This article contains spoilers for season 4 of Veronica Mars.
Veronica Mars as a show for me is sadly over. And I don’t just mean finishing up my recent binge-watch of season four. When showrunner, Rob Thomas killed off Logan in the final eight minutes of the Veronica Mars season 4 finale by blowing him up (yes, really), it became clear Thomas had a new vision for what the show’s going to be in the future. And honestly, I’m just not interested.
Here’s a breakdown of why.
Veronica Mars was one of my favorite series ever written. But part of the reason for my love was, in fact, LoVe. The epic relationship between Logan and Veronica made the series more compelling to watch.
Sure, it wasn’t my only reason for loving the show. And yes, Rob Thomas is an excellent writer. But it was a main factor. If you remove a key ingredient from a recipe, don’t expect it to taste the same. And don’t expect fans of the original recipe to want the new concoction. If you take out the chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie, it’s no longer a chocolate chip cookie.
Some showrunners have forgotten show business is still a “business” and customers (or the audience) remain important. Too often, producers become obsessed with a vision no one wants to see. So, how long, for example, can the “shocking” TV death trend last without alienating too many fans? Could the Logan death be the proverbial final straw for fans having to put up with showrunners playing god?
With the Logan death in the Veronica Mars season 4 finale and the angry reaction from fans, it seems the “shock factor” used as a storytelling device has finally gone too far.
Logan Echolls was a character from a different time. A friendlier time. And the Logan and Veronica romance was beloved. To take these characters from the past and put them in today’s harsher TV landscape was not only jarring but downright unpleasant.
Not only that, the abusive behavior toward female characters in order to create characterization and move plots forward in today’s TV world has gotten out of hand. From the persistent trauma given Olivia Benson on SVU to the sexual violence employed on shows like Game of Thrones to the recent murdering of Logan on Veronica Mars used to traumatize Veronica.
Why is it so many writers think inflicting trauma on female characters is the best way for them to be interesting?
Veronica starts as a teenage girl who was raped, abandoned by her mother, and whose best friend was murdered. She then goes on to face more hardships throughout the series. But somehow there was still light at the end of the tunnel. When Veronica solved the case, everything would get better for a while. Plus, she had Logan and her father. But now it just feels dark and bleak.
A New Direction
Now, don’t get me wrong. Most of season four of Veronica Mars was pretty good stuff. Minus Veronica’s abusive behavior toward Logan, some of her immature out of character behavior, as well as the unnecessary and explicit sex fantasy with Leo.
But by killing Logan, Rob Thomas can now take the series in a new, unexpected direction. But maybe not a direction anyone wants. Time will tell.
You can read about his new surprising direction for the series in recent interviews on TVLine from Rob Thomas, Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Tina Majorino, and other castmembers.
“We’re the new Game of Thrones,” Bell joked.
Unfortunately, it’s just not funny. Call me crazy but I don’t relish in the experience of watching characters I like blow up. To be clear, I don’t mind authentic character deaths. I do, however, mind character deaths used as tools to emotionally manipulate an audience to send a message, which is exactly what happened with the season 4 Veronica Mars finale.
To “save” the show, Thomas felt like he needed to decrease or eliminate the roles of the supporting cast, bring in new characters, and ultimately kill off Veronica’s boyfriend/husband in order to delete the “teenage drama” aspect. How being in a mature relationship is “teenage drama” is beyond me. The most immature character in the show in season four was Veronica. She reverted to her teenage personality while Logan became mature and emotionally stable.
But romance and love are not weak. And it’s not romance that makes a show “soapy,” it’s how you write the story. (Not that there’s anything wrong with a soapy drama.)
Misunderstanding the Genre and Therefore the Audience
What I also find shocking about this entire development is that Thomas doesn’t seem to understand his audience – much of it female. (Or maybe he understands them but wants a different audience.)
While yes, Veronica Mars is a detective noir series, it also has elements of the urban fantasy genre as well as the romantic mystery genre. While there’s no paranormal angle, the heavy romantic slant with Logan and other identical tropes used in the series brought in a similar type of fanbase.
So, yes, it’s a detective noir series but for over a decade it’s grown and lived in popularity as a ROMANTIC detective noir series. But he’s decided to eliminate the romance to make it more like stereotypical detective fiction – losing the originality Veronica Mars had in the first place.
