Neptune Hasn’t Changed at All in ‘Veronica Mars’ Season 4

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‘Veronica Mars’ Season 4. Image via Hulu.

Marshmallows, our favorite private investigator is back. There was a time when canceled TV shows didn’t get funded for movies by passionate fans or followed up with revival seasons on streaming services like Hulu, but Veronica Mars has always played by her own rules. She’s no longer a teenager now, but Neptune, the home town she despises but can never escape hasn’t really changed much at all.

Warning: Article contains spoilers for all four seasons, the movie, and the two novels.

Some time has passed since Veronica and the gang last graced our screens, so I’m going to start off with where each of the main characters are in their lives when the bombing goes off.

Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell): Our titular heroine abandoned a law firm offer to return to Neptune and help fight the rising tide of corruption that had run rampant since she had been gone. She is still involved with Logan Echolls and they share a dog named Pony. Career wise, business is as usual, but personally things are about to get shaken up. Veronica went through a lot of traumatic events as a teenager and never truly dealt with them in a healthy way. When Logan proposes to her she is not only blindsided but terrified. Between the mess of her parents’ marriage, the Echolls marriage, and all the marriages she is paid to uncover infidelities in, she has serious trust issues. She turns down Logan pretty hard much to the dismay of Logan and Veronica (LoVe) shippers everywhere.

Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni): Veronica’s father seems to still be struggling with the physical aftermath of the near fatal car crash he was involved in as part of the movie plot line. His insurance is never quite where he needs it. He’s still using a cane, he needs a huge cocktail of medication, and has an inattentive physical therapist to work with. Worse yet, he’s showing signs of memory issues that get increasingly worrisome over the season.

Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring): The on-again off-again love of Veronica’s life has always brought a certain set of dramatic and toxic baggage to their relationship which has often caused the off-again moments. That’s not the Logan we see ourselves with now. In the movie we saw some definite signs of maturing and working towards stability with his life as a decorated Naval pilot who was trying to guide an ex-girlfriend through sobriety. Even so, there were still flashes of that hot-tempered and self-destructive Logan we remember from his younger years since Logan was just as damaged as Veronica in his own way. The flirtatious snark of their relationship is still there (a scene where Veronica propositions him in front of the unaware-he’s-taken spring breakers ogling him is particularly funny). This Logan is now working in Naval Intelligence and has figured that he needs to find a healthy way to deal with his years of anger and problematic behavior. In fact, he regularly sees a therapist. Keith and Wallace are even more supportive of him being in Veronica’s life now. Logan’s calm handling of Veronica turning down his proposal shows us the man we always hoped Logan could be. His biggest concern is that Veronica was more in love with the unhealthy cycle of drama in their relationship and won’t be able to accept the man he is now.

Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III): He appears briefly, but fans will be delighted to see that Wallace has settled into married life and has an adorable son of his own. Maybe this kid will get warned about the slippery slope of friends who need favors.

Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra): In the movie, being a married former criminal with a daughter he took to tea parties at doll stores was amazing. Of course, this is Neptune, and no one who isn’t wealthy gets to have nice things. A panicked Celeste Kane, the wealthiest divorcée in Neptune, wrongfully shot him and corrupt local law enforcement tried to frame up Weevil for bigger crimes. Weevil’s perfect life came out from under him. In one of the books, Keith, Veronica, and public defender Cliff McCormack (Daran Norris) tried to help him sue the business out of the second Sheriff Lamb and his goons. Weevil took a deal out from under them as he worried about providing for his family. This deal caused a fallout with the Mars, he got pulled back into the crime life, and his wife took their daughter and left him. Weevil has often been on the edge of a redemption story, but he always ends up kicked right back into a life of crime by circumstances often out of his control. He’s been hired by a man named Clyde to use his boys to cause an uptick in local crime including graffiti and muggings.

Dick Casablancas (Ryan Hansen): Like Wallace, Dick appears briefly. The reassuring part to fans is that Dick has changed not at all except for the fact he’s now in the fringe stages of an acting career. There’s a certain reassurance in this, and his shenanigans can’t help but to make fans who missed Ryan Hansen smile.

