I don’t normally like to insert myself into recaps, but for this one, I feel it’s best to put my cards on the table. Despite watching Veronica Mars’s finale for the first time last night, I knew before I hit play on the first episode that Logan wouldn’t survive the season. (In cautioning writers not to spoil the death for viewers, the show’s publicity department spoiled most of us instead.) I know a lot of people are unhappy about the show killing Logan, especially because it was, in large part, a business decision. But with the caveat that I’ve already had two weeks to adjust, I also think it was the right creative decision.
Before I get to that, though, I think it’s also worth talking about how satisfying the other 50 minutes of this episode were, delivering pretty much everything you could want from a mystery finale: twists, double-crosses, heroism, and some great, dark laughs. I’m delighted to have been wrong about Penn being the culprit because I’m so thoroughly impressed by the way the show played Patton Oswalt’s likability against the audience, right up until the last possible second. How many other shows could nail the perp before the finale even starts, then keep you guessing if it’s really him until 20 seconds before the big bomb goes off?
I also loved how the structure of the reveal affirmed Veronica’s heroism, but made it clear that Keith and Matty’s contributions were just as important. Veronica would have died if Matty didn’t suss out the lie behind that order ticket, and Keith was willing to die to protect Veronica and the rest of the town. One of the most genuinely heartwarming parts of the reboot has been the Marses’ egalitarianism: Keith and Veronica are true, 50-50 partners in their business, and even though Matty is just a kid, they afford her genuine respect and consideration. Having all three be critical to the resolution of the case affirms that worldview in a really satisfying way.
It also stands in marked contrast to the motivation that fueled Penn’s killings: to show everyone else up, even his fellow Murderheads. He’s mediocrity personified, but his desperation to be famous, to be taken seriously, is his entire worldview, giving him the capacity to reduce the spring breakers to non-people.
He’s also another in Veronica Mars’s long line of textbook misogynists, which the show managed to seed so delicately that it only becomes clear in hindsight. Women show him up at every turn: Chief Langdon almost instantly marks him as the loser he is, and Carol, the actual MVP of the Murderheads, only gets his attention when she affirms him as a crime-solving genius.
But it’s Veronica who most bedevils Penn. He doesn’t have her plaudits in Vanity Fair memorized because he’s a fan, but because he believes they should rightfully be his. To paraphrase the famous Margaret Atwood quote, Penn is afraid that Veronica will laugh at him; Veronica and the rest of Neptune are afraid that Penn will kill them.
That’s why Logan’s death is so important. As the show took pains to make clear, Logan usually gets around by bike; Veronica, the driver, was the one who was meant to die in the explosion. Penn murdering Logan is the culmination of four seasons of misogynists willing to do anything to show up Veronica: rape her, rape her classmates, get her kicked out of college, murder her friends, and now, take her life. As Logan notes in his final voice-mail, he admires Veronica because she can fall down seven times and get up eight. But she’s not falling — she’s being pushed.
The show is clear that this isn’t all men. It’s not Keith or Wallace, and with Jane’s tutelage, it’s not Logan now, either. But patriarchy’s collateral damage comes for men, too. No matter how many Big Dicks get decapitated, two more will grow in their place, hydra-headed. The Sea Sprite may live on, but Matty’s dad is gone forever because a lesser man was scared of him. Now Veronica has lost the love of her life because a lesser man was jealous of her. And less than half the country even believes he did it.
In the season-two speech that gives this episode its name, Logan describes his romance with Veronica as “epic,” and she pushes back: “You really think a relationship should be that hard?” Logan’s response: “No one writes about the ones that come easy.” Like every woman who tells the truth, Veronica’s relationship with the world doesn’t come easy. And while it hurts to lose Logan, a storybook ending for Veronica would destroy future stories about her worth writing: her resilience, her quest for justice, and her struggle to trust others under the weight of what she’s experienced. Letting Logan go isn’t easy, but it’s also a commitment to telling new stories about Veronica that are hard.
• The show really did do its utmost to bring back everyone, down to Principal Clemmons (now running the 09ers-only Kane High) and Veronica’s college pal Parker (fighting her way through a divorce). The reveal of Mary McDonnell as Logan’s therapist Jane was a heartbreaker, though — she’s such a fabulous actress, and I’d have loved to have seen her come in earlier in the season.
• A nice little subtle self-own: As Veronica searches through the old receipt boxes at Cho’s, she opens one and dismissively says, “Ugh, from 2004?” — the year Veronica Mars premiered.
• Keith telling his cane that “they named a school after you!” was an absolutely pristine dad joke. His miraculous recovery from his memory problems (turns out it was a medication-mixing issue) was a bit of a deus ex machina, but I’m glad he’ll still be around for a long time to come.
• In perfect Vinnie fashion, he was absolutely right that Matty stole the Maloofs’ engagement ring — yet she still managed to pawn it, meaning he once again got shown up by a 16-year-old girl. Veronica’s legacy lives on.