My Mother, the Fiend
|"My Mother, the Fiend"|
|Veronica Mars episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Nick Marck|
|Written by||Phil Klemmer
Dayna Lynne North
|Original air date||November 30, 2005|
"My Mother, the Fiend" is the ninth episode of the second season of the American mystery television series Veronica Mars, and the thirty-first episode overall. Directed by Nick Marck, the episode was co-written by Phil Klemmer and Dayna Lynne North. The episode was first shown on November 30, 2005, 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, Veronica finds her mother's old high school records and starts digging into her mother's past, discovering information about the Kane family in the process. Meanwhile, Beaver (Kyle Gallner) proposes a business plan to help Kendall (Charisma Carpenter).
"My Mother, the Fiend" features the third and final appearance by Alyson Hannigan on the show. The show's crew found it difficult to work an episode into Hannigan's schedule because of other projects. The episode was accompanied by an alternate ending, a publicity move made by executive producer Joel Silver and the UPN promotions department. The episode was initially viewed by 2.82 million viewers and received mostly positive reviews. For example, Rowan Kaiser, of The A.V. Club, wrote "I am intrigued by the decisions to make Veronica less than pure, but this time, I'm not as disappointed by the followthrough."
In health class, the whole class starts taking care of fake babies. Vice Principal Clemmons (Duane Daniels) calls Veronica into his office and gives her detention for having keys to his file cabinet. Beaver walks up to Mac (Tina Majorino) and asks her for a few favors. For Veronica’s detention, she has to alphabetize files and put them in cabinets. Veronica finds her mother’s permanent file and figures out that she was troubled in high school. Logan (Jason Dohring) punches Weevil (Francis Capra) and Logan's cronies beat up on him. Veronica talks to a teacher and finds out that Lianne and that teacher spread false rumors around the school and got suspended because of it. Weevil gets duct-taped to the flagpole. Veronica asks Vice Principal Clemmons about who might have known her mom in high school. Veronica talks to Principal Moorhead, who tells her that her mom was “vicious.” Trina (Alyson Hannigan) is coming back to perform in a play at Neptune High. Kendall tries to seduce Duncan (Teddy Dunn) again. Trina meets Kendall, and the interaction is rife with sarcasm. Veronica looks through her mom’s yearbook and eventually tracks down one of her mother’s old friends, who provides more information on the love triangle between Celeste (Lisa Thornhill), Jake (Kyle Secor), and Lianne.
Veronica asks Keith (Enrico Colantoni) about Lianne’s suspension, which she thinks was about spreading a rumor that Celeste was pregnant. Keith says that he doesn’t know anything about it. Trina slips and falls during a play rehearsal. Beaver meets with Kendall and confronts her about selling his father’s possessions for little money. Beaver gives her his plan, which involves her being the face of his business idea. Keith checks the birth records and finds that no baby was born to either “Kane” or “Carnathan” (Celeste’s maiden name) at that time. However, he finds a mysterious baby found in the girl’s bathroom at the Neptune high prom. Veronica bad-mouths Celeste in Duncan’s room before Celeste comes in and Veronica learns that Duncan never told his parents about their relationship. Celeste insults Veronica’s mother, and Veronica deduces that Celeste’s cleaning lady, Astrid, is probably her daughter. Weevil confronts Logan angrily, and they fight, despite agreeing that they need to team up to find out who actually killed Felix.
Mac shows her work to Beaver, which involves his new business project. Veronica, under a disguise, meets with the prom baby’s temporary foster mom. Veronica learns that the baby’s foster mother committed suicide and her father was in jail, hinting that the baby is Trina Echolls. Veronica talks to Trina and tells her the news of her parentage. Trina actually wants her story to go to the tabloids. However, a deaf lunch lady storms in and says that she’s actually Trina’s mother. The lunch lady says that Lianne was a friend who covered up her pregnancy to protect her. Trina’s father is Principal Moorehead, and Trina confronts him about leaving her at the prom in front of many faculty. Veronica finds the dead rat that Keith picked up at the bus. Veronica finds out that Principal Clemmons deliberately gave Veronica her detention task so that she would find her mother’s permanent file and frame Principal Moorehead. Veronica picks up Abel Koontz’s (Christian Clemenson) belongings and walks into Meg’s (Alona Tal) room and discovers that Meg is pregnant.
