Soap Report: “Veronica Mars”

Happy Veronica Mars day, y’all! I’M SO EXCITED I CAN FINALLY SAY THAT. I’m also — because I am old and lame — not seeing the movie until tomorrow afternoon. So in the meantime: saddle up, marshmallows. We’re doing a soap report, LoVe style.

(Yes, I know that Veronica Mars is technically not a soap opera. It’s just a teenage detective noir mystery/drama that happens to contain a lot of soapy elements. Like family conflict! Paternity lies! Murder, betrayal, love triangles and sexual chemistry up the wazoo! Whatever, just go with it. VERONICA MARS DAY!)

Veronica Mars

A teenage detective? Really? So here’s the deal for the completely uninitiated: the show ran from 2004-2007 and takes place in Neptune, California, a town sharply divided by class. Veronica’s the daughter of the disgraced former sheriff (also known as Keith Mars, World’s Best Dad).

She and the cool kids used to be friends, but then her best friend was murdered, her father was ousted from office, and her mother disappeared. When the show begins, she’s a social outcast in high school, helping her dad with his private investigator business on the side. That’s all you really need to know.

 On a scale of one to AMAZING ROLE MODEL FOR LIFE, how awesome is Veronica? There is no scale large enough to encompass Veronica’s awesomeness. She’s clever and brave and possesses a strong sense of moral justice. She always has the perfect come back ready for every situation; she’s almost always the smartest person in the room. She’s everyone you’ve ever wanted to be.

Veronica mars is smarter than me

Veronica could easily have been too perfect. But the show gives her just enough vulnerability and allows her to be wrong just often enough to humanize her. She’s flawed and vengeful and sometimes a little too cynical for her own good. She bends the rules when she shouldn’t; her laser focus on revenge often leads to unintended consequences for the people she loves. In short: she is a really compelling heroine.

(Also, she bakes amazing Snickerdoodles. See? ROLE MODEL.)

Okay, break it down for me: what’s this LoVe business? The other half of the most nauseatingly perfect smush name of all time is Logan Echolls, Veronica’s on again/off again resident bad boy with a tortured past and a surprisingly tender heart underneath all his, um… snobbery, racism, violent tendencies, and general psychotic jackassery. Look, real talk: I love Logan to death, but he can be a serious asshole and when you’re watching for the first time, you spend half of the first season wanting to murder him in the face. That’s just the way it is.

logan echolls

THE GOOD NEW IS, IT’S A PRETTY NICE FACE

Fortunately, the show gives him depth in a way that explains without excusing his behavior. Veronica has several romantic prospects on the show, and they’re almost all (unfortunate names aside, Piz) decent dudes who would probably be good for her. But what I love about her and Logan is the way they compliment each other. Logan is as smart and snarky and world-weary as Veronica. He’s as quick to judge and slow to forgive, and just as amazingly loyal once that loyalty’s been earned.

Logan’s clearly internalized the lesson that violence is the way you show love; he never feels more righteous than when he’s shoving his fist in someone’s face in Veronica’s honor. As much as Veronica wants to be horrified by his tendency toward violent, visceral revenge, in her heart of hearts, she’s attracted to that kind of passion and recklessness.

M.A.D

AND ALSO TO HIS SPIN KISSES

Both he and Veronica are the walking wounded when the series begins, and their mutual issues with intimacy repeatedly cause problems throughout their relationship. But they’re damaged in the same way, and that’s the source of the pull that keeps drawing them together.

But what can I say that Jason Dohring hasn’t?

“I will hold Chris Lowell away from this conversation and start by saying: One, (Logan is) honestly a good guy,” Dohring said. “He probably doesn’t even understand his emotions — like when he goes insane and freaks out, he can’t help himself, man. But afterward he can feel that he (messed) up … he is a good guy underneath it all.”

Most important, though: “Logan loves Veronica,” Dohring told TODAY. “He understands her. They’ve both been through tremendous family struggles. And I think they both even without speaking understand each other. I think that that (is what) the audience connects to, when they just look at each other, It’s just like, ‘I get you.’ That’s what’s so beautiful about that relationship.”

As for the flawed bad boy, “He’s the best psychotic jack— in the world,” he said. “He’s charming, he’s witty, he’s romantic, (but at the same time) he’s a good fighter. You want a guy in your corner who can really throw a punch, if needed — but will also deliver a kiss that will make you fall over with joy.”

