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2.10 One Angry Veronica

Written by: Russell Smith
Directed by: John Kretchmer

Original Air Date: 7 December, 2005
Transcribed by Inigo and Kiwikazoo.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: Previously, on Veronica Mars...

Veronica takes the tapes out of the air vent in Lilly's room. Cut to Veronica and Duncan watching one of the tapes. It is of Aaron and Lilly having sex. Cut to Veronica speaking to Keith on her cell phone as she is leaving the Kane estate, all from 122 Leave It to Beaver.

VERONICA: Dad! It's Aaron Echolls. He did it.

Keith listens at home, his face drawn in concern.

VERONICA: [offscreen] I have video of Lilly in his bed on the day she died.

Cut to the bus on its return journey from the field trip in 201 Normal Is the Watchword. Veronica is twisted around in her seat to talk to Meg.

VERONICA: I hear you're back on the cheerleading squad.

MEG: I'm supposed to pay or something, right?

As Meg gets out her wallet, Veronica holds up her hands in defeat.

VERONICA: Never mind.

She turns back in her seat as Meg continues to glare at her. Cut to Veronica and Duncan in an empty classroom. Veronica is reading the emails Duncan printed off from Meg's files in 207 Nobody Puts Baby In a Corner.

VERONICA: Why is Meg emailing someone at Child Protection Services?

DUNCAN: She's been trying to help the kid, but she doesn't have proof.

Cut to Veronica frantically telling Lamb why she and Duncan have broken into the Manning's' residence and are in Grace's room.

VERONICA: We were trying to help Grace. They've been abusing...

MANNING: Shut up.

VERONICA: ...her, they had her locked in the closet.

Cut to a little earlier as Stewart Manning threatens them with a baseball bat.

MANNING: Get on the floor!

Veronica and Duncan sink to their knees on the floor. Cut to later again as Manning tells his story to Lamb.

MANNING: I found them in my daughter's room, rifling through her things.

Cut to Meg lying in her hospital bed in 209 My Mother, the Fiend. Veronica is there and sees Meg's pregnant belly. End previouslies.

EXT - NEPTUNE HIGH SCHOOL (NHS), LUNCH AREA - DAY.

Veronica is sitting alone at one of the tables, staring out into space.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: It's three hours until the start of Christmas break. And despite what I am sure are the sincere efforts of the school's pastry chef, my holiday spirit has yet to kindle.

Veronica's fork is stabbing unenthusiastically at a piece of cake, decorated with green frosting and upon which is drawn the outline of a Christmas tree in red icing.

DUNCAN: [offscreen] There you are.

Veronica looks up as Duncan joins her at the table, carrying his tray. Veronica stares down at the cake.

VERONICA: Here I am.

DUNCAN: I didn't even see you this morning and I kinda, you know, sorta hoped I could carry your books to class.

She doesn't respond.

DUNCAN: You okay?

VERONICA: I saw Meg.

Duncan draws back a little, surprised.

DUNCAN: What do you mean? You...

VERONICA: Meg's pregnant.

Duncan stares down at the table for a moment.

DUNCAN: I know.

VERONICA: You know?

DUNCAN: There was a letter, from her aunt. I guess Meg had asked to live up there and raise the baby.

VERONICA: Oh my god. Duncan, how could you...

DUNCAN: Last spring, before we broke up&#8212

VERONICA: Okay, stop! I was shown a diagram once. I know how it works. But you knew and you didn't tell me?

DUNCAN: This has nothing to do with us.

VERONICA: Oh, no! Nothing. Your secret illegitimate child gestating in the womb of your comatose ex-girlfriend affects neither you nor me. [tearfully] I'm fine with it.

DICK: Hola, boyos.

Dick arrives, putting a hand on each of their backs and leaning in.

DICK: Hope I'm not spoiling a tender moment here.

He moves around to the other side of the table and sits down.

DICK: But I just wanted to make sure you got your vaccinations because the New Year's bash of the century is just a scant week away.

VERONICA: Of the century? Does Truman Capote know?

DICK: Of the millennium. And Truman who?

DUNCAN: Can't. I've got holidays in Sun Valley with the parents.

Veronica closes her eyes and shakes her head slightly, as if in disappointment that he is not changing his plans.

DICK: Dude, seriously? Snow? Pine trees? Family? That's not holidays. Party boat, crazy Chinese pyro guy, I'm feeling that.

Dick slaps Duncan on the arm.

DICK: Think about it.

He swivels off the seat and stands to go before pausing on a thought.

DICK: Oh, and Duncan, if you're not coming because of...tension here, there's a chance an old flame might be there.

Veronica stares at Dick with intense dislike. Duncan is puzzled and shakes his head.

DUNCAN: What do you mean?

DICK: Didn't you hear? Meg, she woke up. Probably gonna be partying in no time so...I'm just saying.

Dick grins and walks off. Duncan looks stunned and turns his head back to Veronica, similarly affected. She lets out a long breath.

DUNCAN: I should go see her.

VERONICA: Got it covered.

Veronica holds out her visitor's badge from NVH Neptune Memorial Hospital.

VERONICA: My visitor's pass from when I picked up Abel Koontz's stuff. All I need it a colour copier and a laminator and we're in business.

Duncan reaches out and takes her hand.

VERONICA: Don't worry. I do this for all my boyfriends.

DUNCAN: Veronica...

VERONICA: I know. I'm amazing.

She smiles at him.

INT - COUNTY SUPERVISOR'S OFFICE - DAY.

Woody is leading Keith into his office.

WOODY: I appreciate you getting down here so fast, Keith. I'm sorry about that voicemail. I'm sure I sounded pretty crazed.

As he talks, he makes his way to his desk. Keith settles in the chair opposite.

KEITH: I did detect a certain urgency.

WOODY: Keith. I gotta a call from Sheriff Lamb right before lunch. The Aaron Echolls/Lilly Kane sex tapes have been stolen from the evidence room.

KEITH: All of them?

Woody nods.

KEITH: Original and copies?

WOODY: From separate safes, no less.

KEITH: Is there a sign of break-in or...?

WOODY: No. This pretty much has to be an inside deal. Only an employee would have that kind of access.

KEITH: This is gonna put a huge dent in the prosecution's case.

Woody nods gravely.

KEITH: It's not the kind of thing that's going to stay secret long.

WOODY: No, it isn't.

Woody gets up from his chair and comes around to the front of the desk, perching himself upon it, in front of Keith

WOODY: And when it does come out, Neptune is officially Bozoville. A national laughing stock. I need you to get those tapes back.

KEITH: Woody, I'm just a PI. I don't have a staff or access...

WOODY: I'm not talking about a private investigation, Keith. I'm talking about an official independent inquest on behalf of the city.

KEITH: I'm flattered, but am I really the guy you want, given my history with the department?

WOODY: You're the right guy precisely because of your history with the department.

Keith doesn't look convinced.

