"Battle of the Bulge": Romance is in the Air on Veronica Mars

Oh, Veronica, how I've missed you during these long, lonely, Pussycat Doll-laden months. Tuesdays just haven't been the same without you.

I was a little nervous to see how last night's episode of Veronica Mars ("Un-American Graffiti"), the first of five stand-alone episodes, would play out. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how well the format worked, giving us a distinct case for Veronica to work on and solve within an hour (complete with a few unforeseen twists) as well as some romantic angst for her to process as well. The result was a well balanced episode that worked on several levels and pushed the characters along a little bit. Plus, we actually had nearly every supporting character around this week, from Logan and Dick to Mac, Piz, and Wallace. All this and a track from Badly Drawn Boy? Sweet.

Mac. An episode with some serious Mac face time is always a good thing, and our beloved Mac has turned into quite the catch. When she's not hiking with new boyfriend Bronson (Mac hiking?), she's flirting with Max at Parker's party. Hmmm, are we seeing a little potential romantic rivalry for our girl here? While I do think Bronson is an interesting match for Mac (and one who finally managed to solve her psycho-sexual issues), I really do see her and Max hitting it off; both were taken with the other's devious computer skills and they are both budding entrepreneurs to boot. Just who will Mac end up with? I'm fine with either, as long as she sticks around for a long time. Fingers crossed.

Veronica and Logan. These two seem to be kaput, and I'm perfectly okay with that. I do think that we sort of hit a wall with them as a couple and things needed to be shaken up a little bit; they were either a little too complacent with one another or about to tear each other's eyes out. Personally, I love their, well, love/hate relationship, and a little sparring could bring back those sparks. Still, Logan's become a little too, er, declawed in his new relationship with Parker. Sure, he's happy, but what's the fun in that? I never thought I'd see the day where he arranged a surprise birthday cake with his picture silkscreened on it. A little too cheesy for the Echolls, no?

Piz. Oh, Piz, you are just going to get hurt here and there, nothing anybody can do about it. I cringed when Veronica jumped on him at the party in order to escape the oily lothario flirting with her, but, for an ace private detective, Veronica can be somewhat clueless about the feelings of those around her (I call it "Buffy Summers Syndrome"). But how crushed was Piz when he learned that Veronica didn't have feelings for him? Still, you do have to give the guy some credit; if Piz is going all in, he's doing it in style: with an impromptu (and impassioned) kiss before turning on his heel and stalking off. That's just what may have won our girl V. over, as she follows him and plants one on his lips ... just as the elevator opens, revealing Logan, who seems more than a little miffed she and Piz are locking lips.

Veronica, all I can say is, be gentle with the boy. He obviously cares about you a whole lot, and this seems like it's a rebound thing for you more than anything else. When you snap to and realize that you're still in love with Logan (as you're bound to sooner rather than later), the fall is going to be really hard for Piz. And I don't know that this sensitive Oregonian can handle it.

Guest star of the week: Some astute HBO fans may have recognized Carole Davis, who played Sabir, the owner of Babylon Gardens, as Carrie's insane Euro friend Amalita Amalfi from Sex and the City. Seriously.

The Case. I won't go into the specifics of the case this week (anti-terrorist sentiment sprung from anti-American fliers and all that) but I will say this: Veronica + paintball gun = hot. How awesome was V. shooting that kid (repeatedly) for failing to answer her questions. Say what you want about Veronica's failure to pick up on guys crushing on her, but the girl's got gumption. I LOVED the scene when she posed as Nassir's girlfriend in order to snag those incriminating photos of Amira right from under his nose. Who else could get away with fondling a mark's arm while asking the time in order to prove to a suspicious one-hour photo clerk that you're actually a guy's girlfriend? Just our Veronica.

I'm happy to see that Keith has stepped up as acting sheriff and isn't taking any crap from any of his men. Papa Keith was way disappointed in Veronica for making those way-too-good fake IDs for Wallace and Piz but even more disappointed in the fact that his deputies seemed to not be taking his authority very seriously. What better way to prove you're the alpha male on the block than by firing four guys in front of everyone else? Well played, Keith. It's good to see just why Keith originally made a great sheriff, and having him in poor, departed Lamb's position of power makes for some interesting Neptune dynamics. Especially with Veronica's tendencies to bend the law when she has to.

Next week on Veronica Mars ("Debasement Tapes"), Piz turns to Veronica for help when some recordings that belong to his idol (guest star Paul Rudd) vanish, while Keith faces some unlikely competition when a new candidate enters the election race for Neptune sheriff. A new Veronica episode plus Paul Rudd? It's good to have appointment television back on Tuesdays again.

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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions junior exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.