Season 4, Episode 1
Date of release: July 19, 2019 (Hulu)
Whatever happiness you felt when you got proposed to for the first time, or stood in front of the altar to get married, or had your first kid born, or your favorite sports team won the championship final, it’s how I felt after Hulu dropped the revival season of VERONICA MARS a week earlier than they were promoting. Thank the heavens I had finished my rewatch of the first three seasons and the feature film a few weeks prior already, otherwise I would have had a bit of a conflict now. The last time I felt this happy was when German broadcaster ProSieben slated the return of the second season of SEVEN DAYS, after they cancelled it halfway through. But who here really cares about my emotions anyway?
This episode felt like a proper first episode of something new — forget almost everything you have seen of VERONICA MARS before this episode, because the spring break bombing season will most likely be different from anything else the show has delivered. Gone seems to be the noir elements, and in return a Hispanic angle to the show has been added (probably to replace the absent Eli Navarro), since the writers may think that adding a little bit of BREAKING BAD to VERONICA MARS is a good idea. Gone are pretty much all of the elements that made Veronica known as the most hardcore teenage private eye in television history, and the only element that remained is Wallace Fennel, now married and with a kid, and apparently an 09er now, too, begging the question if his wife is the rich one in the family or if Wallace managed to quit his job as coach and teacher of Neptune High and won in the lottery or something. Must be his wife, because she was talking about writing a deposition (when called by Alicia about the missing salmon), and lawyers usually make a ton of money, especially when they are junior partners or higher up the food chain. It’s already such a shame that the season will most likely not have any time to go into Wallace’s change in status, and what it means to him, now that he is one of the 09ers, who he did not very much like during his high school years and didn’t bother to be bothered about during his one college year that was depicted on screen. Missing is also Veronica’s status as a complicated and probably-hated private detective in Neptune, California. Her classmates always needed her to solve a specific case, but the people she involved in those cases were always annoyed to be around her — one can only hope Veronica getting side-eyed by people who don’t like her is still to come throughout the season.
Instead, this episode showed us a new premise for the show — murder by explosion that could easily turn into terrorism if there is another explosion coming up soon, involvement with a Hispanic cartel, and apparently a lot of scenes on the beach paired with sex scenes that are one arm removed from being graphic. Yes, I saw Logan’s arm covering Kristen Bell’s breasts for the camera during their sex scene, and you can make of that as you will, but fact is that VERONICA MARS has never been this naughty before. Some crazy crap happened throughout the course of the show (it opened up with a rape if you haven’t forgotten) and one might have expected for orgies to happen left and right, but the sex was never as depicted as it was in this episode. But then, you shouldn’t forget that the sex scene was only here to calm down the hearts of all the Logan/Veronica shippers, who had to wait five years and some change in months to see their favorite couple lock lips again. As always, sex scenes are worth crap for the narrative, they are just there for the viewers’ gaze – VERONICA MARS turned out to be not much different in that regard.
Story-wise, the season premiere hasn’t really done much yet. Old characters were welcomed back (thumbs down to Mac not being anywhere in this episode), new characters were introduced, a connection between the 2014 film and the 2019 revival season has been established (I was actually surprised to see that the car crash from the film has this much of a serious consequence for Keith’s health, suddenly turning him into a potential victim by the end of the season), and the episode needed almost all of the 48 minutes to establish the premise and setting for the season and even managed to be a little confusing about it. At the end of the hour, allI could see was that Clifton Collins Jr.’s character was a cartel gang member and was sent to Neptune to solve a murder — what this episode didn’t make clear is whether the murder victim was one of the victims of the bombing (one would assume so, but the dialogue scene didn’t make it clear), or if Clifton Collins Jr.’s character is something of an antihero or a bona fide villain, about to cause problems for Veronica, as well as a scare here and there. Remember how Liam Fitzpatrick managed to scare the hell out of Veronica twice throughout the series? Well, Liam could be replaced as the Neptune background villain by the guy coming in from Mexico to look for a killer. Or he could be an unwilling ally to the Mars investigators, trying to find out who the bomber is while also discovering a connection that leads to Mexican cartels.
The episode didn’t even do a lot of work when it comes to character depth. As I said already, the only thing I was surprised by was Keith’s health status, but other than that the characters are just here, they are doing stuff, they have scenes of dialogue, they look pretty with their muscular body shapes, and they occasionally have sex. Maybe you could see Logan’s marriage proposal as part of a character arc for this season, with both Logan and Veronica coming to recognize that their love can certainly be upgraded by a ring on their fingers, let alone being recognized as a married couple under the eyes of the (tax) law. My interest was piqued just slightly, seeing Wallace and his wife have dinner with Veronica and Logan, depicting two sides of a multi-year romance — one couple made it to the wedding and already have a kid, but the other is still waiting for … what exactly? I do accept Veronica’s excuse of never wanting to get married though. In the private eye business, you get to see marriage and other relationships in shambles left and right, and that would certainly rip away all the foundations you would have when it comes to relationships.
Minus points for the new version of “We Used to Be Friends.” It’s even worse than I would have imagined, and I’m saying that as someone who needed an entire season to get used to the more moody version of the song during the credit intro of the third season. What is so hard about using the original song by the original Dandy Warhols? This season already took the old Mars Investigation office which the show had for its first three seasons (the film used a new set) and only expanded to include Veronica’s office right across Keith’s, so the producers were definitely interested in getting back to the show’s looks, right?