SPOILER ALERT: Do not read before watching the fourth season of “Veronica Mars,” which is currently available to stream on Hulu. (Seriously: do not!)
Any good teen show worth its salt has a tortured romance at its core, and the one in “Veronica Mars” is, as one half of the couple once put it, “epic.” The moment when steely spitfire Veronica (Kristen Bell) first realized she’s attracted to complicated jerk Logan (Jason Dohring) made for one of the best TV kisses of the era, and their subsequent on-and-off relationship became one of the show’s most reliable sources of chemistry and conflict. Logan and Veronica — dubbed “LoVe” by their most devoted fans — were magnetically drawn to each other despite their better instincts. As Logan said in almost the same breath he called their dynamic “epic,” he saw their love as something that “span[ned] years and continents, lives ruined and bloodshed.” When Veronica raises an eyebrow to content that “no relationship should be that hard,” Logan’s ready with a comeback: “No one writes about the ones that come easy.”
The passionate speech is romantic as hell on the face of it, making for the kind of Tumblr-ready quotes that ‘shipping dreams are made of. But the idea that the only interesting relationships are the ones forged in fire is to say the least, concerning. Whether Logan realized it or not, he was also acknowledging that even if he and Veronica were good with each other, they weren’t especially good for each other.
Flash forward to 2019’s fourth season, however, and the roles Veronica and Logan played in that crucial exchange as teens have almost completely reversed in their renewed relationship as 30-something adults. Veronica’s restless, and repeating old habits in her P.I. job; Logan is an intelligence officer who carefully orders his life to keep his worst instincts in check, regularly going to therapy and suggesting that Veronica do the same. Not only does Veronica have zero interest in talking to a stranger about her problems, she actively resents the sedate Logan with whom she’s now living. In the season’s second episode (“Chino and the Man”), she confronts him about his unnervingly calm reaction to her turning down his marriage proposal by saying he’s “like a pod person now.” She just wants to know “that there’s some classic Logan coursing through those veins.”
What happens next is easily one of the best and boldest ways that “Veronica Mars” has ever deconstructed this relationship and its equally exhilarating and toxic foundation: Logan, visibly trying to keep his cool, calls Veronica out on saying she wants Bruce Banner, when what she really wants is for him to Hulk out and remind her of why she fell for him in the first place. And when he punches a wall and asks her with his knuckles dripping blood if that’s “classic enough Logan for you,” she immediately jumps him and confirms that yes, yes it is.
Some of the show’s best moments, period, are the ones in which it shows Veronica in unflattering lights and has her face the facts of who she is and what she wants. This scene not only shows Veronica at her most selfish (a risky move to pull with your main character), but also dissects what makes Logan and Veronica tick as a fraught couple in a way that the show has rarely addressed so explicitly. It’s a truly stunning moment that re-contextualizes their lust for each other as the mutually destructive instinct it always was, and makes both of them (not to mention the hefty portion of the audience that loves them) confront it head-on.
And then the whole fight evaporates into thin air. Although Logan underlines just how uncomfortable the whole thing made him the next morning as Veronica grins, the show quickly loses sight of this conflict in favor of chasing every twist and turn the serial bombing mystery has to offer — which is such a shame (and not just because the mystery is the season’s least compelling aspect by a mile). Caught up in a million other things, Veronica never fully has to grapple with the implication of her wanting the rougher-edged Logan who punches holes in the wall. Neither ever even addresses this fight again, let alone tries to resolve it.
By the time Logan’s talking about why he wants to marry Veronica in his therapist’s office in the final episode (pointedly titled “Years, Continents, Bloodshed”), it’s completely bizarre that he doesn’t bring up this huge problem in their relationship that they never acknowledged again. And while for a minute it seems like they’ll eventually have to have that fight again as a married couple…well, the final minutes of the season put that notion to rest alongside Logan himself.
Returning 15 years after the show first debuted, the “Veronica Mars” revival had a rich well of history from which to draw more nuanced conclusions. Sure, noir mysteries are fun, but revisiting this world so many years in presented a brilliant opportunity for the show to reexamine its characters, their histories, and the unhealthy ways they relate to each other. That scene in which Logan calls her out proves that the series could have done it, if only it cared — or dared– enough to follow through.
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