WOODY: Please, Keith. What do you say?

KEITH: I say it sounds awkward and uncomfortable, but we need those tapes. How can I say no?

Woody lets out a huge sigh of relief.

WOODY: Thank you, pal.

With a big smile, he reaches forward to shake Keith's hand.

INT - HOSPITAL - DAY.

The monitors in Meg's room sound softly. The monitor for the baby shows 180, the one for Meg shows 60. Meg's eyes open. She looks slightly puzzled at something. It's a blurry Duncan who is looking down on her and gradually comes into focus. He is wearing a large visitor's badge. He smiles gently.

DUNCAN: Hi.

Veronica, who was sitting in the corner of the room, rises quickly and walks to the end of the bed. Meg is staring open mouthed at Duncan at the side of the bed. She looks down and sees Veronica, who is uncertain as to her welcome.

MEG: Surprise.

She smiles.

DUNCAN: Meg, what are we gonna do?

Meg gives a troubled laugh.

MEG: God, Duncan, I don't know. Mom and Dad want me to put the baby up for adoption. Have you ever heard of the Levi Stinson Sanctuary House?

DUNCAN: No.

MEG: It's horrible. Their adoption contracts are all about religious indoctrination and tough love discipline. It's almost a license for abuse. When I think of my child brought up like that...

DUNCAN: Don't I have any say?

MEG: The sinner who knocked up their daughter? They don't want you involved, they want you gone. Their lawyers are digging up all this stuff on your medical history, your blackouts and violent outbursts. All I want is to have my baby and move in with my Aunt Chris in Seattle.

A nurse, the same one from the alternative ending to 209 My Mother, the Fiend, walks in with a clipboard. She freezes when she sees Veronica and Duncan.

NURSE: I don't know how you got in here, but you need to leave.

MEG: Val? It's-it's okay.

DUNCAN: We should go.

Meg looks back at Duncan.

DUNCAN: You should rest.

Meg appears to accept this and doesn't respond. She does, however, take a long look at Veronica. Duncan passes behind Veronica to exit the room. Veronica stares back at Meg uncomfortably then turns to follow him. Meg watches for a moment, then seems to come to a decision.

MEG: Veronica?

Veronica pauses and looks back.

MEG: Can you stay a second?

Veronica looks at Duncan, then moves closer to the side of the bed as the nurse and Duncan leave.

MEG: Veronica, I just hope you can forgive me for being such a b&#8212

Veronica places a comforting hand on Meg's shoulder.

VERONICA: Meg, you don't have to&#8212

MEG: No, it's just that I knew that I was pregnant and seeing you with Duncan...

VERONICA: You don't have to say anything.

Meg grimaces.

MEG: And is it too much to ask for just one small favour?

VERONICA: No.

MEG: If anything happens to me, don't let them do it. Don't let them send the baby away. And no matter what, don't let them keep it.

Veronica stares down at her.

INT - MARS RESIDENCE - NIGHT.

Keith is sorting through a large stack of mail at the kitchen counter. Veronica enters the apartment.

KEITH: You're late.

VERONICA: That's the idea. Figured if I snuck in close to the end of the day, the chances of it getting even worse are slim.

KEITH: So you would not characterise your day as "good."

VERONICA: More along the lines of..."bad."

KEITH: And how much would it help if I microwaved you some two-day-old lasagna?

VERONICA: A...medium amount.

Keith has settled on one piece of mail.

KEITH: And how much would it help if I went out and got some ice cream, too?

VERONICA: A...lot? Why would I need that much help?

Keith holds out the envelope.

KEITH: With my sincere regrets.

Veronica takes it and glances at it. It is from the Neptune Court and marked "Official Business." She opens it.

KEITH: Chocolate chip mint or butter pecan?

It's an official form, unreadable except for the word "juror" writ large at the bottom in a red box.

VERONICA: Oh, crap. Jury duty?

KEITH: I'll get both.

Veronica sighs.

Opening credits.

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day One. It's 1:25pm. The jurors file into the room.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: Jury duty on Christmas break. No sing-alongs, no poignant messages of universal love and hope, just cell phones out, watches eyeballed, jackets left on. And a commitment to the sacred ideal of drive-through express justice.

Veronica comes in last and makes her way to one of the unclaimed chairs at the large table. One of the male jurors glances at her appreciatively. People slowly take places around the table and sit down. At the head of the table, a man described in the credits as Captain of Industry, taps his glass of water and brings them to order.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: All right, ladies and gentleman. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we get back to our lives. First order of business, I believe, is to elect a jury foreman. Do I hear any nominations or volunteers?

The Captain of Industry is the only one now standing, at the head of the table, very much in charge. No one speaks.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: All right, hearing no nominations, I have a proposal. This strikes me as a fairly open-and-shut case. So, would anyone object to letting the young lady serve as our foreman?

Everyone stares at Veronica.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Be a nice chance for her to learn about civic responsibility in the justice system.

Veronica is not thrilled.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Great! All in favour of Miss Mars as foreman, raise your hands.

Everyone does, much to Veronica's chagrin. The member who clocked her coming in, wearing a baseball shirt under his jacket and a baseball cap, is enthusiastic.

SPORTS GUY: Absolutely.

Veronica smiles nervously.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Lamb's face is contorted by strenuous effort. He let's out a held breath.

LAMB: Yeah, we've done a ton of upgrading on the security front since you were here. For example, no keys anymore. We're using magnetic cards like you get in hotels.

Lamb groans as he exerts himself again.

LAMB: Reprogram them every couple of days. No worries about lost...

His voice tightens as he labours.

LAMB: ...or copied keys. Say bud, can ya gimme a spot?

The scene opens out to show that Lamb has been doing barbell bench presses while he talks to Keith. The small room has been turned into a makeshift gym with a few pieces of equipment. On the walls are various posters on fitness and one setting out the department's goals. Lamb has the barbell just above his chest.

KEITH: A spot?

LAMB: Yeah, spot me up here.

Keith puts down his pad and pen and helps Lamb put the barbell back on the rack. Lamb sit up and a full length mirror can be seen in front of him. He gets off the bench, breathing heavily.

LAMB: Ah, endorphin rush, man.

Lamb, showing off his muscles in a black wife-beater, stares at his body in the mirror as Keith watches with some disdain.

LAMB: Mm. You know, Keith, you really shoulda done more to push fitness when you were here.

KEITH: Yeah, I was gonna get to that, but the crime fighting kept getting in the way. Anyway, you were saying?

LAMB: Magnetic cards, right.

Lamb tears himself away from his reflection and walks over to the side to grab a pair of dumbbells.

LAMB: And Level 1 clearance for senior staff only. There's no night time access without permission from me.

Having brought the dumbbells back over to the mirror and placed them on the floor, Lamb, back to concentrating on the mirror, takes off his shirt.

KEITH: So to paraphrase, you're telling me the Neptune sheriff's department is a locked-down, squared-away citadel of security?