Just imagine. Veronica will be taken in by a new sexy homme fatale each mystery, and Logan will remain a traumatic memory turning Veronica into the “hardened” and “single” P.I. – instead of the epic love story where they conquer hardships to be together.
Logan and Veronica were never perfect, sure. It’s part of what made them interesting together. Again, trauma doesn’t make a female character better. Perpetrating violence on them isn’t creative. Women can be emotionally complex in relationships. They can be emotionally complex with children. Heck, they can be emotionally interesting just by being relatable like real women.
Yes, we like that Veronica’s an underdog. But constant unhappy endings and female (or male) trauma used as entertainment has become insufferable. Is this just “misery porn” as the fans are describing it online?
There’s surprising the audience and then there’s traumatizing them.
So, sorry Mr. Thomas, I’m just not interested in the new direction introduced in the season 4 finale of Veronica Mars. Not because I was “only” watching for Logan and Veronica (I wasn’t) but because it’s transforming into a show that doesn’t interest me. I don’t personally enjoy shows that “cuss” with my emotions. So, if something doesn’t bring me joy or even catharsis and instead just pisses me off, well, it’s time to end the relationship.
Why? Because my time and energy are better spent in places where it’s not depleted. I’m looking for good vibes in my life, not negative ones.
Has This Killed the Show?
Over at TV Guide, Rob Thomas said (in reference to Logan’s death):
“It feels like I placed a bet. And I may lose that bet or I may win that bet. 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. 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. But there’s a chance the fans won’t stand for it.”
Well, I’m a fan who won’t stand for it. And I don’t think I’m the only one after the shocking season 4 of Veronica Mars.
Look, I get it. This is Rob Thomas’s show. He can do what he wants. But he’s going to have to live with the consequences of it. And that may mean the end of the series everyone fought so hard to bring back.
What Would the New Version of Veronica Mars Look Like?
I feel like Season 4 was the bridge season, to take us from half soap opera/half mystery show to full detective/mystery show.” – Rob Thomas, TVLine
It seems Rob Thomas wants to write noir detective fiction appealing more to a male demographic with Veronica on the road solving mysteries across the country WITHOUT ANY of the other supporting characters. (Even Keith will likely only make small appearances.)
He wants to use more profanity (though Hulu said no to the “F” word for now), more explicit violence such as severed heads, more casual sex (hinted at with the explicit Leo fantasy), and more misery for Veronica. In other words, he feels the show can survive if it’s an entirely different show.
Well, then write an entirely different show about different characters.
It would have been better to just have Logan leave Veronica due to her immature behavior and mistreatment of him. Then Veronica could react to the consequences of her own selfish actions. And then maybe get help for her problems.
That’s conflict without unnecessary trauma. And despite what he believes, can be written in a way that doesn’t feel like teenage angst. Still, I would have preferred the “happy” Logan and Veronica solving mysteries together – and rescuing each other from time to time.
Ah, the good days of the series.
It’s Not Just a Logan Problem
Again, it’s not just Logan’s character receiving the shaft treatment. It’s everyone but Veronica. Thomas doesn’t seem to want to write about the characters the fans love. It’s not interesting to him. So, it’s no wonder Tina Majorino said no to season four of Veronica Mars for this very reason. She understood what we’re all now finding out.
Majorino said no, not because of scheduling conflicts like what was originally rumored, but because she didn’t agree with the new direction of the series sidelining her character.
Thomas is basically sacrificing the actors and the fans to support a vision of his show that doesn’t appeal to many of the original fans.
Let’s be clear. Logan’s death is simply a sign of what’s to come. Thomas has said as much in various interviews. When he blew up Logan, he also blew up the entire past series. So, for any of the fans saying they’re okay with Logan’s death because they love Keith, Wallace, Weevil, Dick, the Neptune mysteries, etc…well, those are all gone too! The only character sticking around regularly for the future is Veronica. Neptune will no longer be the setting. She’s going on the road and she’s going alone. Even Pony didn’t make the cut.
The Death of the Past Series
So, Logan’s death is upsetting because it’s not just his death. It’s the death of what the series was so Thomas can create an entirely new series. Almost like a spinoff – even though it’s with the same lead protagonist.
Unfortunately for Thomas, it was the fans that crowdfunded the movie and helped bring about the fourth season in the first place. I don’t think most fans expected to be catered to. Or even have him rely on nostalgia. Fans want good writing and original mystery. But completely changing the makeup of the show, a show fans fought to bring back for over a decade, was arguably taking creative freedom too far. It wasn’t a smart move to kill off Logan or put the supporting characters permanently in the background.
