A far stronger effort tonight than we've seen so far this season. Feeling the advent of college-application time, Veronica joins the Future Business Leaders of America, visited by one Big Dick Casablancas. The club affords Beaver the chance to talk to Veronica about how Charisma is using his dad, and he pays her a grand to catch Charisma violating her prenup. Before Veronica can get to that, though, she gets hauled in to the sheriff's station, where she learns about the dead guy with her name on his palm. Turns out he was a biker, an ex-con, and a former stuntman. Veronica visits the bike shop where the dude worked, and discovers that he was tight with Haaron. Not only is this creepy, but it might be signaling Harry Hamlin's return, which would be, and apologies in advance, killer. But first, the smaller stuff. Keith tells Alicia (yay!) about the whole running-for-sheriff thing, and offers to take her away to Chicago for a book-signing. Veronica wonders if Keith is going to pop the question, which she is sincerely and happily in favor of, but he denies it. In Chicago, Alicia asks if Keith really wants to go back to being sheriff, and the answer is a definite yes. But it turns out Alicia has a secret that may get her in trouble with the law, and we're not just talking about Keith. Whatever the secret is, someone involved with it is in Neptune by the episode's end. Meanwhile, Duncan and Logan have it out, albeit briefly, and the confrontation is suitably bitter, even though it has nothing to do with Veronica. It's also well-acted on both sides, which is highly encouraging. Meanwhile, Veronica tries to make nice with Jackie for Wallace's sake, but she's more jealous of Wallace's new interest than even she realizes. Jackie's calmed down considerably, and seems really to be into Wallace. The threat is obvious, so Veronica is only too happy to see Jackie come into the Hut with another guy. But Jackie is playing it sweet and nice at school, so Veronica's in the unenviable bearer-of-bad-news position here. Lucky for her she has too much going on right now to deal with it. And that gets us to the main plots. Per Beaver's instructions, Veronica discovers that Charisma was poor white trash before marrying Big Dick. She follows the ex-Laker girl around for an afternoon, and catches her on film going into a cheap motel with some guy from the gym. She also catches Charisma in some tacky-assed clothes, but that's probably required by the prenup. The pictures aren't explicit enough for Beaver, though, so Veronica puts a camera in Charisma's iPod. Charisma is delightfully bitchy while completely not being Cordelia, by the way. Veronica discovers that Charisma isn't banging the gym guy -- she's helping Big Dick commit massive real-estate fraud. She is, however, still sleeping with Logan. Veronica confronts Logan about the affair, deducing that he's trying to get a jealous Big Dick to get rid of him. Big Dick, however, has the SEC on his tail, and he flees town in a helicopter, so Logan will have to find someone else to put him out of his stinking-rich misery. And finally, while at the Echolls house, Veronica comes to the disturbing conclusion that she was the target of the school-bus "accident." As if she didn't have enough survivor's guilt as it is. The show is back, you guys, and none too soon.
Aaaaah. Muuuuuch better.
Neptune High. Veronica walks through the busy hallway as VMVO tells us that college-application time is coming up, and her guidance counselor strongly suggested that she engage in "a little résumé-packing." I guess that can't hurt, although I think Veronica's got a leg up on the rest of her class in the application department. Because if the events of last year made a season of awesome television, I can only imagine she'd be able to distill them into one kick-ass essay. Veronica enters a classroom as VMVO goes on to say that, as of now, she's "a Future Business Leader of America." A jaunty bald middle-aged man introduces the lecturer, who just happens to be "the CEO of Casablancas Enterprises, Mr. H. Richard Casablancas." Given later revelations in the episode, I wonder if the "H" stands for "Huckster." The class applauds. Attendees include Dick, Beaver, Duncan, and Logan. Veronica is the only female, and there are no non-Caucasians, which I'm taking as a deliberate demonstration of who the "Haves" in Neptune are. But given how important entrepreneurial ingenuity can be to a businessperson, I find it hard to believe Mac isn't around. Maybe Big Dick thinks blue hair just doesn't fit into the American corporate image. If you look closely, Beaver does not clap for his dad, which is a nice touch. Dick stops Veronica to ask if she shouldn't be in with the "Future Bootlickers of America." They both give that joke what they each perceive as its due in laughter. You'll be surprised to hear that the two results are a little different. It's interesting, though, that Dick is nastier to Veronica when she doesn't have an 09er boyfriend right by her side. Veronica sits down next to Duncan as NVMVO says she chose this big swinging dick seminar because of her "billionaire boyfriend, Duncan Kane." That's Veronica Mars who said that, in case anyone still doesn't know the characters yet. Veronica Mars stage-whispers a question to Duncan Kane about whom they're exploiting now. Duncan Kane: "The workers." Veronica Mars kisses Duncan Kane and gives a Mr. Montgomery Burns "Eeeexcellent." Hee. Next to them, Logan Echolls drops his burrito, saying now he's lost his appetite. Surprisingly, I don't share that sentiment, as that exchange between Duncan Kane and Veronica Mars was kind of cute. That burrito did look pretty gross, though.
Big Dick looks around the room and gives a quick smile and eyebrow-raise to Dick. Dick waves enthusiastically, but when Beaver tries to do the same, Big Dick doesn't acknowledge him. First lesson to the Future Business Leaders of America: Learn to fake the clapping. Big Dick addresses the class about investing, saying that he prefers real estate to other possibilities because "when I put my money into something, I like to see what I'm getting." Hey, did you guys know that Enron's corporate slogan was "Ask Why"? I don't know what made that pop into my head just now. Big Dick shows an electronic slide detailing Casablancas Enterprises REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts), which basically allow an investor to pool his capital with that of other shareholders to own pieces of different real estate holdings. Veronica listens to this as she flips through a catalogue showing one of the company's holdings: the "Sandpiper," a beachfront luxury hotel and resort. Big Dick pulls up another slide that shows that his company's earnings have been way ahead of their share price, which...no. Share price is always much higher than earnings per share. That's called a multiple. Even with the highest-quality, most conservative, lowest-growth stocks (sometimes referred to as "value" stocks), the multiple might be five, ten, even twenty times earnings, depending on the historical circumstances. For stock in high-risk industries like biotech, the multiple might be in the hundreds. For example, in the late '90s, many internet stocks were driven up to incredible multiples, because people thought they were the wave of the future. But when the market caught on that earnings were never going to match those expectations, internet stocks crashed. Not that I know anyone who was personally affected by this phenomenon or anything. The point is, the graph is ridiculous. Big Dick asks how the graph looks, and even someone as dim as Little Dick knows that this projection is enough to keep him in new surfboards and trophy wives for the rest of his life. VMVO, however, says it looks like the rich get richer, while everyone else hopes for scholarships. And here I was hoping the fortune cookie Duncan gave her said, "You will not have to pay a dime for college." She did look awfully happy!