LAMB: That's a little flowery...

Lamb bends down to retrieve the dumbbells.

LAMB: ...but you can pretty much catch my drift.

He poses in the mirror and starts to do arm curls.

LAMB: I run a tight ship, Keith.

KEITH: And you look good doin' it.

LAMB: That's why they elected me, Keith.

KEITH: So I'm gonna need unrestricted access to your staff at all times.

Keith walks around to stand in front of the mirror and ensure Lamb's attention.

LAMB: Absolutely. We're here to please.

KEITH: Well in that case, I'll need personal info for everyone who works here. Personnel files, tax returns, security access levels, email addresses, browser histories, all that.

LAMB: No problem, buddy. Just say how high.

KEITH: Oh, I will.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: [offscreen] So the question...

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day one continues.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: ...is whether there's any need to deliberate at all.

The captain of industry, still at the head of the table, continues to act like he is in charge as he states his view. Veronica, now sitting at the opposite end of the table, raises her hand.

VERONICA: Um.

She stands as the jurors turn their heads towards her.

VERONICA: As foreman, I don't see how a quick review of the facts could hurt.

Some of the jurors nod, some sigh, some fold their arms. The captain of industry looks at his watch impatiently.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Briefly, all right. Our defendants are Robbie McKinnon and Hunter Hayes...

He hands a file to the Latina woman on his left, described in the credits as the knitting grandmother.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: ...both twenty-one years of age, both from well known Neptune families.

The knitting grandmother looks at the mugshots taken of the two before passing them down the table.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: They are charged with aggravated assault in the November 5th beating of Anissa Villapondo, age twenty-five.

Next is exhibit 7A, a picture of a Mexican girl, taken at a hospital. Her face shows signs of a beating.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: As the prosecution tells it, Anissa missed her bus after getting off work at the Elite Touch car wash in downtown Neptune and decided to hitchhike. She was picked up by McKinnon and Hayes. On the way, Anissa and the boys smoked some marijuana.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Their weed?

He coughs uncomfortably at the interruption.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Yes.

She nods and casts a knowing glance at the black woman opposite her.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Then she says they asked her to join them in a motel room so they could "party some more."

As the pictures make there way down the table, close-ups of Anissa's injuries can be seen.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: With Ecstasy, also theirs.

She looks around the table to see the effect, if any, of her comments.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: They struck her as harmless, so she accepted. Once inside the room, they allegedly asked her for sex.

On his right, the black woman, described in the credits as Women's Studies Professor, is following from her own notes.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: Her statement says they got so aggressive, she became frightened and tried to leave.

The Captain of Industry passes some more pictures to her, to start their journey down the table in the opposite direction.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Hayes then supposedly pulled out a gun and forced her back inside, where McKinnon punched and kicked her.

The first picture, exhibit 12, shows a bed. There are spots of blood on the sheets. Numbered labels have been set beside them.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Hayes put the gun on the bedside table...

The next picture is a close up of blood spot #6 and is tagged exhibit 13.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY:...climbed on top of her. Miss Villapondo says she fought back, managed to grab Hayes' gun, and fired twice into the ceiling.

Exhibit 16 is of a large smear of blood, labelled #2, on the wall. Exhibit 17 is of two bullet holes in the ceiling. A gloved hand holds up the number 16.

VERONICA: The boys ran off, and the police picked them up the next day based on her descriptions and the video from the motel security camera.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Miss Villapondo also says after the beating she staggered out to the second floor balcony and threw the gun over the railing. This...gun was never found.

VERONICA: Noted. So, the defense case. The defendants both claim she is no victim, but rather, a hooker who offered them a three-way for eighty bucks.

Exhibit 201 is a photograph of part of a hotel. One of the doors on the upper story is circled.

VERONICA: But before they could get down to business, a young African-American man, apparently her pimp...

A mug shot of another man, C Myles, is being passed from juror to juror.

VERONICA:...kicked the door in, fired two shots into the ceiling, and ordered them out. The boys told police the pimp seemed to feel Anissa owed him money. They left the motel, but assume he was the one who beat her.

Halfway down the table is an older man with a moustache, described in the credits as Ned Flanders type, pipes up.

NED FLANDERS TYPE: I'd like to remind everyone that this girl is a known criminal. She was convicted of forgery at age fifteen, and she's still on parole for being an armed lookout during a liquor store robbery.

The Captain of Industry does a "What do you expect?" gesture.

VERONICA: Noted. So, final facts: after the attack, Anissa called an ex-boyfriend, named...Anquan Simmons.

A final mug shot is on view. A Simmons is another black man.

VERONICA: He says she asked for his help but when the cops arrived he was still on the line. Neither of the defendants had a criminal record.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Nor any guns registered to their names.

VERONICA: After the shots, the motel manager waited a few minutes, and then walked toward the room. He testifies that he saw a young black man with a gun run across a parking lot and leap over the six-foot fence surrounding the motel.

SPORTS GUY: Boy's got some serious ups, yo.

Some of the jurors aren't impressed with his levity.

VERONICA: Now we get to the defense's ace in the hole. Young Masters McKinnon and Hayes have a very credible witness on their side: a Mister Carnell Myles, who identifies himself as Anissa's pimp. Mr Myles turned himself into police after hearing that a man fitting his description was spotted fleeing the crime scene. His story matches the boys' version to a "t."

Veronica looks up at the Captain of Industry, a little irritated still by his condescension.

VERONICA: How'd I do?

The patronising attitude doesn't stop as he gives her an okay with thumb and finger.

VERONICA: So. Are we ready for a vote?

Veronica stands as the jurors mumble their agreement.

VERONICA: I say we make this simple. Jot down your vote on a piece of paper, fold it up, and stick it in the hat.

As she is talking, Veronica walks down the table and lift's the sports guy's cap off of his head, placing it in the centre of the table.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: And there it is: one quick lesson in civic responsibility for me, and an only slightly shortened holiday for everyone. Our resident alpha male was right about one thing: the case does feel, thankfully, pretty open-and-shut.

Veronica takes out the slips of paper from the cap. The jurors watch quietly. The Captain of Industry checks his watch.

VERONICA: Our vote is eleven innocent, one guilty.

The jurors groan.

VERONICA: I guess we'll all see each other first thing in the morning.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Sacks sits at the table in one of the interrogation rooms.

SACKS: Well, it's like I said. These rooms are monitored, closely, in compliance with new security upgrades, such as magnetic keys.

Keith is leaning by the room's mirror, staring down at the deputy.

KEITH: Magnetic keys. Senior staff only, right. You ever lose a card?

SACKS: So? If somebody found it, it's no good. We change the codes.

KEITH: But you still need a card, right?

SACKS: Inga has the codes in a drawer, she can just make a new card right there. But only if you have, uh, Level 1—

KEITH: Level 1 clearance, senior staff only. Gotta hand it to you, Sacks. You stay on message like nobody's business.