Neptune, California: The town with no middle class should truly be considered a character in itself. While an out-of-prison Big Dick Casablancas (Dick’s father) is trying to return Neptune to its former glory, it’s all really an excuse for him and his Chino buddy Clyde (J.K. Simmons) to make a fortune gentrifying the Neptune Boardwalk. The gap between the have and have nots is wider and more socially relevant than ever. The police force does not have the corruption issues it previously has had, and while not quite offering open arms to Keith, they do take his offering of information much more seriously.

Now that some of our favorite players have been reviewed, it’s time to look at the mystery at the core of the season. At the height of spring break frenzy, a motel owned by one of the not so wealthy locals is the target of a devastating bomb. The victims include Sul the motel owner, Jimmy a typical bro, a studious kid named Gabriel whose aunt in the ex-wife of the head of a notorious Mexican Drug Cartel, and Tawny whose fiancee Alex is the brother of a rising star politician (Congressman Daniel Maloof). Witnessing the explosion was Sul’s daughter Matty and pizza delivery guy Penn (Patton Oswald). Alex lost several fingers in the explosion but actually survived. It’s his wealthy “Middle-Eastern JFK” brother that ends up hiring the Mars family to discover who set off the bomb.

Veronica is particularly drawn to the case because she can tell that the events are going to inflict the sort of damage on Matty that she faced at that age. Can Veronica actually right things for Matty or can a girl who never truly dealt with her own damage know how to change Matty’s fate?

The case quickly becomes complicated when Gabriel’s aunt gets her drug cartel ex to send a pair of goons to kill whoever killed Gabriel. This is going to cause issues for Mars Investigations as pizza guy Penn sees himself as a “murderhead” and amateur detective himself. He catches wind that the Maloofs tried to pay Tawny fifty grand to ditch Alex and publicly blames them for the murder. Tawny’s money grubbing family even turns up to confront the Maloofs outside the morgue when Alex has just ID’d Tawny’s body to demand the heirloom engagement ring Alex gave Tawny. Neither family knows where it is, although Tawny’s family wants it and Mama Maloof does not want them in possession of it.

Matty tries her hand at being a teenage detective herself and follows a lead that takes her into the den of Neptune’s infamous Fitzpatrick family. Veronica’s horror over this is full of all kinds of irony. Matty insists to Veronica that the Kitzpatricks sent someone different to stock the vending machine that week and he put gum in the machine (they never have gum). Matty’s lead turns up a Fitzpatrick associate with a Chino connection and bomb skills whom Matty recognizes as being the different vending machine guy. Keith gets this news to the new Chief of Police fast, but the alleged bomber blows himself up.

The Maloof situation escalates dramatically. Tawny’s family gets violent and Logan gets a side job as private security for them. Daniel Maloof has to admit to the Mars he has a blackmailer with some naughty interactions between himself and a cam girl. The cartel boys come in after him and before all is said and done, Daniel ends up hiring them to take out Tawny’s gold digging relatives.

Veronica believes Big Dick and Clyde are the masterminds behind everything especially when she nearly gets mugged by a PCHer who was carrying suspiciously crisp hundred dollar bills on him. She even goes to Chino to try to sort out the Chino connection angle which includes conversations with a pair of season three’s villains. Veronica finally pays Weevil a visit and the two eventually have an emotional blow out over everything. Veronica calls out Weevil for returning to the hood life when she, her dad, and Cliff tried to help him, eventually driving away his wife and daughter. Weevil calls out Veronica on having choices he doesn’t including degrees from Stanford and Columbia that she isn’t even using.

Keith has his own issues. Clyde has reached out to befriend him and offers up access to Big Dick’s health network which may get him the help he needs especially if he’s looking at dementia. Being uninsured and facing scary health issues is so spot on for the times it hurts. Keith thinks it may be time to retire.

Another bombing literally blows the head off of a spring break bro whose daddy runs an online casino. Daddy wants answers and is willing to pay $250,000 to whoever can bring them to him. Now Penn and his murderheads really get going.

Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino) turns up, hired by Daniel and Alex’s mother to find the ring. Vinnie has changed not at all. He thinks Matty may have found the ring at the motel after the explosion.

Veronica’s personal life gets tricker. Logan wants her to go to therapy with him, she resists. He also gets called off for an unknown amount of time by the Navy. Leo D’Amato (Max Greenfield) turns up in his new FBI job when the local police force is not getting enough answers and is getting a little too flirtatious with Veronica. Veronica also messed things up with Nicole, the fierce owner of a local bar that becomes a bombing target. At one point Keith thinks Nicole could be causing the bombings especially when it’s revealed her bar is already been sold. Veronica bugs her new friend and blows up the friendship when she comes clean about it later.