Directed by Nick Marck, "My Mother, the Fiend" was written by Phil Klemmer and Dayna Lynne North. The episode marks Klemmer's eighth writing credit, the fifth and penultimate writing credit for North, and Marck's seventh directing credit. Despite being credited, Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Dick (Ryan Hansen), and Jackie (Tessa Thompson) do not appear in the episode. Among the episode's guest stars are Alyson Hannigan and Charisma Carpenter, who portray Trina Echolls and Kendall Casablancas, respectively. The two previously starred together in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with Hannigan playing Willow Rosenberg and Carpenter portraying Cordelia Chase. Although the two characters had appeared previously, they had never shared a scene together. Jason Dohring, who portrays Logan, stated that he had a special connection with Hannigan on-set: "We get together and just tease each other, she sucker-punches me. There’s just a total, I don’t know, we really have a sister-brother thing going on. I’ve never had that kind of connection with an actress before. It totally works." Dohring also noted that Hannigan responded strongly to any spoilers that she was given during filming of the episode.
"My Mother, the Fiend" also marks Hannigan's third and final guest appearance on the show. Hannigan was open to appearing in another episode, but she was unsure whether or not her busy schedule would allow it. She also felt that the character's arc had come to a natural close in this episode. In an interview, Rob Thomas said that due to her busy schedule, it was difficult to write an episode featuring Hannigan. On Hannigan's role in the episode and her future availability, Thomas commented:
Well, to work around Alyson’s schedule is really difficult for us. It’s hard to plan to write an episode with Alyson in it because we don’t know exactly what her free days are. Even the episode that we did with her, there was a huge kerfuffle, we actually had to slide that story line one episode down from when we originally wrote that. We’ve loved having Alyson in the show, and I’m sure we will again, some day, if she’s willing, because we’ve had a lot of fun with her. But we have nothing booked with her right now.
The episode also features a reappearance by Celeste Kane (Lisa Thornhill), a recurring character during the first season. The second season DVD includes an alternate ending to this episode, which was released around the airing of the episode as a promotional tool. The alternate ending starts the same way as the regular ending, with Veronica discovering that Meg is pregnant. But instead of the episode ending there, Meg's mom comes into the room while Veronica hides in the bathroom. When the mom leaves, Meg is dead with a pillow over her face, indicating smothering. However, Veronica takes the pillow off before a nurse comes in. Thomas commented that the alternate ending was never going to be the actual conclusion to the episode. He said: "We never seriously considered having that be the ending. There were various other endings that we did have, but they were so subtly different, it was like, 'When does Veronica enter the room?' " The idea to promote the alternate ending was a joint venture from the UPN promotions department and executive producer Joel Silver. After Thomas learned that others wanted an alternate ending, he decided to make it very different from the episode's actual conclusion. "But once we could have a [very different] alternate ending, we thought, 'Let's make it rock.' The beauty of having that alternate ending is that we don't have to play it out in the next episode."
The episode received mostly positive reviews. Price Peterson, of TV.com, gave the episode a positive review, writing that he "[l]oved this episode. That reveal was simultaneously shocking and heartbreaking. Plus it took one of the show's most annoying characters (Trina) and made her both sympathetic and heartbreaking." He also praised the information found on Veronica's mother: "It was nice that Veronica got to see a better side of her mother than we usually do…Heartwarming!" Maureen Ryan, of the Chicago Tribune, called the episode "engrossing" and that it is a better use of a viewer's time than Lost, which aired at the same time as Veronica Mars.
Rowan Kaiser, of The A.V. Club, lauded Veronica's characterization as an antiheroine in the episode. "I've discussed times when [Veronica has] behaved in ways that I'm not certain are ethical, but this might be the most blatant case. […] Once again, I am intrigued by the decisions to make Veronica less than pure, but this time, I'm not as disappointed by the followthrough." Television Without Pity gave the episode a "B". Alan Sepinwall singled out the scene between Carpenter and Hannigan and the Weevil and Logan subplot as particular points of praise. Sepinwall also called the alternate ending "an interesting little feature" while going on to state that he was "glad the real show didn't go in that direction."
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