Keith sits down at the table.

KEITH: If not for the little perspiration problem, you'd make a great White House press secretary.

Sacks hurriedly wipes his brow.

KEITH: Yeah. So, security's wonderfully tight, and none of the senior staff took the tapes themselves.

Sacks nods, then thinks again and shakes his head. Keith nods.

VERONICA: [offscreen] I know we all...

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day two. Veronica, gripping a mug, is walking around the Captain of Industry's end of the table, addressing the jury.

VERONICA: ...have better things to do than pull jury duty over the holidays, and I feel your pain.

The Captain of Industry chuckles sarcastically.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Does your pain affect two hundred thousand stock holders? I'm supposed to meet with outsourcing contractors in Bangalore. Care to tell them why their CEO couldn't show?

SPORTS GUY: And while you're at it, tell the sports fans of Neptune why the mind of Madison Harwell is missing from the airwaves.

A woman described as single mother waitress in the credits adds to the grumbles.

SINGLE MOTHER WAITRESS: As a divorced mother of two taking unpaid leave from her crap waitress job, could I please suggest we get on with it?

VERONICA: Right. We were...

Veronica heads for her seat as everyone takes their place.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: I was just wondering if our holdout voter would identify him or herself. As a courtesy to those whose lives you've put on hold.

A hand appears in the air. The camera moves down to reveal the Latina woman. She addresses the Captain of Industry sitting next to her.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: No problem, big shot, I'm the one trashing your quarterly earnings.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: I respect your honesty. So I'll be straight with you, too. Is the racial stuff affecting your vote?

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Is it affecting yours?

This exasperates the Captain of Industry, who bangs on the table as he pushes back his chair to lean over it, towards her.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Fine. But can you give us one solid reason we should see this girl's story as even remotely credible.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Okay, here's one: a ho that works her ass off all day at a carwash before hitting the streets. That's just something I never heard of.

This seems to register with some of the jurors as muttering breaks out.

VERONICA: Okay, let's discuss.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Leo is in the hot seat now.

LEO: I'm not gonna insult your intelligence, Keith. Don is a fine politician but as a lawman and administrator? Security around here's a joke.

KEITH: That's odd. He told me security here was quite impressive.

LEO: He thinks so. He locks himself out pretty often.

Keith chuckles.

LEO: Listen. Someone must have figured what those tapes would be worth on the open market and...

Keith looks heavenward before grunting.

LEO: What?

KEITH: No, it's nothing, I'm an idiot. I've been so hung up on Aaron Echolls and all this evidence tampering, I never stopped to think what those tapes are worth.

LEO: Good celebrity porn is scarce these days.

Leo rises from his seat at the table as Keith turns off his recording device. Leo pauses at the door.

LEO: Keith...um, you mind giving my best to your daughter?

KEITH: A little. But I'll do it.

Keith grins.

INT - THE DISPATCH - DAY.

Lloyd, last seen in 122 Leave It to Beaver, seems to have a small cubicle to himself these days. He is working on his computer when the phone next to him rings.

LLOYD: "Dispatch," Blankenship speaking.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - CONTINUING.

Keith is calling from the interrogation. The camera continues to cut between the two ends of the phone call.

KEITH: Lloyd, Keith Mars here.

LLOYD: Got any more true-crime semi-bestsellers for me?

KEITH: Fortunately, no. But what I do have needs to stay on background.

LLOYD: No problem, man. What's up?

KEITH: The sex tapes of Echolls and Lilly Kane have been stolen from the Balboa County Sheriff's Department. Heard any buzz on that?

LLOYD: No. But we're not the target market. Whoever's got 'em's going straight to the tabs.

KEITH: With whom you legitimate newsmen have no ties whatsoever.

LLOYD: Well, I, I do have a casual acquaintance at "The Instigator."

KEITH: Well you mind letting me know if he knows anything?

LLOYD: It's a she. And I'm happy to do it.

KEITH: Well thanks, Lloyd.

INT - JAVA THE HUT - NIGHT.

Veronica, carrying a tray of dishes as she clears tables, turns straight into Thumper.

VERONICA: Oh. Hello. Which one are you? Blinky? Humpty? Zorro?

THUMPER: The name is Thumper. Not that you really care.

VERONICA: Oh, I care. Deeply.

Veronica carries the tray to the counter and sets it down next to notice promoting the Hut's latest delight.

VERONICA: I guess you heard about our new cranberry walnut crumb cake. It's true: it's cran-tastic.

Veronica points to the notice showily.

THUMPER: I just dropped by 'cause me and some of the guys were curious about somethin'.

VERONICA: And that would be?

Veronica carries on working, wiping down a table.

THUMPER: We was just wonderin', now that you're all up inner the 09ers again; you gonna be letting those two little frat boys walk for beating down a poor Mexican chick from our hood?

VERONICA: Can't talk about this while the trial's still on.

THUMPER: Yeah, 'course not. Wouldn't want to prejudice you or nothin'. You take care, Veronica.

Veronica watches Thumper go.

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day three. Veronica walks towards a television on which is stilled a video.

VERONICA: These are from the motel's parking lot security cam.

She unpauses the video and the jury watch a man run down some stairs, across the car park and over a fence.

VERONICA: It does support the motel manager's story of a black guy fleeing with a gun.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Then speaking of the motel, here's something I didn't hear nobody talk about. This motel manager says twelve minutes passed from when he heard shots to when he stuck his head out and saw that pimp running off. Why would a man who just beat some poor gal and shot off a gun stick around so long before getting away?

Some of the jurors nod.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Keith is alone in the interrogation room, pondering. Logan appears at the door. He takes on the persona of a gay style guru.

LOGAN: I adore what your designer's done with the men's room. That Hefty bag over the busted urinal adds a delicious wabi-sabi feel.

Logan shuts the door behind him as Keith stands.

KEITH: It's Don's thing. We went more mid-century modern back in my day.

They grin at each other.

KEITH: Anyway, thanks for coming by. I'm guessing by your blithe spirits that you have no idea what's up.

Keith turns on the recorder.

LOGAN: [cautiously] No. But they request my presence here weekly, so...

KEITH: Logan, the tapes your dad and Lilly have been stolen from the evidence room. I'm here to investigate how it happened and try to get them back.

LOGAN: What?

KEITH: Obviously, I need to know what, I mean, if anything, your father might have said lately about the case or the evidence.

LOGAN: Oh, wait. Wait. Now I'm totally confused. That sounded a lot like a question you would ask a suspect. An accomplice, say.

KEITH: You did spend time with Aaron right before the tapes were stolen.

Logan's indignation is interrupted by a knock at the door.

KEITH: Yeah.

Inga opens and stands at the door.

INGA: Excuse me, Keith, Lloyd Blankenship of "The Dispatch" is on the phone.

