As a completely different show, Season 4 of Veronica Mars would be watchable. As a continuation of a established show, it was a discordant watch almost from the first episode.
It seems apparent that the show runner, main actress and Hulu executives believed that the titular character was the only reason for continued interest in the show, and so wrote Season 4 specifically designed to shoehorn that character into a different genre. To do that, they had to regress her to the emotional maturity of a teenager. (Incongruously , because moving the series away from teenage drama was apparently an intention.)
When the central intention is badly conceived (and in show interviews, even more poorly articulated) then the lacklustre episodes that resulted are understandable.
Every canon character in this season was a parallel-universe version of themselves, including the character of the town of Neptune.
Keith, a strong, understanding, quick witted father figure, is infantilised by the loss of mental acuity and shown to be weakened man by the obvious device of a cane, several years after his accident. The father-daughter interactions of previous seasons are still thankfully present, but are nostalgic rather than vital. Keith's season long story arc is resolved with a whimper. (If only some ex-criminal had turned up earlier to get the correct diagnosis.)
Wallace is still in Veronica's life. She treats his new life and family dismissively, (drugs in the bathroom, anyone?). She gaslights Wallace by inviting him for a night out at the movies, and dragging him along to follow a lead. This character would not grow up to be a man that missed nuance and the way that Veronica views his partner, his family and his life, and he would have called her out for it well before now.
Eli, a long-time friend, is treated disparagingly and appallingly by Veronica for 'reasons'. These are later spelled out - Keith and Cliff worked hard (at their jobs) to get Eli compensation for his treatment by the Kanes and the police department, and... Eli took a settlement to provide for his family. Success, right? But not for Veronica. Who despite having it explained to her a couple of times - in actual words - is deliberately obtuse and demeaning. To emphasise the enduring nature of non-reciprocated loyalty to Veronica by the supporting characters, Eli saves both her and her father from certain death by a just-in-time intervention, and is supposedly amply rewarded with ... a look. So, Eli's character arc and redemption by the time of the movie has gone full circle, and he is returned to the teenage Weevil with limited options.
Critics of fan-servicing in the movie, reference the presence of cameos of fan favourites as a problem. Season 4 cameos came from the B-list of supporting characters. Max, who cheated on loved character Mac, Tim, the murderer, Mercer, the serial rapist. They did however, give 'new' Veronica a chance to be sarcastic and manipulative again to those currently unable to reciprocate. Although, Mercer did manage a dig at young Logan's supposed infidelity - a trait inconsistent, once again, with canon. The most likable, character, Parker, is introduced solely as a past-love interest of Logan to create tension when the marriage licence was finally going to be acquired. How the writers must have laughed to include her parting advice - "Enjoy the honeymoon", knowing what was to come. Whoever came up with the "Let's give them what they want, but make it last less than an hour..." surely got the most giggles.
Dick, has become a caricature of the already comic character that he was. A completely hedonistic male with occasional glimpses of depth, but always - a fierce loyalty to those he cared for. Another character reduced to a teenage level of maturity, by writers unable to explore what happens to people who suffer tragedy and whose support systems are others who have the same background. His convenient displacement to Romania, as an actor playing a mannikin, is parallel to the writers exile of his character to plastic body form. His presence is not required for the death of his father, the marriage of his best friend, or his best friend's death, because he served his purpose as badly written comic relief. A figure of ridicule, not sympathy.
Mac - dry humoured, quick witted, tech-expert with fascinating origin story, and personal trauma of her own and such admirable resilience is also... sent to Istanbul.
Critic reviews have referred to Maddy as a suitable replacement for 'teenage' Veronica Mars, except - Maddy has none of her redeeming features. Maddy steals a ring which she then sells. She also uses her victim status to great effect at Mars Investigations, so her need for manipulation techniques from Veronica seems unnecessary. She witnesses the beheading of a long-standing character without reaction or emotion. No relationships are seen to be formed with any other character - unlike Veronica, who found connections with others such as Wallace, Mac, Weevil and Logan despite herself and her self-defense mechanisms. A soul-less doppelganger is hardly a great choice for a replacement Veronica for Keith. Frankly, Keith can hire an actual competent detective.