During all of this, we still suspect Big Dick and his buddy Clyde. A connection is made to Penn though, and when Veronica and Keith go after him to get the reward money, Keith forgets to load his gun. After a tense face-off with the cartel boys, Weevil comes in to save the day. Veronica, shaken by things, realizes she does want to marry Logan after all.

The mystery keeps bouncing between Penn and Big Dick as our culprits until the easiest solution comes out to be that it’s both. Big Dick and Clyde are responsible for the motel bombing and the petty crime increase to help force the owners of Boardwalk properties to sell on the cheap. Big Dick also had the bomber killed to cover it up. The other bombings were caused by Penn. Penn mistakenly thought a nail that went into his back during the first bomb was part of the MO and repeated it, a lash out at spring breakers after an incident three years ago where a group of frat boys nearly drowned him for messing up a pizza order. The nail found in Penn was actually from a piece of Matty’s nail art on the wall and not a bomb.

Matty tries to sneak into Big Dick’s place to find evidence and instead witnesses events likely to cause years of therapy. Big Dick had promised Clyde the motel land and when he can’t get it and brushes off Clyde, Clyde lets the cartel know who caused the motel bombing. They stab and behead Big Dick.

In a race against time, Veronica and Keith try to decipher a letter left by Penn over the final bomb. They manage to save the new Kane High at its dedication ceremony. Convinced everything is over, Veronica prepares for her courthouse wedding to Logan. Keith discovers he does not have dementia, it’s simply a medication reaction. With Wallace and Keith as witnesses, Veronica marries Logan at long last.

Viewers should have known there would be a catch. With an episode called “Years, Continents, Bloodshed,” as a throwback to a favorite Veronica and Logan line, we had not seen enough bloodshed worthy of such a title with limited minutes left.

Veronica missed part of the clues Penn left behind and as she went to get a shower before heading off to a Sedona honeymoon, and Logan went to move the car, a bomb that Penn had left behind takes out Logan forever.

A year later we discover Veronica has been telling this story to Jane (Mary McDonnell) the very therapist that Logan wanted her to see. She’s finally trying to deal with her issues in a healthy way. Keith had a hip surgery covered by the reward money and they have both taken Matty under their wing.  Keith is still investigating and even has a girlfriend. The gentrifiers win and Clyde does very well for himself having let Big Dick take what blame didn’t go to Penn. Penn is making himself famous while he’s behind bars spinning things so that only 40% of those polled find him guilty. The man in a cockroach of a level even Vinnie Van Lowe can never achieve. Veronica lost her rent-controlled home and she and Pony moved in with Keith. The one hold out against gentrification is the motel, though. Matty managed to come up with the funds to fix it. It turns out she had found the ring after all and pawned it for the funds. Veronica is in demans as an investigator and taking cases that often take her out of town now, she seems to be trying to discover a way to make herself happy. On what would have been her first wedding anniversary, Jane forwards Veronica a voicemail Logan sent to her with reasons why he admired and wanted to marry Veronica including her ability not to break over things that would have destroyed other people.

Logan’s death is a huge shocker and has already upset a lot of fans. I can’t but help but to feel it shouldn’t have been completely unexpected. Even in the movie, Veronica admitted her life as a Neptune PI had consequences for those around her. Through the seasons, victories came at a price, or were taken away by other set backs. Weevil’s family life, Deputy Sacks, and Keith’s health were the victims of the movie, and that doesn’t include what went down in the original TV run either. It was only a matter of time before Veronica lost either Keith or Logan for good. Neptune has never been kind to the Mars family and has played as true to itself as ever. While I loved Logan as much as the other fans (we were movie Kickstarter backers and my husband got me one of the Jason Dohring autographs), I have come to a numb acceptance of his fate. I’m as sad as a fan can be about it, but not in a way where I would give up the show. Veronica has always been a flawed but a fierce fighter.  I want to see her fight for her happiness no matter what Neptune thinks it can throw at her. “Blows that would destroy most people, she always picks herself back up,” Logan said as his final words about the love of his life. The real strength, the real story of Veronica, has always been how she picks herself up again. I hope to see that story unfold in a fifth season.

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