By Mandi Bierly
Updated March 14, 2014 at 01:00 PM EDT
Ivan Askwith

In the Veronica Mars movie, in theaters now, Veronica (Kristen Bell) is drawn back to Neptune after her former flame Logan (Jason Dohring) is accused of murdering his rock-star girlfriend, former classmate Bonnie DeVille (Andrea Estella). The film shows Veronica reading an ominous Entertainment Weekly cover story titled “The Downward Spiral of Bonnie DeVille.” Now, you can read the actual (fictional) article below.

“One of the things we didn’t have time to do in the movie is create this whole back story persona for Bonnie DeVille, who’s a key player in the movie but dead the moment you hear about her,” creator/director Rob Thomas says. “The Entertainment Weekly story will fill in a lot of those blanks: how this character who might have felt more party-girl Katy Perry in her original incarnation in the series has sort of drifted off towards more of a Lana Del Rey or Amy Winehouse sort of character as she’s spun out of control and seems to be heading for disaster even before she’s killed.”

Penned by Bob Dearden, Thomas’ assistant, the piece includes more than a couple of fun callbacks for people who watched the TV show. “If any Veronica Mars fans want the play-at-home game, there are a couple clues as to why she was murdered buried in that story that I wanted in there,” Thomas says. “It tells you a little bit more about her state of mind. Why she was going over a cliff in that story is a key clue in the movie…”

“The Downward Spiral of Bonnie DeVille”

Bonnie DeVille celebrated her 28th birthday last week, and the party she threw was exactly what you’d expect: trendy rooftop venue above a quasi-landmark Hollywood hotel; celebrity guests culled from lists A through D; a paparazzi’s-­wet-­dream altercation between her one‐time boyfriend Logan Echolls and part‐time lover/music video director Sean Friedrich; and Bonnie herself casting a pall over the proceedings by way of a maudlin mini-set from her latest album, Confessional, before passing out onstage. Her rally back into consciousness a half-hour later included a wardrobe change: for the rest of the night and well into the morning, she proudly displayed a custom t-shirt bearing a “27 Club” logo — a reference to the notorious number of musicians who’ve met their untimely end at that tender age. Over top of the logo was a red rubber-stamped label reading “Rejected.” By reaching her 28th birthday, Bonnie had escaped inclusion in the macabre club — just barely, by some accounts — but it was anyone’s guess as to whether she was actually happy about it.

Though it may be difficult to imagine now, it wasn’t always thus with Bonnie DeVille. Her self-titled debut in 2007 was met with nearly universal acclaim, and she booked a cross-country tour immediately on the heels of its release. Her pop-punk lyrics and stage energy elicited comparisons to Gwen Stefani, while some saw in her vocal style and arrangements a throwback to early female punk pioneers like Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde. The album gained gradual but significant traction, largely on the strength of Bonnie’s engaging live performances. She quickly signed a multi-million dollar record deal, and by the time she was in studio recording her follow-up album, Wish I Was There, it was already among the most highly anticipated releases of 2009.

Her sophomore effort arrived, however, to mixed reviews. Missing, to some extent, was the upbeat vibe, along with any traces of self-deprecation and tongue-in-cheek humor that had marked her debut effort. In place was a more introspective, somber album, with undercurrent themes of sadness and guilt. Bonnie’s loyal fan base remained supportive, if understandably curious about this new and unexpected direction Bonnie’s music was taking. Some chalked it up to an expression of her Catholic upbringing; others to the tragic death of her best friend, Susan Knight, just before her career took off. Bonnie refused to answer specifics about her intent, preferring to let the music speak for itself.

Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that the first signs of extracurricular indiscretions began to surface. First was the requisite DUI, dismissed as merely a celebrity-rite-of-passage at the time; then, the bizarre Mexican talk show appearance where Bonnie appeared to fall asleep mid-interview. That was followed by a brief hospital stay, attributed to an adverse reaction to medication, and charges of assault brought by a former backup singer, eventually settled out of court. Despite the tepid critical response, and possibly due in part to the increase in Bonnie’s tabloid-friendly fame — or, more accurately, infamy — record sales soared. A third album, Take It All Back, was released the following year, to similar critical and commercial results. And as it usually goes, Bonnie’s increasingly concerning behavior was ignored by her handlers-slash-enablers, as long as she was topping the charts. A clear habit of drug and alcohol abuse was developing, not unnoticed, but unfettered.

Enter Logan Echolls. The narrative of their romance was so made-for-TV perfect that it became, for a time, ubiquitous: troubled musician with personal issues meets real American hero who has overcome a laundry list of personal issues himself; he becomes the stabilizing influence she’s always needed to get her back on track, focused, and ready to realize her full potential; and the public learns that fairy tales really can come true. And that’s how it actually happened… for almost a year. In the long haul, it was, as they say, too good to be true.

The first clear warning sings of a return to old patterns of self-medication and self-destruction appeared with the release of her fourth album, Confessional, last fall. Though generally regarded as a solid effort with a few real gems, the album had a level of darkness previously unreached in Bonnie’s work. In addition to the underlying themes of sadness and guilt that were now bubbling to the surface, references to atonement were constant and pervasive throughout. Rumors and conjecture as to Bonnie’s state of mind were given further fuel when Bonnie no-showed at a series of promotional appearances on Confessional‘s release date, and was later found wandering the canyon trails at the base of the Hollywood Hills, wearing only a fur coat and cowboy boots, babbling incoherently. At Logan’s insistence, Bonnie checked herself into rehab — and checked herself right back out. A second stint a few weeks later didn’t even last that long. Reports of loud arguing between Logan and Bonnie — first at her home in an exclusive gated community, then, repeatedly, in public — plagued the couple for months before her well-publicized affair with Friedrich finally sounded the death knell of their relationship.

In the end, it seems Bonnie simply could not be content with contentment. Echolls, by all accounts, is still making an effort to help her course-correct, despite her transgressions and the dissolution of their romance. Unfortunately, he may be the lone voice of dissention in Bonnie’s camp, the only one with her long-term health and happiness in mind. She is fully insulated once more in a cocoon of hangers-on and yes-men, and judging by her latest string of public embarrassments — including a New Year’s Eve performance in Amsterdam where she tossed the microphone to a fan in the front row and walked off-stage in the middle of a song — her downward spiral is only getting deeper. While a few remaining core fans cling to the hope that she will once again pull herself out and return to form, many industry insiders now privately dismiss her as a lost cause. Her career, once so promising, has primarily become fodder for late night talk show hosts.

Bonnie DeVille threw herself a party because she didn’t die at 27. A dubious accomplishment to be sure, but perhaps, in Bonnie’s world, one worth celebrating. What remains to be seen is if there will be anything left to celebrate this time next year, if and when Bonnie turns 29.