Velma is an animated series chronicling the life of Velma Dinkley and how she brought together one of the most successful mystery-solving teams ever. The episodes are now streaming on HBO Max.
Episode 1 recap: Velma
Daphne and her friends are showering in the school gym discussing the gratuitous sex and violence that is always prevalent on television, especially in a pilot episode.
Velma walks up to them in disguise and attacks Daphne simply because she doesn’t like her. Velma goes on to open her locker to find another student, Brenda, inside with her brains taken out.
Velma is the main suspect in Brenda’s murder which is being investigated by Detectives Dona and Linda, Daphne’s adoptive parents. They’re not the most effective detectives on the force and Velma hates them because they couldn’t find her mother who disappeared 2 years ago.
They ask her to help solve the murder and clear her name within 24 hours or she’ll go to jail but Velma says she doesn’t solve mysteries anymore without giving any further context.
While walking out of the station, she bumps into Fred Jones. He forgets her name every 5 seconds and is a total douche to her before Daphne eventually arrives because she’s dating Fred.
Velma goes back home where she lives with her father Aman who is a lawyer, and Sophie, his pregnant girlfriend who owns Spooner’s Malt Shop.
Aman and Sophie both agree that Velma was accused because she’s a weirdo but Sophie wants her to become a waitress at Spooner’s to improve her image. It doesn’t take long for Velma to get fed up and she walks out.
After walking out, she meets Fred who is going through some issues of his own. Fred struggles with self-doubt and the pressure of living up to his father’s expectations. Velma begins to tell him about her complicated relationship with her mother.
She talks about how it was her mother who got her into mystery solving but one year when she found her Christmas presents early, her mom left to buy her something new and never returned.
Velma blamed her mystery solving for her mother’s disappearance and ever since then, whenever she thinks about solving a mystery, she gets debilitating hallucinations. As Fred and Velma are having a soft moment, a car pulls up and scares Fred away.
The driver turns out to be Norville, Velma’s friend from math class. He tells her that he has a pretty good idea of who killed Brenda because Brenda told him that she caught a particularly scandalous picture at Spooner’s a little while before she was murdered.
Velma initially thinks it is Sophie who has the camera but when that theory is proven false, Velma gets hit with an even bigger bombshell. Aman tells her that her mother didn’t go missing, she actually left them. Velma processes this for a little while and concludes that she shouldn’t be having hallucinations because it wasn’t her mystery solving that was at fault.
They next day, she walks into school with a newfound confidence but one of the students calls her out for trying to distract them from the fact that she’s a murder suspect but Fred comes to her defense after their chat the previous day.
Daphne corners Velma in the washroom later to tell Velma that if she wants Fred she can have him. During their conversation, Daphne says that Fred is hyper self-conscious of his body and sends everyone out whenever he uses the bathroom at Spooner’s.
A spark lights up in Velma’s brain and she rushes to Norville and asks him to drive her to Fred’s house because she believes Brenda saw something about Fred that he didn’t want and he killed her for it.
She begins having another hallucination and asks Norville to help her get out of it so he shares his feelings and tells her that he likes her but she thinks that he’s joking and laughs her panic attack away.
She finds the camera in his room after sneaking in but Fred shows up and explains the situation in a menacing manner. He says that he hasn’t reached puberty yet which is very embarrassing, especially in the eyes of his alpha male father.
He tells Velma that since she now knows his secret, he’ll do the same thing to her that he did to Brenda but right then, Dona and Linda crash in and shoot Fred in the legs.
Everyone assumes Fred confessed to killing Brenda but he claims he was going to pay Velma off like he did Brenda. He is taken away by the police and Norville drops Velma off at her home. Just as Velma figures the mystery is over, they find the body of another girl in her dumpster with her brains taken out.
Episode 2 recap: Candy (wo)man
Aman chooses to represent Fred at his trial much to the displeasure of Velma but Aman defends his decision claiming that it’s a source of great income as the Jones family is desperate.
Velma wants to ask Daphne for help getting her mother’s cold case file after convincing herself that her mother did actually go missing and didn’t leave them. Daphne tells Velma that since they’re not best friends like they used to be, she needs to pay 500 dollars for the information.
Aman’s strategy for Fred’s case is to reveal how much of a child he really is, proving that he isn’t capable of carrying out such a sophisticated murder.
Fred’s father isn’t a fan of the plan but his mother says it is the best chance of acquitting their son since there’s a lot of evidence against him including his well documented anger issues.
Velma goes to Norville’s house to borrow money from him but she finds Dona and Linda there meeting with Norville’s mother, Blythe, who is the principal of their school.
Blythe explains that there is a drug dealer at school and she’s tasking Linda and Dona with going undercover and finding out who it is. She goes up to Norville’s room and asks him for the money but he says he doesn’t have any to spare.
After she leaves, Norville convinces himself that if he can get the money somehow, he can get Velma to like him. Velma goes to Daphne and says she cannot come up with the money so Daphne suggests an alternative.
She reveals that she’s the one selling drugs and Velma should work for her. Velma is terrible at it because she comes across as way too judgy and scares the customers away.
Norville tries to sell something for the money but cannot get enough. A stranger asks him if he wants to make money quickly and takes him to a room where his liver will be harvested.
Fred arrives at the court in his little boy image and people begin to fall for it but the rain comes in all of a sudden, he begins to resemble Hitler and everyone hates him again.
Linda and Dona confront Daphne and Velma in the school hallway but don’t know it’s them. They go on a chase until Daphne sends them a text to distract them. There is some sexual tension between Velma and Daphne right before and after the chase.
Daphne says she’s selling drugs to raise money and hire a private investigator so that she can locate her birth parents. She gives one last opportunity for Velma to get a sale and head to the park.
Velma walks up to a customer but it turns out to be her father. After clearing up the situation, Aman offers to give Velma the money if she can help clear Fred’s name. She sees how pampered and incompetent he is at basic tasks and suggests using that.
At the trial, Velma makes a speech about judging people too quickly which is partly directed at Daphne. Her strategy works but when everyone starts laughing at how pathetic Fred is, he loses it and threatens everyone at court with a knife and is found guilty.
Velma gets a visit from Daphne who gives her the cold case files on her mother. and they momentarily make up. Velma begins having another hallucination when she sees a clue in the files and Daphne asks how she can help.
Since being funny isn’t one of her strong points, she ends up kissing Velma and both continue doing it after they agree that it felt good. Norville watches this from afar and is dejected since this technically ends his chances of asking Velma out.
- This series is a very modern and mature take on a fan-favorite IP that is directed at mostly the Gen Y and Gen Z crowd but will definitely have its fair share of detractors.
- The jokes are edgy, there are multiple stereotypes perpetuated followed by meta self-awareness to offset any anger that might be incited by those stereotypes. There’s a very clear tone that the series is going for and it’s certainly fun from a neutral perspective.
- The animation is eye-catching and there are several moments that shock the viewer but the flashy animation doesn’t hide the fact that the story is trying too hard.
Anne Walker Farrell, Cal Ramsey
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