ENTERTAINMENT
07/22/2019 17:52 EDT | Updated 07/23/2019 04:02 EDT

In Defense Of That Bombshell 'Veronica Mars' Ending

Two die-hard “Veronica Mars” fans debate and defend the controversial killing of a beloved character.

Warning: This post contains spoilers about “Veronica Mars” Season 4 and its finale.

A long time ago, we used to be friends with “Veronica Mars” ... but then the show killed off its heartthrob in the final moments of a long-awaited revival, and we need to reevaluate our relationship.  

Five years after fans of the series, who self-identify as Marshmallows, banded together to fund a feature film, a new season has arrived on Hulu with everybody’s favorite teenage detective all grown up and facing down her toughest foe to date: a serial bomber targeting her sun-kissed hometown’s spring break hotspots. 

And while the Big Bad, a disgruntled pizza delivery man played by Patton Oswalt, ended up behind bars before the season’s end, he left behind a deadly wedding present for Veronica and reformed bad boy Logan Echolls, who’d recently tied the knot after decades of lives ruined, bloodshed, etc. ― you know the rest, c’mon. 

As we pour one out for the dearly departed Logan, two die-hard “Veronica Mars” fans are here to discuss why the heartbreak might be the series’ best chance for survival and if we’ll ever believe in love ― make that LoVe ― again.

Kristen Bell returns as Veronica Mars for a fourth season on Hulu. 

Emma Gray: Cole, before we dive into the new season of “Veronica Mars,” I need to check with your mental state. ARE YOU OK? Because, to be honest, I really wasn’t for at least a week after I watched that finale.

Cole Delbyck: I am not OK. I will never be OK. I’m still in deep denial, ignoring all other responsibilities and rewatching Veronica and Logan’s first kiss on YouTube.

Gray: We can form a support group after we finish up this chat, but for now, we must power through and talk about the rebooted show as a whole. I’d love to know what your overall feelings were about the show coming back after all of these years, and after that… perhaps not the *best* movie? 

I watched “Veronica Mars” for the first time after it had aired, but still years before the movie came out, when I was in my early 20s. Veronica as a character was always someone who felt easy to connect with ― dark and twisty like Meredith Grey, but far more fully realized. She has spunk and courage that always felt aspirational, and she was dealing with incredibly complex and intense and adult problems, yet she was still a teenager.

“Veronica Mars” was a teen show dealing with adult issues. Now, Veronica is a fully grown adult, as are we, and she’s still dealing with deeply adult issues. This season felt like a long goodbye to Veronica’s youth, which was both thrilling and painful.

Delbyck: I’m still in a bit of disbelief that we actually got a fourth season of this show. The Marshmallows really are more powerful than the Navy Seals (no disrespect, Logan), but I’m glad it’s finally here. Even with all the tears and bloodshed, this is the evolution of “Veronica Mars” we deserved, unburdened by fan-service storytelling or the restrictions of networks wanting the show to be more teen-friendly. 

The series has always straddled the season-long mysteries with teen soap elements, which is what made it so groundbreaking, but let us not forget that pain and trauma are baked into the series’ DNA.

We first met Veronica in the wake of her best friend Lily Kane’s death, so in some ways, it only makes sense that ahead of this next journey ― we ride at dawn if Hulu doesn’t greenlight another season ― she’s left reeling from another life-changing loss. The more adult elements of the new season might feel shocking, like text-your-therapist-on-a-weekend kind of shocking, but they are earned because of the show’s history.

And while I’m only admitting this to you and the rest of the internet, that’s why Logan’s death, albeit devastating, makes sense to me. 

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in "Veronica Mars."

Gray: [Whispers] I actually agree completely. At first, the soft romantic in me was pissed at the series, and at Rob Thomas specifically. How could he break our collective hearts like this? Just when Veronica seemed to have a modicum of happiness and stability? But then, I took a beat, had a gentle weep, and came around on the twist. (My one complaint is that I think Veronica is a little too smart to miss the fairly obvious hints from Penn Epner, played by the brilliant Patton Oswalt. He essentially said that his plan hadn’t yet been fully realized. Come on, Mars! He basically told ya!) 

As you said, “Veronica Mars” is a noir at its core. And Veronica’s life has always been shaped and defined by tragedy and loss. She lost her best friend, her mother, and now the man who she has circled romantically since high school. We can get into how realistic it is to see one person suffer so acutely so many times, and at what point it just all becomes a bit too much, but for now, it does feel like the best bet for the show to move forward in a real way, rather than just recreating a version of Veronica’s high school life.

The truth is, most of us (mercifully) don’t end up with the person we loved in high school. And Logan was no manic pixie dream boy, killed off carelessly like a girl in a slasher flick. He had the chance to grow and change and do the work on himself that it took to really redeem himself. He was ready to marry Veronica, no reservations. Veronica, on the other hand, still has a lot of growth left in her.

The very idea that someone who had lost so much and seen so much pain from a young age hadn’t been in therapy is incredibly telling about where she’s at when we re-meet her in season 4. In some ways, she has grown up and matured and changed. In other ways, her emotional state has become static, trapped by the coping mechanisms she developed when she lost her teenage best friend. She still doesn’t trust people. She still blows up relationships that could be soothing, like with Nicole, the bar owner whom Veronica bonds with over their shared trauma and then promptly spies on, ultimately ruining a potential adult female friendship. (Side note: GET VERONICA SOME LADY FRIENDS!!!! IT’S ABSURD, Y’ALL.) 