KEITH: Thanks. I'll be right back, excuse me.

Keith turns off the recorder and leaves the office.

INT - THE DISPATCH - DAY.

Lloyd swivels in his chair as he talks to Keith.

LLOYD: I just talked to that casual acquaintance at "The Instigator." They've been contacted about the Aaron Echolls sex tapes.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - CONTINUING.

Keith is out in the general office, which is decorated for Christmas. The camera cuts between the two locations as the call continues.

KEITH: You know who else they approached?

LLOYD: Didn't know. But the bids are coming in fast.

KEITH: Dare I ask?

LLOYD: Current high? Half a million.

KEITH: Thanks, Lloyd. Keep me posted?

Keith hangs up the phone with something of a sigh. In the interrogation room, Sacks opens the door, holding a ring binder. He puts it down on the table. He doesn't notice that Logan, lying on the bench, is in the room. Sacks exits. Logan, surprised not to have been noticed, gets up and picks it up. With a glance behind him, Logan opens it. On the right hand side, secured by the rings, is a densely typed report. On the left, in the flap, is some sheets of paper. Logan takes the sheets, closes and puts down the file, and quickly folds the papers, stuffing them in his pocket and sitting back in the chair, just as Keith enters.

KEITH: Sorry about the interruption. Now, I asked you whether you heard anything unusual from your father. Did he ever mention the tapes when you were locked up with him?

LOGAN: [angry] Can you seriously imagine me conspiring to save Daddy dearest? Lilly's killer?

KEITH: I'm just making sure I have every pertinent bit of information.

LOGAN: I'll tell you what, dude: if I hear anything pertinent, I'll get back at you.

The chair scraps against the floor as Logan stands up.

KEITH: The name's not "dude," it's Mr Mars.

The two stare at each other.

SINGLE MOTHER WAITRESS: [offscreen] Kids say the...

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day three continues. The waitress is letting herself into the room.

SINGLE MOTHER WAITRESS: ...darndest things. "Mommy, if you get fired, do I still get free leftover Tater Tots?"

VERONICA: Look, we all hate this, but until we all agree...

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Look, honey, my whole thing from the start has been to take this job seriously and I am satisfied that we have. If we vote again and nobody crosses over to my side, I'll change my vote.

The waitress smiles broadly in hope.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Fair enough?

There are a lot of happy murmurings. Harwell, the sports guy, is most enthusiastic of all, drumming on the table.

HARWELL: Woo!

He pulls off his cap, offering it to Veronica for the vote.

VERONICA: Hands will do. All right: all in favour of continued deliberation?

From overhead, the camera goes from juror to juror. The knitting grandmother raises her hand to the snort of the Captain of Industry, who clasps his hands together to emphasis his vote against. The black woman raises her hand and there are loud groans in the room. The camera gets back to Veronica, who also raises her hand to more moans.

SINGLE MOTHER WAITRESS: Oh, are you kidding?

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Oh god.

The Captain of Industry jumps up from the table in disgust, giving Veronica a withering look.

INT - MARS RESIDENCE - NIGHT.

Keith enters the apartment. Veronica, in sparkly dress and elf hat, is just getting a pan out of the oven. Keith looks around the festively decorated apartment.

KEITH: I'm sorry, I was looking for my apartment, but I seem to have stumbled upon some sort of magical winter wonderland instead. Why, perhaps this elf can help me.

VERONICA: I just thought we needed at least an hour of holiday. Grab a seat.

Keith kisses Veronica on the cheek. Veronica returns to being chef, lifting a game hen out of the pan.

KEITH: You know, elf, we might not be the richest family in town, but we can afford normal-sized birds once a year or so.

Having placed the second one on a dish, Veronica holds it out for Keith.

VERONICA: Game hens. They were just so cute. Plus this way, we won't have to eat leftovers on New Year's.

KEITH: Well, that's smart thinking.

Keith goes to pick at one of the birds. Veronica slaps his hand away.

KEITH: Come on, what do they taste like?

VERONICA: I don't know. Dense little turkeys?

She puts the dish down on the counter that serves as their table and they both take their stools. Keith looks around.

KEITH: Thanks for doing all this, honey.

VERONICA: Thank the three energy drinks. Merry Christmas, pops.

Veronica holds up a glass of wine to tap glasses. Keith picks up the other glass, adopting a faux-stern expression.

KEITH: You're drinking wine now?

VERONICA: No. God bless us, every one.

Cut to later. Keith pushes back the plate with the remnants of his dinner, sighing contentedly.

KEITH: [Italian accent] She's a very tiny bird, in-a size, bit in-a taste-a, so big!

Keith gestures the size of a turkey with his hands. Veronica smiles and rises to start clearing up.

KEITH: Backup can handle the dishes. Right now, how's about an early peek at one of your Christmas presents?

VERONICA: What about our strict Christmas morning-only rule?

Keith holds out his hands, puffing in mock ignorance. Veronica beams.

KEITH: This Christmas we make our own rules. Follow me!

Keith leaps up and Veronica claps, running around the counter to follow Keith as he marches towards her room.

VERONICA: I'm so impressed you fit a pony into my room. Presents, presents, presents!

Veronica skips excitedly into her room. When she reaches the door, Keith puts his hands over her eyes and leads her in. He releases her with a flourish.

KEITH: Ta da!

Open mouthed, Veronica looks at her laptop on her desk. Keith has put a large bow on it.

VERONICA: Uh...yeah, isn't that the same computer you got me two years ago?

KEITH: Yeah, on the outside, yes. But this old beast has a new heart pulsing inside her. I'm talking five hundred and twelve gigawatts of RAM, an eighty something or other hard drive, a, a&#8212

VERONICA: You don't know what you're saying, do you?

KEITH: No. But your friend Mac promised me that it's all very state-of-the-art.

VERONICA: Thanks, Dad. You rock.

Veronica holds up her hand. Keith follows suit and they high-five.

KEITH: Why don't you take it for a test drive?

Veronica sits down at her desk and Keith leaves her to it. As soon as she switches on the screen, it fills with two articles. The first, written by Jeremy Davis of Associated Press, is headlined "SDSU Cornerback Goes in Second Round &#8212 Myles expected to compete for starting job in secondary." There is a picture of five men, the one in the middle a black man holding up a football shirt, showing "Myles 28." The caption reads "San Diego State graduate, Carnell Myles, (center) is flanked by KPL representatives. The second article, which also has a story about Steve Kaiser who "raises the bar again," is from "The Neptune Register" and has a picture of the same man, in the number 28 shirt, being stretchered off a field with the headline "Training Camp Woes - Local legend Myles suffers career-ending injury." (The author of the second article is probably yours truly in a shout-out from Rick Pickett, but unfortunately is just too damn small to confirm. If anybody can capture the name, please let me know.)

VERONICA VOICEOVER: What's this? Two stories from 1999 dated about two months apart? And the man pictured in both stories, Carnell Myles, the same guy who now identifies himself as Anissa Villapondo's pimp.

