Let’s talk about the latest season of Veronica Mars, but first some context. After being hounded by my brother to watch the show I found a season for five bucks in a bin at a grocery store. From there I forked over the cash for the other two seasons. Gave money to the film’s Kickstarter. Planned a vacation so that I could see the film in theaters. I even read both of the books published. So yeah, Hulu’s revival of the series ranks beside Avengers: Endgame, Game of Thrones final season, Stranger Things 3, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling (don’t judge) as my most anticipated pop culture events of 2019. After a little time to digest the eight episode season I wanted to discuss what has become a very divisive season of Veronica Mars amongst us Marshmallows.
Taking place after events of the film (and both books which do add some narrative details that while not necessarily important do give more context to side plots) Veronica has returned to the full blown private eye life on the streets of Neptune. With spring break in full swing a string of bombings are plaguing the area. Can our intrepid detective track down the maniac behind the carnage? Along the way we see some familiar faces and a handful of new ones. But nothing is sunshine and roses in Veronica’s love life. Long
time boyfriend Logan proposes in the first episode throwing Veronica for a loop. Is it possible that Veronica can finally find some happiness? Better yet, does she want to?
That’s a lot of plot for eight episodes and for the most part it works. When the show ran 20 plus episodes during the initial run there was a reliance on ‘mystery of the week’ episodes to pad out the necessary episode order for typical network television. It made for many engaging episodes and helped develop great characters who became fan favorites. With all that groundwork laid and modern TV going for quality over quantity Rob Thomas and his writers crafted a lean and focused season.
It helps keep the tension high and avoids having dud b-plot cases. I do wish some of the extra screen time would’ve been divided up to the supporting cast. Tina Majorino recently stated in an interview the reason her character Mac didn’t return was because the plot relegated her to do little supporting role. Sure, the show is titled Veronica Mars, but fans fell in love with these characters and wanted more than glimpses into their lives.
I am thankful the main story did overall plant and pay off the majority of its plot points sticking the landing for the most part. There is still something we still need to discuss, but we’ll get to that in just a moment.
And here we come to the best part of this season. Of course Kristen Bell has spoken frequently about her love for the role. She plans to play it to the point where she’ll be an elderly Veronica Mars in the vein of Angela Lansbury and Murder, She Wrote. It’s great to see her return to her iconic role, but there is one problem. After I finished season 4 I went back and watched episodes from season 1. It’s surprising how little her character has grown in all these years. Sure, it’s great to see her always being the smartest person in the room with the quips and iron morals, but how can she not have grown even the slightest since high school?
On the other side of that we have two characters that we get to see become fully formed in two very different ways. Through all the years Logan has been a character dealing with a ton of baggage. Childhood abuse, his mother committing suicide, his father murdering his girlfriend, his father getting murdered, and another girlfriend getting murdered. That’s a ton of shit to unpack. For years we see him cope in unhealthy ways. He’s verbally, emotionally, and physically abusive towards almost everyone in his life. Over time he’s gotten better and in this season he’s in control of his anger and is seeing a therapist. Considering in season one when Logan was forced to see the school counselor he angry, sarcastic, and argumentative this is some impressive character growth.
I’ve always been a fan of the character of Eli aka ‘Weevil’. While he’s been tough as nails he’s had his ups and downs. Like many criminals who try to reform we have seen him get pulled back into a life of crime on and off as he deals with tough times. It truly is hard seeing him go from caring husband and father with his own business in the film back to being a part of the PCHer’s biker gang in this season. There is a scene where he and Veronica verbally spar that will leave fans devastated. Especially when he makes a choice to help her after she doesn’t deserve it. I have to give both Jason Dohring and Francis Capra props for doing so much with these roles.
The rest of the cast is solid. It’s great seeing so many familiar faces return. Enrico Colantoni as always can go from serious to comedic and be a solid emotional anchor for the show. Percy Daggs III, Ken Marino, Daran Norris, Max Greenfield, and many returning actors all do great and have some shining moments.
With the new characters I am happy to say many of them are quite enjoyable. I’ve always been a fan of both J.K. Simmons and Clifton Collins Jr., so seeing them pop up the series was a real treat. Simmons especially gets to do a lot with what could’ve been a very 2 dimensional characters. I know I’ve glossed over many other characters but aside from Patton Oswalt’s obnoxious pizza guy most of the new comers are forgettable. I don’t want to spoil some great cameos for the fans.
The Ending (SPOILERS)
So this is what my entire review and many fan reactions online have boiled down to. In the closing moments of the final episode see Logan and Veronica get married. But, it ends with Logan getting killed due to Veronica misunderstanding a vital clue from the case. Oh boy, how this has caused schism to form between the fans. Some have defended Rob Thomas’ decision as a bold way to shake up the norms of the series. Others have called this the death knell of the series. I’ve spent weeks turning this season finale over in my head and still don’t know where I land on this.
I understand wanting to stick to the tropes of a detective noir story where the lead is a hardboiled loner in a harsh world. On the other side of that it does feel a bit cheap to kill off such an important character to the series in such a dismissive way. I was quite annoyed that they cut away when the explosion happens. I didn’t like that the audience isn’t with Logan in his final moments.
More than just a gut punch it was a kick to the head while you’re on the ground trying to catch your breath. I’m willing to give Thomas the benefit of the doubt, but it will all hinge on how season five (or whatever iteration the next chapter of Veronica Mars’ story will take the form of) pans out. I truly hope that after this traumatic event we might get to see Veronica grow emotionally in following stories.
Overall Score 3.5/5