(Did I mention that he and Kristin Bell have so much chemistry, they can basically burn up the screen with a single wordless, broody stare? Because that is also a thing that works for me.)

Tell me more of this mythical chemistry. GLADLY, MY FRIEND. There are almost too many to choose from, but here are my current top ten Veronica/Logan moments from the series:

10.  “You know, Veronica was my friend too.” (Season 1, “The Wrath of Con” / “Clash of the Tritons”)

wrath of con

Because the show is mostly from Veronica’s perspective (complete with voice overs to tell us her actual thoughts) we have way more insight into her perspective than we do Logan’s. “The Wrath of Con” is the first time we really get to see their antagonistic relationship in a different light — both through flashbacks to when they used to be friends, and back in the present when they collaborate on Lilly’s memorial video and get that beautiful mutual smile at the end.

But in “Clash of the Tritons,” it’s still kind of shocking — for both the audience and Veronica — to finally learn the real source of Logan’s anger toward her (misplaced guilt at his own actions) and that he’s felt as hurt and betrayed by Veronica as she does by him all this time. This is why people should bug therapy sessions more often, I swear.

9. “I was hoping it would be you.” (Season 2, “Normal is the Watchword”)

normal is the watchword

The first of the Pietà scenes that bookend season two is still one of my favorite visuals ever on this show. Given the tenor of their last conversation, the fact that Logan comes to Veronica at all following the events at the bridge is both a sad commentary on how isolated he is at this point and also a really touching reminder that she’s still his safe place in times of true distress, no matter how bad their relationship is at that moment.

(Also, seriously, look at the pretty.)

8.  “If I need anyone punched in the face, I’ll whistle for you.” (Season 2, “Ahoy, Mateys!”)

Ahoy Mateys

I’m not going to lie: the rescue here is SUPER GOOD FOR ME. But what I especially love is her reaction afterward, which makes it clear that for all the frostiness of their break up, there’s still a lot of mutual caring.

Veronica’s mad for the same reason she broke up with him in the first place: she’s terrified his recklessness is going to get him killed. And Logan, as usual, looks completely gutted to see her in pain.

7. “I think we all learned a valuable lesson about faith. You give it to the people you love.” (Season 3, “Of Vice and Men”)

Of Vice and Men2

Veronica’s (well earned) issues with trust bite her on the ass more than once throughout the show. Which just makes moments like this — where she realizes that sometimes it’s okay to lean on the people who love you — all the more special.

Also, the look of devastation and terror on Logan’s face when he finds her in the parking garage really hits me where I live, you know?

6. “No one writes songs about the ones that come easy.” (Season 2, “Look Who’s Stalking”)

Look Who's Stalking (Epic)

One of the things I love most about Veronica and Logan is the way they tend to reverse gender stereotypes about who’s more emotionally open. Veronica tends to keep her feelings locked down tight to avoid being vulnerable or hurt but when Logan really cares, he wears it on his sleeve.

There’s a reason the “Epic” speech is kind of infamous. Not only is it eminently quotable, but it’s Logan putting himself out there in the face of heartbreak and rejection — which breaks Veronica out of her denial and forces her to admit both how important he is to her and that she doesn’t want to lose him from her life either.

5. “Your mom was always nice to me.” (Season 1, “Ruskie Business” “Kanes and Abel’s”)

Ruskie Business

The whole mini arc where Veronica helps Logan look for his mother is pretty much gold. The fact that it starts with him making it clear he’s coming to her as a client, not a friend — and ends with her tearing up his check? The look of open admiration he gets whenever watching her work her PI magic? Veronica getting her first peek into Logan’s terrible home life? The introduction of Alyson Hannigan’s fabulous Trina?

But of course, it’s the scene where he breaks down in her arms after losing the last hope about his mom that never fails to reduce me to a pile of goo.

4. “Someone’s always supposed to pay, right? Isn’t that the rule we live by?” (Season 3, “Spit & Eggs” / “Weevils Wobble But They Don’t Go Down” / “The Bitch Is Back”)

the bitch is back

Season 3 had it’s issues — both plot wise and in Logan and Veronica’s relationship. But one thing that stayed consistent regardless of whether they were together or not was Logan’s willingness to beat people up on Veronica’s behalf. The scene where he takes a baseball bat to a parked police car just so he can get arrested and take vengeance on the Hearst rapist? That little grin on his face before he attacks the mob guy who just threatened her?

