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This episode is where Laura’s tenacity and determined nature really shine through for the first time. Yes, it’s only the second episode, but this is such a cool glimpse into her character so early on.
Episode 2, “Missing,” opens with Laura on the phone (the most ‘I belong to an academic institution' phone I’ve ever seen — why is it that school and office building phones are always either that terrible brown color, or equally terrible beige? I’m suddenly reminded of the staplers covered in scotch tape at school, too) arguing with someone presumably from the Student Affairs office or something like that. Laura’s insisting that the card she found beside Berry’s bed in the previous episode — the one declaring Betty’s departure from Silas—is incorrect because “There is no way that Betty decided to drop out and go home at 2 AM on a Friday night—with none of her stuff.”
There is also no way “in hell or Hogwarts” that Betty left Laura the “official” multiple choice notecard.
Laura’s speech pattern and phrasing are really treasures to behold, and honestly a fiction writer’s dream because it’s so specific. (That’s something I may elaborate on down the line, with all the characters.)
Back to the note card:
Your roommate no longer attends Silas University. He or she:
A) Lost his or her scholarship and decided to go home.
B) Has elected to attend another university due to your extreme incompatibility.
C) Has experienced a psychological event that has left him or her unfit for student life.
D) Cited personal reasons, and really why does anyone do anything?
Exit procedures have commenced, no action on your part is required.”
Also, way to be non-inclusive, Silas, but moving on.
(And when I say this, I mean in-story. I’m not throwing shade at the writers.)
I’m mildly questioning Laura’s hygiene at the moment because Laura saying that the goo she found next to the note card started growing mushrooms overnight implies that Laura just left the goo there for at least 12 hours? But I suppose she’s had more pressing matters on her mind, and honestly if it were me, I would probably be too overwhelmed to pick it up immediately too, so I can’t fault her too much for that.
At this moment, one of my favorite long-running jokes begins—Laura’s truly ancient cellphone. This is also the first time on screen that we really get a taste of the extent of Sherman’s overprotectiveness via Laura’s explanation. “Dad thought I’d use an iPhone to send high resolution selfies to potential stalkers.” You’d think he’d want something easier to track Laura with, but I digress.
“Come, join the fun.” Laura is all of us when dealing with automated menus.
Speaking of automated menus, unless my ears deceive me, I believe that’s Steph Ouaknine's (producer of Carmilla and generally awesome human) voice reciting the menu options. That’s one of the many things I really love about tiny series like this, off camera and on camera crews tend to mix when little things like this are needed.
Also, lets talk about the options on that menu. “…If an incident is in progress, activate the nearest Blue Pentacle phone…to report an escaped entity, or poltergeist activity…” I desperately want to know how Silas advertises itself, and how well known the supernatural is in canon, because dear fucking God, Laura doesn’t even bat an eye at those options. Silas must present itself as a normal, run of the mill university otherwise I can’t see Sherman allowing Laura to go there. That also extends to campus tours—in Season 0, Sherman accompanied Laura on her tour of Silas. There must be some form of no-weirdness policy whenever the public is concerned. In the movie we see that the supernatural has become more mainstream what with Danny becoming a vampire rights activist, but during S1, considering Laura’s reluctance to believe that Carmilla is a vampire, I’m assuming that the in-canon world runs on a normal "maybe ghosts and cryptids exist" basis at this point. I’ve always had this head canon that Laura chose Silas mainly because it's very far from home (and by extension, Sherman, despite how much she loves him) and that Silas possibly advertised a stellar journalism program.
After battling with the automated menus, Laura hangs up when she gets a surprise call on her cell, thinking its Betty. It’s not Betty, but one of the various offices she’s spammed with calls. But instead of help, much to Laura’s annoyance, they want to get her a new roommate. When they hang up on her, Laura snaps that phone shut like snapping a neck. It’s a little terrifying. We don’t call her the "Tiny Ball of Rage" for nothing. (She’d make an excellent barbarian.)
Once it’s made clear that nobody is particularly concerned or wants to help her, Laura decides to take up the search for herself. “I’ve got three weeks of a journalism class and I’ve seen all of Veronica Mars. I’ll find her myself.” She then proceeds to wrestle a handful of cookies from the pack on her desk and bolt out the door with them and a notebook.
Presumably hours later, Laura’s back at her desk, looking exhausted and decidedly defeated. Nobody she talked to saw anything. Squat. Zilch. She asked her Floor Don, Lola Perry (her Perry impression is rather impressive) but she hadn’t seen anything once the Alchemy Club brought out the fog machines, and the frat brothers of Zeta Omega Mu were less than helpful. On the bright side, this is where the Terrible Photoshop Saga begins that runs through the whole series, which only gets better from here.
Laura’s frustration with herself for not keeping better track of Betty is suddenly cut short when her door swings open, and in walks bad news in black leather.
“Um, excuse me, but who the hell are you…?”
That’s true love knowing on your door, sweetheart.
They’re both pretty quiet on Twitter immediately after this episode — Laura’s yelling at the Silas twitter that a replacement roommate isn’t the proper response to a missing persons report, and Carmilla is just grateful that her new room is a double instead of a triple, and as far as she’s concerned, Laura’s a priss. But she’ll take the improvement.
In my last story, I talked about Laura’s determination to find Betty, and how it probably stems from the fact that Betty could very conceivably be Laura’s first close friend, but also due to her innate drive to do good. (And also because Betty’s a human being in trouble.) But in this episode, she goes far beyond that. At first, she’s going through the usual channels when dealing with something like this—contacting campus security and then attempting to contact the Dean directly. Though, when this doesn’t pan out, she doesn’t try to go further down this particular road of finding someone else to help, she decides to just go find Betty herself. Which, I have to say, is a very brave thing to do. As we know, Laura has a reckless streak a mile wide, but this is pretty ballsy. At this point, she has no idea about the vampires or the god-like deep sea fish, but the normal things she could find along with Betty could still be terrifying and absolutely dangerous. That doesn’t seem to phase Laura much though.
I don’t know if this is going to make any sense, but I wonder if Sherman’s overprotectiveness has caused Laura to subconsciously downplay the danger in situations. We know Laura’s been through some shit—the car accident she and Sherman were in when she was little, and god knows what happened to her mother—but I wonder if Sherman’s regular freak outs over the dangers of walking and eating and swimming pools has somehow desensitized Laura to danger. These things aren’t really all that unsafe except for under very specific conditions, and Laura knows his worrying borders are ridiculous, so I wonder if that’s carried over to far more dangerous things. Her love of books could have fed into this too. She compares her life to a story periodically through the second season, and in a lot of the books she’s read, Harry Potter being a big one, the heroes survive. So going by that, I wonder if she thinks she’ll be fine as long as she’s doing good.
And what’s “good” is subject to her black and white view of the world.