[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Veronica Mars Season 4. Read at your own risk!]
When Hulu announced it was reviving the cult favorite Veronica Mars for an eight-episode fourth season, the new episodes were initially referred to as a limited series. But in the year 2019, the phrase "limited series" also holds no meaning. If a show is successful enough, a network or streaming service will find a way to bring it back. Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas has been vocal about his desire to continue Veronica's story beyond this new season, which Hulu refers to as Season 4, while series star Kristen Bell would be happy to play the show's eponymous sleuth until "until everyone in Neptune is dead." And for most of Season 4, that felt like a real possibility.
Although the show may never again reach the exciting highs of that first season, for a little while, simply being in Veronica's orbit again was enough to keep viewers happy and entertained. However, in the wake of the shocking, and frankly unnecessary, death of Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), whom Veronica married in the finale and who was a key part of the show's enduring legacy, it's difficult to see how the show can continue with the same level of fan support that twice brought it back from the dead. And yet, Thomas is still hoping it will.
"The hope we have going into these eight episodes is that we get to do more of them. And my belief is that those will be better with Veronica Mars as the lead of a noir detective series who does not have a boyfriend or a husband," Thomas explained to TV Guide. "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."
Thomas said he wants to continue Veronica Mars as a Sherlock-esque series, one that can hopefully return with new seasons whenever Thomas and Bell are able to make their schedules align. This hypothetical version of the series would find Veronica solving different cases around the country, and a significant other for the show's heroine apparently doesn't fit into that plan. But the power of the Logan-Veronica relationship and what it meant to fans of the show should not be underestimated. To assume that viewers would even be interested in a Logan-less Veronica Mars almost feels like a fundamental misreading of the fandom.
Of course, this isn't meant to suggest that Veronica Mars cannot exist without Logan — that would be to belittle Veronica and her many achievements; although Logan clearly left an indelible mark on her, Veronica has accomplished plenty on her own without him, and she will no doubt find similar success in the future, especially if she stays in therapy and learns healthy methods of coping with her trauma. But at the same time, Logan is still a major character who was both deeply loved by Veronica and greatly beloved by a number of the show's fans. His sudden death and the reasoning behind it feels like a betrayal that becomes even more painful when you consider Logan's secretive military career would have been an easy way of writing him out of future installments without piercing the hearts of fans everywhere.
Further explaining the difficult decision to kill off Logan, Thomas revealed he worries that whenever a show reaches a romantic conclusion — like, say, a wedding — it also reaches a finale of sorts, and he's not ready for Veronica Mars to be over. This argument not only feels a bit dated, but it also feels a little misguided when a show like Friday Night Lights has already proven that a happy couple in a lasting, loving relationship can make for compelling television, or when series like Bones, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Parks and Recreation have shown us that will-they, won't-they couples can get together without signaling the end of the road.
Knowing this, Logan's death feels needlessly cruel, like it was a narrative decision seemingly meant only to further torment Veronica and leave her cold and isolated. While you can argue it serves to once again show just how resilient Veronica is in the face of adversity, how she always gets back up after the world has knocked her down, how much pain and heartache does Veronica have to go through before saying enough is enough? It's honestly exhausting. So, if fans are tired of seeing Veronica constantly having to endure a painful existence to somehow prove she's a great heroine and they choose to no longer watch the show because of this latest development, it's perfectly reasonable. And if fans are angry that Logan is dead and choose to no longer watch Veronica Mars because of this, it is pretty understandable too. However, even if fans can somehow stomach the idea of a Veronica Mars without Logan Echolls, Thomas' vision for the show's future raises more issues. Mainly, new seasons would find Veronica alone, separated from the town she knows and the people who call it home, and this would mean erasing yet another fundamental part of the show.
For four seasons (and a movie), Neptune and its inhabitants have added depth to its rich and rewarding story. Creators love to describe the location of a series as if it's a character in the story, and this is most often a frustrating sentiment that has lost all meaning through overuse, but Neptune is truly an example of a location that has played a major role in shaping not only the show's characters but also its ongoing narrative. Although the town is no longer the same as it once was — the class war and accompanying social commentary that dominated the series from the start is over after these eight episodes, as the town's wealthy elite have succeeded in pushing the working class out — that doesn't necessarily mean the best course of action is for Veronica to skip town and solve cases around the country. Like many shows before it, Veronica Mars is the story of a specific place, and if the show is to continue beyond these eight new episodes, it probably should remain committed to telling the stories of Neptune — at the very least Southern California — if for no other reason than the fact the show owes a lot to the exceptional supporting cast that calls it home and has brought its story to life since 2004.
