Velma: “Family (Wo)man” and “The Brains of the Operation” (S1E9&10)

As quickly as it came, it went. Velma in no time became one of streaming’s most hated shows. Initially I jumped on the bandwagon and nitpicked every single aspect of it, criticizing every minor detail. Slowly as I went forth with my coverage I started to feel a bit of a different way. While it is far from perfect I came to appreciate seeing characters I already loved in a different light. Sure the gags fall flat, and recurring bits seem forced…but there was something endearing about it. I eventually started to look forward to 3 AM every Thursday. On top of that, there was a feeling I felt at the end of the season I didn’t think I would feel: sadness.

While the majority of viewers hate watched the show I found myself excited to come back each week. Will it get a season 2? There are articles saying it’s “reportedly confirmed” but seeing how HBO has axed already completed projects, I will hold my breath until premier day. I think this season wraps itself up fairly well, and has some really great character moments. Everything, naturally, builds to these final moments and I personally think it was worth it. Granted I think the killer reveal, and the killer for that matter, could have been contextually set up better, but I think the direction they went with it is pretty solid. Anyways, let’s get into the final two episodes of Season 1 of Velma.

Episode 9 “Family (Wo)man”

Picking right up from the stinger of Episode 8 “A Velma in the Woods” we find ourselves at the Crystal Cove hospital. Diya (Sarayu Blue) lays in a hospital bed where Velma (Mindy Kaling) and others surround her. Diya tells them she doesn’t remember anything. Norville’s (Sam Richardson) dad Lamont (Gary Cole) says Diya has 72 hours to remember what happened, or else she will lose the memories forever. Also, that she must stay happy for those three days, or else the memory loss will be exacerbated. For some reason Sophie (Melissa Fumero) is also at the hospital, prompting Diya to ask why she is there.

Making sure they get back first, Velma, Norville, and Daphne (Constance Wu) make the house look exactly like how it did when Diya went missing, and getting rid of all evidence of Sophie. Once everything is in order, or out of order, Velma and Daphne discuss being girlfriends. They decide their first outing will be at the party The Brains (Brenda, Krista, Lola) are throwing for their homecoming.

Velma and Daphne hold hands in Velma's living room

Aman (Russell Peters) comes home with Diya, and she is pleased how the house looks exactly like it used to. Velma and Diya sit down and talk, here we find out Velma’s glasses actually belonged to Diya. This will come back into play very soon. At school The Brains declare Daphne isn’t popular anymore, mainly because she wanted Velma to leave them so they could make their escape from the collapsing caves. The Brains also say Fred is not popular anymore because he pissed them off when they were trapped in the lab together.

Wanting to keep her mom happy, Velma asks Norville to break into his mother’s office to falsify her report cards. This is because Velma lied to her mom and told her she was still valedictorian. Norville begrudgingly agrees. Later that night Sophie comes back to the house because she forgot Amanda’s blanket, but she makes a heap of noise and wakes everyone up. This is when they all lie to Diya and say the baby is actually Velma’s, and that Norville is the father. Diya then passes out, and wakes up some time later. We find out she passed out because she remembered something: there was a secret way to get into the basement of Fred’s house through the well.Wondering why Sophie is still at the house, Diya tells her she can leave. Diya also tells Velma the only reason she is still alive is because Velma never stopped looking for her, this is a cute little moment between them.

Over at Fred’s house, Daphne and Victoria Jones (Cherry Jones) find Fred face down in the toilet passed out. Victoria makes a quip about hoping Fred hasn’t inherited his father’s kinks, which is one of the best throwaway lines in this series hands down. Turns out, since he’s not popular anymore, he decided he should practice giving himself swirlies. It just so happened that it made his pass out. Both Daphne and Victoria pay little attention to the fact that Fred almost died. The three of them come up with a scheme to have Fred and Daphne pretend to start dating again in the hopes it will make them popular again.

Diya has a flashback to the killer, but little comes from it at this point. As if Velma hasn’t done enough to Norville, she now asks him to print a fake headline for the school newspaper to make Velma look more successful than she really is. Again, Norville hesitantly agrees. After Norville agrees Amanda needs her diaper changed, but Norville actually stands up for himself here and tells Velma to do it. To no one’s surprise Velma tries to pawn it off on someone else, specifically Lamont. Velma goes to his office, but he isn’t there. What is there, however, is the serial killer’s welding mask. Who happens to creepily show up at the office when she finds it? Lamont.

