Veronica Mars has returned to TV and though the Hulu revival didn’t give our saucy, taser-wielding grown-up Nancy Drew a pony, it did give fans plenty to chew on over the course of eight episodes. If you haven’t seen the season in full, best turn away now because we plan to beat this dead horse (and by dead horse we mean Logan Echolls and the decision to kill off the fan-favorite character in the season finale) with spoilery thoughts about the show’s arc this season, how it handled its main characters, and where the tiny blonde detective might be heading next.
Jason Tabrys: That ending was a brutal thing to see but before we get into that I do want to talk a little bit about how strong this season was. While reboots and long-delayed continuations happen all the time now (thanks, in part, to a cultural/industry shift sparked by the Kickstarter campaign that first brought Veronica Mars back with the 2014 film), this feels like one of the rare ones that get it right. And by right, I don’t mean, gosh it’s like we never left Neptune and all these fantastic characters. I mean, you feel the time that has filled in. No one put a sheet over these characters and turned off the lights. They’ve been living and they’ve been getting harder and they have the feels one would expect from living life in one place. And I think that was a fantastic choice. Veronica Mars is grown up in that sort of burnt-out elder millennial space that a lot of people in their thirties absolutely feel, so there’s never a sense that they’re ignoring that similar progression in the original audience. And they did all this without shaking off what felt familiar and right about the original. I’m so happy with how Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, and Jason Dohring found that balance and how additions like Patton Oswalt, JK Simmons, Izabela Vidovic, and Dawnn Lewis felt apart of the show instantly.
Jessica Toomer: They definitely struck the perfect balance between fan service and moving the storyline forward in season four. I think so many shows that have returned from beyond the grave carry this giddy sense of “We’re back.” You can feel it in the characters and the storylines and the number of callbacks. This revival chose not to fall into that trap and I think it was a brilliant move on Rob Thomas’ part. Instead of spending valuable time revisiting arcs of past seasons, the writers hit the ground running and Hulu picked up any slack by offering the original series for fans to binge a month before this season dropped. It was a solid marketing move, but ultimately, it helped fans reenter this world. Unfortunately, I think because we just nosedived into the deep end, some relationships felt a bit undercooked. The issues between Logan and Veronica — though the characters seemed to have been dealing with them for a while — felt jarring to fans whose last glimpse of the pair was a reunion in the Kickstarter film. There were some characters and arcs that suffered a bit from this full-steam-ahead gameplan, and I think that showed as the season progressed.
Jason: See, I like that move. It’s hard for shows to address every happening in their world while covering a large empty space. Either you’re gonna weigh down the proceedings with exposition or you just assume the audience can catch up and get enough from context. I like the idea of putting that much faith in the audience and betting that heavily on the story to come. Also, it’s a lot easier to keep fresh viewers interested if they don’t have to wade through years of history to follow along.
Jessica: True, but it disrupts the flow of chemistry between the actors a bit. Either that or picking back up with these characters five years after the film meant some of the cast was just a bit rusty. I think while some of the relationships on screen felt lived in, others felt disjointed, awkward, and not as fleshed-out as they could’ve been. In my mind, that’s because we’re worried more about moving forward and getting to the action with just an eight-episode cushion than we are about digging into the dynamics of how these relationships have evolved in the time we were away.
Jason: I disagree and now we’re fighting. Bell and Colantoni were in lockstep — their chemistry didn’t suffer from the time away at all and I think they did a really nice job of slowly introducing Keith’s illness and the shifting roles in that dynamic. With Logan and Veronica, I mean, yeah, but I think it was helpful that they were off-balance as a couple considering how complicated things were with them thanks to careers that maybe make it hard to have something that isn’t lust-first/love-second. It just struck me as authentic.
Jessica: Bell and Colantoni’s punchy back and forth has never, and will never, be the problem on this show, but there was something missing between Logan and Veronica for me. There were problems because of their living situation, yes, but there was a tension there that I wanted to be explained. The way they danced around each other especially when it came to tough topics like marriage just felt out of character with who they were as a couple — this is the pairing that was born out of snark and low-blows. I get that we’re evolving and growing, but it was hard to find any of the original spark in their coupling this season, which made that finale all the more frustrating. Still, seeing the gang together again was enough to turn my Marshmallow heart gooey.