald, the blonde, and the three punks to deputy Sax and she and Piz wait across the street from Donald’s house when Sax shows up to search the place. All the stolen stuff is in Donald’s garage. Keith and Cormac reach their destination, a cabin in the middle of nowhere where Kendall is waiting. At Hearst, Veronica and Mac are supposed to go to the movies, but the tickets are in the room and Parker has a dude in there. Veronica slips in to get the tickets, trying not to interrupt the love fest.
At the cabin, Keith goes out to the car and finds Vinnie’s bug. He also finds his gun is missing, so he heads back inside the cabin. He’s too late, as Cormac is blowing Kendall away. Cormac takes a shot at him, but he gets away. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the car keys and the desert night is pretty damn cold. At his hotel, Logan is surprised when Dick shows up and asks to crash with him, saying he has nowhere else to go. Dick’s a complete mess, saying he fucked up bad, and Logan says he can stay. Veronica and Mac return from their night out half wasted, so Mac tells Veronica she can crash in her room. The next morning, they wake up to the sounds of Parker screaming. Her head has been shaved … she’s the latest victim of the campus rapist. I think I know what the major arc is going to be for Season 3.