Veronica glances up, but Keith doesn't look at her as he walks out of the room.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: Is there anyone in this town who doesn't know which trial I'm on?

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day four. Veronica closes the door and walks towards the table.

VERONICA: Maybe the fellas can help out a sports-impaired girl. This Carnell Myles guy, I keep thinking I've heard his name, but he's not a musician, or an actor, anything I'd know. Did he used to play something?

Harwell, standing nearby, has a revelation.

HARWELL: Damn, you know, I think you're right. Matrix Myles! Incredible cornerback at San Diego State. He got drafted by the Bengals.

Harwell takes his place at the table. The Women's Studies Professor, who has been gazing out of the window, takes an interest.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: So how'd he end up a pimp?

HARWELL: First day of training camp, he blew out his knee.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Miss Foreman? Any idea how this no-cartilage-having ex-jock managed to leap over that wall?

There are more loud groans.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Keith is going through the ring binder in frustration.

KEITH: Hey Sacks!

The interrogation room door is open and Deputy Sacks can be seen outside in the general office. He gets up from the desk and wanders to the door.

KEITH: I'm not finding that list of the email addresses for everyone on staff that I asked you for.

Sacks points at the ring binder.

SACKS: Um, it's in the flap.

KEITH: The flap, right. What flap?

SACKS: The packet I gave you? I put it in there.

KEITH: Well, I see a flap, but it's empty.

Sacks shrugs.

SACKS: I put it in the flap.

He wanders back to his desk. Keith stares at him.

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day four continues. The Captain of Industry is walking slowly back to his seat.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Okay. So Robert McKinnon the sports agent is Robbie McKinnon's father. What does that prove?

VERONICA: It proves diddly. But it begs some interesting questions about how Carnell Myles got involved in all this.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Are you suggesting that Robert McKinnon paid his former client to take the rap for his son?

VERONICA: It happens. Trust me.

The Captain of Industry shakes his head.

NED FLANDERS TYPE: What good would money do a man serving twenty years for assault?

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Twenty years? Mejo, you got some funny ideas about how judges deal with pimps who slap their hookers around. Six months, maybe.

VERONICA: And is my theory really any crazier than the other way of looking at it?

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: What other way?

VERONICA: That a pimp, tricking eighty dollar hookers, showed up out of the goodness of his heart to save two rich white boys from doing time.

HARWELL: But there's still the gun. Nothing ties it to the defendants.

NED FLANDERS TYPE: And we all saw it in the hands of the guy running from the motel.

In amongst the murmurs of assent, Veronica has an idea. She stands.

VERONICA: The gun belonged to Anissa.

The jurors looks at her in amazement. The Captain of Industry puts his hands behind his head.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: [patronisingly] This should be good.

Veronica starts to pace, thinking on her feet.

VERONICA: We know she has a firearms rap. Parole in those cases forbids you to own a gun. The boys attack her, she pulls the gun, they flee, but if she admits the gun is hers, it's prison for sure. She has to ditch the gun before the cops arrive. But she's too beat up to do it herself.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: So she gets her friend to do it. Anquan Simmons.

VERONICA: Whom she calls after the attack, and who was seen fleeing the scene twelve minutes later with a gun.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: So aside from the theory you just yanked out of your...

Veronica waits for it.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: ...imagination...what ties the gun to Miss Villapondo?

VERONICA: Process of elimination. The guy running from the motel wasn't Carnell Myles, so it couldn't have been his. If it belonged to the boys, Anissa wouldn't have needed to hide it. Their fingerprints would have been on it as well as hers.

HARWELL: But that still leaves...

VERONICA: Anissa and the anti-gravity guy we saw hopping the fence. So unless that guy was in the room the whole time, which neither the defence nor the prosecution has proposed, the gun is Anissa's.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Keith walks into the general office.

KEITH: Inga, can I &#8212

She thrusts a sheet of paper at him.

KEITH: What's this?

INGA: It's an anonymous email I just got.

Keith reads it as Sacks appears near them, attending to something at his desk.

KEITH: For an offer of fifty thousand dollars for the tapes. Sacks, did you get an email like this?

Sacks takes and examines the email.

SACKS: Uh...yeah. Just today. We all got 'em.

Sacks looks up into Keith's baleful gaze and becomes defensive.

SACKS: I told the Sheriff.

KEITH: Get me another copy of that email list.

Sacks exits to execute his instructions. Cut to a little later. Keith is in the general office using one of the computer. He has a partially completed email on screen, from inga.olofson@gmail.com (Inga@Work). It is addressed to "Got Tapes?" and in the subject line is "Re: Echolls Video Tapes." In the body of the email, Keith has copied the original email sent to Inga. That was from gottapes@gmail.com, dated Thursday December 29th at 1:56pm. Keith types, "Your offer is acceptable. Please advise re: transfer and payment" and sends the email. It disappears off the screen, leaving the original which reads, "I would like to offer $50,000 for all originals and copies of the Aaron Echolls tapes you are holding as evidence for his upcoming trial. Reply to this email address if you are willing to sell them to me."

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day four continues. The videotape from the motel is shown again. A man jumps over a high fence. Veronica switches the video off.

HARWELL: Not too shabby for a guy with a surgically fused knee.

VERONICA: True, that.

She holds up the mugshot of Simmons.

VERONICA: Now take another look at this photo of Anquan Simmons.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: From a distance, it'd be pretty easy to mistake him for Carnell Myles.

VERONICA: So, are we ready for a vote?

Sounds of assent reverberate around the room.

VERONICA: All for acquittal, raise your hands.

The Captain of Industry and the Ned Flanders type both raise their hands. Everyone else keeps their hands on the table. The Captain of Industry looks disbelievingly at Madison Harwell.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: You wanna miss more ball games?

HARWELL: Gimme a break, Daddy Warbucks. She laid out a good &#8212

He is interrupted by the bailiff poking his head into the room.

BAILIFF: Pardon me, Miss Mars, the judge would like to see you in her chambers.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: [aggressively] Here's something for our foreman to pass along: I will never vote for conviction. No matter what. You tell the judge this jury's hung.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Keith is still sitting in front of the computer screen. He is viewing with mild interest a .pdf letter of 19 December from Woody to Lamb. The actual letter is dated the 18th and is addressed to Lamb at Balboa County Sheriff's Department, 602 Pennington Street, Neptune, CA 90909. Woody says, "I am writing to inform you of my decision to employ an external auditor to investigate the recent disappearance of the Aaron Echolls sex tapes. A level of integrity and professionalism needs to be upheld throughout the process to ensure we do not appear to [sic] lax on security or look foolish in the eyes of the voters. I have yet to decide who I will appoint to head the investigation but currently I am leaning towards Keith Mars. I understand that Keith and you grate [?] each other at times, but I ask you to acquiesce to any requests he, or another investigation, asks of you during the course of this investigation. Both our jobs are at stake here and after winning a contentious race for sheriff, I'm sure you'll understand the gravity of my purpose and request." Underneath, a list of emails already read, including one telling Inga that she could be a winner and a second more intriguing one. This is headed "Re: Report Closet" and is presumably Lamb's follow-up to the investigation into Grace Manning from 107 Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner. It is not clear whether Keith has read this. There is one other, unread, email, headed "Re: Re: Echolls Video Tapes" and is the response to the email Keith sent out. He opens it. In a slight faux pas with the dates, the original email is now times at 1:45pm and Keith's response at 1:51pm. The response is short and to the point: "Sorry dude, I already have the tapes."

