You already know what I think about the Veronica Mars movie in an objective sense. It’s decent, thriving more in its legacy than in its feature length strictures. It has its noir roots glowing just under the surface as its trademark shadowy frame was left in the CW graveyard. The film’s context often overshadows its content.
I also have a great deal to say about it as a fan, though. A newcomer to the journalism game once asked me for advice in finding success. I told him two things: 1) be kind, and 2) watch Veronica Mars. I was mostly joking about the second part, but there is some truth to it.
It’s just an incredibly die-hard series, delving into the matters of doggedness and fearlessness in an urban noir jungle of ruthless animals. It doesn’t extol the virtues of being either but rather explores the consequences of swaying too far to the end of either spectrum. Veronica Mars is nothing if not a show about consequences.
So it kind of turned into a truthful bit of advice, and while they ostensibly come across as skewed towards journalists and other such careers involving investigative slants, it actually applies to large swaths of people. Being able to embody much of what we love and envy about Veronica makes you stronger. Smart, determined, strong, self-aware, passionate, resourceful, loyal, and so much more (mostly sassy).
But we also learn through her example where those things fall apart when we become waterlogged with the flowing qualities of independence and emotion. She ruins relationships and throws away friendships because of her stubbornness. Bodies and blood lay in her wake precisely because she lacks the foresight of personal consequence.
It turns out Veronica actually is kind of not a great friend but just someone who so desperately wants to rectify inequities that we also want to see addressed. She’s a good person, but she’s unreliable beyond the boundaries of solving a mystery. She won’t show up when you need her and she won’t leave emotion at the door when subjectivity is obviously the most damaging thing you can bring into a room.
We still love her because that’s just who she is. And, perhaps most importantly, because the timeline of events during Veronica’s reign in Neptune is so decidedly neo-noir. An oppressive, uncaring, pessimistic world standing on her shoulders. While never quite diving fully into the realm of nihilism and moral ambiguity, it does present a compelling case for the lack of change (and lack of desire for it) in the franchise’s characters.
(Spoiler Warning: From here on out, there will be spoilers for both Veronica Mars the show and Veronica Mars the movie. Those for the show will be less severe than the ones for the film, but if you plan on watching either of them, maybe just stop right here.)
It’s why we love when Veronica and Logan get together and fall apart over and over again. They’re so perfect for each other because they’ve both unwittingly entrenched themselves in the idea of not changing, trying to fit incongruous pieces together in a puzzle that has no finish. Their combination is so volatile, it has a very literal body count.
In the film, Logan describes their story as an epic. It spans years and continents. Lives are ruined, blood is shed. It’s a direct reference to S2E20 “Look Who’s Stalking” when Logan opens his heart to Veronica at the alterna-prom. They almost kiss but Veronica turns away and leaves at the last second.
The movie, however, throws that reference into a much happier light, putting the words into a scene where they actually are together and, it appears, happily so. Nothing has changed about these two characters. Veronica has left behind her promising career as a lawyer in New York. Logan is still a punch-first, ask-never fellow who broods better than he supports.
Only the veneer has changed. Throw some United States Navy dress whites on Logan if you want but he’s still the explosive, impetuous guy he was nine years ago. Put Veronica in a pantsuit in Midtown Manhattan but down deep, she’s still the addict she was before.
An addict to danger. An addict to mystery, to the things that hurt us. She admits to being an addict in the movie, and you know we never really admit or become addicted to things to the things that are good for us (then it’s called making a good decision or developing good habits, for some inscrutable reason).
This is why I think many viewers of the film who are not fans of the show will miss the painful, lingering sentiment at the movie’s conclusion. It appears to be a happy ending: girl gets with the guy she was meant to be, bad guys are behind bars, and friends are once more together again. But it’s not.
In all honesty, it is a supremely depressing ending, which is appropriate to the genre, I guess. We finally saw growth in these characters. Or at least in Veronica. She’s dating Piz, a guy never fully enmeshed in the trials of growing up in Neptune. She’s not even living on the same coast as the one where so much of her life fell to ruin and barely connected to the career that put bodies and blood at her feet and on her hands.
And then we see, over the course of 107 minutes, her slide back into the toxic environment. Her father warns her to get out, don’t let the town take her down like it has so many others. But she can’t help it. She can’t help being a sleuth and she can’t help being with the man that only enables her penchant for risk and staunch characterization.
It’s emptying. It’s gutting. We hate ourselves because this was exactly what we wanted at the (admittedly unintended) conclusion of the series. The star-crossed lovers together at last and Veronica continuing her father’s and her legacy in the town that made her what she is today, taking her naivety, throwing it in a blender, and serving it up with the ice in her veins. But we see what could have been and now we feel selfish.
It’s like when you see people in movies regret the last thing they say to someone before they die. We feel as though we were responsible for this downfall. She was happy. She was out. And we had to drag her back down to the dirt.
As great as the movie is and as perfect as it is for fans of the show, we have the context to understand why it hurts to see Veronica back where she started, Weevil kicking his picturesque life to the curb, and friends we used to know now dead in the streets. It eschews growth, but it turns out they were just creatures of habit all along. Animals.
These leopards, man. They love their spots.