I guess what I’m trying to say, ever so inelegantly, is that Veronica needed to leave Neptune and perhaps Logan if she was ever going to find herself. I have my complaints about this season, but I do think that the devastating ending leaves the show a lot of really interesting places to go. As Thomas told TV Line, “Veronica Mars,” first and foremost, needs “to survive as a noir detective show. And if we kept doing a show that was half teenage soap and half mystery show, the fear is it would start feeling like nostalgia.”

Cole, what are your thoughts about the place that Veronica’s romantic life has on the show, both on this season and moving forward? I mean… Leo. 

Max Greenfield and Kristen Bell in the new season of "Veronica Mars."

Delbyck: First, let me say if my high school crush looked like Logan, I would have locked that shit down for eternity. And, yes, he did perish tragically, but we were blessed with a scene of Logan doing his best Halle Berry impression and emerging from the ocean like some sort of sea god. You win some and you lose some. 

As much as I would have loved to watch six more seasons of LoVe in happily wedded bliss, let’s get real for a second. As a character, Logan never worked as well as he did as a scumbag with a heart of gold in the original three seasons of the series. Even in the fan-funded movie, he felt out of place in his “An Officer and a Gentleman” cosplay, seemingly sacrificing all the character traits that pulled him and Veronica together under the unlikeliest of circumstances all those years ago.

I would’ve much preferred to see him follow in the footsteps of his famous parents (shoutout Lisa Rinna!) and go full-blown Hollywood, which seems ripe for a “Veronica Mars”-style takedown. Or literally pursue any other career path that would’ve allowed Dohring to flex some muscles aside from, well, the obvious ones, and showcase the character’s dark wit or long-standing trauma. The revival addresses these character evolutions, as Veronica yearns for the edge Logan sanded down all those years ago, but that guy has left the building. 

The Logan we meet in Season 4 has healed from the wounds of his childhood, barely flinches when a romantic rival comes knocking, casually speaks fluent Arabic and bounces around the world on top-secret missions. I’m all here for character growth, but damn, give me a second to catch up, won’t you? This, of course, creates tension with Veronica, as you said, Emma, who is very much still recovering from a particularly painful and eventful adolescence. But this is a couple that never really worked when things were going well. In fact, they thrived when the world was turned against them. 

If “Veronica Mars” is going to live another day, romance shouldn’t be the heartbeat of the show. Reminder: The series is about a hard-boiled private investigator holding bad people, usually men, accountable; it’s not a relationship-driven drama. Would I take another appearance down the line from the aggressively charming Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield)? Yes, blood runs through these veins, and I am, in fact, human. But for “Veronica Mars” to succeed in the future, it was necessary for the series to excise the wistful nostalgia of high school romance gone on far too long for the sake of more adult stories. 

And, while I agree that the bomber’s hints were a bit on the obvious side, the ending positions Veronica as the underdog once again. For years, she’s outsmarted every foe with finesse, but now she’s failed. Rock-bottom, in my mind, is the most exciting place for a hardened P.I. to get back in the game.

Going forward, Emma, what do you hope for Veronica and future seasons of the show?  

If “Veronica Mars” is going to live another day, romance shouldn’t be the heartbeat of the show.

Gray: Wow, so many things. First, as I said earlier, I want to see Veronica make more friends, specifically female friends. I always loved her dynamic with Mac, who didn’t make an appearance in Season 4, and so much of the personal tension for Veronica over the years has centered on the romantic. Of course, I’d love to see some more hot sex scenes (the perks of non-network TV that’s not intended for teens!), and I’ve also loved Roni’s relationships with both Wallace and Weevil, but this is a woman whose best female friend’s murder catalyzed the entire show. Is she supposed to go through the rest of her life only really befriending dudes?  

I agree that the loss of Logan ― and the clues she missed that led to that ― will haunt her and push the narrative forward. What’s a noir hero(ine) without a tortured soul? But I hope that Thomas & Co. will also exercise compassion for Veronica in the next season. The show tends to walk right up to the line of using Veronica’s pain as a narrative tool, like they did both with Lily’s murder and Veronica’s rape. Any further trauma needs to be earned, and the show needs to give Veronica a chance to actually grow and learn from her losses. Let’s see the fruits of those extensive therapy sessions!

Anything else you want to see next season ― or hope the show avoids?

Delbyck: If the next season is going to commit to a new mystery so expertly plotted and well-executed that even bitter LoVe fans will get back on board, it needs to deliver in a major way. The show has never been able to match the narrative tension it achieved with the nearly perfect first season mystery of Who Killed Lily Kane. The bus crash was a worthy follow-up, but the plotting became too convoluted sometime after Duncan Kane bounced to go live in Australia and Kristin Cavallari dropped by for a guest appearance. And after the truncated campus rape mystery in Season 3, the remaining episodes were pretty much a wash.

I want the ghost of Agatha Christie herself not to be able to figure out the whodunit in Season 5. Let’s get an influx of new characters that both the audience and a newly liberated Veronica can invest in again and place them in a plot so twisty it’ll make our heads spin. Apart from a phone call home to Keith, Veronica and the series doesn’t need to repeat history when so many new stories await to be told. Then, and only then, will you see my over-the-moon face.