After all, if Veronica leaves Neptune, where does that leave her father, Keith (Enrico Colantoni)? Thomas said the character may not make an appearance in hypothetical future seasons of the show, and that almost feels incomprehensible. Veronica's relationship with her father is the bedrock upon which the series has rested since the pilot. Even when the show was at its most uneven you could count on Veronica and Keith's powerful family dynamic to ground the story emotionally. And although Veronica is now an adult in her 30s, their relationship is the single most important relationship in her life in the wake of Logan's untimely death. To remove him from the equation entirely threatens to disrupt far more than the status quo, which is what Thomas' intention is by taking Veronica on the road. A Veronica Mars without Keith's stabilizing presence would make for a shell of a series, one that would only be further harmed if Veronica's chosen family — Wallace (Percy Daggs III), Mac (Tina Majorino), and Weevil (Francis Capra) — were to suddenly disappear from her life as well.
Now, the show hopes to minimize this instability by essentially skipping over Veronica's grieving period. As Thomas said, one of the reasons the season includes a flash-forward is so the series doesn't have to spend time actually depicting Veronica's grief. "Our bread and butter is being quick and funny, and I'm not sure it'd be to our benefit to live a year in Veronica's grief on our show," Thomas said, noting that by the end of the season Veronica is actually getting her feet back under her.
But even if Veronica has recovered from her latest trauma, Logan's death is still raw for viewers, and it's painful enough without having to consider that every familiar source of comfort could be ripped away at once in the potential next season. Even beyond the show's core supporting cast, Veronica Mars is home to a memorable motley crew who have brought Neptune to life, and their presence in future installments, no matter how small, would be a cool balm on fresh wounds. Plus, what does the show look like without them? Ryan Hansen's self-centered party king Dick Casablancas, Max Greenfield's charming Leo D'Amato, Ken Marino's skeezy private detective Vinnie Van Lowe, and Daran Norris' reliable public defender Cliff McCormack have all become fan favorites. They each play a necessary role in the show's ecosystem, much like the Fighting Fitzpatricks or the PCHers have done over the years.
Veronica Mars has excelled at building out its little corner of the world by populating it with unique but believable characters, and it's not to suggest that a version of the show that exists outside the world of Neptune won't be able to successfully reach the same depths or recreate that magic in the same way, but it will have to work a lot harder to do it, especially if future seasons once again have a limited episode count. Furthermore, even if new seasons turn out to be good, the truth is that a Veronica Mars outside of Neptune, one without any familiar faces in sight, would feel like a very different show, one that threatens to not feel like Veronica Mars at all.
Part of me wants to believe there's still more life left in Veronica's story after Season 4. After all this, even after the crushing blow of Logan's death and finding myself angrily whispering "I can't believe they actually killed Logan Echolls" over and over to the darkness of my living room, I would still rather hang out with Veronica Mars over most other fictional characters. She's witty. She's complex. She's always the smartest person in the room. I want to spend time with her, and I admit that I will do exactly that if Hulu grants the show additional seasons. But I know I also want to believe there is more to Veronica Mars because I have been conditioned to believe in the possibility that there could be more to come, not because there necessarily should be more.
Veronica Mars helped to usher in the tidal wave of revivals and reboots that is still washing over Hollywood some five years after the fan-funded feature film hit theaters, and when this second revival was first announced last year, I wrote that the show should also be the series that puts an end to that trend too. It was a plea in favor of originality at a time when original ideas felt about as impossible as a unicorn. I still believe this should be the end of the revival trend, but now it's because this is a classic case of the writers thinking so much about whether or not they could do something that they didn't stop to consider if they should. In the end, we got eight more episodes of Veronica Mars, but it came at a deadly cost, and now we live in a world where Logan Echolls is dead and Veronica Mars is leaving Neptune. Was it really worth it?
Seasons 1 through 4 of Veronica Mars are now streaming on Hulu.