[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Veronica Mars Season 4. Read at your own risk!]
Veronica Mars' eight-episode revival was a brilliant return for the former UPN/CW series, giving fans exactly what they had hoped for, including a tender wedding between Veronica (Kristen Bell) and her long-time love Logan (Jason Dohring). That is, until the finale's closing twist, which saw Logan killed by the serial bomber Penn Epner (Patton Oswalt) when the pizza delivery man's last bomb went off in Veronica's car just as Logan was moving it for street cleaning. (Can you believe Neptune's bad boy was killed due to his diligence to street cleaning regulations?! Street cleaning!!!) The series then flashed forward to one year later, showing Veronica unburdening herself to Logan's former therapist, Jane (Mary McDonnell), revealing that she was heading out of Neptune to work on a new case and didn't intend to return any time soon.
In a show that has a well-earned reputation for delivering shocking finale twists — Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin) being Lilly Kane's (Amanda Seyfried) killer, Cassidy Casablancas (Kyle Gallner) being behind the bus crash — we'd still be shocked to find anyone who would have predicted the show killing off Logan, whose love story with Veronica truly was epic. But as upset as fans are bound to be over this devastating decision, creator Rob Thomas viewed Logan's death as a necessary sacrifice in order to foster Veronica Mars' longevity as a series, which both he and Bell hope will continue.
"It feels like I placed a bet. And I may lose that bet or I may win that bet," Thomas told TV Guide. "If you never get to see another Veronica Mars episode because the fans hated it and turned on the show, then I lost the bet. If we get to do more and it becomes a long-running Veronica Mars detective series that we get to do every once in a while, then I think I won the bet."
Read our full interview with Thomas to understand his reasoning behind Logan's death, whether there's even a sliver of hope that he somehow survived the bomb, and where Veronica — and the show — will go from here.
When did you first start considering that you would kill Logan off and why did you decide that was the right decision for the show?
Rob Thomas: We knew long before we wrote any of the episodes. We knew it in the pitch; when we pitched the show around, it was always part of the original pitch. And I think the reason is — Kristen and I, when we talked about doing this as a short-order mystery, like some sort of six-to-ten-episode mystery, we talked about wanting to be able to do this sort of like Sherlock; whenever we could all get together, let's bang out a Veronica Mars mystery. So the hope we have going into these eight episodes is that we get to do more of them. And my belief is that those will be better with Veronica Mars as the lead of a noir detective series who does not have a boyfriend or a husband. That's the reason.
And I love Jason Dohring and I love Logan Echolls as a character in the show. But this felt like cutting off an arm to save the body. Now, if we never get to do any more of these because the fans hate me, then it was a mistake. If we get to do more of them, I'm gonna be more excited about doing the show with Veronica as a single woman. The show started out as sort of a teen soap-noir detective show hybrid. And in order for us to keep doing these, I think it needs to become a detective show — a noir, mystery, detective show — and those elements of teenage soap need to be behind us. I sort of viewed these eight episodes as a bridge to what Veronica Mars might be moving forward.
Jon Snow on Game of Thrones and Michael on Jane the Virgin both seemingly died onscreen but both eventually returned to the shows alive. Yet the cast and creators told viewers these characters were dead and gone. Given all this, do you understand why some fans might have a hard time accepting Logan's actually dead no matter what you or Jason say?
Thomas: I do, yes! It would have been an unpleasant body to show. Veronica is dealing with this a year later in the denouement of the series. It would be pretty awful of Logan to just be hiding somewhere or for Veronica to be lying to her therapist and thereby to the audience for the entire closing of the show. But yeah, I did not mean for that to be debatable. He's definitely dead.
Why did you decide not to show Veronica's initial grieving period or a funeral for Logan?
Thomas: The whole thing was built to be so that that voiceover you begin hearing in Episode 1, that is all in this very first session that Veronica has with Jane. And I give an entire act to grieving. You know, Logan is killed and then the last act is all about Veronica's grief, even a year later. One of the reasons we did flash forward a year — or really the whole show, if you want to look at it this way, is a flashback to a year earlier — is because I wanted to show the gentrification of Neptune. It's a noir show. All the fighting that they did to uncover the corruption within the city was for naught. The city continues to get worse despite Veronica's best efforts. So I knew I wanted Veronica to be a year later, to show that spring break is dead, the rich and powerful people had won.
