Last Friday I posted a list of my reasons why the third season of Veronica Mars is my least favorite. Because I still also have a lot of love for the third season, it's only fair that I follow that up with a list defending it. Your mileage may vary on some of my reasons, but here are four reasons why season three of Veronica Mars is better than its reputation suggests.
1. New Characters
This will probably be the most controversial statement I make in this post: I'm a fan of Piz. It seems that a lot Veronica Mars fans think Piz is one of the worst parts of the worst season, but I consider him one of season three's highlights. I thought he was adorable, sweet, and endearingly awkward. Even though I don't agree with them, I can understand the viewers who simply found him annoying, but I don't understand those who disliked him simply because he wasn't Logan. As much as I liked Piz, he was a terrible match for Veronica. I feel like he was purposefully paired with Veronica to show that she needs a guy like Logan, not Duncan 2.0. Piz provided season three with both an enjoyable character and a nice foil to Logan.
In addition to Piz, a lot of other new characters worked really well in the season three. Near the beginning of the season, Parker seemed like she might be an annoying presence, but she turned out to be a likable, fun character (for the most part). Dean O'Dell was a nice replacement for Principle Clemmons. Even Professor
2. The Finale is Not That Bad
I'm always surprised when people complain about the series finale of Veronica Mars. It's not perfect, but it's a fantastic episode and even a pretty great finale. The pace of the episode is a little rushed, but really, this just ensures that episode is action-packed. The episode cleverly uses the Castle plot to bring back two of the major players from the earlier seasons, Jake Kane and Clarence Wiedman, in addition to referencing Lily and Duncan through the use of portraits.
I think I've said before that I appreciate series finales that convey a show's central theme. Veronica states her disillusion with Neptune several times throughout the series and given the show's noir-ish vibe, a downer ending just felt right.
I also appreciated how Veronica's life in the finale mirrored her life from the beginning of the series. By the pilot, Veronica and Duncan have broken up. While Piz (Duncan 2.0) and Veronica aren't broken up by the series end, the looks that Veronica, Logan, and Piz exchange in their final scene together make it clear that the relationship won't last much longer.
Additionally, the Veronica of season one had given up her popular crowd status to support her dad who had been ousted as sheriff. The Keith of season three gave up his reputation and likelihood at being elected sheriff to cover up Veronica's crime. In the pilot, Veronica's high school reputation had been ruined as a result of her being drugged at a party. In the finale, Veronica's college reputation had been ruined by a sex tape.
All of these similarities demonstrate that "the more things change, the more they stay the same" principle that Veronica expresses throughout the series. This quote from season two's "One Angry Veronica" springs to mind: "New Years Eve...Someone just needs to change the name to 'Same Old Years Eve.' Because that 'New', implying all that hope and promise, it's not fooling anyone."
Ideally, the finale might have been less open-ended. It might have been nice to see Logan and Veronica back together and to have had a few more episodes to deal with the Castle story, but I feel the series finale had a decent sense of closure and is far undeserving of the hate it gets.
3. Bigger Scope
One thing I really liked about season three is the sense it gives of Veronica becoming a big time detective. The move from high school to college really allowed the show to widen it's scope a bit. While plenty of the cases still revolved around students, the college setting felt a lot more like Veronica was in the real world than the high school bubble. It was satisfying to see Veronica enter the real world of the PI business and earn a license. While she solved some pretty serious cases in high school (as an obvious example, Lily's murder), it was enjoyable to watch the people around her start to take her more seriously as a detective in season three.
4. It Still Felt Like Veronica Mars
Despite the changes, both good and bad, season three of Veronica Mars still felt very much like Veronica Mars to me. Even though it's my least favorite of the three seasons, it's still a good season of television. Kristen Bell was still excellent as Veronica. Most of the major players from the earlier seasons returned. There were still plenty of good mysteries. Most of all, I still enjoyed it. It's very much a part of the Veronica Mars story and well worth watching.
What are your thoughts on season three of Veronica Mars? Do you feel it's deserving of the criticism it receives? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.