KEITH: It's Mr. Mars to you.

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day four continues. The jurors are all standing, putting on their coats and chatting with each other. Veronica enters.

SINGLE MOTHER WAITRESS: What happened?

VERONICA: She asked me whether we were deadlocked. I said no. Then she said we're not going home until we reach a verdict.

This news is met with various expressions of frustration. The Captain of Industry, now in his seat, stares at Veronica in pure hatred. The Latina woman gets her knitting out of her bag and sits down again.

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Okay, no problem.

INT - NEPTUNE GRAND HOTEL, PRESIDENTIAL SUITE - DAY.

Music: Edge of the Ocean by Ivy.

LYRICS: There’s a place I dream about
Where the sun never goes out
And the sky is deep and blue
Won’t you take me there with you
Ohhh, we can begin again.
Shed our skin, let the sun shine in.
At the edge of the ocean
We can start over again
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la
Sha-la-la, sha-la-la
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la
Sha-la-la, sha-la-la
There's a world I've always known
Somewhere far away from home
When I close my eyes I see
All the space and mystery.
Ohhh, we can begin again.
Shed our skin, let the sun shine in.
At the edge of the ocean
We can start over again.
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la
Sha-la-la, sha-la-la
Sha-la-la-la-la-la-la
Sha-la-la, sha-la-la

Lilly's face is on the television screen. One of the tapes from the pool house is playing. Aaron's face appears as they change positions in bed. Logan watches tearfully, looking devastated and very, very lost. Eventually, he rises from the sofa and retrieves the tape and its label. He returns to the ottoman, where other tapes are neatly lined upon it, together with a lighter and a degausser. He runs the degausser over the tape, which he then adds to the rest. It's all done with gut-wrenching precision. He collects all the labels and bends down, holding them over a metal bin. He uses the lighter to set the labels alight, only dropping them when they are nearly fully engulfed. As he watches the labels burn in the bin, there is a knock on the door. Logan wipes away the tears and opens the door. It's Keith. He instantly grasps Logan's emotional state and Keith's face shows a gentle sympathy.

KEITH: For that experience you paid fifty grand?

They stare at each other for a moment, then Logan backs away from the door, allowing Keith to enter. Logan leans against the wall in the small hall.

LOGAN: Yeah, all that matters is that the world wide web won't be hosting mpegs of my old man defiling the love of my life.

KEITH: For a guy who says he hates his father, you sure did him a huge favour.

LOGAN: Well, I've seen the tapes. I could testify against him as well as anyone else.

KEITH: You can also go to jail. This is a serious crime.

LOGAN: Yeah? Uh, where's the evidence?

Logan casts a look back over his shoulder to the lounge and the ottoman.

KEITH: I believe those are the tapes right there.

LOGAN: Yeah, those are blank.

KEITH: Blank tapes made you cry?

Keith walks towards the ottoman. Logan follows him.

LOGAN: Yeah, I thought I'd saved the Daria marathon on them.

KEITH: Right. And most people have a tape degausser just hanging around on their coffee table.

Logan smiles faintly and shrugs.

KEITH: Well, at least tell me this: how did you manage to buy those tapes for a tenth of their market price?

Logan's smile deepens as he references Blance DuBois from "A Streetcar Named Desire."

LOGAN: Why, sir, I've always depended upon the kindness of strangers.

KEITH: Oh, kindness at the sheriff's department. I seriously doubt...

Keith's words fade as he realises who at the sheriff's department might offer kindness and he looks sad. End music: Edge of the Ocean by Ivy.

INT - JURY ROOM - DAY.

Day four continues. Veronica leaps to her feet.

VERONICA: I'm not questioning your integrity. I'm just asking you for a logical response to the points I've raised.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Logical? Look, Barbie...

The black Women's Studies professor, who had been resting her forehead on her clasped hands, jerks her head up at that to stare at the Captain of Industry distastefully.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: I've had a bellyful of your snide little digs. Here's my final word.

He emphasises his proclamation by rising to his feet.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: [with feeling] I'll never, ever, send two boys from good families to jail on the word of that Mexican whore!

Someone at the table says "Oh, come on," and there are gasps all around. Veronica just stares at him.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: I think it's time to take a break.

HARWELL: Yeah, good idea.

The woman gets up from the table, as does Harwell. A number of the other jurors are staring at the Captain of Industry with something akin to horror. More and more get up from the table and turn their backs on him, still muttering about his outburst. Last to rise is the moustachioed Ned Flanders type.

NED FLANDERS TYPE: Miss Foreman? I'd like to change my vote.

Veronica nods her head.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: What? [condescending] Did God just speak to you?

Veronica glares at him.

NED FLANDERS TYPE: Sir, I think that's a bit out of line.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: You're right. I apologise. And you know what? I'm changing my vote too.

Everyone gasps anew as he heads back to his seat and sits down.

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: Even lying hookers deserve a little holiday cheer, don't they?

KNITTING GRANDMOTHER: Are you serious?

CAPTAIN OF INDUSTRY: 'Course I'm serious. Light the yule log, crank the Manheim steamroller, it's Christmas! Those boys will appeal, and they'll win. I'll sleep with visions of sugarplums, trusting their fate in a jury that doesn't kowtow to a high school cheerleader!

Veronica thrusts out her arms in cheerleader style.

VERONICA: Yay!

More pointedly, she addresses the Captain of Industry.

VERONICA: Let me take this moment to thank you. I learned a lot about civic responsibility.

He has the grace to look a little uncomfortable. Cut to a little later. The room is emptying as Veronica gets her coat from the rail. The black woman approaches her.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: Pardon me, Veronica? I just wanted to congratulate you on the superb job you did. Most impressive, especially for someone your age.

VERONICA: Thanks.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: I don't know if you've made plans for college, but I think you'd fit right in at Hearst.

VERONICA: Stay here, in Neptune?

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: Well, we won't be moving the university.

VERONICA: I'd really kinda planned on having my car packed and running during graduation ceremonies, just to kinda beat the rush out of Neptune. Then there's the other thing.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: What other thing?

VERONICA: The tuition. Hearst is a-is a bit pricey.

