In 2004, Rob Thomas (IZombie) opened the first season of Veronica Mars with an episode about drugs, rape, murder, and income inequality. For three seasons and a crowd-funded movie, fans could expect all this and a bit of teen drama sprinkled on top. The revived Season 4 aimed to change some of that. Creator Rob Thomas sat down to discuss the future of Veronica's Mars and the tragic road it has to take to get there. Warning, SPOILERS ahead!
Veronica Mars stars Kristen Bell (The Good Place) as the daughter and prodigy of a disgraced private detective in the fictional town of Neptune, California. As class-divides tear the city apart, Veronica pushes the boundaries in order to get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding them. The first three seasons of about 22 episodes apiece managed to skate the line of heavy, dramatic storylines with the kind of light touch that only an early 2000's TV show could master.
As the fanbase grew, and the series moved from UPN to the CW, the romance between Veronica and the twice accused of murder, son of a murderer, and lovable-bad-boy, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), moved to the forefront. Although Logan and Veronica's relationship was always treated as more of an unhealthy addiction than a positive influence in her life, the writers managed to pull supporters for the couple. By the time the film came around, its origins as a kickstarter campaign pushed creator Rob Thomas to make choices he may not have otherwise made. He explained it like this.
"Consciously, we felt like the movie was for nostalgia. We didn't know if we were ever going to make another one. We were frankly surprised that we got to make that one. And because it was fan-funded, that was our 'give the people what they want' effort."
And what did the people want? A polished, reformed Logan Echolls for our heroine. This created a bit of a jarring turn for the character, but fans were pleased. Unfortunately, in the creator's mind, a happy ending should be reserved for the end.
"If I didn't want to do more Veronica Mars... Then I would have been happy to land on them being married and living happily ever after. But our hope is that we get to tell more Veronica Mars mysteries, and if we do get to do that, we want it to exist as a mystery show, Veronica Mars as a P.I. out in the world, solving mysteries. And doing that with a boyfriend or a husband just felt less interesting, less sexy, less noir."
In other words, in order to keep the downtrodden, underdog persona for Veronica and the noir-elements of storytelling, Dohring's beloved Logan had to be blown up by a bomb after the nuptials. A choice that Thomas knows will anger a lot of the original fans that had held out hope for the on-again-off-again couple.
"I am prepared to take some lumps, and hopefully there will still be fans left afterwards, because it does feel like cutting off an arm so that the body can survive.
It was a risk Thomas was willing to take in order to steer the show in the direction wanted. He treated the revived Season 4 as a "bridge, taking us from what the show was to what the show will be moving forward." The tone of the season certainly felt like that. Because of the show's early home channels and demographic, Veronica Mars has very much been focused on what Thomas called the "soap opera of Veronica's life". He hopes by removing Logan and broadening the setting, he can "strip the show of nostalgia" and focus purely on building an episode around a case rather than its list of characters. He had this to say about his goal for the future.
"I don't think we're going to be ever as pure detective as something like Sherlock, but somewhere between Sherlock and Fargo, I think we could exist."
We're still mad at you, Rob Thomas, but you make a compelling argument. Veronica Mars is currently available on the streaming service Hulu. This interview was originally conducted by The Hollywood Reporter.