I think I finally figured out how Hidden Palms ended up on The CW’s schedule. I think Kevin Williamson was walking around the halls of the Programming division, looking to pitch I Know Why You Screamed In Dawson’s Creek Last Summer, when he walked past a meeting between CW executives and Rob Thomas, creator of Veronica Mars. Thomas and the executives were trying to hash out a fourth season of the show, when one executive said, "You know, we like Veronica Mars, we just wish it was dumber and featured more people kicking puppies." Thomas screamed in anger, and at that moment, just a few feet away, Williamson’s next show was born. It’s a working theory, but it’s the best one I’ve got going to date.
Course, this date is near the end of the show’s completion: just one more episode stands between us and the identity of Eddie’s killer. On the flip side, we also only have to endure one more episode of the creeptastic Maria Nolan, so we have that going for us. Aaah, Maria Nolan: the younger, more psychotic Teri Hatcher. Truly a desperate housewife herself: desperate for excitement, desperate for danger, desperate for Cliff’s booty. And here’s your loyal recapper, desperate for a stiff drink to wash down the awful taste Mrs. Nolan’s leaving in my mouth. To paraphrase Fountains of Wayne, Eddie’s mom does NOT have it going on.
However, her character’s injection into the show, along with Greta’s father Alan, definitely has raised the stakes of the murder mystery, and for that, I’m grateful that she’s on the show. Up until now, the adults in Hidden Palms have shown themselves to be unworthy of screen time, with the exception of Jessie Jo, Queen of Palm Springs. (Not as glamarous a title as "Queen of the Desert," but then again, this is The CW we’re talking about.) Jessie Jo’s fantastic. I couldn’t care less about Johnny’s mother and stepfather, and even less about Cliff’s mother, because they are filling time I want spent on Eddie’s murder mystery. Jessie Jo, however, can pretty much do no wrong. I want a Jessie Jo spin-off where he does his own particular brand of "Scared Straight" with at-risk teenagers. It will feature people wiping down menus, filling up salt shakers, and then applying just the right amount of foundation to turn Jessie Jo into Tammy Wynette. That’s a summer show worth watching, people.
Back to Alan: he’s a decent lawyer, horrible father, and apparently unaware of the existence of webcams. Lo and behold, Mrs. Nolan’s got blackmail footage of Alan cleaning up the crime scene after Eddie’s murder. We knew something bad was going to happen when the music on the show switched from "emo" to "INTENSE BELLS OF DOOM," which I believe is a preset on most Casio keyboards. This caused Alan to drink heavily, which would have been dramatically effective if, I don’t know, he had been sober in ANY scene prior to his final scene with Greta. As such, Greta didn’t sense anything was wrong with her father. Her interior monologue seemed to say nothing except, "Dude, Mentos. Look into them."
Then again, I have cut Greta some slack: she spent the majority of these two episodes tonight pointing out clues that Braniac Johnny couldn’t figure out for himself. At the end of the first hour, Johnny learns that Cliff’s getting sexual healing from Eddie’s mom, but needs Greta’s assistance to make the leap from "creepy MILF sex" to "maybe she’s somehow involved in this murder thingie." After Greta brings up this pertinent factoid, Johnny’s face scrunched up tight, as if she’d just asked him to solve an AP calculus problem in his head. She then asked, "What are you thinking?" I half-expected him to answer, "I like peanut butter. I mean, like, a lot. I really, really like peanut butter." I mean, there’s nothing going on in this dude’s head, which wouldn’t be that much of a problem except that he’s the protagonist of the show. So, you know, slight issue there. (Here’s a neat game to play: ask him who’s buried in Grant’s tomb. Then tell your friends to reply with four different answers. Watch Johnny’s head explode. Fun times for all!)
Keeping in character with his less-than-stellar brainpower, Johnny also needed Greta to patiently explain to Johnny that Liza had a crush on Eddie. (After this, she told him the bad news that the Easter Bunny is in fact fictitious.) I suppose the combination of her stealing Eddie’s screen-name and the fact that she’s logged and saved hundred of hours of video chat with him wasn’t enough of a tip-off. I myself get suspicious anytime someone leaves a message on a friend’s Facebook wall, but in Johnny’s world, recording every minute of online webchats for future viewings is what friends are for. For good times…and bad times, I’ll record your face forever more…especially when we’re making out on your bed the night you were murdered.
Yes, enter Plot Point of Incredible Contrivance #873 on this show: Liza’s inability to close the garage door fully (seriously, someone needs to get that fixed), and Liza’s inability to move any super revealing files off her desktop, and Johnny’s "hey, it’s not my computer, but poking through her files seems fine" ethos, we learn that Liza was there, in Eddie’s room, the night he was murdered. I wanted to construct a Venn diagram, showing all the overlapping ways in which people were apparently sleeping with each other last Halloween, but my laptop darn near ran out of processing power around the seventeenth circle. Let’s put it this way: a whole lot of saliva was being swapped in Palm Springs last October.
Right now, seemingly everyone on the show was in Eddie’s room that night: Eddie, Liza, Greta, Cliff, Maria, Alan, heck, I bet the mayor from the pilot episode that we’ve not seen since was there in the room that night. Why not? (Remember the mayor? His daughter? His Asian wife? Anyone? Bueller? Man, if there’s ever a Hidden Palms edition of Trivial Pursuit, I will clean HOUSE, people.) This, conveniently, leaves us with a whole host of options as to the identity of the killer. Heck, at this point, we’ll probably learn Eddie was also canoodling with Jessie Jo, who went all Single White Female on him and stuck a 4.5” stiletto heel into the side of his head. Anything’s possible at this point. Almost nothing could surprise me. Except a non-lazy narrative.
OK, readers, whodunit? If they solve Eddie’s murder, is there any reason to extend this show past eight episodes? And most pressingly: do you really think Jessie Jo’s new choreography warranted 36 hours of non-stop rehearsal?