If you were to write down the life story of Veronica Mars it would read like a Greek tragedy. Best friend killed, mother gone, and a hometown that has a great divide between the haves and the have-nots. The series, Veronica Mars, left the air back in 2007, returned with a partially fan-funded film in 2014 and now returned on Hulu for the fourth season. Now, Veronica is all grown-up but is finding that “adulting” in Neptune may be harder than being a high-schooler. Veronica may be changed from the damages, but Neptune is no worse for wear. Veronica Mars season 4 finds Veronica working with her dad, Keith Mars at Mars Investigations trying to trace a bomber that has brought panic to Neptune’s normally party-focused spring break scene.
Good Ol’ Veronica
The show always used a serialized structure. Veronica dealt with some challenges that would only last an episode, but the larger story was bigger and better than its parts. Now designed for streaming and bingeing, the show feels more cohesive than ever. The new season runs at only eight episodes. This way, the plot avoids being too contrived while no storyline lingers too long. The main story focuses on finding those responsible for the bombs while a new elitist political group tries to stop Spring Break in the beach town. Mars Investigations takes the case of a Senator whose son was in the bombing which killed his girlfriend. The duo then faces off against Neptune police and the FBI to figure out the real answers while trying to take down the richest who are abusing their positions for financial gain.
The primary emotional story for Veronica this year is her relationship with Logan. The bad boy from high school is now a Naval Intelligence officer. Logan and Veronica fell for each other, finally, in the 2014 movie and seem to be going strong ever since. Yet, when Logan prompts Veronica to move their relationship to the next level, she hesitates. The ins and outs of modern relationships are hard enough, but Veronica’s life of loss taught her to stay distant from almost everyone. Except, of course, her father. Her relationship with Logan takes center stage in the last episode and this has become a bit polarizing to fans in reviews. The season doesn’t do much fan service, but the strong choice in the finale really makes that clear.
Not a Reboot
This series did not push too much fan service into its plot as the film incorporated so much. Veronica Mars season 4 sees a more mature Veronica, so less leaning towards high school inside jokes or drudging up the past makes sense. The season takes on a life of its own as the plot revs up. The Hulu iteration of this show feels far less like a reboot and the most like a continuation as compared to other rebooted shows. Veronica Mars now looks to have been ahead of its time.
Other shows that claim to be a continuation include 2016’s four-part Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix, which was mostly well-received, and Will & Grace, whose cultural impact is far less than the original. Every TV season sees more and more reboots joining the slate and some continue with the original cast and creators, but rarely do they look better than the original. This sense feels fresh and modern and less like a series clinging to what worked in its glory days. From this, I believe Veronica Mars season 4 is my favorite season yet.
Sunset in Neptune
There is a lot to love about this new season. Also, there will be fans deeply upset by the choices made in the final episode. But, as I said, Veronica’s life is a Greek tragedy. There is not a lot of room for happiness and there never really was. Veronica is not a character who gets a win outside of solving whodunits. There is a major moment in the final episode that changes the game, but I do have to say I saw it coming. The series ends in a way that opens the door to a long list of new options. Even though some fans may be unwelcoming of the change.
Mostly that by the end, you just want more as Veronica drives into the sunset. Kristen Bell’s performance is as sharp as ever. Her character feels roundly different from the far ditzier Eleanor Shellstrop of The Good Place. The writing of the series now feels modern when previously it felt daring to have fast-talking characters and a swift-moving plot. This series sits comfortably in the world of streaming bingeable TV and I would tune in again to see Veronica and Co. back for yet another season.
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