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Veronica Mars arrives in theaters this weekend, and if you haven't watched the series, you may be wondering if you'll be able to follow the movie at all. Having seen the film, I feel confident in saying that it shouldn't be a problem, as the movie is structured to reintroduce us all to Kristen Bell's persnickety once-teen detective and her Southern California hometown of Neptune. However there are some things you might want to be familiar with going into this story, which is why we compiled this handy sheet sheet to give you some basic background information about the characters and the story.
This article contains no spoilers from the film, but it obviously includes spoilers from the series.
Kristen Bell's character is introduced to us as a teen from Neptune, California, where there's barely a middle class. Veronica once mingled with the wealthy "09er" kids, until her best friend Lily Kane was murdered. When Veronica's Sheriff-dad Keith (Enrico Colantoni) blamed Lily's wealthy father Jake Kane for the murder, everything spiraled out of control. Keith lost his job, Veronica's alcoholic mother (who was having an affair with Jake) took off, Veronica's boyfriend Duncan (Lily's brother) broke up with her, and Veronica ended up getting drugged and raped at a party. Some of that is out of order but the point is, she lost everything but her father and her dog after Lily died, and when her father started working as a private detective, Veronica did too.
That's where Season 1 picks up, with Veronica on the fringes of the social scene at Neptune High, working as a private eye for her disgraced father, occasionally taking jobs solving mysteries for her peers at school while trying to solver her best friend's murder -- which she does. Over the course of its three-season run, Veronica steadily builds herself a small group of friends, but she's much more guarded when it comes to people than she was in her pre-Lily years, which we see through flashbacks. And her quick wit, bravery and tenacity makes her a great fit as a private detective, though it tends to get her into trouble. She's tough, but deep down, she's a marshmallow.
One of the best reasons to watch the series is Veronica's relationship with her father, Keith Mars. Keith's tasked with being the sole parent to Veronica after his wife leaves, and with mentoring her as a private eye. That mixture makes for an interesting dynamic between the two characters. She's a chip off the old block in terms of her detective skills in the series, but she's still growing up and doesn't always make the best calls, which has resulted in some conflict between Veronica and her father. But the chemistry between Enrico Colantoni and Kristen Bell on screen is as undeniable as their characters' love for one another. Keith Mars is one of the better utilized parental figures in teen drama history.
Wallace (Percy Daggs III) - Entered the story as an underdog in Season 1. Rose to popularity due to basketball skills and general awesomeness. Proved useful to Veronica in high school due to his student job giving him access to administrative offices. He's a close friend.
Mac (Tina Majorino) - Computer geek with knack at sarcasm and a willingness to cross the line if Veronica needs her to, Mac is the Q to Veronica's Bond, and she's also a close friend.
Gia (Krysten Ritter) - Entered the story in Season 2. She's ditzy but sweet, but she and Veronica were on the outs at the end of Season 2 when Veronica suspected her father was involved in a bus-related tragedy that resulted in a number of student deaths. Gia wasn't in Season 3, but she's in the movie so that's worth knowing.
Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen) - Don't let the name fool you. No, actually go ahead and judge him by his name. Dick's Logan's best friend. He's been through his fair share of drama, but he keeps it light and has no filter, which makes him perfect for comic relief.
Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret) - The closest thing Veronica has to a rival, Madison's the queen bee at Neptune High. She's rich and mean. She's the kind of girl who'd spit in your drink, write "Slut" on your car, spread rumors about you and sleep with your boyfriend. (She did all of that to Veronica at some point during the series' run.)
Weevil (Francis Capra) - A friend of Veronica, Weevil's from the wrong side of the tracks and occasionally a suspect for wrong-doing, due largely to his associations with the PCHer's, a local biker gang. He's also proven to be helpful to Veronica in a pinch.
Leo (Max Greenfield) - Leo was a deputy at the Neptune Sheriff's Department who dated Veronica when she was in high school. Yeah, a little weird, but their age difference wasn't that vast. Leo was adorable and helped Veronica out more than a few times. She dumped him for Logan.
Logan and Veronica entered the series as enemies, or frenemies at best. Logan (Jason Dohring) was the boyfriend of Lily Kane, and after Veronica's loss of social status, he was on the bandwagon of people who turned his back on her. But at some point during Season 1, the two characters started to connect, which led to a turbulent romance that was on and off throughout the course of the series. Logan has a history of abuse and grief and being the son of celebrities, that's all mixed into a sense of entitlement that really primed him to be Neptune High's "obligatory psychotic jackass." Arrogance and vulnerability make for a weird combination, but it's one that Veronica seemed to take to, despite the challenges the relationship presented.
When Season 3 wrapped up, Veronica and Logan were on the outs and Veronica was dating Piz (Chris Lowell), a character introduced in the third season. Unlike Logan, Piz comes from a stable background, he's upbeat, friendly and he treats Veronica well. After Logan hurt Veronica in Season 3, Piz was really the safe option, being a dependable friend with a major interest in Veronica. He's a good guy with an appreciation for music and a moral compass that points north.
The movie deals with a brand new murder mystery, so you really don't need a whole lot of background information in order to follow the plot, but there were some unresolved issues. As I said, Veronica and Logan were on the outs at the end of Season 3. The situation was made worse when Logan beat the crap out of Piz, believing he was responsible for the Piz/Veronica sex tape that went viral. It wasn't Piz who made or leaked the video, however. And Logan eventually beat up the guy who actually was responsible for that.
Meanwhile, Veronica got busted sneaking around the Kane mansion in search of evidence for a case. And Keith, who was acting sheriff after the death of Sheriff Don Lamb, erased the evidence to protect Veronica, but with Jake Kane involved, the story got out and threatened to ruin Keith's chances of winning the Sheriff election. But the series ended with Veronica casting her vote and we never find out whether or not Keith won the election.
To put it as vaguely as possible, you don't really need to know who Logan's pop star girlfriend was as it relates to the original series. She only appeared in two episodes. Because she's connected to the original show, you might jump to the conclusion that there's more to her background, but her involvement in the first season is minimal and almost completely irrelevant to the film's plot.
Veronica Mars arrives in select theaters and on Video on Demand on Friday, March 14. Find out what director Rob Thomas and the cast had to say about making the film here!