SOAPnet's decision to air reruns of one of my favorite shows of all time, Veronica Mars, inspired me to do a rewatch of the show. I recently finished the much criticized season three, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on it.
A lot of people flat out hate season three of Veronica Mars. I've seen plenty of hate for it on the internet, and I've even seen people recommend that viewers stop watching after the second season. Season three is undeniably different from the first two seasons. The setting of the show changed from high school to college. The mystery arcs were handled differently. Even the opening credits were restylized and placed with a remixed theme song. Despite all of the changes, I still enjoy season three of Veronica Mars. I'd pretty confidently rank it as my least favorite of the seasons, but I think it tends to get a harsher reputation that it deserves.
I've come up with two lists about season three: one illustrating the bad aspects of the season and one illustrating the good ones. This post contains my criticism of the third season, but I'm going to try to post my defense of it in a couple of days.
1. Mini Mystery Format
Seasons one and two of Veronica Mars contained a season-long mystery; in season one, the focus was on the mystery of Lily's murder, and season two centered around the mystery of the bus crash. Season three, on the other hand, had two mini mysteries and a handful of standalone episodes at the end. This new format was intended to make it easier for new viewers to jump into the show. The new format wasn't terrible, but it was a bad idea to mess with something that worked so well for the first two seasons.
Veronica Mars does stand alone episodes quite well, but the lack of a season long arc made season three feel a bit disjointed. The first two seasons were defined by their mysteries, and after a whole season of following one mystery, the big reveals in their finales had more weight to them (although I must admit that "Spit & Eggs" was a pretty great episode). I suspect that most people would define season three as "the college year" rather than "the season of the Hearst rapist" or "the season of the Dean's murder." Granted, the "college" label might stick even if the season had been defined by one mystery, but that mystery would still provide a secondary label that the season lacks.
2. Veronica and Logan Drama
I'm as big a fan of Veronica and Logan as the next viewer, but their relationship in season three was much too dramatic for my liking. Their on-again, off-again relationship seemed to change status every other episode. Also, I don't know what was worse: the whipped Logan we saw when their relationship was "on-again" or the "off-again" Logan who did little more than sulk. I will admit that the relationship aspect of season three didn't seem quite as bad on my re-watch as it did initially, but it's the kind of thing I'd expect from The O.C. not Veronica Mars.
3. Meaner Veronica
From the beginning of the series, Veronica has always been snarky. She had good reason to be after the way she'd been treated, and it's part of what I love about the character. In season three, however, Veronica's snark occasionally veered into an overly acidic area. It's understandable that she would bring some of her bite to college. Even if she was no longer an outcast, the events of her high school years changed her, and it would have been weird if she went back to being pre-season one Veronica. Still, several moments in season three, such as Veronica cracking jokes about Chip being sexually assaulted with an Easter egg, felt a bit over the top, and the writing of Veronica just seemed to occasionally be a bit off.
4. Madison Sinclair (Among Other Storylines)
In addition to some of my bigger picture issues with the third season, some of the specific storylines in it bugged me. One of the storyline that bothered me most was the Madison one. Look, I know Veronica isn't a flawless character; it's one of the things that makes her such a great character. It's completely understandable that she would dislike Madison. However, Veronica's blaming Madison for her rape bothered me. Yes, Madison was a jerk and spit in her drink, but Dick was the one who put the GHB in that cup intending to drug Madison. It would have been one thing if Veronica had expressed hatred towards both of them, but the fact that she tolerated Dick while seething with hatred for Madison (declaring "If Dick starts dating her again, you're going to need to get a different roommate") felt extremely catty and strange for Veronica.
I also didn't care for Keith's affair. It wasn't enjoyable for me to watch, and like Veronica, I was disappointed in him. Dick's guilt storyline near the end of the season was perhaps an admirable effort to give the character depth, but it just seemed too little, too late for me and rang false. The Logan and Parker storyline wasn't completely terrible, but it wasn't great and led to the terrible moment of her blaming Veronica for their eventual breakup (a la Meg in season two). Additionally, the Fitzpatrick storyline felt unsatisfying and somewhat lacking in direction. The earlier seasons had some storylines that just didn't work well (the Duncan baby storyline, anyone?), but season three seemed to have quite a few of them.
What were your thoughts on season three? Do you agree with my points of criticism? What didn't (or did) you like about it? Let me know in the comments.