‘Veronica Mars’: Let’s Talk About That Shocking Season 4 Ending & The Pains of Growing Up

     July 26, 2019

Be aware there are major spoilers for Veronica Mars Season 4 below. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, you want to stop reading.

Again, Big Huge Spoilers below.

How you hanging in there, Marshmallows? Few fandoms have rallied behind and stuck with a show the way Veronica Mars loyalists have. Through 25 years, two networks, a fan-funded movie, and now a new revival streaming season on Hulu, the Veronica Mars fans — self-dubbed Marshmallows — have stuck with the detective series through thick and thin. But the Season 4 finale just delivered the biggest blow yet.

Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring) is dead. The bad boy heartthrob who won Veronica’s (and the audience’s) love through their early rivalry, tortured on-again-off-again romance, countless shared tragedies, and ultimately, a devastatingly short-lived marriage, is gone from the series for good. Understandably, there are a lot of feelings to process, and series creator Rob Thomas has been very open in post-premiere interviews about why he felt Logan had die for the series to move forward. Let’s dig into those quotes and why sometimes tragic endings are necessary for beautiful beginnings.

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Image via Hulu

“I love Jason Dohring and I love Logan Echolls as a character in the show. But this felt like cutting off an arm to save the body,” he told TVGuide. And he’s aware of the risk of blowback that comes with a game-changing decision like that. “If we never get to do any more of these because the fans hate me, then it was a mistake. If we get to do more of them, I’m gonna be more excited about doing the show with Veronica as a single woman.”

For Thomas, the decision came down to bringing Veronica Mars back to its roots as a mystery series, and the demands of growing up in that genre.”The show started out as sort of a teen soap-noir detective show hybrid,” he continued. “And in order for us to keep doing these, I think it needs to become a detective show — a noir, mystery, detective show — and those elements of teenage soap need to be behind us. I sort of viewed these eight episodes as a bridge to what Veronica Mars might be moving forward.”

The eight-episode Season 4 picked up with Veronica after the events of the 2014 movie, nestled back into P.I. life in Neptune with her father (despite his objections), and (mostly) happy with Logan. Until Logan proposes, and Veronica’s deep-seated trust issues come out to play, causing her to doubt her trusty live-in boyfriend; the reformed Neptune High trouble-maker turned Naval Intelligence Officer and generally stable guy.

For Thomas, it was an essential opportunity to dig into the ways a lifetime of photographing infidelity and seeing the worst in people effected Veronica’s capacity for intimacy — a throughline that was mirrored by her failed friendship with Nicole (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Thomas explained to THR that Nicole doesn’t just highlight the cracks in Veronica’s psyche, she also served as a contrast to the All-Clean American Dream that Veronica’s BFF Wallace grew into. Thomas explained, Nicole “has absolute freedom, does her own thing, is her own boss, is sexually liberated,” and Season 4 put both options in front of Veronica and told her to chose.

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Image via Hulu

That desire to investigate Veronica’s character, warts and all, is a highlight of the new season, a matured and hardened season that challenges casual hero worship of its main character in favor of something much more intriguing. Veronica is a mess. And why wouldn’t she be? Assaulted, abandoned by her mother, and always digging into people’s worst moments, Veronica has trapped herself in a self-destructive cycle of mistrust, confining herself to her old haunts in Neptune and forsaking the promising career she had on track before the event’s of the film. Veronica needed a hard look, and Season 4 gave it to her with nuances and thoughtfulness.

While Veronica attempts to come to terms with her relationship and identity issues, she also hunts down the Neptune Bomber, who turns out to be none other than the unassuming pizza guy Pen Epner (Patton Oswalt). Veronica cracks the case and sends him to prison, but Epner gets the last laugh, planting one last bomb in Veronica’s car. The finale looks like it’s ready to end on a high note. The bad guy is defeated, Veronica accepts Logan’s proposal, and despite a last-minute visit from his old flame Parker (Julie Gonzalo), Logan and Veronica walk down the aisle. But Veronica’s voice-over teased tragedy from the beginning, so it’s not exactly a surprise when Logan dies in the last explosion. Not exactly a surprise, but utterly shocking.

Veronica Mars has always been a grim show. Born out of the tradition of seedy noir, the series begins with two mysteries — the murder of a teenage girl and Veronica’s own sexual assault. After all, this is the show that sent a bus full of kids off a cliff. But it’s also not a show that has traded heavily in the death of main characters, making Logan’s death a crushing left-field heartbreak. But for Thomas, it was essential if the series was going to continue.

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Image via Hulu

In fact, the creator says it was built into the pitch for Season 4, and both Dohring and Kristen Bell knew about the tragic conclusion before they signed on. Bell recalled Thomas’ pitch in an interview with EW: “He said, ‘I know this seems crazy or harsh but Veronica is at her best when she’s an underdog and I don’t know that there’s much to root for if she’s now got a perfect relationship. I need to keep her fighting and I need to keep her a little bit uncomfortable in order to have a show. There’s nothing funny or interesting about perfection.’”

Dohring echoed those sentiments in an interview with THR. “[Thomas] explained the rationale behind that decision, as far as shedding the teenage drama of the show, and the on-again-off-again relationship with Veronica and Logan. That can only go so far, and if these two are sort of destined to be together as characters, it wouldn’t really make sense for the show to have it end any other way,” Dohring said. “I think Rob really saw a chance to bring Veronica back to where she started, in a way, and bring her back to being the underdog, because the audience really responds to her in that way. This does that; it gives her a way to start anew, and obviously in pain, but with a new determination. I think that’s the direction he was looking to go, and I understood that.”

As you might expect, the fandom has been divided in the aftermath of Logan’s death and not everyone is as understanding as Dohring. Logan and Veronica — or LoVe, as the fandom dubs their romance — may not have always been the plan, but it’s been a central dynamic and heartbeat of the series ever since their chemistry sparked into full-blown romance mid-way through season one. Their love, as Logan dubbed it, was “epic,” becoming a life-blood of the series that kept audiences just as hooked as the mysteries.

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Image via Hulu

Now, that’s over. Logan and Veronica are unequivocally done. And it is unequivocal — Thomas has been very clear in interviews that Logan is dead, for real, no backsies. “I did not mean to leave any room for second-guessing that,” Thomas told TVGuide. “Yes, he is dead.” As a series-long diehard, it’s devastating. So where does Veronica Mars go from here? Can the series recover?

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