Even poor Piz… sure, he didn’t deserve it. But he would have if he’d actually been guilty of leaking that sex tape. (It’s the thought that counts, right?)

3. “You have a problem with Veronica, you leave.” (Season 1, “A Trip to the Dentist”)

A Trip to the Dentist2

A Trip to the Dentist

For all his quips and sarcasm, when it comes to Veronica’s pain, Logan can be painfully tender and earnest. His reaction to her finally telling him everything about what happened the night of Shelly Pomroy’s party is pitch perfect — juggling concern and sorrow and a complete willingness to be there for her, whatever she needs.

Followed, of course, by a public affirmation of their relationship. This is the moment when Logan goes all in, in what is probably my all time favorite episode. Good stuff.

2. “You’re not a killer, Veronica.” (Season 2, “Not Pictured”)

Not Pictured

This one always stands out to me not just because Logan comes to the rescue again, but because — in stopping her from shooting the bus crash killer — he saves more than just her life. After a season of messing up and running off the rails, he gets it right when it counts.

1. “Dream on, Jump Street. I’m not leaving you alone with her.” (Season 1, “Weapons of Class Destruction”)

Weapons of Class Destruction

What can I say? All of the make outs in season one are amazing. But you never forget your first. After almost a season long build up, this kiss was so explosive and satisfying and earned. After Veronica helped Logan with his mother’s case, there was a noticeable thaw in their cold war — and when he heard her in trouble, the resulting protectiveness and concern was like a gift from shipper heaven.

And then… I’ll just let the transcript speak for itself:

Veronica leans forward to kiss him. Whatever she intended, she actually kisses him on the corner of his mouth and Logan instinctively puckers his lips, surprised. He straightens, staring down at her intently. Veronica, equally surprised, stares back and then shakes her head in disbelief at what she has done.

Veronica turns to walk away. Logan reaches out and takes her arm and as she spins round, he lowers his head to kiss her. She meets him in a long, hard, passionate kiss, their arms pulling each other close, their hands uncertain, the full length of their bodies leaning into each other. The music swells.

(You should know that if you’re not singing “Momentary Thing” to yourself right now, I am judging you.)

Wait, some of those were several episodes. That’s totally cheating! This is my blog. I’m allowed to cheat.

Veronica Mars cast

Fine. Anything else? Yes, obviously, there’s a lot more to the show than the romance. The mysteries are sharp and engaging, Veronica herself is incredibly fun to watch, just doing her thing. And her relationship with her father is one of the best and most interesting on tv. The first season remains one of the most solid and cohesively written 22 episodes of television I’ve ever seen.

Special shout outs to: The entire supporting cast. Wallace, who is literally the best BFF on television. Mac, who’s a close runner up. Weevil, the gang leader with a heart of gold. Dick, who’s at once loathsome and hilarious and (surprisingly) moving at points in the third season. Cliff, Kendall, Vinnie, Principal Clemmons, adorable Deputy Leo, indomitable Lilly Kane… this show is littered with amazing side characters — some so good that even being dead the entire time isn’t enough to keep them down.

(But seriously: Keith Mars. BEST. DAD. EVER.)

keith mars

So should I watch this or what? Um, yes? Have I been talking to myself here? Go! Watch! Then come back for our movie break down some time next week.

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4 thoughts on “Soap Report: “Veronica Mars”

  1. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Veronica Mars Movie download torture is the worst kind of torture. My finger keeps itching toward my email. I will resist, damn it!

    I agree on most of these moments, although potentially in different order. I feel the Epic scene is probably my number 2 and the Logan taking the baseball bat to the police car to beat the hell out of Mercer was probably 3. SO GOOD FOR ME.

    But of course the first kiss was number one. So spectacular. I can still remember the waive of emotion I felt in that moment.

    And none of this mentions the fact that I had jaw dropping moments of surprise, shock and awe during the rest of the show. I WANT TOMORROW TO BE NOW! That is all.

    • I’m so glad it was playing in a theater near us — so much fun to watch with a crowd that was super into it and laughing and gasping at all the right places.

      I watched again last night and made a bunch of screen caps. I’M OVERFLOWING WITH FEELINGS RIGHT NOW. Expect a post soon.

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