A Controversial Return - Veronica Mars Season 4 Review

There have been a lot of show revivals over recent years, but this one is the riskiest I’ve seen. Veronica is no longer a teenage sleuth, but a full-fledged adult and full-time private detective. Therefore this season has taken on a far more adult tone, the wit is still there but the show has gotten darker.

Five years after the movie and two novels, Veronica has been hired to investigate a hotel bombing that is affecting the tourist trade at Neptune, California during Spring Break. This sends her on a dangerously complex investigation that pits her against local politicians and Mexican drug dealers.

This is Kristen Bell’s best performance as Veronica, as the character struggles with what she wants and with her emotions that she hides with her tough exterior, her sarcastic humour in a way becomes more of a bit of a defence mechanism. Part of her charm in the original show was that she was a teenager wiser beyond her years, but now that she’s in her mid-thirties she can’t seem to mature beyond that point.

This creates a new conflict in her relationship with Logan, as Veronica is used to being the mature one and now the tables have turned. Logan wants to take the relationship to the next level, marriage and a family, while Veronica is not interested. In contrast to Veronica’s good friend Wallace who has settled down with a family of his own.

This gave Jason Dohring a chance to delve deeper with Logan’s character, he’s still dealing with personal demons but is continually working on himself. He’s going to therapy and fighting to get Veronica to confront her own issues that she refuses to acknowledge.

Enrico Colantoni also gets a challenging arc as Keith Mars, as he’s going through a health scare. Not knowing what is wrong with him and too scared to tell Veronica, he sets on trying to hide it from her while trying to get the help he needs.

You may be disappointed by the lack of screen time for returning supporting characters – Wallace and Dick are mostly glorified cameos while Weevil, in limited screen time, has a poignant role in the mystery. Also Mac is apparently in Istanbul, because Tina Majorino wasn’t interested in coming back for a small role.

But the lack of old supporting characters does give room for new cast and characters - Dawnn Lewis as new police chief Marcia Langdon (introduced in the book Mr. Kiss And Tell); Patton Oswalt as a pizza delivery guy and true-crime enthusiast; J.K. Simmons as ex-con and bodyguard to businessman Richard Casablancas; Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Nicole, a nightclub owner; and Izabela Vidovic as Matty, a teenage girl who lost her Dad in the bombing and wants to solve the mystery, drawing parallels to Veronica when she was a teenager.

As said, even though this show has gotten darker, it does lighten up now and then, in particular a running gag where Veronica and Keith challenge each other to use the word ‘cuss’ instead of actual swearing.

The format for this season is different compared to the first three, which consisted of 20-22 episodes per season, each episode featuring a stand-alone case while there’s a new development in the main mystery arc. This season consisted of just 8 episodes that solely focused on the mystery arc from beginning to end, like a very long movie.

It’s not essential to watch the original show and movie to understand this season, but it’s recommended to give you a better understanding of the characters. Same for the two books, you don’t have to read them but recommended if you want a better explanation for some of the differences between this and the movie – such as why the police department has changed and why Veronica is so bitter towards Weevil.

This season has divided fans regarding it’s controversial twist ending, without spoiling it, I can understand the backlash. However, overall while it’s devastating, in my opinion it fits in the noir style of the franchise and it was also necessary for progression.

Even though I don’t think it completely comes out of nowhere as many say, it was certainly done for shock value. However it was actually foreshadowed and it was part of a bit of a clever misdirection that was built-up throughout the season.

I feel it does put a period on a particular plotline, which may have been one of the stronger aspects of the series, but would’ve run the risk of becoming repetitive or drawn-out. Putting an end to it while it was still strong was a brave move but also pushed Veronica’s development even further.

This also opens a door of possibilities for the future of the franchise, though I’m not sure when or if the show should come back. At the moment of this review, there are no current plans for another season. I’m ok with the door being closed for the time being because the very last scene has Veronica doing what I felt she should’ve done along time ago

I personally think this is the second best season, behind Season 1. The main characters are deeper than they were before, the mystery has several twists and it doesn’t play safe at all. The twist may be a bit of a downer, but the ending does leave viewers hopeful for Veronica’s future.

Written by Jack Parish

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