At the Roger’s house that night Norville, Blythe (Nicole Byer), and Lamont are playing [what looks like] Settlers of Catan. Norville mentions how he hasn’t heard from Velma all day, as if on cue Velma and a hoard of SWAT swarm the house. In, what I can assume to be, a piece of commentary on the over militarization of local police forces, a tank also crashes through the front wall. It turns out Lamont only had a welder’s mask because he was welding Norville a sword for his birthday. This is the last straw for Norville, telling Velma he has had enough of her “shit” and they are no longer friends.

Back at the Jones’ house, Fred and Daphne find out #Fraphne is trending, and their plan worked! Pleased with how smart and cunning Daphne is, Victoria offers her an internship at Jones Gentleman Accessories. Later at The Brain’s party at Spooners Malt Shop, #Fraphne shows up and are nearly immediately met with accusations they are faking their relationship. To shut down the rumors #Fraphne kisses. Just as they start to kiss Velma walks in and flips out. This just so happens to be right as Velma’s 72 hour timer goes off, AND Diya is also at the party because The Brains invited her.

Velma grabs Norville by the neck after telling her mom that he is the father of her child

Aman finally tells Diya the truth about Sophie and Amanda, which jogs something in Diya’s memory. The killer is…it’s…it’s…her.

This was a reveal that I think we all saw coming, only because it was the easy choice. At the time of watching it I assumed this was just a red herring. Was I right? read on to find out! What I enjoyed about this episode is how Norville finally stood up for himself and stopped letting Velma walk all over him. I’m curious as to if it will last, or if Norville will go back on his words. Usuaully I wouldn’t mind giving spoilers here, but I think the last episode has some really great moments that I wouldn’t want to spoil if you haven’t watched it yet.

Episode 10 “The Brains of the Operation”

Obviously Diya gets arrested for admitting to the three murders. Though one thing I want to ask is about the logistics of the murder charges. Sheriff Cogburn (Stephen Root) tells Diya she’ll be getting the death penalty, which I guess somewhat makes sense due to the severity of the crimes committed. But murder? Looking at the world through this show’s lens they arrested Fred initially because there was a complete miscommunication between Fred and Daphne’s parents. They assign cops to “the hot girls” rather than implementing a curfew, initially. “The hot girls” sexually harass the cops, forcing them to resign. There’s such a disconnect between the law and order in this town. So I think it could be easily argued in this backwards town, that Diya didn’t in fact commit murder because the brains of the girls are technically still alive. Right? Anyways.

Daphne reads a letter her mother put in her locker inside a geode

Velma goes to the jail to try and talk with her mom, but Daphne’s parents tell her the Sheriff won’t allow Velma anywhere near her. They also tell her the only way she could see her mom is if Velma, too, got arrested. That’s what Velma plans to do. There is a police auction going on that day, where Fred buys the Mystery Machine Jalopy.

Later that day Daphne is over at Fred’s house, where she and Victoria have a conversation about Fred. Victoria thinks Daphne needs to spend more time with Fred so that he can gain some business acumen. While they have that conversation Fred is in the garage having a complete red-faced meltdown. We see he has the Mystery Machine (that’s what I’m going to call it from here on out) and has started to paint flowers on it. It turns out the logo for Jones Gentleman Accessories is that exact flower. Velma talks with Fred and comes up with a plan to get herself arrested. Down at the police station Velma confronts the Sheriff and says she needs to be arrested. The charge? Bothering a white man. It works and she gets thrown in jail with her mother.

At Crystal Cove High Daphne finds a geode in her locker from her biological mother. Inside is a letter apologizing for everything with a piece of evidence that would exonerate Diya from the crime. It’s a pocket watch. In the jail cell Diya keeps robotically saying, “I did it because I wanted to put the brain of a popular girl in the head of my daughter, Velma.” Velma realizes that something is off with this because Diya keeps saying that the same way over and over. This leads Velma to thinking her mother was hypnotized. Daphne shows up at the jail and shows Velma the pocket watch. The pocket watch gives Velma a flashback of the night she found Diya’s van of the serial killer hypnotizing her with that exact watch. They find an inscription on the inside of the watch that says Harry Meeting, as well as the logo of Jones Gentleman Accessories. General Meeting was the guy we learned about in Episode 6 who worked with Dr. Perdue with her brain switching technology. The only thing is, General Meeting is dead.