New characters, the Maloofs, stay for the duration of the season in Neptune because of a ring. The blackmail situation undertaken by Mars Investigation, was both solved and resolved by detective ... Echolls. The lost ring, despite being part of the brief into the bombings and paid for by the Maloofs, dismissed by Veronica as irrelevant and solved by the sheer deductive brilliance of ... Vinnie Van Lowe. In fact, even the Mars exposure of the second bomber of Neptune - was previously foreseen by the bomber himself - and utilised in order to plant the bomb that - so very precisely, yet arbitrarily - killed Logan. The mysteries were poorly written. The neck bomb does not fit into final bomber narrative at all. Especially as he used a non-specific, pre-timed, casually placed bomb as his final coup-de-grace.
The Mexican cartel characters were given considerable time and dialogue to show the sympathetic side to violent murdering sociopaths. Enjoying lattes, loving relationships, comfortable friendship dynamics while holding down stressful jobs. Of course, their violence was rewarded with another paid hit job for a senator. It is strange that a large portion of this season, which dehumanises and diminishes so many long term characters, is used to show the humanity of two characters that practice casual violence, including the unneccessary killing and beheading of a man because of the coerced accusation of a Spring Breaker.
Dick Casablanca Snr, the 'Big Dick' of the Season almost duplicated the Woody incorporation storyline of Season 2. With his proposal for town regulations, he intended to further divide the Neptune community in order to make himself individually wealthy. Similar storyline, similar outcome.
Vinnie Van Lowe, detective extraordinaire solves the missing ring mystery by Sherlock level deduction. Veronica, who allows her office to be bugged and also invites in the thief who steals their information and tech, disparages him because he demanded a high daily retainer. Seems a strange fixation for someone who charges $300/hr plus expenses, and then uses partner's contacts to actually get a result.
Leo, is reintroduced to provide the supposedly shunned teen-drama love-triangle tension, that is fed by a long drawn out sexual dream sequence and more screen time than her supposed significant other, Logan.
Logan's growth, in stark contrast to Veronica's regression, required skilful handling. So, Logan, inexplicably impoverished, is fridged. Enough has been written by others about their reaction to this character's story arc and death for Hulu to understand the problems with this treatment. Dismissal of this reaction as shippers getting "what they needed" is poor justification. Despite Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell's assertions, they have previously indicated their distaste for this character's popularity. They mistakenly assumed it relied on the attention of the titular character for drawing power. However it happened, the Logan Echolls character, carved his own space independent of - but parallel to - Veronica's and many viewers loved his story arc separately. He was also the only character, that despite his relationship status with Veronica - called her out. Given Logan's current evolved character, and Veronica's devolution the question is not - will they - won't they? It's more - why would he? Street cleaning death, is an apt metaphor for the belittling consideration given to this character and his contribution to the show's popularity.
Logan, was the possibility of redemption and healing in human form, and many viewers are mourning that loss. Neptune, was the microcosm of the inequalities and injustices in the wider world, and many viewers are mourning that loss. Despite the title, the attraction for many of the original show was the ensemble cast of supporting characters - not solely the titular protagonist - many viewers are mourning that loss.
Veronica's previous teenage character was flawed, and made mistakes because of a fierce personal need to get to the truth, and make some part of her world make sense. This middle-aged "strangely teenage" version, is out of character - even taking into account her regression - so many viewers are mourning that loss. . The complete recharacterisation of Veronica, the removal of the integral parts of the show that made it beloved, and the delivery of a season that retroactively removes the enjoyment of previous seasons makes it a season to regret.
Veronica Mars was a great show - after watching season 4 - I miss it already.
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