Logan’s death wasn’t true to the story. It was cheap manipulation.
A Touch of Irony
The season four theme of Veronica Mars is the gentrification of Neptune at the cost of the lower and middle class. But in an ironic move, Thomas himself is arguably attempting to “gentrify” his own series. Take a second to think about the analogy.
The fans represent the lower/middle class in Neptune. As the poor people of Neptune get pushed out for the wealthy to move in, so have us fans (and supporting actors) been carelessly evicted from the series so new more “enlightened” fans and critics can take their place. This is Rob Thomas’s show and he’s going to do what he wants at the expense of the fans.
And what is it that he wants? Well, as I said before, I’d argue he wants a dark, explicit detective noir series that wins Emmys and gets critical acclaim like Sherlock. The original series was just lesser teenage CW entertainment. So, Thomas needs to “clean” up the series to make it award-worthy.
It’s a little insulting if you think about it.
Does Logan’s Death Send a Dangerous Message?
When Logan was killed in the explosion, Veronica’s face turned from shock and horror and then ultimately to rage and acceptance. Almost like she was accepting that nothing good will ever happen for her. It was the final nail in Veronica’s fragile psyche. She’s not going to trust anyone or accept happiness ever again. Why would she?
On the same day she finally chooses to accept happiness and marry the man she loves, he blows up. She’s been afraid to change, afraid to accept anything good because she feared losing it. Her anxiety and OCD thinking were proven right. Magical thinking prevailed. If you think something bad will happen, it will. If you’re happy…watch out. Veronica didn’t want to change because she feared something bad would happen. Logan wanted to help her evolve emotionally by going to therapy.
But now she never really will. One session at therapy won’t change that.
It’s an odd and arguably dangerous message to send the audience.
Veronica Mars Has Now Turned Me into a Cynic – Sort Of
As I watched Logan die through the eyes of Veronica, I had the same reaction as her. Because you see, it finally hit me. I’m done with trusting TV showrunners. They’ve “killed” my expectations one too many times. So, now they’re going to have to earn back my trust as a viewer.
The days of fan campaigns and wishing for shows canceled too soon to come back are over. They’re safer in the past where they belong so they can’t be butchered by some of today’s cynical showrunners. I imagine many fans may feel the same after seeing so many unsuccessful reboots and revivals.
A few showrunners across American television have even become a bit like the character Penn Epner, the revealed Spring Break bomber. They senselessly murder their own characters in order to “win;” win awards, win the respect of important critics, win the ratings. But it’s often just pretentious and creatively bankrupt.
While the killing of characters originally gave a greater sense of realism to shows in the beginning, as a trend, it soon toppled over into exploitive unreality when used inauthentically. So, as some writers sit around discussing their affected ideas just like the Murderheads sit around debating their conspiracy theories, a few of us fans stand in the back like Veronica wondering what’s going on.
TV shows have become a cruel medium. We’re the audience watching the Gladiators fight it out in the arena. And we’ve accepted it for far too long.
Veronica Mars season 4 was the final straw for me. Just like Logan’s death was the final straw for Veronica. Yes, I’m a marshmallow on the inside – hence the theme of my romance site – but I no longer trust TV writers. Sure, there are exceptions and many great shows exist. But until this trend of excessive cynicism and anti-romance in entertainment ends, I’ll place my trust elsewhere.
A Long Time Ago We Used to Be Friends
In the end, killing off Logan wasn’t about authentic storytelling. It was about manipulating the emotions of the fans to create a desired response before then taking the show and turning it into something entirely different.
Too bad many of the fans won’t be sticking around to watch. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m no longer going to support shows that make me miserable. I have better things to do with my time.
Consequently, I’m done with Veronica Mars for now. Maybe the show will live on in this new format. Maybe it will be good. It’s hard to say. But it’s not a show I’m personally interested in. Therefore, Veronica Mars season four marks the end of my journey. (That is unless Rob Thomas reconsiders his current trajectory.) It’s a sad day to mourn the loss of a nostalgic favorite series.
Still, while the show heads in a new direction, I can at least appreciate what once was.
A long time ago we used to be friends…and that still means something.
Did you watch Veronica Mars season four? What did you think of the distressing ending? Are you interested in the new version of the show? And would you watch season 5? Let’s discuss in the comments.
Photo Credit: Hulu