Velma goes to try and find Norville, but Gigi (Yvonne Orji) tells her Norville has decided to transfer schools, which she would have known if she listened to his VMs. That night Velma goes home and listens to every single VM Norville ever sent her, and she cries. For really the first time Velma has a true moment of pure emotion, realizing how absolutely atrocious of a person she has been towards Norville. Here we find out that Diya’s glasses, that Velma now wears, are also from Jones Gentleman Accessories, along with the pocket watch.

Velma and Aman go to Fred’s hoping to get to the bottom of this. Aman goes to get the cops while Velma descends down the well her mom told her about. The well empties out into the Crystal Cove Caves. In another moment of vulnerability Velma calls Norville to apologize and says “I love you.” reading Dr. Perdue’s journals leads Velma to finding the secret entrance to the lab Diya and The Brains were in. Inside the lab we find Daphne and Fred strapped down to tables. A scuffle breaks out between Velma and the serial killer. Velma realized earlier the bats in the cave were attracted to the perfume Victoria was pitching, and uses that on the killer to have the bats swarm. And surprisingly they capture the killer!

Velma tries getting Fred to rage when they're strapped down to a table

It’s time for the unmasking. Are you ready? The killer is actually…Victoria Jones! We learn that Victoria had plans to switch Fred’s brain with Daphne’s. When Victoria realized just how smart of a businesswoman Daphne was, her mind was made up. It also comes out that General Meeting was Victoria’s father, and that’s how she came to learn about all of this brain switching stuff.

It’s time for the good ole Scooby-Doo info dump. Here’s the basics: Dr. Perdue succeeded in the brain switching procedures, which was noticed by General Meeting. General Meeting’s initial plan to switch the brains of burnouts with soldiers actually did work (learned in Episode 6), but when he tried taking all the credit for it, Dr. Perdue pulled the plug on the whole project. Dr. Perdue switched the brains back, bricked up her lab, and hid all of her journals. General Meeting then had Dr. Perdue institutionalized. Victoria tried finding Dr. Perdue’s journals, but Diya got to them first. So Victoria decided to kidnap Diya, hypnotize her, and have her recreate the experiments.

When things seem to be going too well in the gang’s favor, Fred’s dad William enters the room with a gun, also hypnotized. Velma and Fred end up getting strapped back onto a table, and all seems to be lost. In a moment of brilliance, Velma gets Fred to rage out and he breaks out of his straps, but Victoria gets away in the scuffle. Fred takes the gun and goes after his mom, while Velma and Daphne start to make their escape. They realize they need to go up the well, but before they do they have a cute little moment. Daphne says “I love you, Velma,” with Velma replying, “I love you, Norville.” As if on cue, Norville shouts as he descends down the well that he loves Velma too, and he got her VM.

Using her power over him, Victoria got the jump on Fred and got the gun from him. They make it into the cave, and Victoria holds them all at gunpoint. Victoria pulls the trigger, but Norville’s swats the bullet away with his sword, the bullet ricocheting into a stalactite. Seconds later, the stalactite falls, crushing Victoria and completely dousing the gang in her blood.

Having solved the case, Mayor Dave (Jim Rash) gives them all a key to the city. Though the gang is still at odds for various reasons, leaving the episode and their relationships in limbo. That night Daphne receives a letter with a bloody pentagram on it. Fred visits Victoria’s grave in his white van, which now says, “Fred Jones Spooky Stuff Hunter.” Lamont tells Norville he can get over this new trauma he’s experienced with weed. And…Velma’s big moment is taking her murder board down.

Diya gets hypnotized by the killer with Harry Meeting's pocket watch

The final stinger of the episode is when Sheriff Cogburn goes to put the serial killer case in the solved filing case. The camera pulls back to outside the police station, we hear the Sheriff scream, and blood splatters the window.

That’s it!

This show was definitely all over the place. No question about it. But there are definitely shows that I think are a thousand times worse. I really found myself liking the direction the show started going in, and I think it did work. Yes there are an extreme amount of issues. Yes it doesn’t know if it wants to be left or right. And that’s okay. This is the first real adult version of the Mystery Inc gang, and I think no matter what the first adult version would be there would be some real issues. I do hope there is a second season, because I think they would learn from the mistakes of this season. Zoinks!

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Written by Brendan Jesus

I am an award-winning horror screenwriter, rotting away in New Jersey.

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