People are obviously going to come up with crazy theories that he's still alive. One of my coworkers is convinced that Logan's death was actually faked by the military in order to recruit him for black ops work.
Thomas: [Laughs.] Well, all right, all right. They are welcome to those theories. It would be a pretty awful thing Logan did to Veronica. I don't know if we could recover from that in any way. But fair enough. I will not try to quash that theory.
Do you think you're prepared for the fan reaction to Logan's death?
Thomas: I'm terrified of it. It feels like I placed a bet. And I may lose that bet or I may win that bet. If you never get to see another Veronica Mars episode because the fans hated it and turned on the show, then I lost the bet. If we get to do more and it becomes a long-running Veronica Mars detective series that we get to do every once in a while, then I think I won the bet. But there's a chance the fans won't stand for it. I knew that going in. It has been a running joke, certainly since I pitched it, that I should disappear from the country the week this comes out.
Yeah, it might get a little intense on Twitter.
Thomas: Trust me, Twitter will not be on in the Thomas household for a while once this gets released. Even my cousin's wife texted me the other day saying, "Please, please give Veronica a happy ending. Let her marry Logan and live happily ever after please." Even my family may turn on me, is what I'm saying.
Why did you decide to have Logan and Veronica get married but then kill him off so soon after the wedding that she was even still in her wedding dress?
Thomas: To make it hurt worse? Here's the thing: Once a mystery is solved in a mystery show, you don't have many pages left. You can't solve the mystery and then have another episode to see what Veronica does in the aftermath of that mystery. You solve the mystery, you've got about eight pages left to play with, so that's when it had to happen.
Regardless of how fans feel about Logan's death, it's clear that Veronica has been changed by it. How would you describe her state of mind when we see her one year later?
Thomas: She's just starting to function. The fact that she finally did the thing that Logan asked her to do — to go see his therapist — a year later was meant to play as she has spent a year grieving, she is finally getting herself back together. Veronica Mars, our bread and butter is being quick and funny, and I'm not sure it'd be to our benefit to live a year in Veronica's grief on our show. A year where we can't joke. So one of the things that the flash-forward — or backward depending on how you look at it — was meant to say [is] she did spend a year grieving. It has been incredibly hard on her. She's getting her feet back under her. And if we get to do another one, we're ready to go. We don't have to wallow in more grief.
The death of Lilly, as Veronica put it in this season, hardened her. How will the way she responds to this and evolves in the wake of losing Logan compare to how she did after Lilly's death?
Thomas: It will be tough for her to put many eggs in a romantic basket. She found it difficult to get to a place of commitment with Logan, a guy she'd known for 25 years, 23 years. I think finding love is going to be off the table for a while. I think it only hardens her sort of already pretty intense zeal for justice. I also think fans have tended to respond most positively to Veronica when she's been kicked down the hardest. So my hope is that watching Veronica get back in the fray will be therapeutic for both Veronica and the audience.
You said that love would be off the table for Veronica for a long while. But this season we saw that Veronica and Leo (Max Greenfield) still have incredible chemistry and are both aware of this fact. So is their relationship something you think could rekindle way down the line?
Thomas: Maybe way down the line. It is certainly not my intention to have Veronica lose Logan in such a crushing way so that I could do a television series with a single Veronica [dating around]. I promise you, she won't be in a hot and heavy relationship with Deputy Leo when we meet her again. I'm not taking Deputy Leo off the table because I love that character and I think those two are great onscreen together, but don't expect I'm just giving Veronica a new boyfriend. That isn't going to happen.
We do see Veronica go to therapy in the finale. Should we assume that Veronica will try to continue and follow through on what Logan had been asking her to do all season?
