Veronica Mars Season 4 – Season Review
I had hesitated to write this post. After more than a decade since Veronica Mars became my favourite TV show of all time (sorry, 30 Rock), she’s back, bitches. And she knows everything.
But would I have anything valuable to say?
Nah, not really, it turns out. And that’s a good thing. Also, I’m not usually one to be squeamish about spoilers, but here’s your warning.
TL;DR Veronica Mars is fucking back (bitches)! I’m not going to complain about that. It’s also pretty damn great, and save for a huge swing just before the finish line, this is so much better than we could have ever asked for. Veronica. Is. Back.
So plot and structure-wise, this is not the Veronica of Season 1 and 2 glory, or even of Season 3’s patchiness. Veronica is a streaming queen, now, and we’ve got an eight episode serial mystery. No cases of the week for this old dick, anymore. The plot centres around an increasingly alarming series of bombings in Neptune, with Veronica and Keith on the case, while the police are typically unhelpful, and some budding mystery enthusiasts led by Patton Oswalt keep pace. The spoiling of spring break in Neptune is working in the favour of Big Dick Casablancas, though, returning from Season 2 and still a jerkwad real estate douche. It’s red herrings and supporting characters galore, of course, with a nice selection of other returning characters getting a look-in. Interspersed with the major plot intrigue is Veronica’s love life with the increasingly yummy Logan, and things get complicated when he wants to marry her, but she has doubts. Also, there are some Mexican cartel guys around to give us some gratuitous violence (like, a lot). But anyway, yada yada yada, it turns out Patton Oswalt is the bomber, and although Veronica manages to apprehend him in time, the season closes out with a major fucking upset when the final bomb goes off in Veronica’s car, killing Logan, and sending Veronica away from Neptune, and supposedly onto new adventures.
Yeah, it’s a ride off into the sunset. But not the good kind.
So there you go. It turns out I didn’t have much to say about Veronica Mars Season 4 because, and even several weeks down the road now, I am still in awe that this has come to pass. This isn’t even some fan-funded whip-up to cater to the nostalgia crowd. This is an honest to goodness Season 4 of Veronica Mars.
I’d take a million exploded Logans just to have this.
Why I hate this season:
Or would I? I was ready to overlook some of the aspects of this season that diverged from the earlier ones. Like the blander (more adult, I guess?) cinematography, colour palette, and sound design. But then Rob Thomas went and blew up Logan. And his excuse? He wanted Veronica Mars to transition away from being a soap opera noir in Neptune, and move onto new, more serious detective pastures. But Rob, baby, we don’t love Veronica Mars because it’s just any old detective show. People didn’t pledge millions of dollars for the movie because they really cared about a new whodunnit. We love the characters. We love the soap opera. Isn’t that why you titled this season’s finale after Logan and Veronica’s famous line about their relationship? What the fuck, man?
And even if we were to accept that the soapiness has to go, I fear to see what Veronica Mars is without Neptune. It was disappointing enough when she was at Hearst College, and that was close by. For me, a large part of the appeal of Veronica Mars when it started was because of Veronica’s mystique in Neptune. The “that’s her” looks, and the reactions of characters when they heard the name Veronica Mars. That isn’t going to work in a new location.
Also, much love to Chrissie Hynde, but the credits song needs to stop being redone. It gets worse each time, and you know it.
The level of violence was a bit self-indulgent (again, probably feeding into Thomas’ mission to make the show more adult). Did we really need to see the collar bomb victim’s head get blown off? And the cartel guys decapitated more than one person, and we had to see those actual severed heads. This isn’t fun, you guys.
Oh, and I’ll be honest and say that I remember very little of the novels, but given that they are largely canon, and that the plot of this season was about impacts on tourism, I was disappointed that we didn’t get to meet Petra Landros, owner of the Neptune Grand. I mean, if it had been Yael Grobglas? Can you fucking imagine?
But it’s not all bad:
Baby, it is not all bad. I didn’t episode-by-episode this because I would have had basically nothing to say the whole time. I was absolutely awestruck most of my watch through. A new season of Veronica Mars is real. It’s not just delicious fanservice (that I partly funded). Fifteen years later, and Veronica Mars is back. If you had told me in 2007, just after it got cancelled by the CW so they could instead keep Gilmore Girls (never forgive, never forget), I would not have believed you. We are in a seriously weird timeline, but I am grateful for this little sliver of hope.
Apart from the notable absence of Mac, this season used returning characters with perfection. Big Dick Casablancas back as a villain? So good. And given Cassidy was also a fan of explosives, such a smart choice.
I also know that Weevil’s rescuing of Veronica and Keith from that cabin shoot out is pretty deus ex machina, but the interactions between Veronica and Weevil this season are so worth it. She really lets him have it about how he fucked up his life after he got shot in the movie, but they’re still there for each other. Wallace, too, now in full-on suburban dad mode.
Showing some welcome restraint after the fanservice of the movie, the season makes fabulous use of a couple of one-scener cameos. Liam Cunningham as a still-way-too-scary mobster (and chasing down our Veronica protege, no less) was all the Liam that we needed. And a special, grateful shout out to Jake Kane returning in the climax, as his speech at a new high school dedicated to him is interrupted by Veronica showing up to announce there’s a bomb. Even after all these years, he still tries to wrest the microphone from her. Live that pettiness, Jake.
As for new characters, Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Oscar winnah JK Simmons make strong impressions with red herring roles. The cartel guys aren’t too bad when they’re not lopping heads, too. And even protege Mini Me Veronica doesn’t butt in too much (but please, no more of her).
Keith gets a health scare subplot that thankfully turns out to be nothing. Would Rob Thomas dare to do a Veronica Mars season without Neptune, and also without Keith?
There is some major reverence for Season 3 up in here, which was a lovely surprise. Both Mercer and Tim turn up when Veronica visits them in jail. And then Logan bumps into Parker late in the season. So glad to see it.
Oh, and goodbye, Logan. It wasn’t anywhere near what you deserved (couldn’t they just have, like, broken up?), but by god, we’ll remember you.