Major spoilers for anyone who hasn't yet watched Veronica Mars Season 4. This one is a doozy.
No doubt there were many Veronica Mars fans who went into this weekend ecstatic about Hulu releasing the new season a week earlier than scheduled. There's also little doubt that most of those fans came away completely gobsmacked by the finale, which killed off Jason Dohring's O.G. character Logan Echolls in a late-game twist.
Within the context of the season, Logan's death came as a punctuation mark for Patton Oswalt's murderous pizza delivery driver Penn Epner, who did a pretty convincing job of presenting himself as The Joker surrogate with Veronica Mars' canon. Fans, however, need more of a reason that that for losing such a beloved character, especially so soon after Logan and Veronica got married, a goal that he'd been harboring for all eight episodes.
Show creator Rob Thomas shined some light on the creative reasonings behind killing Jason Dohring's Logan like that, and viewers might be surprised (and more) to learn that this deadly tactic was utilized so that Veronica Mars could have a chance to come back for more episodes of a slightly different nature. In Thomas' words:
Kristen [Bell] and I really want to keep doing more of these [limited, self-contained seasons], like the Sherlock and even Fargo templates. Something where, when we both have windows of availability, we can come back and do it. The thinking is that we need to survive as a noir detective show. And if we kept doing a show that was half teenage soap and half mystery show, the fear is it would start feeling like nostalgia. Going full mystery show gives us our best chance to survive. I think there’s a reason you don’t see many hard-boiled detective shows where the lead detective has a boyfriend or a girlfriend; it kind of limits your options. It was like we were cutting off a limb to save a life… I love Jason Dohring. And I love the character of Logan. But I feel as though we are going to have a better shot of doing more and more Veronica Mars if our heroine does not have a boyfriend or a husband back home.
Much as fans can be angry while raising pitchforks high in the air, Rob Thomas can't be accused of telling tall tales in the schoolyard or anything. Though Veronica Mars started life with Kirsten Bell's titular character as a high school gumshoe, it's not possible this show (or any others, really) to keep maintaining the exact same tone, sense of humor and approach to its subject matter.
For a core example, Keith and Veronica should not be having the same conversations in 2019's Season 4 that they were having even in the lackluster Season 3 in 2007. Granted, Season 4 has them avoiding using the word "fuck" by replacing it with "cuss," leading to such viewer-created sentences as "Mothercusser, why the cuss did Logan have to cussing die?"
Still, as semi-juvenile as that one concept was, Veronica Mars Season 4 dealt with lots of adult-oriented themes and personal issues that would likely feel a little too weighted and dark for a teen noir. Domestic terrorism via bombings, the subject of rape, quirky hit men, bugging friends' offices. Sure, some of those thing have come up on this series before – and the revival even brought back the Hearst College Rapist Mercer Hayes – but in order for the show to move forward, the creative side needs to leave some of the past in the past.
Even if it means blowing it up while it's trying to move the car for street sweepers.
Rob Thomas was asked by TVLine if Logan's death got any flak or pushback from Hulu or the producers at Warner Bros. Here's how he answered:
No. But the Hulu executives [attended] the final mix of the final episode and they looked and me and they said, 'Wow, you’re going to get murdered for this.' It was more as gallows humor than any reconsideration of the plan. People were on board.
You gotta love a TV exec who makes painfully amusing jokes in the heat of such a conversation. Well, I guess "love" is a strong word. It's a word that characters such as Veronica and Logan used whenever they officially tied the knot just minutes before the latter exploded.
And while I would certainly LOVE it if Veronica Mars would get the immediate go-ahead for Season 5 and beyond, it's still going to take a little longer to get over Logan's death. As much as I kinda despised him through much of those early seasons, the character really turned things around and became the most stable pillar in Veronica's life other than her father. And Season 4 had already toyed with viewers' expectations about Keith's health and well-being, making it look like he might be the one to make an unwelcomed exit.
In fact, when Rob Thomas explained the creative decision to have Veronica narrating the season's events in the past tense, he said that it was all part of the plan to keep viewers on their toes.
And I also wanted to create a sense of foreboding, because I want the audience to get the sense that something bad [was going to happen]. I wanted maybe a little misdirect that Keith was not going to survive. I wanted fans to maybe think Veronica was going to cheat on Logan with Leo. I wanted them to be waiting for that shoe to drop. But I wanted them to feel like they had gotten through the woods and then drop the shoe.
I truly didn't expect Veronica to take things too far with Leo, but Max Greenfield was rocking 110% charisma and looked like he would have eaten the sand from between Veronica's toes if it meant a return to their more romantic days from seasons past. As such, I wasn't sure if anyone could stop themselves from falling into Leo's arms. Even Logan couldn't claim complete safety...then, or later.
Veronica Mars currently has all four seasons streaming on Hulu. No word yet on what could happen next with this franchise, but like Rob Thomas put it, if both he and Kristen Bell are free, willing and able to tackle another set of mystery-driven episodes that have very little connections to the characters' teenage years, they're down to make it happen.