|Veronica Mars episode|
|Directed by||Rob Thomas|
|Written by||Rob Thomas|
|Original air date||January 25, 2006|
|Running time||43 minutes|
"Donut Run" is the eleventh episode of the second season of the American mystery television series Veronica Mars, and the thirty-third episode overall. Written and directed by series creator Rob Thomas, "Donut Run" premiered on January 25, 2006 on UPN.
The series depicts the adventures of Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) as she deals with life as a high school student while moonlighting as a private detective. In this episode, after Meg's death in "One Angry Veronica", Duncan (Teddy Dunn) steals his baby daughter and runs away with her. Meanwhile, Logan (Jason Dohring) and Weevil (Francis Capra) work together on solving Felix Toombs's murder.
"Donut Run" was the first episode of the series to be directed by Rob Thomas. The episode also features the final regular appearance by series regular Duncan Kane (Teddy Dunn). Fans often expressed their dislike for the character and his relationship with Veronica, preferring the Veronica-Logan relationship. "Donut Run" was the lowest-rated episode of the series. Nevertheless, it was critically acclaimed.
Veronica and Logan ride the elevator and reach the apartment before finding Kendall (Charisma Carpenter), indicating that Duncan was sleeping with her. Veronica confronts Duncan, who abruptly breaks up with her in the middle of the fight. After their breakup, Veronica slips into a depression; Keith (Enrico Colantoni) attempts to console her to no avail. Logan and Weevil discuss who killed Felix, and they deduce that whoever it was in cahoots with the Fitzpatricks. Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney) comes in and informs Veronica that Duncan has disappeared and kidnapped his daughter, Faith. He arrests Veronica as a supposed accomplice. At the police station, Keith pressures Veronica to tell the truth about her unknowing involvement in supplying the finances for the kidnapping. Afterwards, Sheriff Lamb requires her to write down everything she knows on a notepad. Logan asks Dick (Ryan Hansen) to get some drugs for the Pacific Coast Highway biker gang. Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) talks to Veronica and says that he’ll find Duncan before she does.
Veronica learns that Wallace didn’t come back to Neptune to play basketball, as he originally said. Dick delivers the drugs, and Logan learns that Hector is now the prime suspect in Felix's death. Two FBI agents talk to Sheriff Lamb, intent on getting the baby back. Veronica shows some information about Duncan’s computer. Weevil talks to Hector, who denies the accusation. The FBI agents and Sheriff Lamb learn that Duncan stole a boat. However, when the boat is searched they do not find anyone—just evidence that people were there. Veronica thinks that Duncan has been picked up by someone. Veronica asks Vinnie Van Lowe to give a letter to Duncan. Weevil talks to Sean Friedrich (Kevin Sheridan), a drug dealer, but learns that he wasn’t working for the Fitzpatricks. Veronica talks to Wallace (Percy Daggs III), who says that a teammate crashed his car into a man and drove away while he was in it. He felt incredibly guilty and decided to come back.
Veronica receives a short call from Duncan just as the FBI agents track Duncan’s location. Veronica goes into an abandoned apartment, where she meets Duncan. It turns out that the set of events that seemed to point towards Duncan having stolen the baby were a scam so that Veronica and Duncan could successfully smuggle Duncan and the baby to Mexico together. Sheriff Lamb learns this fact just as Keith finds diapers in the apartment. A reporter contacts Wallace. Sheriff Lamb goes down to Mexico and asks around for Duncan Kane. Keith confronts Veronica about her actions regarding the baby, angry that she used him and tells her he'll never be able to fully trust her again. The FBI agents search Veronica’s apartment, but Keith has removed the diapers and continues to claim he doesn't know anything. Weevil learns that Felix was dating Molly Fitzpatrick. Sheriff Lamb continues his search before finding his trunk unloaded. Duncan, disguised as a hitchhiker, gets picked up by Vinnie Van Lowe and Astrid (Celeste’s assistant), and they drive off into the distance.
- Duncan escapes Neptune and leaves the United States with his baby daughter, Faith Manning, whom he has renamed Lilly. Veronica aided him in this escapade, and when Keith learns about her involvement, he states that he will never be able to trust her again.
- Wallace returned to Neptune because he was involved in a drunk driving incident in Chicago.
- Weevil and Logan continue to work together to solve Felix's murder and learn that Felix was dating Molly Fitzpatrick.
