WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Veronica Mars Season 4, streaming now on Hulu.
I knew what happened at the end of Veronica Mars’ fourth season before I watched a frame of the new episodes. After Hulu surprise-released Season 4 a week early to coincide with the Comic-Con International panel, articles about Jason Dohring’s take on the season’s shocking ending started popping up within hours. Given Dohring played Veronica’s love interest Logan Echolls but was far from the show’s biggest star, it didn’t take a Veronica Mars-level sleuth to figure out what was up.
Still, as I binged the eight new episodes, with each new twist I tried to see a way around what I knew was inevitable. Having watched Veronica Mars from the beginning, ever since her first investigation into the murder of her best friend Lilly Kane in 2004, Veronica’s life has been one tragedy after another. Taking away her longtime love just felt like piling on. And to have it happen for such nonsensical reasons — because of a backpack bomb left behind by a bad guy whose motivations for the crimes that drove the season’s mystery were vague at best (yes, I know he hated spring-breakers) — was even worse.
The question now is, does the death of Logan also kill the show itself? Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas acknowledged he made a bet when he decided to kill off the fan-favorite character. He recognized he may have dug the show’s grave with the choice he made — or maybe not. “If you never get to see another Veronica Mars episode because the fans hated it and turned on the show, then I lost the bet,” he said. “If we get to do more and it becomes a long-running Veronica Mars detective series that we get to do every once in a while, then I think I won the bet.”
Almost 4,400 Marshmallows (the name for the Veronica Mars fandom) have expressed their opinion on Thomas’ decision through a Change.org petition that requests the return of Logan. It politely states, “By taking away Veronica’s soulmate, her happiness, you send the message that a woman can’t have it all.” These fans don’t threaten to boycott a potential Season 5, but they do believe “a fifth season would not be the same without Logan, without Logan and Veronica.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF VERONICA AND LOGAN
Hulu hasn’t released viewing numbers for Veronica Mars Season 4, so it’s impossible to say what percentage of the audience the petition-signers represent. However, as tragic as the last-minute twist was, and as devastating as it was to Veronica (Kristen Bell), it may not have the outsized impact on the series that some predict. By the time Veronica Mars was canceled in its third season, Logan was a beloved character, but he didn’t start out that way. Initially, he was a troubled jackass who tormented Veronica; he was bad news, and she knew it. That she fell for him wasn’t a product of good judgment. And by the time the show went off the air in 2007, Veronica and Logan had broken up. Instead, she was in a steady but less-exciting relationship with the unfortunately named Piz (Chris Lowell).
It wasn’t until the 2014 Veronica Mars movie that Veronica got back together with Logan in what came across as an act of pure fan service. The movie was partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign that Marshmallows happily gave their hard-earned cash to. Given the movie’s fan-backing, Thomas seemed eager to make sure they got exactly what they wanted. So by the end of the movie Veronica had completely upended the life she'd established in New York City to move back to Neptune, California, become a private investigator, and be with Logan.
The latest season of the show, decidedly not funded by fans, took the opposite tact. Veronica and Logan were still together, but their relationship seemed to be on shaky ground. While Logan had apparently spent years in therapy and was now a stand-up guy, he was still most exciting to Veronica when she got a glimpse of the high school jerk. What that says about the depths of Veronica’s damage could have been mined for drama, but ultimately that’s not what the show’s about. Or at least it seems that Rob Thomas is less and less interested in Veronica's personal life.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
In an interview with Jason Dohring following the release of Season 4, the actor revealed the reasoning behind Thomas’ decision. “He was like, 'You know, I sort of want to shed the teenage drama of the show.' Like the on-again, off-again. I understood that and he said when Veronica is the underdog, that's when you really feel for her,” Dohring explained. “So this is going to set her up in a great way and sort of start life anew, possibly in a new place, be as determined as ever, and as much of an underdog as ever.”
That sounds like such a complete departure from Veronica Mars as we know it, that Logan’s death would only be one factor in fans' future embrace of the show. In Season 4, Logan points out that Veronica doesn’t seem to want to be in Neptune. If Thomas’ plan is to free Veronica from the town in which she grew up — and the many beloved characters that populate it — the series would evolve into something else. That would change the tone of the show, whether Logan was around or not.
It’s debatable whether Thomas had to kill off the character to ensure the series could move forward in the direction he envisioned. However, knowing his potential plans for Veronica's future, the move comes across as a mission statement on Thomas’ part: If (and when) the show returns, it will likely be in a new town, with new characters, and a new, more adult Veronica.
Could it work? Yes. But it will alter Veronica Mars as we know it. Still we Marshmallows love Veronica, and as much as we’re grieving Logan right now, many of us would still show up for Veronica Mars 2.0.
Created by Rob Thomas, Veronica Mars stars Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Enrico Colantoni, Percy Daggs III, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Max Greenfield, Ken Marino, Daran Norris, David Starzyk, Adam Rose and Ryan Devlin. Season 4 is streaming on Hulu now in its entirety.