Thomas: I haven't given that much thought. Here's what I do know: That ours is not a show that would handle grief well. Being sly and funny is sort of our bread and butter, and one of the reasons I like a year passing between Logan's death and the end of the show is that we can give Veronica a whole year to grieve. And when we pick her up, we can pick her up back to being righteous Veronica and not have to live in this world of grief. She will still be hurt by the death of Logan, but there won't be a ton of navel-gazing in whatever the next Veronica Mars adventure is.
The books and this miniseries both raised doubts as to whether Veronica being a P.I. in Neptune was the best path for her. Do you believe Veronica can find her happiness elsewhere? And if so, what might that look like?
Thomas: One of the things that I've given a lot of thought to, and it's one of the reasons why we make these occasional references to the eight column inches she got in Vanity Fair, is that I want people from across the country to be able to hire Veronica. I want there to be an excuse for people to seek her out. I don't want to limit the show to Neptune. I have a couple of ideas for what I'm noodling with for the next Veronica Mars adventure and neither of them take place in Neptune.
How do you think a different setting will change the tone of Veronica Mars?
Thomas: One of the reasons, particularly, a next outing might take place outside of Neptune is because, as I said, I feel like we were a teen soap-mystery hybrid, and the next time out I want to be full throttle "this is a detective show." One of the ideas that I have is an Agatha Christie sort of murder in a manor house-style mystery, only modernized a bit. The next one is going to lean very heavily into "we're a detective show. We can exist in any environment doing any case." These eight episodes on Hulu were intended as a bridge into that sort of world.
Do you think Veronica needed something as massive as Logan's death to inspire her to actually change her life and leave Neptune?
Thomas: Yes? I guess the answer to that is yes. Particularly after saying yes to Logan's marriage proposal. I felt like when Veronica said yes to Logan, "I'll marry you," that it was saying yes to the status quo. It was saying yes to Neptune, yes to staying where they were, yes to possibly having kids someday maybe. It was, "You know what? I'm good here." It was all encapsulated in the marriage proposal. You know, it would have been tricky for me, I think, to take mysteries on the road. Like, "I have a boyfriend back home that I'm calling at night." It just felt uninteresting to me.
If you do get the opportunity to make more Veronica Mars, do you imagine it returning as another miniseries or have you toyed with the idea of doing another film?
Thomas: I think both Kristen and I love this format. We had a great time doing this. This is what we want to do. This is a great fit for both of us.
How different do you think the show will feel without Logan and his relationship with Veronica?
Thomas: Significantly. Yeah, I think it's going to be more strictly a mystery show with hopefully someone people view as a kickass private eye at the center of it. It will be more of a mystery show moving forward.
Logan and Veronica came to be such a defining aspect of the show. Is there anything you would say to fans who are doubting whether they'd want to watch a version of Veronica Mars without Logan?
Thomas: Please do. [Laughs.] I don't know, if that destroyed their view of the show, then that's certainly within their prerogative. I hope it didn't, but I'm placing this bet and I know I have to live with the consequences. I know that's the case. I'm prepared. I hope that the bet pays off and we get to do more and it's a fun series moving forward. I can tell them that it hurt me too. It was not an easy decision. It was not a decision taken lightly. If I thought this was going to be our final Veronica Mars ever, I probably would not have killed him. But yeah, if they feel like the reason they tuned in was for that Veronica-Logan relationship, then maybe they won't watch anymore. I tend to feel like, with television, the romantic conclusion is the finale. When the couple gets together — Ross and Rachel, whatever it is — usually marks the end of the series and I just don't want Veronica Mars to be over.
Logan aside, so many of fans' favorite characters are still based in Neptune. So if you do get to do more seasons and see Veronica outside of that world, are you hoping to find ways to bring in Keith (Enrico Colantoni) or Wallace (Percy Daggs III) or Weevil (Francis Capra) so we still would get to see them again?
Thomas: I'm not sure. Particularly on the next one. Yeah. Particularly on the next one, the ideas that I have — and it hasn't been sold and I haven't written anything — but the couple of ideas that I'm noodling would not... They would be away from Neptune.
Veronica Mars is available to stream on Hulu.