WOMEN'S STUDIES PROFESSOR: We have some very generous scholarship and grant programs. You're our kind of student. I'd fight for you.

EXT - JAVA THE HUT - NIGHT.

Veronica walks towards her car.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: So, life goes on. Another day of work, carry-out meatloaf, two lousy days of holiday left.

The LeBaron's windscreen has the words "Muchas Gracias Bitch!" across it. Veronica looks worriedly around the car park.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: And a freshly vandalised car. Socially speaking, looks like I'm right back where I was a year ago. Somehow, I don't think I'd be very welcome anymore at Dick's New Year's Eve bash.

INT - MARS RESIDENCE - NIGHT.

Veronica walks into the apartment. Keith is sitting at the kitchen counter, reading something.

VERONICA: Tax reports? Did you change careers without consulting me?

Keith carefully closes up the report he was examining.

VERONICA: My dad the accountant's seriously less cool.

Veronica heads for the cupboard under the microwave.

VERONICA: Oh, hey, did you hear about our verdict? We voted to convict. It's making me real popular with my classmates.

KEITH: It's not always easy doing the right thing.

Veronica retrieves a roll of paper towel and some spray cleaner.

VERONICA: If that phrase isn't on the Mars family crest, it should be.

KEITH: What's with the janitorial supplies?

Veronica heads for the door.

VERONICA: Oh, just tidying up after a billion or so starlings. They seem to be the official courthouse mascot.

KEITH: Veronica.

She is halfway out the door. She pauses and looks back at Keith.

KEITH: What can you tell me about Deputy Leo, about his family?

Veronica knits her brow as she stares at Keith.

INT - SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT - DAY.

Leo is in the general office, busy at a computer screen. Keith calls him from the door of the interrogation room.

KEITH: Deputy. Can you step in here for a moment, I need to speak with you.

Leo walks into the interrogation room.

LEO: What's up, Keith?

Keith closes the door behind them.

KEITH: Tell me about your little sister.

Leo is gutted by the question but knows now what is coming. He puts his hands in his pockets and responds with affection.

LEO: Tina? What can I say, she's a great kid. She's ten years old, she's totally nuts about the 49ers, she challenges me at crazy eights every night, she always wins.

He chuckles.

LEO: She's got Down Syndrome, though. Uh, so learning is kind of a struggle.

Leo almost seems to be pleading with Keith.

KEITH: Is that why you stole the tapes?

Leo stares at him, accepting that Keith can't let it go. He takes a moment, sighs heavily and then sits on the bench in the room. He puts his head in his hands before removing them and addressing Keith.

LEO: Keith...I'm so sorry. You know, Tina's having a really rough time at public school, she's getting picked on, she's falling way behind. You know, I want to send her to private school where she can get special care, but, uh...

KEITH: That's rough, Leo. But I still don't see how you can justify what you've done.

Keith joins him on the bench.

KEITH: You really damaged the case against Echolls.

LEO: You know, Keith, there are several people including Veronica who saw those tapes and can testify what's on them. I hope you realize I didn't do this to get rich. I mean, I coulda made a whole lot more if I wanted to.

KEITH: I know. Like half a million. That must've been hard to pass up.

LEO: Well, actually, it was easy. I nearly gave the tapes back, thinking about them plastered all over the internet. Until I saw Logan Echolls in the hallway pouring over a list of all the departmental email addresses. I got his message and I knew it was him. He made it clear that he just wanted them destroyed.

KEITH: Well, you know I can't just let you slide on this one, Leo.

LEO: I know. I'm not asking you to.

Cut to later. In the interrogation room, Keith is typing on his laptop.

KEITH VOICEOVER: Although no single cause can directly account for the theft, the primary factor appears to be insufficient oversight by the designated caretakers.

Leo enters Lamb's office slowly, with his head down.

KEITH VOICEOVER: Most notably, Deputy Leo D'Amato. While it is my strong belief that Logan Echolls obtained the tapes...

Leo places his gun on the desk and hands his badge over to Lamb.

KEITH VOICEOVER:...the evidence has undoubtedly been destroyed. For this reason, a conviction seems unlikely.

Back in the interrogation room, Keith's cell phone rings. He answers it.

KEITH: Keith Mars.

There is a long pause as Keith listens, his face falling.

KEITH: No, that's all right, I'm just kind of shocked. Look, I really appreciate you giving me the heads-up.

There is a shorter pause.

KEITH: Yeah, I hope so too. Bye.

Keith folds up his phone and sighs heavily.

INT - MARS RESIDENCE - NIGHT.

Veronica is curled up on her bed, a pen in her hand, a book balanced on her thighs. There is a knock at the door. She looks up as Keith enters.

VERONICA: Did you see the moving truck out front? Miss Moan-a Lisa and Mister Outside Voice next door finally got the boot.

Keith sits down heavily on the bed at her feet.

VERONICA: Two old acquaintances that should be forgotten.

KEITH: Honey, there's something I need to tell you. I just got a call from the hospital. Meg died. A blood clot dislodged and made its way to her heart.

Veronica's eyes turn watery. She closes the book in which she is writing and leans forward.

VERONICA: [softly] The baby?

KEITH: A girl, she survived.

Veronica chokes a sob and then leans further forward to hug Keith, who holds her closely as she cries. Cut to a little later. The television is on, showing New Year's Eve celebrations from New York's Times Square.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: New Year's Eve. Someone just needs to change the name to Same Old Year's Eve, because that "New," implying all that hope and promise, it's not fooling anyone.

Keith and Veronica are on the sofa, watching. Veronica has her lying down with her head on a pillow on Keith's lap and his arm is around her shoulder. He pats her.

KEITH: Okay, okay, babe. I'm hittin' the bunkhouse.

VERONICA: But...Dad, you'll miss the ball.

KEITH: Oh, I saw it the past forty years or so. It, you know, drops. You'll see. Good night.

Keith slides out from under Veronica and gets off the couch.

VERONICA: We still got pizza coming.

KEITH: It's all yours. Knock yourself out. Cash is on the TV.

Keith goes into his bedroom. Veronica readjusts the pillow as she continues to lie on the sofa. There's a knock on the door. Veronica gets up with a sigh, grabbing the money on top of the television. She opens the door. It's Wallace. He beams.

WALLACE: Happy New Year!

Veronica is overcome. She grabs him in a tight hug, holding back tears. Cut to a little later. The celebrations on the box are in full swing.

TV ANNOUNCER: And to the traditional strains of "Auld Lang Syne," the joyful crowd in Times Square begins to countdown the final seconds of the old year.

Veronica is cuddled up tight next to Wallace on the sofa and he has his arm around her. She looks up and smiles at him and he grins back. They watch the countdown.

VERONICA VOICEOVER: Okay, I'm a sucker. I'll give this New Year thing one last chance.

TV ANNOUNCER: Five...four...three...two...one...Happy New Year!

End. Executive producer: Rob Thomas (who is a god).

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