Fifteen years after its initial premiere, Veronica Mars fans got the revival season they'd been hoping for since the noir teen drama got canceled after three seasons. Sure there was a fan-funded movie, but it's nothing like spending a collective eight hours with Veronica, Keith, Weevil, and Logan again. Veronica Mars needs space to breathe and make quick-witted jokes, and that's what the eight-episode revival does. But it also left fans in a tailspin in its final minutes. (Insert big backpack-sized spoiler alert here.) The truth is that no matter how polarizing the finale is, it's exactly the move that makes Veronica Mars as smart and edgy as its reputation suggests.
The revival has Veronica (Kristen Bell) returning to Neptune, immediately thrown into a new case alongside her father Keith (Enrico Colantoni). A "Neptune Bomber" is loose, having blown up the Sea Sprite motel, and Veronica sticks around Neptune to see the case through. She's joined by longterm boyfriend Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), along with familiar faces in Wallace, Weevil, and Dick Casablancas. But what makes the reboot all the more impressive is how new characters portrayed by J.K. Simmons and Kirby Howell-Baptiste fit so well with the rest of the cast. And naturally, as fans will find out in the binge, Patton Oswalt's turn as pizza guy-turned-bomb-maker, Penn Epner, really lights up the screen.
The mystery of the series returns in full force, quickly establishing the big bomb in the room (literally) and setting up a whole lineup of potential suspects, but the wit of the Veronica Mars revival is unmatched. Quick jokes like, "How the hell did we let a crooked real estate tycoon come in here and seduce us into longing for a bygone era?" dot the script and remind you just why Veronica Mars was one of the sharpest series on television back when. Pair those two qualities together and amp it up with a Hulu-level budget, and the series feels fresher than ever.
For its limited eight-episode season, Veronica Mars also returns to the romantic formula that initially made it so successful. The series was always best when it kept Veronica and Logan's burgeoning relationship at odds, balancing their teenage romance against the gruesomeness of whatever case was being investigated. (We'll ignore the missteps of Piz in Season Three.) In the new season, the couple is back together but at odds regarding what their future will look like. Logan wants a marriage—Veronica would rather not. It's the perfect adult recreation of the "will they, won't they" approach the original series took. Across eight episodes, Veronica and Logan's relationship feels authentically endangered by Logan's need to grow and Veronica's temptation with the return of Leo D'Amato (Max Greenfield).
But after the bombing case is solved and Penn Epner is locked away, Veronica and Logan decide to make their relationship legally bound, getting married in a quick city hall ceremony. It's the kind of finish fans hoped for, even if it felt out of place in the scope of Veronica Mars' cynical tone.
But with 10 minutes remaining, Penn Epner's final move has already been set into motion. While Veronica and her dad are apprehending Penn and attempting to deactivate the bomb he had planted at a high school opening, they fail to notice that the backpack Penn was toting with him was a bomb itself. He left it behind in Veronica's car—a detail completely overlooked in all of the hubbub, and a particularly damning blow to Veronica, who typically is honed in on those small details. It isn't until later when Logan attempts to move Veronica's car to another parking spot that the details of the car bomb hit her. But her realization comes too late and one final bomb blows up, killing series-long regular, Logan Echolls.
As Logan notes in a voicemail delivered to Veronica after the fact, "I want to marry Veronica because she's the toughest human being I've ever met. Blows that would destroy most people, she always picks herself back up." It's that iconically Veronica strength that enabled her to return to Neptune, empower those she loves most, and head back into the world to do what she does best.
And in doing so, a new character is introduced: Matty, a young teenage girl who loses her father in the initial bombing. She becomes engrossed in the investigation and falls in line with Veronica and her father's investigation agency. But she's no Veronica—Veronica is the first to make sure of that. If anything, Matty exists as a breaking of the chain. For all the hurt and loss that Veronica has experienced in her life, Matty might be able to be Veronica's protégé without all the baggage that comes along with being Veronica.
Part of that noir-style approach is leaning into the cynicism and recognizing that even the most beloved of characters simply aren't meant to be. The series didn't need another fan-funded film stint. It needed to remember the sly darkness that made it so revolutionary to begin with. The final episode's title, "Years, Continents, Bloodshed," harkens back to a conversation once had between Logan and Veronica where he said that relationships without those components weren't the kinds typically written about. And he's right—that love story exists on fan fiction websites, but in the world of Veronica Mars, Logan and Veronica were only a tool to break and further strengthen Veronica. And in whatever place Veronica ends up next, she'll surely be all the stronger for it.
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