The episode was written and directed by series creator Rob Thomas. Although Thomas had previously written "Pilot", "Credit Where Credit's Due", "Leave It to Beaver", and "Normal Is the Watchword", this is his first directing credit for the show and his first professional directing credit. In an interview, Thomas expressed nervousness around the shoot, especially when to call "Action." Thomas also made sure that he directed an episode that he'd written. When asked about how it came to be that Thomas directed an episode, he replied:
It could not have made less sense, for me to direct an episode right smack in the middle of the season. And it about killed me. For a month there, I was doing two jobs, and they're both very full time, directing an episode and still running the show and looking at cuts of the show, looking at scripts, doing casting — all of that had to keep going while I was directing, and it was really difficult. I think if I direct in the future, it'll be episode 20, 21, or 22, so all the scripts are in, and I don't have both hats on at the same time.
Being a first-time director, the network is, what's the word I'm looking for – they don't want a first-time director directing one of their sweeps episodes, so it created a limited number of episodes that I could choose from.
The episode features the final regular appearance by Duncan Kane (played by Teddy Dunn), after his character was written off the series. Duncan would later cameo in the season two finale, "Not Pictured". Thomas attributed Duncan's departure to the lack of fan interest in Veronica and Duncan's relationship and the more enthusiastic reception to the Veronica-Logan relationship, stating that "You know, we had two romantic possibilities for Veronica. One sort of dominated the fans' interest. And it became clear that one suitor won out."
From the very beginning of the series, fans had expressed dislike towards the character of Duncan. However, he decided to keep playing the character. In a later interview, he said, "Obviously, I acted because I wanted the fans to like the experience. You want your performance to be liked. You don't want to suck. You don't want people to think you suck. That wasn't the goal." Towards the end of the airing of the first season, he stated, "I'm going to be there in every episode next season if we get a second season. So people will either continue to hate me or things will change. Things are going to change for Duncan anyway, as the season resolves. There are going to be different sides of him that you're going to get to see." Before going into the filming of season two, Thomas had told Dunn that he was being written off the show, and Dunn did not react badly to the news, as by that point, it "was actually a decision" for him to return for the second season at all.
In its original broadcast, "Donut Run" received 1.62 million viewers, becoming the lowest-rated episode of the series overall and marking a sharp decrease in 1.8 million viewers from the previous episode, "One Angry Veronica" and ranking 118th of 121 in the weekly rankings.
The episode received critical acclaim. Writing for The A.V. Club, Rowan Kaiser gave the episode a positive review, stating that the characters knowing facts that the audience doesn't worked. "'Donut Run' actually does this well, in large part because the heist that we're seeing—Duncan and Veronica stealing the coma baby—requires that Duncan and Veronica stage a breakup, meaning that Veronica seems to be a free, bitter agent for the bulk of the episode." Price Peterson of TV.com heavily praised what he called a "great episode" and "a fitting send-off for Duncan". He elaborated that "as much as he and Veronica were a good match, there's only so much you can do dramatically with a happy relationship, you know? I'm kind of glad she's back to being a free agent again."
Amy Ratcliffe of IGN called the episode the third best episode of the series, behind "Weapons of Class Destruction" and "Leave It to Beaver". The publication stated that "this fast-paced episode…had switches and secrets and is a tad reminiscent of Oceans 11" and that the characterization of Vinnie Van Lowe was "a pleasing little touch." Vulture listed the episode's use of "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart" by Al Green and "Adelaide" by The Old 97's on its list of "16 Perfect Musical Moments from Veronica Mars". Katie Atkinson of Entertainment Weekly ranked "Donut Run" as one of "the 10 essential episodes of Veronica Mars", noting "The Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies as a musical standout. Kath Skerry of Give Me My Remote called the episode the 2nd best of the series, behind "Not Pictured", writing that "This episode is arguably the biggest game-changer of Veronica Mars. It’s also one of the saddest," also writing that it "featured one of the most moving scenes of the series." BuzzFeed ranked the episode 14th on its list of the best Veronica Mars episodes, writing that "so many great things happen in this one."
Reviews were not all positive. Television Without Pity gave a more mixed review, saying that there were "quite a few problems" with the episode and grading it a B-. The reviewer argued that the episode lacked clarity in the supporting characters' involvement in the story and did not provide a satisfying or realistic conclusion to Veronica and Duncan's relationship. TVLine ranked the episode 40th out of 64 on its list of Veronica Mars episodes.
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